Why Volunteer Abroad Programs In Japan Can Change Lives Forever
Experience a working holiday in Japan!
After the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, Japan remains a country that welcomes anyone wishing to get involved in volunteer work there. With the added bonus of learning more on the fascinating Japanese culture and way of life, working there can be a life-changing experience.
Volunteer programs in foreign countries can provide fantastic opportunities to gain a little life experience that can change your whole view of the world. With its splendid culture, beautiful landscapes and glorious temples, Japan is one of the finest options for volunteer work overseas. Essentially made up of a series of islands, the four largest of them – Kyushu, Shikoku, Hokkaido and Honshu – provide the best opportunities for a wide variety of challenging and fulfilling volunteer work.
Of course, while the country retains a resolute sense of its long tradition of culture and history, it is, on the whole, a relatively Westernised region that enjoys a high level of technological advancement. The country is also organised and clean. Nonetheless, especially since the aforementioned earthquake and tsunami, the country has many regions that are crying out for further development. Playing your part in this development will prove a highly rewarding experience that will remain with you forever.
The opportunities here can range from working on organic farms to working with not-for-profit organisations that aim to provide much-needed services to the local communities. While not an easy language to learn, mastering a few Japanese phrases is certainly rewarding and can help to maximise your experience in the Far East.
As noted above, the opportunities here are numerous and varied. One option you may decide is right for you is working with people who have certain disabilities. Often situated in eco-friendly locations, the communities that are home to a large number of adults with a variety of physical or mental disabilities are vital in helping them overcome the obvious difficulties they face. Many of the communities will include amenities such as farms and gardens, community-run cafés and workshops such as recycling centres.
As a volunteer you could chose to help out in any of these areas, taking on tasks such as baking, handicrafts, knitting or weaving, or helping out in the gardens, the recycling centre or even a pottery. More often than not you will be given a choice of living in the community itself or with a host family.
Alternatively, you could choose to vary your activities by including the opportunity to work with both the disabled and the elderly. These projects allow you to work in a variety of settings, whether that means nursing homes or day care centres. They will also offer you the opportunity to assist in a number of other areas, which may include organising fun activities for your group.
On the other hand, you may decide that you would prefer to work with the younger generation. In this case, there are a number of communities in which volunteers help young adults return to society should they have suffered problems with mental health or abuse, for example. Here you may be required to work in a variety of roles, which can range from helping in the café to providing PC support.
Finally, for those who are more interested in the business or administration side of things, working for one of the NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in Japan could be the best option. Providing volunteer workers with ample opportunity to gain experience in both administration and research roles, working through an NGO will offer the chance to learn both how not-for-profit organisations function and how the Japanese business culture operates. However, these roles will require the individual to have a good command of the Japanese language.
Don Mason writes regularly on volunteer work overseas for a wide range of related websites and blogs. He himself has embarked on a number of volunteer abroad programs.