happy and diverse volunteer groupNot only does volunteering provide you with the chance to give back to others, it can offer tangible skills that help mold you into an attractive job candidate.

TimeBank reported on reed.co.uk research that included 3,000 UK employers and employees in 2009. Among the research, “24 percent of employees said that volunteering helped them achieve a promotion, and 14 percent said that volunteering had helped them achieve a higher salary.”

Interested in enhancing your skills, achieving a promotion or increasing your salary through volunteering? Don’t have the time to spend an entire semester abroad? Research a short-term volunteer abroad trip for this winter. These five trips showcase diverse locations and service projects.

  1. Benin: The Humanity Exchange offers a week-long Benin volunteer trip in January. You’ll experience the largest African voodoo festival in French-speaking Ouidah, your home base. You can work on community development issues and live with other volunteers in shared housing. Volunteer as an elementary school teacher, visual arts teacher, dance teacher, multi-media teacher, community development intern, or orphanage assistant. During free time, visit Benin’s markets, learn to surf or relax on the beach.
  2. Romania: United Planet offers a week-long Romania service trip beginning December 30. Work in a Romanian orphanage near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. You can teach English lessons, do arts and crafts with the children or play games. Note that the orphanage and larger community is Christian Orthodox. You are invited, although not expected, to participate in mass and other services.
  3. Ghana: United Planet hosts a two-week Teaching Hospital Quest trip in the Volta region of Ghana during the winter. While you’ll primarily perform daily rounds with a local doctor or nurse, you may be asked to dress wounds, take a patient’s vitals and perform other tasks. This trip is ideal for med or pre-med students.
  4. India: Go Abroad offers two-week long, Delhi-centric India trips in winter. Spend your time in Delhi working with the Street Children Project, teaching children, playing games and providing children with affection. When the weekend comes, you’ll explore Dharamsala, the Golden Temple of Amritsur or Agra.
  5. Palestine: If you’re looking for a longer-term winter volunteer opportunity, check out Go Overseas’s trip to the Palestinian territories. You’ll work on education or community development projects in Hebron, Palestine. Live with a host family and receive daily meals plus three hours of Arabic lessons per week. Arrange to stay from one to three months, depending on your needs. This program can be done at any time, including winter, and is ideal for participants of all ages.

Volunteering Abroad: Do’s & Don’ts

Your host country may have different rules and customs than your homeland. Acting accordingly among local customers when you’re overseas can secure your safety. International Student Volunteers recommends that volunteers disclose any pertinent medical information to program staff. Also, travelers need to be over-protective of credit cards, IDs and other personal information — keep these items separate from luggage on travel days. It sounds cliche, but use common sense and trust your instincts. Be aware of shoulder surfing and pickpocketing, which threatens your identity. As an extra precaution, sign up for a protection service to receive round-the-clock identity monitoring and notification of any suspicious activity.
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    About Danielle Dougan