Volunteer, internship, apprenticeship…what is the difference?
These words are used quite loosely and often interchangeably, but what is the difference and how can you present the experience you are offering or looking to participate in in the correct way? Here are the definitions and how you can create a program that will suit your needs and the needs of the participant.
What about WWOOFing?
Perhaps you have been a WWOOFer or maybe you get requests to accept WWOOFers. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms and is a global network of workers and farms/projects who are seeking an energy exchange that does not allow for any financial exchange. There are other organizations to work through as well, such as Organic Volunteers, Workaway, and HelpX, but mostly people just call it all "woofing."
"WWOOFers" are asked to work a certain number of hours daily, and time commitments vary from a few days to a few weeks. Members, both those volunteering and those hosting, pay annual dues for use of the network and website for each country the volunteer is interested in working in, with prices ranging from $0-$75 USD.
This has benefits depending on what you are willing to do as a volunteer and what you are willing to offer as a host. If you are entering your harvest season and need extra hands, WWOOFers can be great, get them doing busy work. If the project needs a bit more skill and attention, there is no commitment other than the word of the volunteer that they will be present to help. They can flake on you and from experience, I can say they do.
This is the reason why many farms have switched to asking for volunteer tuitions because they are guaranteed a monetary exchange for their time/energy in hosting a volunteer. Due to the current capitalist paradigm we live in, paying for something adds a kind of value that typically warrants commitment. I have found that in Central America, people rarely accept WWOOFers, it seems to be something European projects gravitate toward.
Self-regulation and openness to feedback...
Before your go hosting volunteers, or offering your services to others, ask yourself a few questions:
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