Your university or college years can be an amazing time. You get to try new things, make new friends, learn, party, and start making your way into your future. However, this is a time that can also be stressful and scary as you move away from home and you are presented with new challenges such as learning to live on your own while facing regular exams and deadlines. What is more, the rising cost of studying and the stress about your post-studies future leads to 1 out of 5 college students to suffer depression and anxiety as noted by the PennState Center for Collegiate Mental Health. Your new roles and responsibilities away from home might seem insurmountable sometimes, but there is a way to counter all these negative feelings while beginning to leave your mark in the world – giving.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), volunteering leads to lower depression rates and higher life-satisfaction as you develop a sense of purpose and accomplishment while developing your social network. This also leads to a higher self-esteem and a feeling of health greater control over your life choices which can create a self-reinforcing cycle where you continue charitable work throughout different stages in your life.
Additionally, an AmeriCorps Alumni Outcomes Study shows that college students that volunteer:
- Learn how to apply their educational skillset to real-life situations and improve their problem-solving abilities.
- Become more politically active and engage in voting at much higher levels than the national average.
- Gain more confidence and feel better prepared to tackle issues within their community.
- Have a higher chance of attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher than the average adult.
- Gain experience which positively impacts their career path and future goals.
LikedIn has also found evidence that employers react positively to volunteer work and commitment so social causes. This is because volunteers develop a greater skill-set that can prove valuable for their employers, and they create a positive environment of passionate people that will benefit the company and other employees.
More prescient, however, by doing volunteer work in an organization such as Caritas Smile you can create social connections that will be there for you when you need it most. You will also find happiness in giving, as a 2006 study from the National Institutes of Health has shown, because charitable work activates regions of the brain that are associated with trust, pleasure, and social connections. In other words, you help yourself by helping others, and you change your own life by helping others change theirs. Moreover, if you choose to volunteer for Caritas Smile you can begin exploring the world through our Take A Trip Change A Life program.
You can volunteer abroad and change the lives of women, children, and entire communities while being immersed in a completely different culture that will widen your boundaries and change your life. During our trips to the Dominican Republic and Honduras, you can volunteer to rebuild a school or a home. You can help local businesses or gain experience by working in them. You can teach English or work in an orphanage or a school, and many more things. By choosing take a trip with Caritas Smile, we will make sure that you work in an area that best suits you and your goals while being in a positive and safe environment.
Your college years can be a roller coaster of emotions and experiences, but volunteering can be one of the positive experiences that will have a long-lasting impact to your health, future, and career. Volunteering with Caritas smile is simply an opportunity to make your volunteering an experience where you can learn from an entirely different culture, customs and language while improving your life.
Talia Velez is a Growth Impact Officer at Caritas Smile, a non-profit service travel program dedicated to making positive impacts and sustainable changes for women and children in developing countries. Having grown up in Mexico, Talia is keenly aware of the day-to-day issues faced by women and children in countries with more economic vulnerability. Visit our site to learn more about Caritas Smile and join us in our mission to help those in need.