Why Distance Learning?

‘The times they are changing’. Our exposure to the rest of the world is so different than it used to be. With the advent of relatively inexpensive air tickets, people travel greater distances more frequently and have therefore more direct experience today of different cultures and traditions than ’yesterday’.  Contemporary society is also richer in diverse peoples from all parts of the world in our universities and colleges and, often in daily lives in any urban environment. Our lives too seem to be fuller and busier. Finding time to do all that is required of us is more difficult as opportunities open. At least this is our experience in working with short term volunteers. CTBI Christians Abroad constantly seeks ways of minimizing the expense of the necessary work that needs to be done without compromising on quality. In fact, as we reflect on the changes that we have made, we realise that sometimes the quality of what we do is enhanced by new ways of working which incorporates our greater ease with telecommunications and internet technology. The world is a smaller place and new exciting ways of working are opening before us.

Why Preparation? 

For the volunteer: We believe strongly in a period of reflection and preparation before undertaking voluntary work in an overseas placement.  It doesn’t really matter how many times you have been overseas before or where you have been, the need for a period of reflection is always present and is beneficial.  The aim of voluntary work, as far as we are concerned, is to provide opportunities for personal growth towards greater maturity for the volunteer – a lifelong endeavour…it doesn’t only start when you are 14 or stop when you are 65; it is a continuous experience. The chance to live life in all its fullness is ever before us…and what this means to us will be different as we mature. It is not only about pleasure or pain; wealth or poverty, sophistication or simplicity, happiness or sadness…it is about the deepening of our experience of life in all its profundity. Being ready for new experiences is as important as assimilating what we have learned from our previous experiences.

For the Placement community: Of course, it would be selfish and illusory to believe this is all about the individual. If we were to think the value of any placement was only of value to a a volunteer,  we would be misguided and inappropriately placed. It is always also about our community; specifically about our inter relationships together as a community. Our journeying is part and parcel of the journeying of everyone else around us…our dependence on each other is obvious in many ways and subtle and understated in other ways. Our thriving enables others to thrive and a thriving community enables us to thrive. When we ‘volunteer’, it is about giving and receiving for both the volunteer and the placement and the wider community in which it functions…there is an inextricable mix and it is an illusion to think otherwise. There are always responsibilities as well as opportunities.

All of the above is by way of explanation of why CTBI Christians Abroad believes in sound preparation for all short term volunteers and why they choose to deliver it as distance learning.

The Programme

The programme for distance learning preparation includes;

  • Health and Safety: keeping safe and remaining healthy whilst in an overseas placement.
  • Communications: new technology; the advantages and disadvantages of e-mail, blogs, Facebook etc.
  • Country and Project Briefing: where the resources are and how to use them.
  • Cultural Adaptation: understanding the nuances of different behaviour in a culture new to you.
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback: the importance of good communication when things go right or wrong.
  • Mission and Development: what are the differences and similarities in the use of these terms?
  • Motivation and Making a Difference: understanding yourself and your placement as the first step in making a difference.
  • Personal relationships: closeness, sexuality and friendship in a culture new to you.
  • Safeguarding: working with children and vulnerable adults.
  • World Faiths: opening up new pathways to understanding your own spirituality.
  • Bible Reading, Reflection and Prayer: some reflective reading on each of the preparation topics.


To find out more, contact Colin on . The course is available to anyone whether they are a Christians Abroad volunteer or not.