April 24, 2013:
"Kathleen, I am very interested in volunteering in France. I have a high level of French proficiency. I have been a translator of French and Moroccan Arabic into English and have lived and/or studied in Brittany, Paris, and Morocco.
"I just wrote to an organization that places volunteers with a high level of French proficiency in high schools in Saint Brieuc and Saint Malo. I adore each of these cities and would be very happy to return to either of them. (I have experience with each of them from an exchange program I was on in high school.) I have not seen where the heart of Chateaubriand is buried since 1978. That is still one of the highlights of my experience with what you might call my francophilia.
"I am also interested in a sort of longish opportunity--at least three months, which I understand is what I can do, maximum, without a visa--in either Paris or in the south of France. Ideally, I would work with children and/or the visual arts or cinema. There are some nice opportunities in the arts I have found, but they are mostly very short term and they also are for younger people without a lot of French language experience under their belts. I wonder what you would suggest?"
--Jackie M., United States, Ecuador Conference Attendee
Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper responds:
It would be easy to think that France is too tied up in bureaucracy to welcome foreigners to their volunteer dependent projects. Not so. As long as you have a valid passport and have not overstayed the three months allowed without a visa or have extended your visa (see France Diplomatie for visa information) you will be welcomed by may non-profit associations.
According to a report by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, 85% of associations in France rely exclusively on volunteers (bÃ©nÃ©voles, in French). In fields such as culture, sports, and recreation, which absorb nearly half the volunteers in the French non-profit sector, and environmental, international, and professional associations, volunteer work is the primary human resource.
What is the best way to find volunteer opportunities in France?
Taking a broad stroke, you could check out the websites of four of the big charities in France:
Croix Rouge, Restos du CÅ“ur, Fondation AbbÃ© Pierre, and Habitat and Humanisme.
These groups are always in need of volunteers, and you can find details of how to apply to help on their websites.
The 140-page Guide SolidaritÃ© produced by the city hall of Paris lists almost 130 homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other resources that need volunteer workers.
There are a number of umbrella associations that support volunteering and volunteers, for example: FÃ©dÃ©ration FranÃ§aise du BÃ©nÃ©volat et de la Vie Associative which you could contact for resources. And, of course, there is a government department (this site also lists a number of umbrella organizations that may be of interest).
An online search bought up some interesting individual projects--for example, La Sabranenque, a non-profit organization in southern France that revitalizes historic villages and is "committed to preserving traditional, environmentally friendly building techniques."
I think the two best ways to find volunteer opportunities in a specific area are:
First, Google "benevolat" with the name of the department where you're interested in volunteering. I did this with the Herault department in the Languedoc and found, among other sites: the Food Bank of L'Herault, France BÃ©nÃ©volat Montpellier HÃ©rault, and the Catholic Church association of volunteers.
Second, get talking to expats in forums. One of the best for France isAngloINFO France, which is made up of 20 local sites.
You indicate that you are fluent in French, which is great; however, I know from my own experience of helping at a voluntary organization in the BÃ©arn region of France, as well as my mother's experience volunteering in the Languedoc, that helping local people doesn't require fluency, just compassion. But it is a great way to learn the lingo.
About 16% of the world's countries, nearly all of them in the Western Hemisphere, grant jus soli citizenship. If a child is born in the territory of one of these countries, say, the United States, Argentina, Mexico, or Canada, boom, he or she is a citizen of that country.
Most of the rest of the world grants jus sanguinis citizenship. Rather than as a result of country of birth, jus sanguinis citizenship is passed through blood relation. That is, the parents' citizenship(s) determines the child's.
So if a child is born in a jus soli country...say, Canada...to parents from jus sanguinis countries...say, a Thai mother and an Irish father...right out of the womb, the newborn would have jus soli citizenship from Canada and jus sanguinis citizenship from Thailand and Ireland. Lucky kid.
Many countries in the Old World extend jus sanguinis rights deeper into the bloodline, beyond parents. With these programs (usually referred to as citizenship by descent or ancestry programs), grandparents, great grandparents, and, in some cases, the deepest family roots you can dig up can qualify you for citizenship.
Although ancestral citizenship is a birthright, it's not completely passive, as you must apply and prove the qualifying family ties before citizenship is granted. Nevertheless, for those who qualify, citizenship through ancestry is the easiest, quickest, and cheapest route to a second citizenship and passport.
Among the most interesting ancestry programs on offer are those from European Union-member countries; holding a passport for one of these nations comes with benefits, including the right to live and work in any of the 27 EU-member nations.
Of the EU-member ancestry naturalization programs, Ireland's is perhaps the best know.
Planning a trip to Brazil? Americans need a visa; Irish nationals do not. Thinking you'd like to live or work in the EU? Good luck, my fellow American. No problem, though, dear citizen of the Emerald Isle. Interested in traveling in the Middle East? In some countries, your blue passport with the eagle on the cover might be a liability, but your red one with the harp on the front won't raise anybody's eyebrows. The luck of the Irish...
For a country of only four million, Ireland's overseas presence is remarkable. In the United States alone, nearly 35 million souls claim some Irish descent. The worldwide number is estimated around 70 million. Ireland recognizes these far-flung sons and daughters with one of the best ancestral citizenship programs around.
If any of your parents or grandparents were born in Ireland, congratulations, you're entitled to Irish citizenship by descent and an EU passport. All you have to do is enter your birth into the Register of Foreign Births and apply for a passport.
You may also be eligible through your great-grandparents, but only if your parent became an Irish citizen by descent before your birth. Because of a change in the law, you might still be eligible if your parent wasn't a citizen but was recorded in the foreign births registry before June 30, 1986, and you were born after July 17, 1956.
To add your birth in the Foreign Births Registry, apply online at www.dfat.ie and send your printed application and the required officially certified copies of supporting documentation to the nearest Irish embassy or consular office, or, if you reside in Ireland, to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.
Editor's Note: Today's essay is excerpted from our just-published "Got A Grandparent? Get A Passport--7 Countries That Offer Citizenship Through Ancestry" report, which is part of our all-new Passport To Freedom: The World's Top Havens For Residency, Citizenship, And A Second Passport program. Full details about all your options to qualify for and claim residency and even a second passport overseas are here.Continue Reading:
Image source: morguefile user Clarita
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Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.
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