“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Few experiences are more powerful than those that force you to step out of your comfort zone.
When you go on a service trip, you’re integrated into a new community. You serve people you don’t know. You help bridge the gap between social issues. You learn more about yourself and the world around you. And it’s powerful.
Here are five reasons why everyone should make it a point to go on a service trip outside of their personal community.
1) You’ll Meet Great People
You’re likely to go on a service trip with a group people. These people will be your go-tos for the length of your trip, especially if your destination is somewhere with limited cellular service. Through traveling together, serving together, and living together, you’re bound to make some great friends. You will also meet people who live in the community, whether they’re locals or live in the community as members of your host organization.
2) Learn More About a Social Problem
There’s a service trip out there for everyone. If you’re passionate about education, you could teach English to students in a foreign country to help them qualify for a wider variety of jobs when they get older. If you aspire to be an advocate for refugees, you can travel to a refugee resettlement city to help new Americans find resources and learn English. No matter who you’re serving and for what reasons, just remember that these people don’t need you to come in and “help” them. Your purpose is primarily to provide a resource they otherwise might not have. It’s important to keep this in mind as you learn more about the social problem your service trip is focused on.
3) Experience a New Culture
Before entering a new community and culture, you should educate yourself. It’s important to respect mannerisms and dress codes while you’re serving. By doing so, you’re likely to be accepted by the community, which will allow you to fully experience the culture. This could mean a variety of things, such as trying new foods, walking instead of driving places, wearing different clothes, and living in a different type of space. You might experience some culture shock, but this is good for you. This will really open your eyes to alternative ways of doing the things you’re used to doing every day, just out of habit.
4) You’ll Grow as a Person
In just one service trip, it’s possible to learn a lot more about yourself than you would expect. You’ll find out how well you can think on the fly, your ability to adapt to new situations, and what makes you smile extra hard. You’ll see more value in the little things, and find pieces of your heart you didn’t even know you were missing. Most importantly, you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime. Like anything, a service trip is what you make of it, but if you make it a point to have a great trip, I’m sure you’ll notice some positive changes about yourself.
5) Explore Your Passion
A service trip is bound to either make you more passionate about a cause than you already were, or help you find a passion you didn’t know you had. Just don’t lose sight of this passion after your service trip is over.