What to Expect
If you are looking for an overseas volunteer or internship position you are probably aware that many different options exist.
Before making any decisions you should think about what type of volunteer experience you are looking for and consider some of the following factors:
- What types of projects would you like to work on? (Research? Education? Fundraising? Organization? Advocacy?)
- What level of supervision/guidance do you expect?
- How long are you prepared to stay overseas?
- To what extent are you looking to immerse yourself in the culture, for example, to eat local food, and to meet local people? Do you want to spend the majority of your time with other volunteers from abroad?
- What level of commitment are you prepared to give the organization that you are working for?
There is no right answer to any of these questions, but your responses should affect the type of position you apply for. UAC wants to make sure that every volunteer who comes to work with its organization has a positive and enriching experience. To achieve this goal, UAC tries to ensure that volunteers’ expectations match the experience offered. Considering the factors mentioned above and past volunteer feedback, the UAC volunteer experience generally can be characterized as follows:
- UAC is a grassroots NGO.
This means that, should you come as a volunteer, you will get a real development experience, but you will also need to be motivated and take initiative if you want to make a difference. It will be your responsibility to find areas where you want to work and get involved to the best of your abilities. UAC staff members are there to help you get the information and resources you need to help the organization, but they are not responsible for scheduling your day or telling you what to do.
- The length of your stay with UAC is up to you.
You should consider staying for a minimum of 3 months because it’s likely that any shorter time will be insufficient, both in terms of your personal experience and the work that you can do. A longer stay provides time for planning out where you can be of the most assistance, fundraising (if necessary), implementing your programs, and, perhaps most importantly, addressing any sustainability issues to make sure that the projects you have worked on can continue after you have left.
- For many volunteers, UAC strikes the ideal balance between integration into Cameroonian society and camaraderie with other overseas volunteers.
Volunteers at UAC live in at Volunteers apartments very close to project site, with meals served at the house of the Project Coordinator, Mr Orock. Volunteers typically develop friendships with Cameroonians working at the school, as well as with other people living in and around Buea. UAC’s volunteers tend to treat each other like family, and often go on trips to the rest of Cameroon together. More experienced volunteers act as a great resource/Mentors for new volunteers trying to get their feet in a new culture. In short, you can integrate as much or as little as you feel comfortable, and UAC will be there to support you.
- Volunteering at UAC is not like a regular job.
Volunteers travel here because they are highly interested in working with UAC towards its goals. There are no fixed working hours for volunteers, nor imposed deadlines (other than those you impose on yourself). Volunteers often take weekends off, and have time for exploring Buea and the surrounding area, swimming at some of the beautiful nearby beaches, and exploring some of Cameroon’s other Regions.