Many volunteers have harbored secret dreams of what the headlines will say when they return from their heroic adventures:
“Volunteer saves rural village from mudslide.”
“Philanthropist banishes malaria from Africa.”
“Educated Westerner teaches hundreds of poor children to read.”
And below the front-page title, a black and white photograph that perfectly captures a tired smile, tousled hair, and a few beads of sweat earned valiantly in the battle against all that is wrong in the world.
There are many excellent reasons to volunteer, but in order to truly make the most of your experience, you must carefully and honestly assess your expectations. Holding onto an unrealistic fantasy, no matter how big or small, can only lead to disenchantment.
Here are a few common expectations best avoided: