Here’s some practical steps you can take to help you adapt to life back in New Zealand:
Use the professional support offered
You may be eligible to take advantage of VSA’s offer of professional support through careers and/or therapeutic counselling - check your volunteer contract for eligibility and details.
Look after yourself
Give yourself time. It’s fine to acknowledge this can be a challenging and stressful period. Perhaps put off any major decisions until you feel more settled. As time passes you may begin to sense that your assignment, rather than being your entire life, is becoming just one part of it.
Plan for some holiday time with close friends and family, when they have more time and are relaxed and can hear your stories.
Plan also by making lists of things you need to accomplish. Ticking these off can be satisfying and help you feel in control of your life.
Stay in touch through VSAConnect
|One aspect of overseas volunteering that many people enjoy is the opportunity to meet new people.
Don’t lose that on returning home – you can continue to enjoy meeting new and like-minded people through VSA branches and VSAConnect.
VSAConnect itself has been set up specifically to keep returned volunteers in touch with each other and engaged with VSA. It offers:
- E-nius, a bi-monthly e-newsletter with profiles, news about people and events and more. You'll be asked on returning from assignment if you wish to be added to the distribution list.
- Local events for returned volunteers, which are a great opportunity to de-brief with others.
- A speaking programme: talking formally about your assignment can be very satisfying, a way of re-living and making sense of your VSA experience. VSAConnect organises frequent speaking engagements to service, community and professional groups. It can be validating to hold the floor, talk about your assignment and answer questions. The interest from these groups can be a pleasant surprise, and a good antidote to the day-to-day indifference reported by many returned volunteers.
Join your local VSA branch
During your de-brief you’ll be asked if your details can be passed on to your local VSA branch. They are a supportive group who will not only be genuinely interested in your assignment but will understand that re-entry has its challenges.Most branches meet regularly (often bi-monthly). Meetings are generally informal. Social and fundraising events are often organised and returned volunteers invited to speak.
What about joining a local volunteer organisation to give continuity with your overseas work? It could also provide you with new links in your community and networks for job seeking.