Georgina Cruz, a special correspondent writing for the Orlando Sentinel, offers an interesting perspective on the growing trend of taking volunteer vacations during spring break. She examines a number of vacation options, including those offered by Globe Aware:
Service vacations for spring break make for rewarding getaways
February 14, 2011
Spring is synonymous with renewal: a time when we clean house, put away our coats and sweaters and dust-off our shorts and lighter wear, and a time when we plan a spring break getaway. Some of us may wish to spring into service this season, opting for a "voluntourism" (volunteer tourism) vacation. Participants in this type of trip have opportunities to mix with the locals in many countries, living and working in communities on a variety of projects and activities –from teaching English to caring for youngsters in orphanages to taking part in community building projects.
Trips are generally short-term: one-, two- and three-weeks in length, though some companies can arrange for longer service periods. Typically, no prior experience is necessary to participate.
Here are some offerings for those who would like to volunteer during their vacation to make a difference in other people's lives. Prices for the trips vary; contact the organization for details.
-- Globe Aware Adventures In Service is a nonprofit that has been developing short-term volunteer programs internationally for 15 years. The trips provide opportunities for people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. Activities are intended to promote cultural awareness and/or sustainability. Recognizing the beauty and challenges of a culture and helping others to stand on their own two feet, teaching them skills rather than reliance. The organization's criteria for choosing projects include trips that are safe, culturally interesting, genuinely beneficial to a needy community, and that involve significant interaction between participants and the host community. Optional cultural excursions are available on every program. Among the organization's many trips this season are programs to Peru on Feb. 19-26, March 5-12, March 12-19, March 19-26 and April 9-16; and trips to Mexico on Feb. 19-26, March 5-12, March 12-19, March 19-26 and April 9-16. Visit www.globeaware.org.
-- Global Volunteers – This organization has been offering assistance trips worldwide for 26 years. It leads a variety of programs in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, Europe and other destinations. Their trips seek to promote education (particularly girls' education), labor and community infrastructure, health care, childcare and food and nutrition. Among the many offerings this spring are trips to Costa Rica from March 19 to April 2 and from April 30 to May 14; a trip to Ecuador from March 26 to April 9 and three trips to Peru on March 12-26, March 26 to April 9 and April 23 to May 7. For those who would like to make a difference in the U.S. during their vacation, there are two trips to West Virginia available this spring, March 26-April 2 and April 16-23.
-- Projects Abroad – College students looking to spend spring break in a meaningful way while exploring a new destination may wish to check out opportunities with Projects Abroad Alternative Spring Break Trips. These one-week volunteer projects align with most major U.S. universities' spring breaks and are offered in the following destinations: Jamaica Community Building Project (Feb. 20-26, March 6-12, March 13-19 and March 20-26); Costa Rica Care Project (March 13-19 and March 20-26); Mexico Conservation Project (Feb. 20-26, March 13-19 and March 20-26; Morocco Culture and Community Project (March 13-19 and March 20-26). Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography profession, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students had the chance to teach conversational English. Afterwards, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects in 25 countries.
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