Once a site has been identified and goals have been defined, it is time to assemble a team to bring your volunteer plans to fruition. This process is certainly much easier if you have joined a well-established group—a move that is recommended for first-time volunteers. As a volunteer, you are usually responsible for funding some supplies and your travel to meet the rest of your volunteer group at a central location.
The size of your team depends on the goals of the project, the availability and limits of local transportation and housing conditions, and the time frame that is involved. Service projects of short duration can usually accommodate more people. Training programs or long-range programs—that is, those lasting longer than a month—generally have fewer participants, quite often just one or two people.
Many international projects are very demanding physically. Be aware of the potential for real physical stress. If you have any health problems, seek medical clearance before participating. Also, when preparing for a project in a foreign country, be prepared to do just a little bit more than your own share. With everyone involved applying this approach, work tends to get done without resentment. When every team member looks out for everyone else, the strength of the team can be awe-inspiring.
When team members provide mutual support, veteran volunteers can serve as sounding boards for newcomers. First-time volunteers often experience situations or cultural differences that defy comprehension based on their life at home. Talking about what they have seen or done can lead to a greater understanding of the situation. An evening roundtable discussion is an ideal time for volunteers to engage in these personal reflections.