How To Be An Amazing Volunteer Overseas
Rules Of The Road. Stories Of The Field
By Susan E. Gibson
This is a comprehensive book that gives practical and very useful advice for anyone who has a desire to go overseas to volunteer. As an experienced volunteer myself, but in the UK and not overseas, I know the importance still, of what the author conveys and how it can be good to impart advice when so experienced in a variety of ways. Everyone who wishes to volunteer abroad will find this book helpful, practical and thought-provoking.
Please find out more in the blurb and full review below, as well as a bit about her. Thanks to Barlow Publishing for gifting me a copy of the book.
Do you want to travel and make a positive impact on the world? This book is designed for you. It will give you practical tips on how to decide what to do and where to go. It will help you to prepare for life in a new country where life is very different. And it will help you to make sure you help the organizations serving as your host rather than be a burden. This book has lots of stories from the author’s experience around the world. She started as many volunteers do, with no idea of how to help people on the ground. After a great many stumbles, she discovered the key to being a successful volunteer overseas: First, go to learn. Then you can help.
The book starts with an interesting, thought-provoking foreward by Nobel Laureate – Professor Muhammad Yunus and then Susan E. Gibson writes about what she wants to tell people about volunteering overseas and why she has written this book in the first place. Throughout, she clearly knows what she is talking about and had so much experience to share.
She wrote it, at least in part because so many people want to volunteer overseas, especially students, but she also writes how other adults also have this desire. She herself has worked in many countries and has volunteered overseas too. It states in the book there are also TED Talks and You Tube videos on this, so readers of the book may also wish to take a look at these to back up the knowledge gained from the book further.
The book was written during the Pandemic of Covid-19 and she talks a bit about the changing world, which is useful.
The book also gets readers to learn about volunteering abroad and also prompts prospective volunteers to really question what motivates them and if they really, truly want to do this abroad or not. It ensures people don’t take this decision lightly. It encourages people to volunteer locally first so they can get a feel for what it is actually like to do that and what the impact on your life and other people’s lives actually is. It also goes into how certain useful skills can be learnt as you need to learn before you’re in a position to be able to actually help, even in a volunteer post.
The book is full of really useful advice and what to watch out for so you don’t end up somewhere that is unethical and will take advantage on the tourist just wanting to help. It also talks about goals when volunteering and about expectations and what skills are useful to share and what to do if you’re limited in your skill set ie what sorts of programmes may be open to you.
There are useful tips in how to plan your trip abroad and what you need to do in advance of arrival to your destination and how to adapt when you arrive into a new country, often with a different culture, different food etc and personal safety. The book perhaps could have gone further into personal safety aspects, but it’s a pretty good snapshot. There is also good parts about when you’re actually at work, forming relationships with different people etc.
By the end there is also advice in how to reconnect with people who were left behind at home and to re-establish a new routine back at home.
It’s pretty comprehensive and gives some good and useful advice that people considering going abroad can take forward with them to wherever they end up volunteering. There is also a good checklist at the back, which people may well like to use for when they do go travelling, along with a summary of the book and a glossary.
About the Author
SUSAN E. GIBSON has been involved in the non-profit sector for more than 35 years. She has worked and volunteered in 70 countries. In 1992, Susan went to Bangladesh where she got her training in microfinance at Grameen Bank from Professor Muhammad Yunus. From 1992-2001, Susan was a consultant providing technical assistance and conducting workshops in team building, communications and microfinance principles for NGOs, UN agencies and donor governments. Currently she is a philanthropist actively engaged with NGOs in the areas of refugees, human rights and education for girls. She serves on the board of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which reports on challenging issues such as modern day slavery, climate change and women’s rights. The Foundation also offers pro bono legal support to NGOs seeking justice for victims of slavery and trafficking. Susan has served on the board of the International Rescue Committee (IRC-UK) 2012-18 and remains involved in refugee issues. She was Vice-Chair on the Carter Center UK board 2010-14 and was Co-Chair of the Human Rights Watch London Committee 2006-10. Susan was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and was based in New York in the 90s for her career in the development sector. For the last 20 years, she has lived in London, UK with her husband and teenage son. In July 2021, she and her family are starting a new chapter in Washington, DC. How To Be An Amazing Volunteer Overseas is her first book. Connect with Susan on Instagram @amazingvolunteer and AmazingVolunteer.com