In today’s economy it is very difficult to find work and so many college graduates are turning to volunteer opportunities to fill in the “gap” between their academic studies and the real world. That is not exactly the approach I took (I chose to acquire a Masters degree while serving abroad) but it is more common among my fellow volunteers here in the Republic of Moldova.
You may think that by volunteering abroad you are “escaping” the economic crisis at home and in a way you are. I personally have never been more financially stable in my life. My savings account is bursting, my stocks are on the rise and my USA bank account has never seen so little action (Peace Corps provides us with a local bank account and pays us through direct deposits). This “escape” does not come without challenges…
As in many developing nations, Moldova is dependent upon financial support from abroad either through remittances from nationals working abroad or from foreign aid organizations. The communities of Moldova are hungry for money and rely upon grants as building credit is a very difficult process and very few people have enough assets to be approved for any kind of loan.
As an American living in a small village, it can be difficult to explain that the economic crisis not only started in the USA but also perpetuated the world crisis. Foreigners see $dollar signs$ when they find out that I am an American. To try and wean this culture from its dependence on foreign aid, I have started a local fundraising initiative for a computer center and to make up for what we cannot contribute as a community, I will write a grant. I am trying to help them to become more resourceful in terms of in-kind donations and local funding for projects. It is a challenge but I hope that when I leave my community they will have the confidence to stand on their own two feet and help fix their own problems with community funds.
If a two-year commitment in the Peace Corps scares you, don’t fret. There are several other volunteer opportunities around the globe (or in your own backyard).
There are also several opportunities to volunteer through religious organizations. Contact your local place of worship to inquire about volunteering opportunities in the USA and abroad.