For many high school students coming to America, finding ways to participate and integrate into their community is a top priority. Students often join academic clubs, dance teams, sports teams, and more so that they can fit right in with their host families and peers. One great way for international students to bond with their community, that is sometimes overlooked, is volunteering!
Volunteer work allows students to prepare for the future, as well as give back to the communities hosting them. Not only does volunteering boost social skills and awareness of social issues, high school students who volunteer often may have an advantage over their peers who have not volunteered when applying to colleges.
Here’s a list of reasons why you should be encouraging students to actively pursue volunteering once they arrive in their host communities:
For your students coming to America, they have a lot on their minds when they first arrive. Meeting new friends, fitting in with their new family, and starting a whole new school is daunting. Volunteer work not only provides an outlet for students to connect to their new community but it also can be beneficial in the future in regards to college or career.
The best way to find out about volunteer opportunities is to tell your students to find their counselor at school or to ask their new host family member. These individuals are often aware of their community’s offerings and have probably been involved in volunteering in some way or another. A quick google search of the area’s non-profit organizations can also help students with finding volunteer opportunities. Students can find volunteer opportunities in all sorts of fields; from working with animals to building homes, the opportunities are endless!
Giving back to a host community can seem like just another thing to add to a student’s already long list of tasks or activities, but it can be one of the most rewarding and create special memories and opportunities for students long after they’ve left their American families and home.