what you learn as an aid worker
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What You Learn As an Aid Worker

Aid workers provide much-needed help to those in need. They do incredible and motivational work. But it’s important to remember that as human beings, we always have the opportunity to grow and learn. And aid work is one of the best ways to do so. While aid workers deliver services and humanitarian help, they also can learn from the communities that they serve. Here is a list of the things what you learn as an aid worker or while volunteering abroad.

  1. Culture shock and reverse culture shock

One of the most incredible things about the world is its richness in diversity and culture. But this can be a double-edged sword. Adapting to a new culture is no joke. It’s challenging, grinding and takes a lot of patience. But it’s also an incredible learning opportunity about yourself and others.

What’s particularly interesting, is that cultural adaptation changes the way you perceive things yourself. For example, you are likely to experience reverse culture shock, when you go back home. Behaviors or actions that used to seem normal will surprise you and challenge you. Overall, this unique cultural exposure will open your mind to new ways and new worldviews.

If you are scheduled to come home soon from the field, here are some tips on preparing for your return.

  1. Those vulnerable have agency

The media bombards us with images of sick and poor, encouraging us to donate and provide aid. One of the most important lessons for humanitarian workers is that even the most vulnerable people have agency. Feeling sorry for those in need is insulting, rather than helpful.

Humanitarian travel teaches you to listen to project beneficiaries because in most cases, they know what their real needs are. They also can show us life lessons, new ways of thinking about the world, as well as humility and humanity.

Lets put a smile on faces around the world

  1. Technology can’t solve all the problems

In the West, we tend to look at technology for solutions. Smart cities, new wireless networks, technology-aided education, and design, among others, are the flagships of new solutions for Western problems. But technology won’t solve all of the issues in the field.

As an aid worker, you will quickly learn that in the field technology might not be the solution. Instead, it is human connection and teamwork that will get you through the day. Additionally, the technique is only useful when accompanied by proper education and infrastructure.

  1. A connection is key to meaningful help

While technology might not be as helpful, human contact is the absolute key to delivering sustainable aid. Whether you are volunteering or working on an international humanitarian mission, you will need to figure out a way to connect with beneficiaries and co-workers, a valuable life lesson.

Sometimes the connection might mean learning a new language. Other times it might involve active listening and hearing what the other person has to say. But overall, it is about learning how to interact with others on a more meaningful level.

  1. Humanitarian travel is no vacation

Humanitarians will often hear others comment on how lucky they are to travel so much for work. But what the commentators imagine are beach walks and sleeping in. What you will quickly learn when volunteering abroad is that you might need to give up some comforts.

Often humanitarians travel to remote areas without any essential services. Some even go to conflict zones, putting themselves at risk. Of course, this is uncomfortable. However, it’s an incredible learning opportunity to understand how millions of people live and the situations they face daily.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

  1. Humans are incredibly resilient

Another valuable lesson you learn as an aid worker is that humans are super resilient. Despite the hardships, disasters, and conflict that they face, they overcome their situations. This realization will make you appreciate the human spirit more and more every day. It will likely be one of the biggest drivers for your career as an aid worker.

  1. There is more to happiness

Last but not least, humanitarians have the opportunity to realize that happiness is not all about comfort and material possessions. No matter the situation, people find joy in the most simple and humble ways.

For most, happiness comes from human connection, family and compassion. That is really key to humanity and humanitarianism.

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We believe our world is a better place when compassion can travel where it is needed most. As a global humanitarian travel organization, we devote ourselves to serving those who serve the world. You can reach our experienced staff at any given time. Please use our quick address locator to contact your nearest Raptim office should you have any questions. You can also follow our blog for more stories and travel information.