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The Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering to Afford a Gap Year

Originally published at: The Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering to Afford a Gap Year | Joe's Writers' Club

By Jack Gayer In my late teens and early 20s, I backpacked through South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. One of the main benefits of volunteering in these countries was that it allowed me to stay longer without having to spend money. This is because some programs, like the ones I did, gave you a room and board in exchange for a set amount of labor. However, there were also unexpected benefits of volunteering to afford a gap year besides saving money. Experiencing, Not Just Skimming a Country  For South Africa, I used Workaway, a volunteer site that connects volunteers with hosts around the world. Through them, I found Simonskloof, a mountain retreat several hours outside of Cape Town. While at Simonskloof, I was able to experience the country in a way many tourists don’t have the chance to. I went to many “Braais,” or barbeques at neighbors’ and friends’ houses. I ate regional food and not just restaurant versions of it. Locals taught me about the country’s history, the current regime, and the everyday issues they dealt with. In short, I became part of the community while learning about the country as a whole. One issue South Africans hope…