29 Jun Volunteer Abroad Profile: MCC International
What if you could do meaningful work abroad and not have to worry about money? In our series of Live Abroad Profiles, we share stories and examples of great opportunities and the people who are pursuing them. Our first profile features our dear friends…
Volunteer Profile: The Treadway Family
This Spring, we jumped at the opportunity to visit our friends, Major and Karen, in Hanoi, Vietnam. Before moving to Vietnam, Major and Karen lived in Indonesia for four years, where their first son was born. While there, they served as Exchange Coordinators for MCC (Mennonite Central Committee). While not Mennonites themselves, their commitment to faith and peace-building qualified them for this leadership role where they supported incoming and outgoing volunteers from around the world.
After a brief stint back in Oregon, our friends were drawn back to work with MCC, this time overseeing MCC’s development efforts throughout Vietnam for a minimum of five years. During their first few months in Hanoi, their second son was born.
They live in a relatively quiet corner of the busy, bustling city. The MCC office, where they do most of their work, is a short five minute walk from home, down a colorful market street. When lunch time comes, they are joined by their sons and MCC’s Vietnamese staff to share a delicious home-cooked meal together. Like family, the Vietnamese Aunties take turns holding their baby and entertaining his older brother. When everyone is all together, there are 10 people around the table. But some days, members of the staff are out traveling to communities around the country where they run education, peace, health, and agriculture programs.
Major and Karen have a unique and truly advantageous set up as service workers with the Mennonite Central Committee. Their living costs are covered through the program, including healthcare, room and board, childcare, necessary travel, language classes, and a monthly stipend. As long-term staff (3 years or more), they have even started to receive retirement benefits along with vacation allowance and a small resettlement stipend when they return to the States. Unlike many faith-based volunteer organizations, they are not required to raise funds for themselves, although they do participate in activities that generate support for MCC.
To learn more about more of the volunteer travel opportunities through MCC, read on…
About Mennonite Central Committee Volunteer Opportunities
MCC ( Mennonite Central Committee) is the relief and development arm of the Mennonite Church working in 60 countries around the world. They focus on relief, development, and peace in the name of Christ.
MCC’s aim is that the ongoing effects of each project will continue to benefit the hosting communities long after MCC’s participation in the project has concluded. MCC places a strong emphasis on connecting peoples, and one way that is lived out in the organization is through the global service-learning department which oversees exchange programs and learning tours.
One Year Volunteer Exchange Program
One year exchange programs are available for North Americans going overseas, people from other countries going to North America, and non-Americans staying in other countries. People go primarily as learners and to be in relationship with people over and above their project assignment. If there is a conflict between task and relationship, MCC volunteers are encouraged to prioritize the relationship because that has the greatest potential for impact on a person or a community (be it the local or the visitor).
Participants are encouraged to be very intentional before they start their experience abroad by connecting with friends and family before they start, then sharing about their experiences during their stay and after they return. This allows a larger group of people to experience the culture of a new place rather than simply an individual having an isolated experience.
Short-Term Learning Tours
Learning tours are group trips MCC has developed to interact with a community for 2 or 3 weeks. Again, participants take the posture of learner, not a savior. They’re not coming to fix a problem but to learn about a people and hear their stories. MCC offers learning tours in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
There are also a number of three-year volunteer assignments in the 60 countries where MCC is working. These positions support MCC’s various work projects and usually require more specific professional skills.
Requirements and Benefits
Who Can Volunteer: The three basic screens for all staff and volunteers are: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, active involvement in a faith community, and a commitment to non-violence. There is much flexibility in regards to denomination and theology. Exchange programs are limited to 18 to 30 year-olds. Health checks are required for insurance purposes.
Living Conditions/Arrangements: It is most common for a volunteer to live with a host family. Long-term staff will have their own private home.
Benefits: SALT (North Americans) volunteers fundraise their own contribution, but non-North Americans participate for free. Funds cover: flight to destination, healthcare, dental, vision (for new problems), room and board, necessary travel and expenses, plus a small monthly stipend.
Service workers with a term of 3 years and longer are considered “financially sustained volunteers.” They receive full medical/dental/vision coverage, all necessary expenses covered, a monthly stipend and vacation allowance, small resettlement allowance, and no support-raising is required. Benefits for these positions increase incrementally with time (including retirement pay after a few years and longer vacation allowances).
Learn more about volunteer and employment positions with MCC on their Serve With MCC page.
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