As you can expect, there is a privilege that accompanies living, working, and thriving in another country. That privilege often comes with both financial, emotional, professional, and physical well-being. One of the things I think is essential in our journeys from country to country is to contribute intentionally and personally to your environment — give back.
As I am from the United States, I think about November and its major holiday at home — Thanksgiving. It is time to “give thanks” for the many things we have in life.
In that same fashion, I think it is appropriate for us when we are abroad; we should incorporate a sense of thankfulness and gratitude to those around us, such as local friends, colleagues, and the general population.
Expressing thankfulness for what your host country has given you, can be returned in ways that are pleasant and heartwarming. Let me share these three ways of how we give back now and in the future as expats.
Understanding the local needs allows you to give back in an area that will use your qualified skills in your community to create an impact. Determine your capacity (time, resources, effort), then find a space in need in your community and offer your assistance.
Remember to volunteer in an area for which you have a purpose, passion, or both; thus, your service could be more long-term versus one-off. It could be tutoring at an orphanage, teaching basic literacy to adults, rescuing abandoned animals, delivering meals to the elderly, or a local community center.
You are working in your host country primarily because of your expertise. During your downtime, share your insights and help build skills and capacity. Offer skill development to members of the population who might not otherwise have access. What is the missing knowledge gap in your community — provide workshops, webinars, or services to create improvements in the local community needs.
Offering intro-level knowledge and practical applications on subject matters like leadership development, business development, global digitalization, and trending technology, are all insights that help small business owners.
Also, if you are creative and have hobbies that are teachable and fun, share those too. Arts and crafts, music, painting, sports, and physical wellness are all valuable experiences for all ages. Your knowledge and expertise, free of charge, go a long way in building capacity and relationships.
Yes, this is not volunteering but is an immense act of giving back and supporting the local economy. Buying locally is one of the biggest things we can always do to help the local community in which we live.
Shop at the local grocery store, from your local roadside vendor, from your local produce market. Patronizing local businesses helps to grow the economic infrastructure, which can lead to long-term investment in the country.
Additionally, it is essential that we integrate into our community, and part of integration is showing our expression of gratitude to those we live around on a daily basis.
Giving back in this respect is not an act of charity, but demonstrating care by fulfilling a need in the community to which you belong. So, giving back to your local community in any way possible is a way of integrating into your host country.
I provided three examples of giving back; there are so many more; find one that fits you. Using your skills, talents, and expertise is the best way you can give back in your new home.
If you have family, make sure that your children and spouse are also doing the same. The adage is true from my perspective — the more we give, the more we gain.
I am writing from my cultural perspective in the context of my country’s holiday, but I do not think this context is only applicable to us. I do think expats, regardless of their nationality, should take the opportunity to express gratitude in a meaningful manner in their host country.
The act of thanksgiving and gratitude is universal. Being grateful, in collaboration with giving back, is good for humankind. Therefore, I encourage you to give back in your location, regardless of what country you’re from and what country you are presently living in.
I would love to hear from you. How do you give back and show gratitude when you live or travel internationally?
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