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Taking some time out and putting your mind to a new challenge to give yourself a break from university or before moving into the world of work can be really beneficial. You may be looking to travel as part of your gap year, before starting uni, or participate in a shorter-term programme; either way there are many options. Here are some reasons why you might choose to embark on a volunteering programme in Africa and why it could do you a world of good.

1. You might not know what you would like to study or go on to do next

It is perfectly normal to not feel ready for university as you are coming towards the end of your time at college, or you might simply like some time out before starting uni or deciding on what path you want to take next. Participating in a volunteering programme in Africa can help you refocus and think more clearly about what your next steps are academically or what career path you would like to take.

2. You would like some time to travel and explore

It is okay to be a little selfish sometimes and do something for you. Taking some time out to travel and explore the world is not only good for your soul but it helps you to gain a broader perspective of the world, giving you a greater appreciation for life and what is important. It can influence your viewpoints and perceptions on global issues and what is going on around you. You could say it’s the perfect way to prepare yourself before starting uni.

3. You would like to stand out from the crowd

Volunteering helps you to gain a diversity of transferrable skills that will help you prepare for your future. The experience you can gain from a volunteer programme will give you a story to tell that is unique to you and may make you stand out from the crowd. Having travelled and volunteered you may return feeling more grounded for university or your next role and being able to apply skills learnt during your volunteering experience when answering questions in interviews will really impress potential employers.

Travelling before starting uni will give you a unique perspective and will help you feel fully prepared. Pictured - a girl with school children in Africa.

4. You can get to know yourself better and what you are capable of

Stepping outside of your comfort zone by embarking on a new challenge such as volunteering in Africa can help you to learn a lot about yourself. It can help you to overcome your fears and gain confidence in your abilities and talents. Feeling a sense of achievement through volunteering can make you realise that you are capable of doing something that you did not think you could and give you the confidence to try new things.

5. You would like to help others and give something back

Choosing to volunteer rather than just travel enables you to contribute to something meaningful and help make an impact on others. It can also help you feel connected to a worthy cause; something that you can continue to be a part of once returning from your trip. For instance, the volunteering organisation you travel with might have a charity that you can support going forward by getting involved in fundraising events or donating when you can. You will also be able to follow the charity’s progress further down the line and see how things develop at your volunteering project, reinforcing your involvement and the impact that you have made.

6. You are likely to make new friends and share life-long memories

Sharing a volunteering experience with a new group of people can lead to special friendships. You will have been on a unique journey together and will go home with life-long memories and reflections that you will be able to reminisce about for the rest of your life.

Travelling abroad and volunteering is now seen to be an essential life option or rite of passage before starting university and is endorsed by many universities and employers.

If we’ve managed to convince you to do some travelling before starting uni, you should consider our Youth Development Programme. Taking place in summer 2020, you’ll travel to Africa with 16-19-year-olds from across the country and create memories with meaning.

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