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Five Ways to Give Back as an Expat

For most of us, giving back is something we always intend to do, but we never get round to it. But 2018 is a new year, and it’s time to make it a reality. Whether it was your New Year’s resolution, or you just want to try something new; volunteering is a great way to make a difference and meet new people, and as an expat, you’re in a unique position to give back and help others out. Read on to find out the best ways to do this!

Make a Difference in Your Area

When you move to a new country, it’s easy to stay in your expat “bubble” and remain in your comfort zone, without ever really integrating into your local neighborhood. If your busy life means you don’t have much contact with the community, volunteering is a great way to bridge this gap and make new friends, while also learning more about the area you call home and seeing another side of life. Especially in bigger cities, there are enough projects and organizations available to suit most levels of time commitment and interests, whether it’s maintaining an area of natural beauty, helping out the disadvantaged, or donating goods for a good cause. And if you can’t find something that takes your fancy? There’s nothing stopping you from taking the initiative and starting your own project!

Spend Money Where It Matters

Rather than visiting your favorite chain stores for everything you need, consider buying from independent companies that give back to the local population or that are closely connected to local charities. There are, for example, restaurants that support a soup kitchen or give their excess food to the homeless or shops that sell items crafted by victims of domestic violence. Even a Fair-Trade produce store will ensure that your hard-earned money ends up in the pockets of those who would benefit from it most. This way, you can support a cause you care about by buying something more original than you’d find in regular shops and not even compromise on quality.

Share Your Knowledge

Being an expat puts you in the unusual position of understanding and experiencing life in two (or more) countries and maybe even knowing multiple languages. Wherever you’re from, you have unique knowledge that you can share with others, and this is a great way to teach people about where you’re from while at the same time feeling connected to your home country. You could advertise your services as a tutor or proofreader for your native language, hold informative workshops on your home country, or cook your favorite local dishes for friends.

Lend a Helping Hand to Other Expats

Remember how nervous and overwhelmed you felt when you first arrived in your new home? No matter how well you prepared, the first few weeks of your new life abroad were still confusing. Every expat relies on the kindness of others to find their feet, whether it’s through finding out the best housing website or being taking out for dinner on your first lonely Friday night. Now it’s time for you to return the favor and help out others who are in that same position. Ask that new intern at your workplace how they’re getting on, introduce yourself to the just-arrived player on your soccer team, or even get involved in your local InterNations Community as an Ambassador or Consul and make someone else’s transition easier. Not everyone will need your help — but knowing it’s being offered by someone who’s been through it all before can make all the difference.

Take a Look at InterNations Changemakers

That’s right, we’re so proud of our own volunteering program that we’re even mentioning it here. InterNations Changemakers is the  largest community outreach scheme for expats, meaning that it’s especially tailored to you and others in a similar situation. Found in 47 cities across the globe (as of early 2018), the program gets expats involved in various local projects designed to help those in a time of need. There’s a huge amount of variety among the activities, with our members building schools, visiting refugee camps, and reading to the elderly, to name but a few. Unlike many local volunteer programs, Changemakers doesn’t require a long-term commitment or a mastery of the local language — all we ask is that you register your involvement online in the relevant Changemakers Group, and then give us as much of your talents and time as you like!

If this sounds good to you, and you're looking to join the Changemakers Group in your community (or maybe even become a Group Consul), check out the page on our website for more information! We’ve got over 40,000 expats involved already, so why don’t you join them?



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Rikke Johansen

"A friend recommended InterNations for my relocation to Mali. Glad I joined -- settling in Bamako was much easier with the help of fellow expats."

Matthew Brown

"As a development aid worker I am mostly busy near Timbouctou and Gao. InterNations helped me to exchange ideas with other development agencies."

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