4 reasons why you should consider volunteering while studying abroad | Top Universities

4 reasons why you should consider volunteering while studying abroad

By Chloe Lane

Updated May 16, 2023 Updated May 16, 2023

Sponsored by AlMaarefa University 

Volunteering is an excellent way for students to gain valuable work experience while helping their community – but there’s a lot more to volunteering than this. 

Students at AlMaarefa University in Saudi Arabia are volunteering for SaudiVision 2030: a series of projects that open up new areas of economic activity, create jobs and drive economic development in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. 

“With the volunteering philosophy we have at Almaarefa University, we hope to be an important figure in contributing to achieve the Saudi Vision’s goals,” said Dr Nasser AlJarAllah, the vice president of AlMaarefa University. 

Read on as we reveal some of the many benefits of volunteering while studying abroad. 

Volunteering will help you bridge the skills gap 

Soft skills are now an essential workplace tool that employers expect graduates to have. However, according to the Saudi Vision 2030, there is a skills gap between the needs of the Saudi Arabian job market and the outputs of higher education. 

AlMaarefa University recommends volunteering as a great way to address this. 

“Through community service, students gain real-world experience and practice important skills like leadership, problem-solving and time-management,” said Dr Khalid AlShaya, Head of Social Outreach at AlMaarefa University.

These skills cannot be learnt theoretically, explains Dr AlJarAllah. “Students must be deeply involved in activities to practice these skills. By volunteering, they can successfully cultivate and plant the skills needed for their future career,” he said.

Gain real-world experience 

While working on your skills, volunteering can also be an excellent way to boost your CV and improve your job prospects. 

“The benefits of volunteering for students’ career paths are undeniable. Not only can volunteering help with building professional skills, but it can also make them stand out when applying for jobs or advanced degree programmes in future,” said Dr AlShaya.

He continues: “Volunteering offers students the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to practical scenarios that have real implications. Service-learning opportunities can offer the same skills-boosting opportunities as student internships, but with the added benefit of improving the lives of others.” 

One student who recently volunteered on the Saudi Vision 2030 projects explained that balancing their volunteering with their studies helped them figure out a good work-life balance – something that will make them a better employee in the future.

Make a difference to people’s lives and help the local community 

For many students the opportunity to make a difference to someone’s life is a major incentive in wanting to volunteer, as is the chance to contribute to the local community and learn more about the culture and society of the place where they’re studying. 

“Students can volunteer for their community, benefiting the students and their community at the same time,” said Dr Nasser AlJarAllah.

AlMaarefa University’s volunteering aims are closely tied to Saudi Vision 2030’s quality of life programme, which has initiatives focused on liveability, covering health, education and happiness for people living in Saudi Arabia. 

“For me, the most important benefit is that we participate in achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision. It’s a purely humanitarian vision that aims to benefit all human beings wherever they are and whoever they are. This goal is concordant with the deep meaning of volunteering: to play an active part in making others happy,” said one of the students who took part. 

At AlMaarefa University, the students worked in teams to offer preventative awareness programmes which helped to change the bad health habits in the community. They also raised awareness of the dangers of medical waste and its impact on the environment, showing the community how to properly dispose of expired drugs or medications. Finally, they provided courses for the community to raise awareness of the potential risks of electronic cyber fraud.

Improve your mental health

Studies suggest that volunteering regularly can have a positive impact on your mental health. 

The National Council for Volunteer Organisations claims that volunteering has been found to show increased life satisfaction, better self-reported well-being, increased self-esteem, longer living, and reduced depression symptoms. 

“We feel happy and a sense of accomplishment when we give and do good for others and the community. Volunteering can also give you a sense of pride and identity. When we feel good, we are happy to learn new skills and we gain confidence. Positive emotions reduce stress and boost our immune system,” said Dr Khalid AlShaya.

Volunteering can also make you more empathetic, helping you to understand different perspectives. This will be useful in every aspect of life, including in the workplace.

Dr Khalid AlShaya said: “Volunteering gives you the ability to see life from a totally different perspective and to identify with the problems, challenges and situations of others, a skill that is crucial to being able to work with others.”

Photo by RDNE Stock project

This article was originally published in May 2023 .

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 


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