25 Jul An Ultimate Guide to Volunteer in Vietnam as an English Teacher
More and more travelers decide to explore the beauty of the world with an idea of meaningful travel. The meaningful travel isn’t just a mindless traveling around the globe and doing all the regular touristy things; exploring most “beautiful” places, trying this and that, boosting your ego by posting ‘cool’ photos on social media, etc.
A meaningful traveling is a way of traveling where you leave a positive impact on a place you’re traveling too. It means that you have the interest to learn more about the people, their culture and you really want to impact their lives during your stay positively.
Can you see yourself in that description of traveling? Well, one of the most convenient ways to deeply explore the country’s landscape, culture, traditions while connecting with the local community and making a lasting impact on the same community is volunteering.
Why to Volunteer as an English Teacher in Vietnam?
That’s the most common question as people know that demand for English teachers is enormous in this part of the world, and you can make a good living as a teacher on the payroll in Vietnam.
I was lucky enough to meet and talk with many English teachers in Vietnam (and around the globe), and in general, the biggest motivation is, of course, of financial nature. Well, I can’t deny it, teachers here are making good money while working around 20 hours per week. Living costs in Vietnam are low compared to western countries and while making good money, you still have enough to save.
It’s a job that requires a commitment to school or organization for some time to make profits. Sounds good, right?
Well, what about the meaningful side of teaching?
Majority of teachers are working in private schools, which means they are into the business, which is totally fine, but again, their motives can differ from pure money making.
Volunteering is a bit different as you won’t make any money during your project, which indicates your motives are aimed to make a change and impact the lives of local people. Majority of parents doesn’t have enough money to provide their kids with the chance for better education, so these kids don’t have many options later in life. That isn’t fair.
As a volunteer, you can invest your time and energy to really help communities around Vietnam to grow and provide people with equal opportunities when it comes to education and later, the job opportunities.
There is a huge educational gap between rural places and cities. Also, people in rural areas are significantly less paid, which means their options for education are even lower. That’s the perfect opportunity for meaningful travelers to help!
You can literally, with your time and energy, change the lives of many people and having that fact in mind is merely a fulfilling feeling.
One thing that needs to be mentioned is that the majority of volunteering projects will provide the food and accommodation (living with a local family) which means you will experience a real and authentic Vietnam during your stay! What more to ask for?
How to Find Your Next Volunteering Project in Vietnam?
Finding a suitable and meaningful project won’t be a much hustle if you know where to look. Many organizations offer volunteering projects in exchange for vast sums of money.
I, personally, don’t agree on paying a small fortune to be able to help someone. Many organizations made a good business model behind volunteering, and I’m firmly against it. If you’re about to volunteer with an NGO, then paying for a project is completely different. Organizations should be very transparent with their mission, vision and of course, a destination where the money goes.
Don’t feel discouraged yet, as there are still many legit organizations that put so much effort into making the world a better place! I recommend you check some of the volunteering platforms that aggregate projects in different fields.
I advise you to check HelpStay or Workaway – very intuitive platforms with many interesting projects. They charge a yearly membership fee to support their platform’s running costs. Platforms are incredibly transparent and easy to use.
I’ve also written a detailed HelpStay review based on my experience with platform. It can help you to find better projects that suit your needs.
Vietnam is a country that has many projects posted on HelpStay, which means many options when choosing the right fitting project for your values and motives.
Things to Check Before Accepting a Volunteering Project
Well, everyone has their own preferences and needs, but here are some things you should definitely consider before applying to any volunteering project:
- Check out the reliability and reputation of the organization you’re applying to. Read about their vision and mission, talk with people who volunteered there to get a better understanding of their work.
- What does the organization offer in exchange for your time and energy? If the project is very meaningful to you, but the organization doesn’t provide you with anything, that shouldn’t be an instant deal breaker. Everything depends on your values and possibilities, but a good thing would be that the organization provides you with free accommodation and food. That way, you can focus all your time and energy on teaching and making a difference, instead of thinking about your next meal or rent.
- Documentation requirements and what’s the visa process. Plan it carefully and on time as you don’t want to stress yourself about it.
- What about the school or center you’re going to volunteer in? Is it a non-profit?
- Check about the places you can visit and what the place where you’re going to live has to offer. It’s crucial that you’re living in a comfortable place where you can relax and sometimes spoil yourself, as teaching really requires a lot of energy and patience, especially when you’re teaching small kids.
- Get in contact with volunteers who plan to join the project or who’re already there, so they can give you practical advice before you land there.
Once You Are in Vietnam..
Many people give up the idea of volunteering as an English teacher because lacking the teaching experience. Well, don’t worry!
Prior experience with the kids is an excellent asset to have, but of course, it’s not crucial. If you’re a confident and open-minded person, you will get a grasp of teaching and dealing with kids very fast.
I’ve been volunteering in Vietnamese countryside for 4 months. I’ve never had an experience with kids or teaching before coming. You can read my volunteering experience as a teacher in Vietnam and get more insights.
If you see yourself in a teaching position, many organizations offer TEFL course and paid opportunities after a few months of volunteering, so you can go that way. Money is very good for Vietnam standards if you decide to try a paid teaching position.
Once you arrive in Vietnam and start with your volunteering project, you will realize how many options are there and how many people really need your help.
Before deciding to volunteer in Vietnam, it’s crucial that you did proper research and that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Also, ask yourself about true reasons why you’re doing that.
If you have any other questions or need help in finding a perfect volunteer teaching position in Vietnam, feel free to send the message!
Have you ever volunteered or worked as an English teacher in Vietnam? What were the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered?
This is a guest post by Antonio from the travel blog Vietnam Chronicles
About the author: A passionate traveler who is interested in shortening the gap between rich and poor by helping in the field of education. Very passionate about the diversity of cultures around the world and meeting new people that inspire me on a daily basis to continue doing great things. You can follow his adventures on Facebook.