How To Be Mindful And Respectful While Traveling Abroad

Volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to make a positive impact in a community while gaining a deeper understanding of different cultures and ways of life. However, it’s important to be mindful and respectful of the local community and customs while volunteering abroad. Here are some tips to help you do so:


Research and understand the local culture:

Before you travel, take the time to learn about the local customs, beliefs, and values. This will help you to better understand the community you’ll be working with and to avoid unintentionally offending anyone.

Listen to and learn from the locals:

When you arrive in the community, take the time to listen to the locals and learn from them. This will help you to understand their needs and perspectives and to tailor your volunteer work to this.


Respect the local traditions and customs:

It’s important to respect the local traditions and customs, even if they are different from your own. Be aware of your dress and behavior, and avoid doing anything that could be considered disrespectful or offensive.

Work alongside the locals:

When volunteering, work alongside the locals and collaborate with them on projects. This will help to build trust and respect and ensure that your efforts are sustainable and effective.

Be aware of your impact:

While volunteering, be aware of the impact you are having on the community. Make sure your actions are positive and sustainable, and avoid creating dependencies or unintentional harm.


Show gratitude and appreciation:

Finally, show gratitude and appreciation to the locals for their hospitality and willingness to work with you. This will help to build positive relationships and ensure that your volunteer work is effective and sustainable.


By following these tips, you can ensure that your volunteer work abroad is both mindful and respectful and that you make a positive impact in the community you’re working with. MEDLIFE prioritizes making as positive an impact as possible on our partner communities. We ask all volunteers to remember that they are representing our organization while working on Service Learning Trips and to always behave in a respectful and mindful manner.

If you would like to assist local communities in Peru, Ecuador, or Costa Rica in gaining access to quality healthcare, education, and housing, visit our website to learn how you can join a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip.


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.