Bettina Wiedmann, Executive Director for Experiment e.V. and Bastian Weinberger, CEO of Smaller Earth Group, presented at The Work Experience Travel Market and International Au Pair Association Annual Conference (WETM-IAC) that took place in Lisbon, Portugal from March 15 – 17, 2015.
Wiedmann, Woods-Ballard and Weinberger presented the results of a survey they conducted on the long term impacts of volunteering abroad, along with a breakdown on how this research could be used in the future for PR and advocacy. Over 560 former participants of volunteer programs from 77 organizations were surveyed. One of the reasons for conducting this survey was to dispel negative myths regarding international volunteering and to show that volunteering abroad can be done in a responsible and effective manner.
Questions asked in the survey included:
Was this your first experience of international volunteering?
Do you feel your volunteering experience has had or is having an impact on your way of thinking about global social, environmental or political issues?
Do you feel your volunteering experience has given you a better understanding of international cultures?
Do you feel your volunteering experience will increase your ability to find a job or enter further study?
On the whole, would you say that your volunteering experience was positive for the community?
WETM-IAC will be publishing the specific results and information gleaned from this survey in Spring of 2015. Overall, the results from the survey demonstrated that volunteering internationally has huge perceived benefits for the projects and communities involved, including long-term benefits for participants who return to their home country as a better informed, more culturally aware global citizen.