No halters. No tank tops. No short shorts. No. No. No.
When volunteering abroad, it is CRITICAL that you dress appropriately every day. Not some days, not just when you are working or walking around your host family’s house – EVERY day. This is not rocket science but you’d be surprised how tough it is for westerners to simply clean it up.
Volunteers are not tourists. And it’s not that tourists should get the green light to dress like they are in downtown L.A. However, volunteers are held to a much higher standard since they are living and working the community. They are respected like locals.
If you are volunteering abroad, do you need to rush out and buy a sari? No. Would it go a long way if you bought a few traditional articles of clothing? Absolutely. A friend of mine was teaching in Nepal and had a traditional Kurtha made in her village. Every day that she wore it to teach, the kids and teachers LOVED it. It cost her $15 to show on a regular basis how much she admired the culture. And, it’s a great souvenir.
General “rules” when it comes to dress:
- Shorts/Skirts should fall below the knee
- No plunging necklines (no traces of cleavage)
- No bare shoulders or backs
- No bikinis
A good rule of thumb is if you are packing and questioning if the skirt is long enough or the neckline is high enough, don’t pack it. The less skin exposed, the more appropriate. It’s better to be safe than sorry.