Thursday, 16 July 2015 12:48

The Student Becomes the Teacher

A family traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia on spring break and shared their experience and the confidence-building activities their son engaged in during their Globe Aware volunteer vacation.

Learning in a one-to-one environment helps students build confidence. They grow in ways they never knew possible, and try new things they may have not done before.

Patrick, a Fusion Park Avenue student, is a glowing example of this. He and his family spent their spring break on a service trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Patrick"s mom sent the Park Avenue team the following email about their trip:

“I hope everyone had a nice spring break. I thought you guys might like to see some highlights from our sightseeing and service trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia with a great voluntourism organization, Globe Aware. Patrick was awesome in taking on the role of a “teacher” and the kids – despite language barriers – really connected with him.

Patrick's Family

We volunteered at the small “English-speaking” school in one of the poorest villages just outside Siem Reap. We were charged with helping the kids ranging in age from about 7 to 15 practice their conversational English. We were with them, totaling about 50 students, for 3 days. It was an incredible experience and Patrick was really moved by it and the children he met. While some of the kids were clearly amazingly bright, because of their economic disadvantages, I"m told the vast majority of them will ultimately stop going to school by the time they reach 7th or 8th grade. And, the school"s continued sustainability also remains fragile. As inspirational our time there was, parts of it were also heartbreaking.

I hope the time we spent there, and the students" interactions with my kids, motivate them even just a little to try and keep pursuing their education in spite of the challenges they face economically and at home.

With that in mind, thank you all for the influence you"ve had on Patrick which helped him be able to shine in that setting and to feel he was doing something worthwhile and meaningful. You are all great mentors and have really helped Patrick emerge from a much more difficult place two years ago when he first came to Fusion. As I mentioned to Heather (Head of School, Fusion Park Avenue), he came there emotionally “broken” and you"ve all been huge contributors in his ability to heal and put him back on the path to being the kind, empathetic, and impactful member of society that I"ve always known he can be. Who knows, maybe some day he"ll go back to Cambodia or journey elsewhere and be a force that helps those children stay in school and break the seemingly inescapable cycle they are in.

I will be eternally grateful for the influence each and everyone of you have had in his development and growth.

As you"ll see, for his foray in the classroom, on one of the days we had him wear his Fusion t-shirt. I think it was a bit symbolic and a bit of a tribute to his teachers back home.


Additional Info

  • Source Globe Aware
Friday, 06 November 2015 12:48

Difference Maker

Globe Aware was featured in the October 29th issue of The Christian Science Monitor: People Making a Difference. As part of The Christian Science Monitor's efforts to Create a World Where Giving and Volunteering Are a Natural Part of Everyday Life®, the publication regularly features NGO partners. The Christian Science Monitor also uses social media to continually inform readers about how they can get involved with the NGO partners.

Difference Maker

Alexis Hurd-Shires found her calling helping Syrian refugees

She headed to Lebanon with the general aim of doing some good. Finding a struggling refugee community badly in need of a school, she decided to open one.

Beirut, Lebanon — When Alexis Hurd-Shires decided to leave the United States and move to the Middle East, she didn"t know which country she would be going to or exactly what she would be doing. She only knew that she was going to try to make a positive impact.

1102 PMAD MHURDThe daughter of a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, she was accustomed to traveling. While working on a master"s degree in social work, and after graduation as well, she found short-term opportunities to work abroad. Still, she dreamed of finding something more permanent.

In 2013 the door opened for her to be part of a project sponsored by the Adventist church in Beirut, Lebanon, and Ms. Hurd-Shires jumped at the opportunity. But after she arrived, she found that the work she would be doing wasn"t clearly specified.

“It was actually almost like someone handing you a blank check and saying, "Go imagine something and do it," ” she says. “Basically, the Adventist church here in the Middle East felt like their church was very inwardly focused and not really reaching out ... and they said to themselves "this is not healthy for any organization." ”

Hurd-Shires immediately began to assess what she could do to make a positive impact. As she explored Beirut, she came across the Bourj Hammoud community, a traditionally Armenian suburb that in recent years has seen an influx of migrant laborers, as well as refugees from the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria.

Many charitable organizations were already working in Bourj Hammoud and providing for particular needs. But as Hurd-Shires began to talk directly with community leaders and the directors of various local organizations, she found that the Syrian refugee community in particular was in need of a great deal of support.

Educating their children was one of their biggest struggles.

Officially, Lebanon welcomes Syrian children into its public schools. The reality, however, can be less inviting. Along with Arabic, the curriculum is largely taught in French or English. Yet even if the Syrian children show competency in one of these languages, schools often still turn them away.

“Sometimes they say it"s because of the ratio. If there are 20 Syrian kids, they say, "We don"t want to accept them if we only have 10 Lebanese kids [in the class]" because they don"t want to throw off the equilibrium of the school,” Hurd-Shires explains.

Lebanon"s entire population before the huge influx of refugees hovered around 4 million.

Because of the number of Syrian refugees fleeing into Lebanon – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees listed 1.3 million registered refugees in Lebanon as of early 2015 – discrimination against Syrians has become commonplace.

Hurd-Shires recognized that her “blank check” project could help to alleviate some of the challenges facing the refugees. So, in the fall of 2013, she opened the Bourj Hammoud Adventist Learning Center – just a few months after her arrival in Lebanon.

Hurd-Shires already had been collecting the names of refugee children who had been out of school for two to three years.

“By the time we were ready to open [our school], we even had a waiting list,” she says. “And it"s always been that way ever since.”

The school, now entering its third academic year, is able to accommodate 70 students. With a curriculum taught in both Arabic and English, it is run by a mix of full-time staff, university students, and a few volunteers from abroad.

Even before the school opened its doors, Hurd-Shires began working to meet the needs of the refugees by providing medical supplies and food. Through a steady stream of donations from other countries – and from the local Adventist community – the center has been able to provide support.

The school also works to build lasting relationships with those it serves.

“Three days a week after school, the teachers go out and they spend time in the homes, just visiting with the families, talking with the families, befriending the families,” Hurd-Shires says.

In addition to these home visits, the school also holds regular weekly gatherings and arranges outings that bring the refugee families together.

Last June, during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, Hurd-Shires and other staff joined refugee families for iftar dinners, as they broke their fast. The school has also organized iftar meals for the families at the school.

Such gatherings have not only caused the refugees to see Hurd-Shires and her staff as extended family, but also have helped to bring the Bourj Hammoud refugee community itself closer together.

During this year"s Ramadan, “Everyone was sharing what they felt blessed for,” Hurd-Shires recalls. “And one mother said, "I was really dreading Ramadan this year because for us Ramadan is a time for family, a time where everybody goes to cook food with family and neighbors. But here, who do I have? Even though I don"t have my real family here, I came to this iftar on the first night of Ramadan, and I am with my family." ”

Tragedy struck earlier this year when a student at the center died. But Hurd-Shires again saw how the community had grown together.

“As we were at the mom"s house, grieving with her and the family, one by one the other parents started coming to support her and be there for her,” she says.

Now, when the Bourj Hammoud Adventist Learning Center teachers and staff visit with a family in the evenings, it"s normal for other families to show up as well.

At the center of this budding community is Hurd-Shires herself.

“Alexis is trying her best to be friendly and helpful. She is always the shelter they come to whenever they have any problem,” says Noor al-Masery, a university student who works at the learning center.

“I"ve seen the impact of the center in the children"s lives ... through making them feel that they are not alone in this world [and] allowing them to think about a better future through education,” says Christine Watts, another university student who has worked at the school.

Ayat Hariri, a 13-year-old student, says Hurd-Shires has become more than just a teacher. “She helped me very much, and I love her not just like a teacher, [but] like my friend.”

Hurd-Shires says she feels blessed by the support that the school has received thus far. But she has even bigger dreams. She hopes that the school someday will be able to expand to accommodate more students, or that perhaps she can open a second school elsewhere in Lebanon.

The gratitude of the refugees has been shown in some unusual ways.

“One day I came in and this one particular family was so excited to see me,” she says. “They were saying, "We have something for you! We have something for you!" ”

They gave her a dried piece of skin, which they told her was the umbilical cord of their newborn baby. In their region of Syria, she learned, it"s traditional to put the umbilical cord in a place that signifies what you want for your baby"s future.

“We don"t have big dreams of what we want him to become or do in life,” they told her. “All we know is that we want him to be like you.”

How to take action

Universal Giving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by Universal Giving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to three groups that help children in need:

  • The Shirley Ann Sullivan Foundation provides educational opportunities and seeks to protect children from exploitation and physical harm. Take action: Empower children through education.
  • World Food Program USA (Friends of WFP) supports the work of the United Nations World Food Program, the world"s largest hunger relief organization. Take action: Provide relief for Syrian refugees.
  • Globe Aware helps people and communities prosper without becoming dependent on outside aid. Take action: Volunteer to build a school in Ghana.

Additional Info

  • Source The Christian Science Monitor
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 14:43

Being Aware of Your Globe

Globe Aware founder and executive director Kimberly Haley-Coleman wrote an article for Everyday Ambassador's “Wednesday Wisdom”, a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador Partnerships Manager Anjana Sreedhar. In her article, Kimberly highlights central values such as empathy and patience, and how they all relate to building a comprehensive cultural understanding about our environment.

kimberly-hockadayAs a high school student in Dallas at Hocakday, I was fortunate to be able to travel internationally and to be involved in many lo­cal community service projects from candy striping at hos­pitals to working in women’s shelters. I was interested in other cultures and languages from a young age, and perhaps most specifically how cultural conditioning dictates such a great amount of our behaviors. It is something we don’t often examine, that our actions are often largely LEARNED. It may be something as simple as how much free time is considered a humane and normal amount to have in one’s life. The answer is hugely divergent even based on the country in which one was born, or the culture to which one is attached. I find this important because it also shows how a person can change their perspective. The kind of message that has the ability to completely change your life – to be happier, healthier and to have a greater impact helping others achieve their goals – which in itself has a coronation to happiness.

After high school, I went to Emory University and continued educa­tion in international cultures and held many jobs that re­quired multi-cultural skills. I then went onto receive my Masters in French and Art His­tory and my MBA in inter­national business then worked for a variety of corporations. Like many, I saw my pocket book expand, but felt my soul shrinking. I would find myself in a country like Brazil over the weekend on business, and looking to fill free time. Beyond tourist activities, I wanted to connect to the local communities by volunteering. I found that most organizations simply do not want to accept anyone short term, as the amount of time and resources it takes just to organize fro or train someone for a few days is more trouble than its worth. I did understand. But my appetite grew. I called every organization I could and kept coming up against the same response. Eventually I started organizing my own short term programs and found there was a huge response by others to join me. Once I was able to live on the income from my spouse, I left prior work and set about creating these experiences full time.

Globe Aware’s objectives are two-fold. One is to promote cultural awareness; essentially to allow the participant to get a more complete understanding of the real beauties and challenges faced in a different culture, rather than just a tourist, post-card view. The other goal is to promote sustainability, which is to say to help people stand on their own two feet. To that end, we work side-by-side with locals, as equals, working on projects that are important to them. They choose the projects, the materials, and how we go about doing it. The experiences are all one week. not because that is the ideal amount of time to spend to get to know a culture, but because it is what is feasible for most North Americans. I am frequently asked if working with the Peace Corps for 2 and a half years might not be a better experience. Of course that length of time will give you a much deeper comprehension and allow significantly more time to make a meaningful contribution.

My hope is that our one week experiences light the lamp of inspiration for participants to want to come back and discover and give back to more and more cultures. We have programs in 17 countries around the world and are always expanding. In Cambodia we assemble and distribute wheelchairs for landmine victims, in Peru we build adobe lorena stoves that greatly reduce deforestation and decrease smoke inhalation inside the home, in Guatemala we install concrete floors in the homes of single mothers, we have built schools, homes, hygiene stations, the spectrum is large and each program is very different. We spend about 40 hours a week working, and still have 3 to 5 planned but optional cultural excursions. We purposefully do not work in orphanages. A quick google about “orphanage tourism” will explain why. We do, however, work with and for needy children in many of our programs. It’s a wonderful, organic learning process.

Occasionally people will ask if it’s really a good thing when volunteering abroad benefits the volunteer. Our feeling is that is a full 50% of why we exist – YES! To expand the minds of the volunteer so that they understand the real challenges of the world and return home reinvigorated to make a difference and continue giving back. While we definitely want to provide for those in need, we are not heroes. We are not coming in to save the world. Usually the locals are faster and better at every activity we take on, which in itself provides a wonderful learning experience. The goal is that our work benefits the community where we are working and the volunteer doing the work. I think it’s critical that in order to be a really involved, successful person, one should also be a globally aware. citizen. We want more people who are able to care about the globe, who are trying to help find resolutions, on a global scale, to conflicts that are im­portant, whether it’s political peace or bringing groups and different nationalities together to find a solution to problems that we all face.

Last but not least, participating in a travel abroad program can be a huge source of joy for someone for their whole life, to have those wonderful moments of cultur­al understanding.

Additional Info

  • Source Everyday Ambassador
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 14:29

Globe Aware partners with EA

Globe Aware is pleased to announce a partnership with Everyday Ambassador, a best-practice network of global citizens and organizations that believe that human connection, even in an increasingly digital world, is the key to lasting, positive social change.

April Wrap-Up: Updates from Our Partners

EA-logo-500Today’s post marks the third post of a new initiative: the last Wednesday Wisdom post of every month will be dedicated to announcing updates from our experiential partner organizations. Due to technical errors this post is being featured today. See what each organization is up to, whether it be a new initiative, a star volunteer, or an exciting new program, below.

Also a special shout-out to organizations who are working with their partners on the ground in Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate those who have been affected by last week’s tragic earthquake.

New Partners:

We are proud to announce two of our newest experiential partners, Globe Aware and Global Citizens Network! Both are committed to promoting culturally responsible leadership for participants who are interested in giving back in a responsible way. Read a little bit about both of them below!

Globe Aware

Globe Aware is a nonprofit that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. The mission of Globe Aware’s volunteer trips is to promote cultural awareness and create sustainability. For GlobeAware the concept of cultural awareness means to recognize and appreciate the real beauties and real challenges of a culture, but not to change it. The concept of sustainability is to help others stand on their own two feet and to teach skills rather than reliance.

9Globe Aware recently launched their newest program to South Africa, in which volunteers will help to improve and maintain local homes and schools throughout the community. Projects include replacing roofing, home waterproofing, and installing concrete floors. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in community and school activities such as soccer, volleyball, and Physical Education classes. GlobeAware is very excited about the South Africa program and looks forward to watching the community thrive. Globe Aware is also excited about announcing the launch of its Cuba Program for this summer as well!

Globe Aware has also been participating in an amazing social media campaign through FLOAT (For The Love of All Things), through which they are selling designed limited-edition shirts. For each t-shirt sold to Globe Aware, FLOAT will donate $8 for every shirt to promote sustainability in communities Globe Aware serves abroad.

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware’s founder, had this to say:

“South Africa took the proud step to end apartheid more than two decades ago; we are delighted to see volunteers working in partnership with locals to help bring the vision of a better future to all South Africans. We welcome you to come and be a part of it.”

Additional Info

  • Source Everyday Ambassador
Saturday, 02 May 2015 00:00

Make more of your time off

Writing for the Dallas Morning News, Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, editor of, offers suggestions on creating a family bucket listy with meaning.

Make your time off mean more

Are you creating your family travel bucket list? Here are five things to consider as you put yours together.

  1. Let your values lead the way. Ask yourself what aspects — geographically, spiritually and culturally — of the world you want to share with your loved ones. Then create your list of possible destinations and experiences accordingly.
  2. Share your heritage. Have you spent time in the area where you were raised? Have you toured the Old Country or explored your family’s genealogy? Time spent researching your family story and planning a trip to uncover more detail or to meet long-lost relatives can make for powerful bonding.
  3. Get back to nature. Head to the Galápagos Islands for friendly wildlife and stunning flora. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, families can kayak, hike, swim and dive among sea lions, flamingos, blue-footed boobies, whales, dolphins and supersized tortoises. Learn about the fragile ecosystem and the dynamic geologic forces that forged the 12 major islands and numerous outcroppings.
  4. Make it multigenerational. Busy and geographically diverse families often choose vacation time for shared experiences. Join the mother-daughter team of Sarah Aciego, a distinguished glaciochemist, and her mother, professional photographer Mindy Cambiar, for their inaugural tour of West Greenland. The photo-hiking adventure offers a dramatic introduction to glaciers, icebergs, dog-sledding, indigenous life, arctic wildlife and fjords.
  5.  Give back. Make your family holiday about more than relaxing on a beach or museum-hopping in the city. Plan a volunteer vacation that helps those less fortunate. Teach English, read to children, paint a building or help plant a garden. Many resorts and cruise programs offer the opportunity to give back in local communities.

Additional Info

  • Source Dallas Morning News
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 00:00

Voluntourism improves lives

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Jen Zoratti examibnes the impact voluntourism has on communities, lives.

'Voluntourism' opens eyes, improves lives

Volunteer tourism -- or the more buzzy "voluntourism" -- has been at the centre of much debate over the past couple of years.

Voluntourism improves livesOnce a niche in the travel industry, volunteer tourism is an area that has seen real growth as more and more Canadians are eschewing luxury resort vacations or European backpacking trips to build schools or teach English in developing countries. The profile of a voluntourist is usually young, middle- to upper-class and educated. Many of them are "gap year" students, taking a year off to go learn about the world.

On the face of it, it seems like a righteous act. What could possibly be bad about wanting to learn something about your global community and maybe help someone in the process? But, as travel websites of varying degrees of sketchiness offering "luxury voluntourism" -- or, ugh, 'honeyteering' -- proliferate, many critics of voluntourism are left questioning who this is really for. Do altruistic acts of voluntourism really help people who need it? Or are privileged people just doing it to pad their CVs/make themselves feel good? And are those things mutually exclusive?

Those questions were circling around in my head when I connected with Sarah Cullihall via Skype. Sarah is a 21-year-old University of Winnipeg business student who just concluded a months-long internship with Maya Traditions Foundation in Panajachel, Guatemala, and got in touch with me about the very cool work she's been doing there. She doesn't quite fit the profile of a voluntourist -- she was doing an internship and she was there for more than a two-week vacation -- but she, too, has thought about the voluntourism debate.

"One of my friends is a huge activist and we would argue about it all the time -- is it good, is it bad," she tells me, amid a cacophony of birds. "But I think with everything, there's positives and negatives. But with (Maya Traditions), it's so much more about support. When we look at other volunteer roles, it's not like that. You're in the 'saviour' role; you're the North American that knows how to do things -- and I think that's so backwards. I also think it depends on why you're doing it."

Cullihall's motivation was pretty pure. She fell in love with Guatemala during a trip last July, but was alarmed to learn more than half its population lives below the poverty line. Interested in exploring the ways in which business can be used to foster social change, she wanted to link up with an organization that shared those goals.

Founded in 1980, Maya Traditions Foundation is a fair trade social enterprise that supports skilled indigenous female artisans by connecting them to the international market and providing them with health and education services. The foundation now works in partnership with more than 120 artisans, composing eight self-governed artisan co-operatives in six rural villages. These women practise a variety of traditional techniques that have been carried down through generations, including backstrap weaving -- a method used to create all manner of textiles -- basket weaving and natural dyeing. With the support of the foundation, they are able to earn an income. And an income means independence -- no small thing in a country plagued by domestic violence.

The women Cullihall met left an impression -- women such as Mara Mendoza who, in addition to raising four small children on her own, is the president of one of Maya Traditions' partnering artisan co-ops. Her role as president is to make sure her fellow artisans have enough work, their families are doing well and they are being fairly compensated for their labour.

"She, to me, is a depiction of a strong Guatemalan woman," Cullihall says. Mendoza, like too many other Guatemalan women, was a victim of domestic abuse. Maya Traditions empowered her to leave her husband and take back her life. And now she's helping others do the same.

For her part, Cullihall is returning to the U of W to finish her degree, and her experience in Guatemala has left her changed. She now wants to work with women and children in Latin America as part of a social enterprise.

While the average voluntourist won't necessarily translate their experience into a career path, they will have their eyes opened to the issues faced by people who share their planet -- and hopefully, they will be more empathetic people for it. If it's done right with the right organization, a young person won't just come out of it with a line for the resumé. They will come out of it a better person.

Additional Info

  • Source Winnipeg Free Press
Friday, 10 April 2015 00:00

World-Positive Leadership

Writing for Huffington Post, Mark Horoszowski, co-founder of, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their skills with social impact organizations around the world, examines how volunteer travel and corporate volunteering can benefit companies.

World-Positive Leadership Development Programs

What is one thing that the Kenyan Red Cross and Microsoft have common? A lack of access to the expertise and skills needed to grow and make a bigger impact.

getting-out-of-schoolIn both cases, this "talent gap" is slowing progress. Research proves that major companies, like Microsoft, have a lack of quality, globally-minded leaders AND that they recognize this as one of their biggest challenges. In the case of the Kenyan Red Cross, and other social impact organizations working to address last mile challenges around the world, the impact is more severe: nothing happens. This is especially alarming as these local organizations have the greatest potential to make an impact and create jobs, up to 80% in some economies. In fact, organizations like the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and the World Economic Forum share that this "talent gap" is one of the leading barriers to progress.

Social impact organizations suffer from a lack of access to skills. Here are just a few examples of common needs:

  • An accounting system before applying for investment capital or grants
  • An improved operations and supply chain plan to lower costs
  • A go-to-market launch plan for new products and startups
  • Photography, videography, design, and messaging to develop new business development collateral
  • An improved IT system to track healthcare data and trends of patients in remote areas
  • An information distribution system to provide relevant data to rural farmers

While the challenges facing Microsoft and Kenyan Red Cross seem almost impossible to link, there is actually a powerful connection that can greatly benefit both parties: When employees from multinational corporations volunteer their skills with social impact organizations, they develop skills and learn new insights that can benefit their company. In the process, they help tackle major challenges that help smaller organizations get ahead.

International Corporate Volunteering (ICV) programs that do this continue to demonstrate a positive impact for all parties. People grow as global leaders, corporations benefit by developing higher performing people, and field organizations grow faster. In a previous article on Huffington Post, Alice Korngold shared that these programs can actually deliver bottom-line benefits to multinational companies.

These types of "World-Positive Leadership Development Programs" are just gaining traction. We're helping people engage on these on their own and through established corporate volunteering programs. To help people that want to pilot programs like this at their own company, we've released a free checklist to help guide you.

Surprisingly, it's not that difficult to launch an international volunteer program. One program we support was started by two passionate individuals with just two years of work experience. Here are some simple steps you can follow to implement a program at your company:

1. Research Your Business Priorities

Look for bright spots within your organization that might benefit from international volunteering. Business units like leadership development, recruiting, marketing, employee engagement, product and innovation teams are a great place to start as they are looking to create outcomes that programs like this can support.

2. Network and Find Support

Look for a partner and/or team to join you in launching a program. Search within volunteer and travel-based networks at your company. Schedule regular meeting to discuss how you can best design a program within the walls of your company.

3. Create a Business Plan

For a program like this to grow at your company, it has to make an impact for the world and for the company. Clearly document how it will help the company achieve its goals, while also improving conditions around the globe. Tools like this free "business case in a box" can help.

4. Find a Senior Champion

Use your network and business plan to find an internal champion who can provide budget and/or share your plan to senior leaders. The right person at the right level can help get the idea in front of other decision makers to help influence adoption.

5. Sell, sell, sell

Even with a compelling business case it still takes time. Don't give up, and keep selling until your company has adopted a program. This can be done by continuing to grow grassroots support from your peers, while also continuing to pitch to senior leaders.

6. Start small

If you can't convince your company to start a big pilot, that's OK. You can still independently by asking your boss for time off to volunteer, and then use that to start building the case for a more formal program.

With all the buzz around the benefits of volunteering and the well-documented needs of organizations that need skilled volunteers, the time is ripe to launch a program at your company that builds better leaders, while building a better world.


Additional Info

  • Source The Huffington Post
Thursday, 30 April 2015 16:00

Trips that will lift your earning potential

Writer Morgan Quinn looks at volunteer vacations for U.S. News & World Report and considers the career and résumé they may hold.

6 Vacations That Will Boost Your Résumé

These trips will give your earning potential a lift.

By Morgan Quinn

April 30, 2015

Game-Time-6891No matter how many corners you cut and airfare deals you score, taking a vacation is expensive. What's more, many Americans avoid taking time off altogether because they're worried how it will affect their careers. A 2014 Glassdoor survey found that U.S. employees only use only half of their eligible paid vacation and paid time off. A U.S. Travel Association study last year also found that nearly half of employees continue to check their work email when they do go on vacation.

What if you could take a vacation that would help your career – not hurt it? What if your time off added valuable skills to your résumé and even put you in line for a promotion when you returned?

A growing trend among American workers and recent college graduates is the volunteer vacation, where travelers work their way through various cities around the world, adding skills, learning new languages and boosting their earning potential. If you want to take some time off to travel this summer – while still working on your career – try one of these vacation ideas.

1. Learn a language. Taking language classes in another country gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and hone your linguistic skills, both inside and outside the classroom. Classes and prices vary, but there are numerous programs that help foreigners study languages around the world, including French in Quebec City, Spanish in South America or Japanese in Tokyo. Whether you are learning a language from scratch or just brushing up on your skills, you’ll return home with a new section to add to your résumé and some real-world experience.

2. Volunteer on an organic farm. Do you want to get your hands dirty this summer? The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization links volunteers with organic farms for a unique work experience. In return for volunteering, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles and farming. WWOOF farms exist across the globe, from Argentina to Thailand.

The length of stay is negotiated between the host and volunteer, with visits as short as several days to as long as half a year. This is a truly one-of-a-kind experience for people looking to add organic farming and sustainable agriculture experience to their résumé.

3. Practice a trade. If you’re handy with a hammer or looking to get construction and contracting experience, there are a variety of opportunities to lend a hand to an organization in need of volunteers. For instance, Habitat for Humanity offers an international program that organizes volunteers to build well-constructed, affordable shelters for people living in poverty. Another organization, HistoriCorps, works with volunteers to restore historic sites on public lands throughout the United States.

4. Teach overseas. No matter what industry you work in, teaching is an impressive addition to your résumé. Plus, the huge availability of teaching positions across the globe means you can find a tenure that works for you. You can also choose whether you'd prefer to work with children, teenagers or adults.

There are overseas teaching programs like The English Camp Company, which organizes summer camps in Taiwan, Italy and Austria for kids ages 6 to 14. Volunteers have the opportunity to tutor campers in English, live with families and experience authentic local culture firsthand.

5. Conduct scientific field research. If you’re a science enthusiast or interested in exploring ways to make our planet more sustainable, this type of vacation is for you.

Earthwatch Institute expeditions send volunteers to do field work side-by-side with leading scientists. Volunteers work directly under the supervision of experts and get the opportunity to collect data and work as a full-fledged expedition member. Not only will you add an impressive and memorable experience to your résumé, you’ll help the world’s top scientists conduct research that makes our planet a better place to live.  

6. Work with animals. If you already have experience working with animals or are simply an animal lover, consider taking a vacation to volunteer at a facility that helps injured or abandoned animals. You can spend a few days or a few weeks giving hands-on care to furry friends who need your help.

For example, the Earthwatch Institute offers a weeklong trip where volunteers monitor threats to ocelots in Trinidad. The Pacific Whale Foundation sponsors a free program, Volunteering on Vacation, for Maui visitors who want to help protect the island’s rare and endangered species.

Just a word of caution: All these vacations may be in historic, beautiful or exotic locations, but they are definitely not a day at the beach – so be prepared to get down and dirty.

Additional Info

  • Source U.S. News & World Report
Friday, 17 April 2015 00:00

Homeless are individuals, not problems

Marilyn Jones, correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, examines a former police officer's unique understanding and approach to homeless individuals in his Northern California community.

Robert Anderson sees homeless people as individuals, not problems

Because of the efforts of the former police officer, many people he came to know on the streets now have stable housing –  in a place and in a program he helped create.

By Marilyn Jones, Correspondent

April 17, 2015

After retiring recently from a 32-year career on the San Mateo, Calif., police force, Robert Anderson could be taking life easy, enjoying soft breezes on a tropical beach. But after decades working to find homes for chronically homeless people, he couldn’t just walk into the sunset.

Because of his efforts, many of the people he came to know on the streets have moved into stable housing in a place and in a program Mr. Anderson helped to create.

Robert Anderson
Robert Anderson (c.) stands outside The Vendome, a shelter in San Mateo, Calif., with manager Steve Carey (l.) and Richard Gilmour, a once-homeless man helped by Mr. Anderson. (Courtesy of Robert Anderson) San Mateo, Calif.

When he was a 19-year-old political science major at San Jose State University Anderson, who had grown up in nearby San Francisco, interned as a police cadet in the San Mateo Police Department. Coming from a middle-class background, he wanted to gain some street savvy, and he found the police work fascinating. Seeing people at their worst awakened in him a desire to try to make a difference. After he graduated from college, he entered the police academy and became an officer at age 21.

Almost immediately, he started dealing with homeless people and their many problems. He describes those days as feeling like being in the movie “Groundhog Day” – every day the same calls, the same complaints from property owners and merchants, the same hassles that the homeless had caused people who came downtown.

Since homelessness is not a crime, he was limited in what he could do. One woman, for example, adamantly refused to go to a shelter and lived for years on the same downtown corner. A juniper bush on the corner actually grew around where she camped out, nearly enveloping her.

But sleeping in doorways, urinating on private property, and public drunkenness are crimes. When Anderson arrived on the scene, the same scenarios took place: The homeless were arrested, followed by periods of incarceration and a constant drifting in and out of jail or prison. Anderson also felt stymied in his efforts to curb substance abuse, chronic alcoholism, and episodes of mental illness, which often meant his calling an ambulance to take a homeless person to the emergency room.

More and more he felt frustrated.

“On the street, I had to be reactive,” he says. “People would say, ‘Can’t you do something?’ I developed relationships with the homeless, but my toolbox was limited.” Most often his only contacts with the homeless occurred as the result of complaints.

He began trying to learn who these homeless people were and how they had wound up in their situation. “These are real people,” he says. “Each with their own stories and different journeys that brought them to living on the streets.”

A colleague of Anderson, Barbara Walt, a local business manager and treasurer of the downtown business association, recalls contacting him repeatedly to do something about the homeless people on her business property. She would arrive at work in the mornings to find them asleep by the front door. Bottles lay strewn around, and the area had been used as a public restroom.

“But Robert treated these people with respect,” she says. “He would always be a gentleman, was always kind to them. He cared about them, and he would look for a safe place for them to go.”

By 2006, Anderson knew the homeless situation wasn’t going to be solved through citations, temporary incarcerations, and trips to the hospital. So, along with San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer and Byron Hudson, a case manager and social worker, he decided to try a new approach.

Typically, homeless shelters require that residents already be off drugs and alcohol, having completed a treatment program. Anderson and his colleagues worked to establish what they called the Homeless Outreach Team. They based their approach on the philosophy that housing is a basic human right, even for those still abusing alcohol and drugs. HOT joined forces with the city, especially the police department, and the Downtown San Mateo Association, as well as nonprofits such as the Shelter Network of San Mateo County.

“At the time, there were 28 full-time homeless people living in downtown San Mateo,” says Nancy Bush, a senior vice president at United American Bank and Anderson’s colleague at the downtown association, which was receiving hundreds of complaints every year.

HOT members, especially Anderson, worked with each homeless person to get him or her into stable housing, Ms. Bush recalls.

In 2007, the city purchased The Vendome, a run-down 19th-century hotel. The city restored it, creating 18 rooms for residents and a communal kitchen.

“Robert’s compassion and sensitivity, as well as his ability to ‘meet people where they are,’ made him extremely successful at getting the homeless off the streets,” Bush says. “He was able to identify each individual’s specific needs and worked diplomatically to address their issues.”

After the first residents moved into The Vendome, HOT conducted a study to track the results of the pilot project. The study found that once participants got settled in their new home and began receiving support services, the cost of their medical care and criminal-justice interventions was reduced by 85 percent. The number of police responses involving the homeless dropped in one year by 99 percent. Although alcohol abuse wasn’t eradicated at The Vendome, there was a dramatic decrease.  

Today, The Vendome provides apartments for more than two dozen previously homeless residents. Each has chores to do and a code of behavior to follow. Every resident has a private room and is responsible for its cleanliness and maintenance. One current resident has started a garden and grows vegetables served at meals.

For some, the housing is provided free of charge. But The Vendome uses a sliding scale based on income to determine a resident’s rent. More and more residents have been able to earn money once they’ve stabilized their living arrangements.

However, not every homeless individual at The Vendome becomes a success story. Sometimes an alcohol or methamphetamine addiction returns, and the person goes back to the streets and to his or her former life. Sometimes mental illness plays a role in keeping a person from adjusting to life at The Vendome. But the majority of residents become responsible and happy as they settle into their surroundings. Some find work, and some even move into their own housing, reunite with family, and begin living independently.

Since Anderson’s retirement, another police officer, David Johnson, has  taken over Johnson’s role with HOT and The Vendome.

But Anderson has no plans to leave San Mateo. He still walks the streets, especially the downtown area, supporting the efforts of Mr. Johnson. They meet for lunch about once a month, when Anderson provides updates on what he’s been observing.

Anderson also stays in touch with homeless people he’s known for decades. One formerly homeless man (someone Anderson used to arrest and take to jail) has moved out of The Vendome into his own apartment. Not long ago, he surprised Anderson by asking him to be in his wedding. Many of Anderson’s former arrestees even have his phone number and e-mail address.

Anderson is often asked if San Mateo’s  success story could be duplicated in other cities. He’s happy to speak about it, he says, but he offers a word of caution. “This worked in our city only because I had personal relationships with these people,” he explains. “But it took a very long time.”

Anderson’s colleague, Ms. Walt, continues to join him in monthly walks around the downtown area. “If you could see how he’s received wherever he goes, you would know what an ambassador he is for the city,” she says. “He’s beloved.”

Anderson says he feels the same way about San Mateo, the city he’s served for more than 30 years – and counting.
How to take action

Universal Giving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by Universal Giving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to three organizations that help those in need:

  • Globe Aware promotes cultural awareness and sustainability by helping communities prosper without becoming dependent on outside aid. Take action: Help the underprivileged in Romania.
  • Miracles in Action provides Guatemalans in extreme poverty with opportunities to help themselves. Take action: Provide a backpack and school supplies to a poor child.
  • Children of the Night helps rescue children from prostitution. Take action: Support the work of Children of the Night With Out Walls by providing activities, therapy, and support for mentally ill people.

Additional Info

  • Source The Christian Science Monitor
Friday, 13 February 2015 10:58

Family Volunteer Travel

Writing for Chase magazine, freelancer Michelle Seitzer looked at the myriad opportunities and ways to turn a regular vacation into a meaningful vacation through volunteer travel. Globe Aware founder Kimberly Haley-Coleman offered some great insight on what to look for and how to pick volunteer vacations that provide the best return for destination communities and countries.

Family Travel That Gives Back: A Meaningful Vacation

Going Away for a Good Cause
By Michelle Seitzer

Americans sometimes choose work over play -- a 2014 study found that more than 150 million vacation days go unused every year -- but a new kind of family adventure may be just the thing to give today's modern family a high-quality break.

A volunteer vacation, or service trip, offers an opportunity to do good while working together as a family. A growing number of organizations now make it possible to do it without spending weeks or months away.

founderkimberlyKimberly Haley-Coleman founded Globe Aware to weave her passion for cultures, languages, and out-of-the-box travel with the strong demand for short-term volunteer trips. Her non-profit fosters “a mutual learning experience” benefiting travelers and individuals in needy communities worldwide.

“We’re not putting people on ladders or going into war zones,” says Haley-Coleman. The liability is too high for her small company, and it’s not their mission – which may come as a relief to those worried about the challenges of global volunteer work.

Globe Aware specializes in community-driven projects that can be completed in a week, from Saturday to Saturday, without need for language or technical skills. And there are no age restrictions. Participants have ranged from 2 to 95 years old.

Most of the week is devoted to project work and organic interactions with local residents, but volunteers still visit landmark sites like Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat. “We go to tourist favorites but focus on the cultural awareness window to the world,” she says.

“It’s tangible, visible giving, not just writing a check.”

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware

On one of their Cambodia trips, volunteers assembled wheelchairs for land mine victims. In Guatemala, they installed concrete floors and outdoor garden spaces in the homes of impoverished single mothers.

“It’s tangible, visible giving, not just writing a check,” says Haley-Coleman.

First-World Problems, Illuminated

Waiting to complete an international adoption inspired Mary Voorhies and Philip Southwick to take a working vacation to Nicaragua, where they helped to deliver clean water and establish modern bathrooms in rural communities.

For Voorhies, the most valuable takeaway was this realization: “Road bumps in my every day life are all now first-world problems.”
An Unexpected Gift … and Guilt

Krista McKay accompanied her nurse-practitioner mother on a medical mission trip to Honduras that she described as “an operation in improvisation.” The small but mighty team of doctors, surgeons, and nurses from a suburban Philadelphia hospital has visited the same villages for more than five years now. Though she is not a healthcare professional, McKay was invited to join the group on a recent visit after lending her marketing and fundraising expertise because the volunteers have to cover all costs themselves, including medical supplies.

In the heart of the village, the group sets up mobile clinics where locals line up to be seen for anything from common cold symptoms to gaping wounds to complications from diabetes. They also perform surgeries in the local hospital, where the team scrubs with a wash basin because there’s no running water. Patients wait with outdated x-ray printouts while wild dogs run in and out of the building.

The strengthened relationship McKay and her mother gained from working side-by-side in hard healthcare situations – treating seizures on the spot, in one instance – made the trip worthwhile. Still, McKay returned with mixed feelings. “I didn’t feel like what I did was enough. You feel good for doing something good, but you also have guilt for having more than you need.”
Planning a Giving Vacation

Motivated to make a difference in someone else’s life – yours included – on a service adventure abroad? There are risks and rewards associated with giving this way, which is why you should do adequate research when choosing an organization to handle your trip, says Haley-Coleman.

Unsure about bringing younger family members? Evaluate what exposure they’ve already had, and consider a closer-to-home Latin American country vs. crossing an ocean for their first experience.

Choosing to do good on your next family vacation instead of simply consuming goods (or staying behind the desk and letting your employer have your unused vacation days) is a wise investment that can pay off in many ways.


Additional Info

  • Source Self
Sunday, 08 February 2015 00:00

Volunteer Abroad

Writing for The Huffington Post's Blog, University of Southern California student Rachel Scott examines the benefits of traveling abroad, immersing herself in foreign communities and cultures and discovers the secret to the most fulfilling travel adventure is to volunteer abroad.

Don't Just Go Abroad -- Volunteer Abroad

Ask anyone about their study abroad experience, and they will tell you it was nothing short of amazing. But there is a secret to making it even better -- volunteering.

I took my first trip abroad to Thailand this past December and found myself bringing in the New Year in a new country with new friends and an interesting new perspective on life. I spent nearly three weeks stepping out of my comfort zone, exploring the land, riding elephants, feeding monks, shopping in night markets, learning a new language and appreciating new foods and culture. While the spices of Thailand tickled my tongue and the temples sparked an interest for learning, I can't begin to tell you about my trip without telling you about the lives I tried to touch and how they touched me.

I traveled to Thailand with 17 other amazing American students who decided to give up their entire winter break, including Christmas and New Years to help those in need. We partnered with an organization called Travel to Teach, and together we headed to two different schools in Chiang Mai. We had the opportunity to work with primary school children from poor backgrounds, who didn't have much. It was at one school where I came across a teenage boy who gave himself that nickname, Laos. He fled from Burma with his family, hoping to get a better life in Thailand. I would soon learn that he was among dozens of other children in the same position. At his school, more than 90 percent of the children were Burma refugees or children of Burma refugees. For nearly all of them, we were the first Westerners they had ever seen.

Laos was taken back by our differences and was stunned to learn that we had traveled across the world to teach. Although he was a teenager, he was in classes with children who were two to three years younger than him. He knew the most English out of everyone in the group, often translating for the rest of the students. Laos took such pride in school, he was happy to be there and looked forward to learning as much as he could. For the next week I would work with him and dozens of other students, teaching English and helping with tasks around the school. While many of the students impressed me as students in the classroom, I was more impressed by the conditions in which they lived in and how they got to school.

At the end of the first school day, I walked with Laos and several students down to the driveway, where I assumed they would be picked up by their parents and taken home. Laos waited for his little sister, who was several years younger and also attended the school. As he waited, he told me that the two bike nearly an hour just to get to school. He told me his sister rode on the back of his bike, while he pedaled all the way home. I began to wonder how the other children arrived to school and how they got back home. I turned around and saw dozens of children piling into a van and dozens of others climbing into the back of a pick up truck. I sat there and counted, watching as 16 kids got into one van. I looked inside and noticed how they were all packed in together, none wearing seat belts. Yet, they didn't seem to mind. These young girls and boys weren't complaining about the time it took to get to school, their family conditions or even the fact that they had to go to school. Rather, they were eager to get an education and delighted that a group of "Westerners," as they called us, had traveled thousands of miles just to be with them.

We were just as delighted to meet them and excited to help in whatever way we could. We taught them English, an important skill to have in order to move up in Thai culture. Learning English not only gives a way for Thais a way to compete in tourism, one of the country's main industries but it can also give access for students to attend international schools and gain other educational opportunities. We helped rebuild their school -- building a water fountain, painting classrooms, building a wall to block out the noise from the street and donated money to help sustain the institution.

Despite the language barrier, it was amazing how much we could communicate without saying much at all. Many of us came to Thailand to help those in need but in the end we were the ones that perhaps received the most. We each developed our own relationships with the children and they left lasting impressions.

"One of the students that I got attached to was little Fai," Juan Ramirez, a student-volunteer on the trip said. "Fai was around the age of 10 and was one of the shyer kids," he continued. For several days, Juan worked with Fai teaching her English and working on her vocabulary. "I remember the last day of school was so sad, especially when I had to say goodbye to Fai. I saw her eyes tearing up," he said. The experience changed Juan's perspective on his own education. "There have been times where I complained about our public schools," he said. "There were times when a child's textbook was falling apart or their pen would barely write. Even though they had so little, they still seem so grateful. It just brings into perspective that material possessions don't bring happiness," he said.

Perspective was perhaps one the greatest gifts I received from the children in Thailand. I can go on and on about things they didn't have but what was even more remarkable, is what they did have. They had happiness, joy and were full of life. They were respectful of each other, their elders and protected those who were younger than them. The children of Thailand were fearless, caring little about material objects and more about human interaction. As we left, I couldn't help but feel so incredibly thankful for how they helped me and how much they pushed me to be a better individual. Just when I thought I couldn't be more surprised by their strength, kindness and endurance, I was wrong.

On the last day at the school, two students who nicknamed themselves Nooey and June ran up to me with gifts. Before giving me a tight hug, they handed me a flower and a bear. They both began to cry. Yet again, I was amazed. The two little girls, who had almost nothing still found something to give. They didn't have money to buy anything so instead they gave me their own personal belongings to show their gratitude. It was about the gift that meant so much to me but the gesture that made all the difference.

So I urge you not to just go abroad but to volunteer abroad. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and away from the typical tourist experience. It will be challenging, in many cases a culture shock -- but it will reward you a thousand times over. As student volunteer Sahil Dhailwal said, "It's sometimes so easy to forget that other nations and millions of other people with other languages, customs and traditions exist. This experience definitely opened up my interest in wanting to travel more and continue doing service."

So take the road less traveled -- explore, volunteer and open up your mind. You'll learn that service is a two-way street and you may be surprised with who receives the most at the end.

Additional Info

  • Source The Huffington Post
Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00

Corporate volunteering benefits

Mark Horoszowski, writing for Devex Impact, a global initiative by Devex and USAID in partnership with top international organizations and private industry leaders, examines how an international corporate volunteering program can help a business grow into new, growing markets and assist in staff recruitment and retention.

Why your company needs an international corporate volunteering program

By Mark Horoszowski

06 February 2015

The current state of the global economy shows that businesses have immense opportunity — not only by expanding into booming markets, but also by helping develop the economic potential of underdeveloped markets.

It was evident at the 2015 World Economic Forum, where “the stars of the show were from the private sector … people and business are stepping in where government is failing,” according to Richard Edelman, the president and CEO of Edelman.

One of the ways that companies are stepping up is by bringing the skills of their employees to bear through corporate volunteering programs.

A great example of this is Microsoft’s presence in 17 countries across Africa with its 4Afrika initiative. By helping develop skills, increasing access to technology and supporting innovation, the tech giant is working towards its goal to empower every African to turn their ideas into a reality, which in turn can help their community, their country or even the continent at large.

Originally, 4Afrika focused on hosting educational events for students and entrepreneurs, funding startups, and providing technology grants. But as the program grew, Microsoft realized it had more to offer than cash and products. In 2014 the company started to contribute its most valued asset — its people — to volunteer their skills with nonprofits, startups, schools, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

India---122512---Meg-Hauge-6In doing so, the 4Afrika program has demonstrated that an effective skills-based volunteering engagement — we call it experteering — can accelerate the progress of local organizations, can help increase the economic opportunity within a country, and can provide an invaluable learning experience to the volunteer. Microsoft is not alone in this realization.

There are three well-documented forces that highlight why corporations should embrace international corporate volunteering programs, and help explain why the programs are growing at a rate of 150 percent:

1. How corporations benefit from international corporate volunteering.

The stated benefits of international corporate volunteering programs can be traced all the way to the bottom line. While early benefits of these ICV programs tout recruiting and retention benefits, new research shows that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Recruiting and Retention

Indeed, the recruiting and retention benefits are massive. Considering the cost of replacing an employee can be equal to 150 percent of their salary, more should definitely be done to retain top employees. Research by Points of Light showed that 90 percent of its companies saw a drop in turnover after implementing skills-based volunteer programs. Benefit Group reported that its turnover dropped from 22 percent to 7 percent after implementing its ICV program.

Leadership Development

According to recent research by The Conference Board of CEOs, a lack of globally-minded leaders is a leading concern for CEOs. Corporations have responded by increasing their investment in leadership development by as much as 15 percent year-over-year. Increasingly, leadership development programs are looking to experiential programs that provide true growth opportunities.

A great research summary by McKinsey explains why experience is so important: “Even after very basic training sessions, adults typically retain just 10 percent of what they hear in classroom lectures, versus nearly two-thirds when they learn by doing.”

More than any other benefit, leadership development is recognized as a primary outcome of every report we’ve seen on ICV programs.

Performance and Engagement

In a program that we supported for Microsoft, both the participants and their managers shared that the program noticeably improved leadership-related skills, and 100 percent of the managers would permit other team members to participate. A little time away from the job doing relevant and meaningful work appeared to result in employees returning more engaged and higher-performing.

Additional research from George Washington University found that beyond “stimulating new insights,” international corporate volunteer “programs are a better investment than businesses school leadership programs, both in terms of cost and diversity of learning.”

Indeed, companies should give their employees time to travel and volunteer, and pay them to do it.


While slightly more challenging to measure, program managers of ICV programs state innovation as one of the leading reasons to justify its expense. Not only does volunteering in geographic areas of strategic interest provide unique insights that can’t be taught in a textbook, it also provides unique customer insight, which can lead to new product and marketing developments. In addition it fosters engagement, which is proven to improve on-the-job performance.

According to RealizedWorth: “For companies where employees were more engaged than not, their profitability jumped by 16 percent, general productivity was 18 percent higher than other companies, customer loyalty was 12 percent higher, and quality increased by 60 percent.”

2. Why employees demand international volunteering opportunities.

Beyond the obvious desire to see the world, international exposure is a right of passage for up and coming business leaders. Harvard Business Review consistently writes about the value of international experiences for business leaders. In fact, of employees aged 25-34, more than 5 percent plan to relocate overseas to gain international exposure. In a recent article on the Society of Human Resource Management titled “Developing 21st Century Global Leaders in 2015,” the SHRM foundation was quoted saying, “to be effective, the leaders of tomorrow must be able to collaborate while navigating cultural, regional and political differences.”

Beyond global experience, skilled-volunteering also acts as a tool to recruit top talent. According to research published by Net Impact, an average of 75 to 80 percent of respondents prefer to work for a company known for its social responsibility, 53 percent of working professionals state that the ability to make an impact is essential to on-the-job happiness.

Perhaps more telling was that 35 percent of students would take a pay cut to work at a company committed to CSR and 78 percent said money “was less important to them than personal fulfillment.”

3. How skills-based volunteering is building a better world.

According to the World Economic Forum, one of the leading barriers to progress is a “lack of access to quality talent”. This “skills gap” is becoming so large, that in some places like Brazil and India, it is being considered the leading barrier to progress.

In a recent campaign we participated in with Devex, Peace Corps and other leading global development organizations called #DoingMore, participants shared stories about how skills-based volunteering was:

    1. Essential to building skills of change-makers, like the MySkills4Afrika program which used volunteers to teach program management best-practices to startups and social enterprises working out of iHUB.
    2. Solving complex technical, creative, and/or business problems facing organizations, like the Microsoft Leaders in Action program which consulted with Kenya Red Cross to optimize its use of existing technology as a way to improve operations and measure impact.
    3. Addressing systemic issues by connecting skilled-volunteers not only to small, resource-strapped organizations, but also to international NGOs and even governmental institutions.
    4. Accelerating projects that lack human capital by bringing in skilled volunteers for very specific tasks.
    5. Empowering job creators by connecting skilled-volunteers to the most under-resourced organizations that also have the most potential to create jobs and end poverty.

Perhaps more than any business activity other than core operations, international corporate volunteering programs have massive potential to create positive business outcomes, positive personnel outcomes, and positive global development outcomes.

Additional Info

  • Source Devex Impact
Thursday, 29 January 2015 00:00

Battling Thailand's illegal dog meat trade

Every year tens of thousands of dogs are inhumanely transported from Thailand to neighboring countries where they are butchered for their meat. The Soi Dog Foundation and the Thai government are actively working to end this brutal and cruel practice. This story by by correspondent Tibor Krausz in The Christian Science Monitor relates the work of a retired British couple to put an end to the practice. The author also acknowledges the work done by Globe Aware volunteers to help Thai elephants.

John and Gill Dalley battle Thailand's illegal dog meat trade

The British couple moved to Thailand to retire. But when they learned of the illegal capture and torture of dogs, their plans changed.

Buriram Province, Thailand — You hear them before you see them. From inside seven well-equipped enclosures at an animal sanctuary within a remote forest in rural Buriram Province comes a canine cacophony of barks, woofs, and yelps. The spacious runs are home to some 1,500 dogs – young and old; big and small; white, tan, brown, spotted, blotched, dappled, and black. They loll in the shade, bicker over chew toys, or leap about, tails wagging, as visitors approach.

volunteer vacation ThailandUntil recently a terrible fate awaited all these dogs: They were destined for dinner tables. In Thailand’s clandestine dog meat trade countless dogs – pets and strays alike – have been seized from streets and outside homes by criminal gangs that cater to vendors and restaurants selling canine meat from Thailand to Vietnam.

John Dalley will have none of that. The retired chemical engineer from Leeds, England, and his wife, Gill, a former bank employee, set up the Soi Dog Foundation in 2003 on the tropical island of Phuket in southern Thailand, where the couple had just relocated for their retirement.   
Recommended: Difference Maker 6 organizations that protect animal rights

“We had a dog back home, but I wasn’t particularly involved with animal rights,” recalls Mr. Dalley, a lanky, cordial man. “But you see these dogs [in Thailand] suffer, and you want to do something to help them.”
Difference Maker 6 organizations that protect animal rights
Photos of the Day Photos of the Day 02/05

So they do. The animals here owe their lives to the Dalleys. Their charity has built a canine shelter with treatment and adoption areas. It pays for its operating costs through donations from Soi Dog’s global network of supporters.

The nonprofit has helped rescue thousands of dogs from being slaughtered. In the northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon, a hot spot for the underground dog meat trade, Soi Dog pays rewards to locals for tips on dog thieves and works with local police in arresting them.

The charity also has its own task force, which has intercepted dozens of trucks with cargoes of stolen dogs bound for Vietnam’s booming canine meat markets. The unit has also uncovered illegal butchers, tanneries, and holding centers, shutting them down and freeing scores of dogs.

According to the Thai Veterinary Medical Association, half a million Thai dogs were smuggled to Vietnam and China in 2011. Today the number is no more than one-third of that.

“The numbers are down. We’re winning,” Dalley says. “But we have a long way to go yet.”

To evade capture, the criminal gangs have changed their tactics. They used to transport dogs on torturous journeys across borders in cramped poultry cages without food or water, or hidden in sacks under their trucks’ false floors. Not anymore.

“With the last two trucks we’ve caught, all the dogs had already been butchered with their meat placed in iceboxes,” laments Varaporn Jittanonta, a nurse who works as Soi Dog’s relief coordinator. She’s standing beside kennels of young rescuees earmarked for adoption. Recently, four dogs from Buriram – easygoing Malt, bouncy Midnight, mischievous Sam, and affectionate Paige – were taken for adoption in the United States by the Virginia-based A Forever Home Rescue Foundation.

Yet successes in some areas come with setbacks in others. The drive spearheaded by Soi Dog to curb the cross-border dog meat trade has driven up demand for live dogs in Vietnam where thieves, often armed, scour villages and towns for unguarded pets.

“Dog thieves like to target pets because, unlike strays, they’re friendly and approachable,” Dalley notes. “Pets also command better prices [at meat markets] because they’re healthy and well fed.”  

In areas where dog meat is considered a delicacy, such as Thailand’s Sakon Nakhon Province and Hanoi, Vietnam, curbside food stalls sell roasted dogs and entire eateries specialize in dog meat dishes. The animals’ skins often end up being used in leather goods, including golf gloves exported to the West.

“There are a lot of weird beliefs about dog meat,” Dalley observes. “In Vietnam people like to eat it in winter because they consider it a warming dish. In [South] Korea they eat it in summer because they see it as a cooling dish. In Cambodia some men believe they gain virility from eating black dogs.”

In Sakon Nakhon, a kilo (2.2 pounds) of dog meat jerky costs about 300 baht ($9) – the daily wages of a laborer. “It’s a luxury food,” the Englishman notes.

“I abhor this trade because of the shocking cruelty involved in it,” he says. No effort is made to ensure humane treatment of dogs before slaughter. In fact, the killing methods used can be intentionally brutal – still-conscious animals are often beaten or burned. Some in the trade believe the release of adrenalin in a frightened animal enhances the flavor of dog meat.

Recently, comedian Ricky Gervais, actress Judi Dench, and other British celebrities joined Soi Dog’s petition against Thailand’s “dark secret,” endorsing the animal charity’s campaign in an online viral video. The move helped to put pressure on Thai lawmakers, whom Dalley has long been lobbying for more stringent animal welfare laws – or rather, for any meaningful legislation at all. Until recently, people who abused or maltreated animals faced only a small fine (the equivalent of $30).   

Then last December, after consultation with him and other animal rights advocates, Thailand’s parliament finally passed the country’s first Animal Welfare Bill, which has increased penalties to a maximum of two years in prison and 40,000 baht (around $1,200) in fines.

Yet for Dalley the new law has been a Pyrrhic victory: Despite his advice, Thai lawmakers failed to ban the slaughter of non-livestock animals for their meat and skin. “The only way to measure a law’s effectiveness is to see how it affects the level of crime it’s meant to stop,” he says diplomatically. “We’ll see.”

But it isn’t just dogs threatened by meat traders that need the Dalleys’ help; many others do, too. Soi Dog provides emergency and veterinary care for abandoned pets and feeds hundreds of strays on the streets and at Buddhist temples.

The Dalleys also run a shelter and adoption center for some 400 dogs on their tourist island. Most arrive malnourished and diseased. Thanks to round-the-clock care from several veterinarians, dozens of other paid staff, and volunteers, hundreds of neglected and discarded dogs have made remarkable recoveries.

The couple also has had to overcome pain and sorrow. In October 2004, a stray dog, groggy from being tranquilized for a neutering procedure, fled into a boggy water buffalo field. To save him from drowning, Ms. Dalley waded in after him. Within days, however, she developed a serious bacterial infection. Eventually both her legs were amputated below the knee.

Then on Dec. 26 that same year a devastating Indian Ocean tsunami ravaged much of Phuket, claiming the life, among thousands of others, of a close friend of Gill’s who had been helping her save dogs.

“I went into shock for 24 hours,” she recalls. A day later, though, using a wheelchair, she was out and about in the island’s worst-affected area helping counsel relatives of victims and tending to displaced dogs languishing without food and shelter.

She now uses prostheses to get around.

“As I was learning to walk again, I thought of the dogs that still needed my help,” Gill says. “Pure joy for me is changing an animal’s life.”

Her husband isn’t slowing down, either.

“I was going to spend my retirement in Thailand playing golf and diving,” John says. “Instead, in all my time here I’ve gone diving once and never swung a club. But one thing I want to do before I die is to end the dog meat trade.”

How to take action

Universal Giving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by Universal Giving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to the Soi Dog Foundation and Globe Aware, two organizations that protect animals in Thailand:

  • The mission of the Soi Dog Foundation is to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Thailand, resulting in better lives for both the animal and human communities. Take action: Here are three Soi Dog Foundation programs seeking help. Support efforts to rescue dogs from the dog meat trade. Volunteer to help street dogs and cats. Donate $30 to give a stray animal medical treatment.
  • Globe Aware promotes sustainability, helping communities prosper without relying on outside aid. Take action: Volunteer to help elephants in Thailand.

Additional Info

  • Source The Christian Science Monitor
Thursday, 29 January 2015 00:00

Voluntourism and solo travel is a niche blog that focuses exclusively on travel for women, products and tips. Highbrow or budget, hot spots or off the beaten path, eco-friendly, sustainable and smart travel choices. profiled Amy Angelilli, a socially responsible lifetime adventurer who’s visited at least 24 countries – and she continues adding a new one to that list every year. Amy shared her solo travel experiences and the big-draw of volunteer travel. Enjoy!

Travel... It's Good for You!

Still scouring the Internet for an ideal adventure that’s right for you this year? Don’t be overwhelmed reading about other people’s adventures. What’s right for someone else isn’t necessarily right for you. What matters is that you have an authentic experience, get just a little bit out of your comfort zone and do, see or feel something you’ve never experienced before. It could be half way around the world, or, it could be just a short drive away. Make it yours and completely immerse yourself in it.

As a follow-up to my original piece about simple ways to add adventure to your travel, here are five more suggestions to get you packing. Hopefully one resonates with you, and, fits your lifestyle.

Stay local

It’s easy to stay at a chain hotel when traveling because it gives us comfort, as we know what to expect. Don’t do it. If you stay local, you not only put your dollars into the local economy, you’re able to cross the line between tourist and traveler – and that’s where the real adventure begins. To access these local opportunities, you might rent a place through, which offers unique stays from local hosts in more than 190 countries. I’ve stayed in a guesthouse on an organic farm in Tortola, in a guest room on the western hills of Portland, Oregon and in an Adobe house on ten acres in Southwest Colorado via Airbnb.

If you like pets, is a great resource as it connects home and pet owners who need a sitter. You’ll have the opportunity to stay at someone’s home (for free!) in exchange for taking care of the home and pets.

Go solo

Have you ever traveled with someone who just wasn’t on the same page – or schedule -- as you? It’s a drag as you find yourself compromising on what to see and what to do every day. And, let’s face it – the trip is only so long, so to miss out on opportunities can be heartbreaking. The solution? Go alone and spend each day however you’d like. I traveled to an eco-camp on St. John over Thanksgiving a few years ago. This is an example of how not to travel alone. It was a remote location on an American holiday, so the facility was filled with couples and families. I made only one friend – a single woman traveling with her daughter -- who had a rental jeep. For a few days, I had a friend – and a ride. However, the experience taught me a lesson. As a solo traveler, avoid holidays and seek out places to stay that attract other solo travelers. For more solo travel tips, visit – a solo female travel blog and the “She Travels Solo” page of

Go to camp

If you’ve longed to return to camp ever since you reached an age where you became too old to return to camp, now’s your chance. Summer camps for adults are exploding. And, some even cater to the solo traveler. At the Mac & Cheese Productions Life of Yes! Sleepaway Camp, you’re whisked away to an undisclosed location within a two-hour drive of Chicago – but that’s all your told. Everything is taken care of for you – lodging, meals and itineraries – so there’s nothing to worry about. And, the best part is that everyone comes solo, so you wouldn’t even be eligible to attend if you wanted to bring a friend.

If big is more your thing – big trees, big crowds and big productions – then get your backpack ready and head to Camp Grounded – summer camp for adults. A digital detox experience in the Redwoods where adults get to be kids again, Camp Grounded offers playshops, wellness activities, sustainable meals, and most importantly, live real-time conversations with real people – no digital devices needed. Summer of 2014 was my summer of camps – it impacted me so much that I just completed an old school style scrapbook of my experiences.

Participate in a volunteer program

Voluntourism is at an all-time high, as more people want to give back via their travel experiences. is a great resource to explore volunteer vacations. As you dig deeper about this kind of travel experience, you’ll discover a global debate raging regarding the value of volunteer travel. If you’re on the fence about where you stand, or, if you just don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can have your volunteer vacation be about nothing more than talking. Seriously! At VaughTown, native English speaking volunteers spend several days in a small Spanish town conversing with Spanish business people hoping to get better command of English. I participated in this program in 2003 and I’m still in touch with some of the friends I made there

Travel off-season

There are so many advantages to traveling off-season – the biggest being the cost. There are always bargains to be had, as there are fewer visitors coming through. Plus, if it’s a popular tourist destination, the locals tend to be more relaxed and open to conversation as they aren’t up to their eyeballs with tourists. I took this concept to the extreme about 15 years ago when I traveled to the island of Ibiza in February. It was a ghost town. But, there was one pub open and the British folks minding it gave us the royal treatment, making for an unforgettable evening. If off-season seems too much of a stretch, try shoulder season – bargains are still available, crowds are still thin and authentic connections are still easier to find.

May you find – and embrace – your own adventure in 2015. And remember, even if everything doesn’t turn out perfectly, an imperfect adventure is better than no adventure at all.

What tips would you like to add on why traveling is good for you? We'd love to hear. Drop a comment below or connect with your GoGirlfriends on Facebook or Twitter!

About Amy Angelili

Amy Angelilli is a socially responsible lifetime adventurer who’s visited at least 24 countries – and she continues adding a new one to that list every year. Between trips, she moved from Philadelphia to Denver in an RV filled with rescue pets, and opened a low cost spay/neuter clinic for stray cats so she wouldn’t have to adopt any more. Now, as Chief Adventure Officer of The Adventure Project, she uses improvisational theater techniques to play with others so that they may discover and create their own adventures – at home or abroad.

Additional Info

  • Source
Saturday, 03 January 2015 00:00

Volunteer Vacations' Growing Popularity

vOLUNTEER VACATIONS POPULAR‘Volunteer vacations’ a popular trend for many

By Jackie Runion

Marietta Times

Anyone vowing to travel or to make a difference in the new year can do both at the same time in the form of a "volunteer vacation."

A number of companies, organizations and programs exist to offer people of all ages a chance to volunteer and help others while on vacation, whether it be either a car ride or a long plane trip away.

A popular trend that comes in the form of mission trips, alternative spring breaks and state and nationally-organized charity projects, the concept of volunteer tourism can give people a chance to get out of their backyards and also make an impact in their state, country or in a community overseas.


Volunteer vacation opportunities

Volunteer Match

  • Features: Database directory of service opportunities for 99,000 nonprofits across U.S. that provide search-by-location and service-type engines.
  • Requirements: Vary by project.
  • Ages: Accepts all ages.

Globe Aware

  • Features: Worldwide, week-long volunteer projects.
  • Requirements: Cost and application required, trips are tax-deductible.
  • Ages: All ages accepted, children 15 and under must travel with a parent or guardian.

Projects Abroad

  • Features: Variety of service projects in East Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Requirements: Application required.
  • Ages: Teens and older.

American Hiking Society

  • Features: Week-long trail and park maintenance projects across the U.S.
  • Requirements: Varying fees and registration required.
  • Ages: All ages accepted, volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

  • Features: Various volunteer activities for groups and individuals of all ages across Ohio's 74 state parks.
  • Requirements: None.
  • Ages: All ages accepted.

In the area, common traveling service projects are found most frequently through colleges and churches.

Marietta resident Terry Schmelzenbach is one of many people who found a passion in overseas mission work through his church.

Through the Marietta Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Schmelzenbach has taken multiple trips to Swaziland, Africa, not only to experience the beautiful scenery and wildlife, but to help others.

"We've had a presence there since 1908," Schmelzenbach said. "The Church of the Nazarene has a large base there, and we educate about 32 percent of the people in that country."

Schmelzenbach said the groups, which typically consist of just fewer than 20 people and with all ages involved, help work on the country's two colleges and help with various building projects and food needs in the area.

"It's things as simple as laying and cutting tile for floors and stuff like that for buildings over there," he said. "When you're worrying about where your next meal is coming from, you don't worry about stuff like that."

The group often takes clothing and food to help out the locals in addition to delivering sermons.

"We turn it into a 50/50 deal," Schmelzenbach said. "The rest of the time we spend in Kruger (National) Park, where all the safari animals are, and we stay the night there in a fenced-in area."

Schmelzenbach said he and his wife save up to go on the trips every few years, including one coming up in June.

"The average lifespan is like 32 years of age, and $10 a day is considered a good job, so they know you're there for them," he said. "We go over there and feed them, but we also work with them."

Through organizations like Projects Abroad and Global Aware, people of all ages can pay for tax-deductible vacations connected to national and international service projects.

Through Projects Abroad, which sends some 10,000 volunteers around the world each year, applicants can travel across the world to build schools, teach, conserve wildlife and provide childcare.

Many Projects Abroad trips allow anyone 16 and older to join, while short-term programs like Alternative Break Trips and High School Specials offer similar experiences for college students and teens.

"Alternative Spring Break trips are designed with short-term volunteering in mind and give college students the chance to break away from the usual spring break experience and give the gift of service to those in need," said Tom Pastorius, the head of recruitment for Projects Abroad.

And Global Aware also offers its own volunteer vacations that provide teaching, clean-up, building and other types of activities within the U.S. and abroad.

Other companies and their respective websites, like and, provide similar matching opportunities to either allow groups and individuals to directly apply for a service project or to provide resources about projects across the nation and how they can get involved.

Marietta resident Kevin Ritter is the owner and founder of Coast to Coast Athletics, a Marietta company established in 2002 that not only provides scholarships to local students, but provides teaching opportunities to children and teenagers around the world.

"On the service side we are involved in baseball clinics, and we've done these in Europe, Puerto Rico, Australia and in Florida," Ritter said.

The program offers $1,000 scholarships to area Washington County students that staff deem college-ready, both to give them a head-start in paying for tuition while also providing an opportunity to teach the sport to their peers and to younger children across the world.

Domestically, a popular volunteer opportunity for outdoor fanatics is through the American Hiking Society.

Additional Info

  • Source Marietta Times
Friday, 26 December 2014 00:00

Voluntourism offers many options

'Voluntourism' options available for all budgets and schedules
laos2Many people know all about "voluntourism," the option of volunteering while traveling. But not all of us can - or have the time to - spend vacation doing more work, even if it's in a beautiful locale.

However, there's a growing trend that lets people still kick back during most of their time off but still kick in to help the local community.

Kim-Marie Evans enjoys seeing the world first-hand and sharing it with her children. She finds ways for her family to have a good time but also do good.

"Exposing them not just to the hotel pool and the kids club, but exposing them to the local culture, to the children and getting them a chance to really get to know the locals changes their opinion of what the world is like," she said.

Her daughter Macie believes this only makes vacation better.

"You got your time to relax but you also did something that was very meaningful and actually got something out of your vacation," Macie said.

They've stumbled upon a new mini-version of "voluntourism" where you donate just a bit of time or supplies instead of dedicating an entire week of work.

"Traditionally, travelers who were attracted to voluntourism were people with a lot of time, say college students or retirees. Now, with a lot more drop-in opportunities for short-term experiences with voluntourism, pretty much anybody can get involved…families, couples," Anne Banas of Smarter Travel said.
She said the options vary.

“Sometimes it's as simple as reading to the local school children, donating school supplies, or even helping out at local soup kitchens or making repairs that they otherwise wouldn't have the resources to do that," Banas said.
And the opportunities are easy to find.

"You could go through your hotel or resort, as well as cruise lines, theme parks," Banas said.

"Look toward local tourism boards who are actually doing something, who can advise you," Jason Clampet of said.
Clampet works for the site, which monitors travel trends. He stresses you really need to do your homework before you go beyond the resort walls. First, be honest about your skills.

“You can fix a paper jam but you probably can't dig a well, and if you actually can't offer a specific set of skills, is there money that you can give in a certain instance that can help people who do have those skills," he said.
If you do decide donating money is best, be careful.

"Sometimes your money's not actually going to the organization that you're trying to help, so you really want to make sure you're dealing with reputable organizations," Clampet said.
Another suggestion: buy local.

"Shopping at local farmers markets, when you're eating out at a restaurant, look for mom and pop independently owned," Clampet said.
Kim-Marie likes doing a bit of everything.

"You get to take home very different memories than if you had spent all of your time at the resort," she said.
Another tip from you may want to investigate how the company you're dealing with - whether it's a cruise line, hotel or theme park - treats its employees, especially if it's arranging programs for giving back. Skift says that's a good way to see if they're truly interested in caring for the community around them or putting together programs for promotional benefits.


Additional Info

  • Source NewsProNet
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 16:05

New Year's travel resolutions

Making service vacations part of New Year's travel resolutions

By Georgina Cruz, Special Correspondent

Orlando Sentinel

New Years Volunteer VacationsThis is the time of the year to start making some resolutions for 2015, like perhaps losing weight or quitting smoking. For those who would also like to make some New Year travel resolutions, here is an idea: a volunteer vacation.

Participants in this type of trip, sometimes called “voluntourism,” 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 and from taking part in community improvement projects to assisting in conservation efforts. The experience gives the opportunity, as one organization put it, “to see the world through a new lens.”

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 (and costs may be tax deductible –check with the company and double check with your accountant).

· Globe Aware Adventures In Service – This is a non-profit 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 service trips in 2015 are programs to the Inca city of Cuzco in Peru, near the legendary Lost City of Machu Picchu, as well as projects in Costa Rica, Guatemala and many other destinations. Info:

Additional Info

  • Source Orlando Sentinel
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 14:14

Q & A: The Festive Traveller

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware, recently sat down with Jessica Wynne Lockhart, contributing editor at Travel with Purpose's Verge Magazine to discuss how to make the most of a volunteer vacation. The Q & A is below.

How to be an effective global citizen during the holiday season.

santa-volunteer-vacationsAs the holidays approach and the fiscal year draws to an end, it’s a natural time to think about how we can support our global community. But with thousands of charities to choose from, how do you select a reputable organization to donate your time or money to?

It’s not an easy question, which is why we called in the experts: Nick Beardsley is the Project Advisor for Gapforce, a provider of structured gap years and summer abroad programs; Justine Abigail Yu is the Communications and Marketing Director for Operation Groundswell, a non-profit that facilitates service-learning experiences; and Kimberly Haley-Coleman is Founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware, a charitable organization that mobilizes small groups of volunteers to promote cultural awareness around the world.

Nick, Justine and Kimberly shared with us how they believe we can be effective global citizens this holiday season:

Why do think it’s important to reflect on global citizenship during the holiday season?

Nick Beardsley, Project Advisor for Gapforce: It should be important at all times to both pursue and reflect on global citizenship in one way or another. What the holiday season does is offer us the opportunity to think about others at a time that is infamous for being selfless. It is a time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It is the perfect time to transcend geographic, political, and cultural boundaries and recognize oneself as a citizen of the global community.

Each year, the popularity of “charitable giving” instead of “gift giving” increases. What are your recommendations for choosing a charitable organization to support?

Nick: You should choose an organization that means something to you. It may be that you have a personal connection to the cause or it may be that the organization has simply touched you in some way. Choose with your heart.

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware: Start with what you know. If you belong to a trusted community centre, school, animal shelter or faith-based organization, this is a wonderful place to start.

If you are just now setting out to find an organization, know that this takes time. Ask friends and family whom they support and why. Make a list of what world issues most concern you and which entities seem to do a good job of addressing those issues. Look at the publically listed financials to get a better understanding of how the organizations spend their revenues. Don’t hesitate to call the organizations to find out more about them. If you aren’t ready to make a financial contribution, see if you can volunteer with the organization to get a better feel for how they operate.

Justine Abigail Yu, Communications and Marketing Director for Operation Groundswell: Really do your research here and look at the actual impacts of the organization. First of all, does this organization’s values align with your own? Are they addressing the problem they set out to solve? Do they show evidence that demonstrates that their approach is effective? How do they measure their progress? Does the charity receive feedback from the people it intends to serve and are they using that feedback to improve their programs?

I know that it’s fashionable to assess an organization by looking at how much of donors’ dollars are being put towards overhead as an indicator of efficiency and legitimacy. The thinking here is that the lower the percentage that’s going to things like administrative costs, the more effective an organization is. But that’s not necessarily the case. I would challenge people to look deeper than that and ask harder questions. Although keeping a low overhead may be important, the bottom line is that we all want to support organizations are actually solving the social problems that will change our world.

For those who are going away for the holidays, how can they turn their vacation into travel "with purpose"?

Nick: My suggestion is to learn about local traditions and join in. It could become a new tradition that you practice even when you return home.

Kimberly: Picking an eco-conscious hotel, bringing needed donations to a community that has requested them, steering clear of handing out candy and money (which only builds dependency), reaching out to connect with locals in a non-consumer fashion (attend a local faith service or eat a meal with a family) and, of course, volunteering.

Justine: Wherever you’re going this holiday season, take the time to find opportunities that get you off the beaten path to really connect with the local culture and people. Try local delicacies that you’ve never heard of and learn the local language—that genuine attempt at connection builds cultural competency and empathy. And if you want to get your hands a little dirtier, look for opportunities that combine responsible volunteering with cross-cultural dialogue and critical learning.

What are your favourite gift ideas for travellers and global citizens?

Kimberly: Take the time to experience a new culture with a friend or family member while volunteering abroad—this is a bucket list item I hope everyone gets the chance to experience in his or her lifetime. Or, for an easy and incredibly practical gift, I love the luggage scales you can get for less than $10. Highly compressible extra bags, gift cards for phone apps (with suggested list of latest travel apps), and travel guidebooks are awfully nice too.

Justine: Find something handmade and artisanal from a place that means something special to you or to the person you’re giving the gift to. There are a lot of really great cooperatives and organizations that sell their goods through direct trade and this is a really great way to support the local economy of another country.

For example, we all love coffee here at Operation Groundswell. One of our partners, De la Gente, is this awesome agricultural cooperative in Guatemala that creates direct connections with buyers and consumers to improve the livelihoods of the small-holder coffee farmers they work with. All profits generated from the sales of coffee go directly to these farmers. It takes a little bit more research and thought to find these gifts, but it’s so worth it.

Additional Info

  • Source Verge Magazine
Monday, 01 December 2014 16:15

Why You Should Travel with Your Kids

Downoad Article

Travel abroad with young children? Are you NUTS? All the crying, nagging, and the money!! They won’t even remember it.

Why on EARTH would I do that to myself? What will they eat over there? Fried monkey eyeballs? No thanks! I get these responses all the time. I have been traveling with my children since they were infants all over the world. -- all over Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, Russia, China, Africa.

Here are my two cents. First: young children are often more portable than older children. They still think you know something and they actually want to be with you. Second, until age 2, they can ride in your lap for usually 10% of the cost of a normal ticket. Third: with all the ipads/iphones electronic gadgets, keeping them happy with videos, games and more is much easier today on a plane than it was even 10 years ago. Fourth: You're right, they may not remember all of it, but YOU will. Are •your* memories worth anything? Life is short, you never know what could happen. Take the chance while you can. Additionally you'd be surprised what they *do* absorb. Young globetrotters don't take for granted what Perreault Magazine - 80 - language, music, dress or food is the norm.

perraultThey pick up on languages much faster than you do. Their palate is developing: at this stage and their capacity for learning, of course, is fertile.

Fifth: Interestingly they have fresh fruit, veggies, rice, and chicken, freshly prepared and usually not processed all over the world. Sixth: Traveling with a child is the greatest ice breaker there ever was. With the exception of a few Western Countries, most countries view children as a loveable, non-political human with whom to interact rather than as an irritant. Many more people will stop to talk with you simply because you have a child with you. Not too different in some ways than walking a puppy in the park.

Safety: I know some are worried that to travel with a young human is to dangle bait in front of human traffickers. But it’s all about common sense and where you go.

This topic deserves a whole chapter, but the sum of it is, staying safe abroad is usually not much more complicated than staying at home, it just takes knowing the danger zones. Seventh: because you will love it. Seeing your kids react to roaring lions on safari, or learning the joys of giving while building an adobe stove in Peru, or seeing food delivered by mini trains at Japanese restaurants in Tokyo is quadruple the fun. Bon Voyage! JOURNEYS 4 GOOD: CAMBODIA Journeys for Good is an original television series about transformative travel which inspires and uplifts. Each episode profiles a group of voluntourists, who travel the world to make a difference and reach across cultures to connect in a meaningful way. They go far beyond the tourist track to experience the heart and soul of a place, as was the case in 2012 when Journeys for Good traveled to Cambodia.

Voluntourism combines the adventure of travel with the purity of true charitable work.

Emmy award winning husband and wife production team Joanie and Steve Wynn have traveled the world together, producing stories that touch the heart.

Their mission is simple- they believe that engaging in a service project working alongside locals creates a unique opportunity for understanding and exchange, that volunteer traveler helps young people develop self-confidence, empathy and leadership skills, and that by sharing in sweat equity a deeper connection is forged between the volunteers and the communities visited.

Inspired by an earlier visit to Tanzania, the Wynn’s decided to develop Journeys for Good as a vehicle to spread the message of the importance of volunteer travel and to focus awareness on important underlying humanitarian issues and challenges facing communities globally.

In 2012, the Wynns embarked on another volunteer trip with their son Ryan. This Journey took them to Cambodia with the non-profit volunteer operator Globe Aware ( On this journey, the Wynns and a group of dedicated volunteers built wheelchairs for landmine victims, taught English to local school kids and worked on several short-term construction projects.

The result "Journeys for Good: "CAMBODIA" is the pilot for a series that the Wynns are currently developing for public television. After its original airing in 2013, the film garnered two regional Emmy awards, including best cultural/ historical program. Journeys for Good celebrates the everyday heroes who connect to the world in a meaningful way through voluntourism.

View half hour program on Vimeo HERE


Additional Info

  • Source Perreault Magazine
Friday, 07 November 2014 00:00

Alumna Returns Service to Community

Hockaday travel program connects with alumna Kimberly Haley-Coleman’s organization Globe Aware

By Megan Philips
Features Editor

Downoad Article

volunteer-vacations-hockaday-schoolWhen alumna Kimberly Haley-Coleman ‘88 was a Hockaday student, she was involved in many local community service projects from candy stripping at hospitals to working in women’s shelters. Today, she is giving Hockaday the opportunity she never had: to do community service abroad.

Haley-Coleman found interest in other cultures and languages from a young age, and her five years at Hockaday “helped wet [her] appetite for learning about and understanding other cultures,” Haley-Coleman said.

After graduating, Haley-Coleman continued her education in international cultures and held many jobs that required her international relations skills. She received her masters in French and Art History and got her MBA in international business.

“It was all related to other cultures from the earliest I can remember, and Hockaday was certainly an integral piece of that,” Haley-Coleman said.

From this foundation, Haley-Coleman founded Globe Aware in 2000.

This past summer, 13 Hockaday Upper School students traveled to Peru, in connection with Globe Aware, to expand their learning about other cultures through hands-on service while visiting two communities, San Pedro and Cuzco.

Junior Allie Charlton, one of the students who traveled with the program, found the organization’s guidance crucial to her trip experience.

“[Globe Aware] had a lot of connections within the cities because people had gone there before us, people were waiting for us to help. If we had just gone to Peru and said

‘Oh, we are going to go help this place” no one there would have known us. It was nice because they already had an established organization there that we could help without intruding,” Charlton said.

According to Haley-Coleman, around 15 to 25 percent of those who participate in Globe Aware programs outside of their school community are teenagers.

“I think it’s critical that in order to be a really involved, successful person, I feel it almost requires that one be a globally aware citizen. It helps find resolutions, on a global scale, to conflicts that are important, whether it’s political peace or bringing groups and different nationalities together to find a solution to problems that we all face,” Haley-Coleman said, “But it’s also a huge source of joy for someone for their whole life, to have those wonderful moments of cultural understanding.”

Community Service Director Laura Day felt that students learned similar valuable lessons from their experiences with Peruvian culture.

“I think the girls learned what you really need to be happy. I think we learned about material possessions and what people, in general, need to be happy, because we saw people who didn’t have anything who were having happy and wonderful lives,” Day said.

The Peru trip, still in connection with Globe Aware, is offered again in Hockaday’s travel program for next year. For Haley-Coleman, this recurring trip connects the school community in which she formed the foundations of her passion for international cultures, and the organization she founded to facilitate this passion for others.

“It’s such a wonderful, full circle feeling of kind of a bit alpha-omega to get a chance to come back to a place that was so instrumental in shaping my life,” Haley-Coleman said. “It’s such a wonderful feeling. I’m so grateful.”

Other projects Globe Aware is organizing include assembling wheelchairs in Cambodia, building adobe stoves in rural Peru, installing concrete floors in single-mother households in Guatemala and working with elephants in Thailand.

Students who are interested in getting involved with Globe Aware besides through a travel program can apply for internships. Globe Aware will find ways to help based on the applicant’s interests and strengths.

“We are really open to creating various internships and volunteer opportunities that can be done either at home or in our offices as well. We try and structure it based on something that the student is already interested in,” Haley-Coleman said.

Contact Haley-Coleman at to learn more about the internship opportunities. F

Megan Philips

Features Editor

Additional Info

Monday, 22 September 2014 12:58

Voluntourism will boost your career

Just how important are the hobbies and extracurricular activities job applicants list on their job application resumes? Very important according to Rebecca Delaney writing for Consulting-Specifying Engineer. Employers are looking for worldly employees with experience working with people and communities around the world. Rebecca suggests that voluntourism can help bolster an applicants life experience and job prospects:

Voluntourism will boost your career

Four reasons becoming a global citizen will help you at work.
Rebecca Delaney, PE, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Chicago

We have heard for years employers are looking for "well-rounded" candidates. In the past it has meant a list of your hobbies/extracurricular activities on your resume, which many employers promptly gloss over. Today, it's clear the world is getting smaller as technology advances, and we find ourselves collaborating with both our cubical neighbors and our coworkers on the other side of the world. Therefore, employers are looking for people who have experienced the world and can bring a global perspective helping us to recognize our common engineering challenges and find solutions together.

One way I have become a global citizen is through "voluntourism." The term describes trips encompassing both volunteer work and tourism. Here are the most beneficial skills I gained from my trips and how they have made me a more valuable employee.

1. Always be a student: It is of the utmost importance to always enter a new culture with sensitivity and respect. You must acknowledge you are there to teach and learn. This same principle applies in a rural Ugandan classroom as in the American boardroom. Ethnographic skills are defined as the ability to systematically study people or cultures: their communication style, social structure, and spirituality. These skills allow us to observe and absorb new surroundings, rather than judge and reject, which is particularly useful when trying to land new clients and understand their needs. We often forge ahead as though our way is the best, especially when in comparison to developing communities, when in reality we too have so much to learn.

2. Time is not money: During my first trip to Uganda, I planned activities starting at 10 a.m. When no one showed, I was introduced to the phrase "TIA," meaning "This is Africa." The phrase encompasses the laid-back attitude toward time, often a result of limited access to electricity (the day starts at sunrise) and limited modes of affordable transportation. This mind-set came as quite the shock for a high-strung American with a schedule to keep.

According to a New York Times article, the American diet is 34 GB a day. Our increased access to information has drastically reduced our ability to wait. The American standard is to monetize time, which puts exponential stress on daily productivity. However, the value of time cannot be explicitly expressed in dollars, and striving toward "working to live" not "living to work" will make us happier and more productive employees.

3. Listen with your eyes open: My work with Engineers Without Borders has been particularly enlightening regarding the intricacies of communication. For example, a community explicitly stated they wanted composting latrines to resolve waste management issues. We helped fund-raise and built a composting latrine. We returned to discover the latrine unused and a new septic tank installed instead. We didn't realize the community was familiar with more modern waste infrastructure and that using outdoor latrines was not in line with cultural habits. Despite the best intentions, we learned communicating is more than listening; it's observing the culture.

I had a client who stated he wanted a popular, new system in his building. Knowing it required significant maintenance and that the client struggled with regular maintenance, we were able to propose a slightly different system better suited to the company's observed culture. We must always listen with our eyes open.

Rebecca Delaney is a mechanical team leader at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's sustainable engineering studio. She is the 2014 ASHRAE New Face of Engineering, recognized for her industry leadership in mentoring students and sharing her passion for engineeri4. Never give up: Most recently I was in Uganda conducting workshops for the microfinance nonprofit, Umama. I met Joyce Nakanwagi. She was born into war and married a man who left her for dead after dousing her with boiling milk. Joyce survived but was struggling to raise her children alone when she applied for a loan to start a charcoal business. She learned to save money for school fees, knowing education is the best long-term means out of poverty. Joyce is persevering despite her circumstances. I get so caught up in the daily busyness of my job with meetings, deadlines, and emergencies that my dream of changing the world may often seems like a distant goal. However, I know every client meeting and project is an opportunity to have small influence toward greater change.

Experts in developing communities suggest all college graduates be required to spend time in the developing world. Voluntourism provides a global perspective that will allow us to engineer for the global population, not just the wealthiest nations, creating simple, affordable technologies that can be applied in any culture/context. With all this, who wouldn't hire you?

Rebecca Delaney is a mechanical team leader at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's sustainable engineering studio. She is the 2014 ASHRAE New Face of Engineering, recognized for her industry leadership in mentoring students and sharing her passion for engineering around the globe. 

Additional Info

  • Source Consulting-Specifying Engineer
Friday, 19 September 2014 15:34

Globe Aware Costa Rica featured in CNN

Costa Rica's 'connection to nature'

CNN's Holly Firfer takes you on a beautiful getaway to the tiny nation of Costa Rica with the help of Globe Aware.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 15:33

Helps Students Become 'Globe Aware'

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By Karley Kiker

September 2014

By the time she was blowing out the candles on her 30th birthday cake, Hockaday alumna Kimberly Haley-Coleman had already earned an MBA in international business, worked as the VP of business development for a Houston-based aerospace company, and done more international traveling, connecting, communicating, and strategizing than most ambassadors.

And yet, would you believe it? Her mission to take on the world was just getting started.

"I grew up traveling with my grandmother and family," Haley-Coleman recalled

Years later, after accepting career opportunities that required globe-trotting, "I would find myself abroad over the weekends, and I'd done so much tourism growing up that it lost its intrigue." A long-time lover of volunteerism with a background in nonprofits, Haley-Coleman attempted to start volunteering in countries where she was already traveling for business purposes - emphasis on attempted. Due to her short-term availability, “Nobody wanted me.” But she wanted them - the people living beyond the tourist checkpoints, that is. And so she founded Globe Aware, a nonprofit that's been sending volunteers to countries all around the world for short-term service projects since 2000.

kimberly-hockadayNo matter the project emphasis, the purpose of each Globe Aware trip is twofold: to offer aid without changing culture, and to teach sustainable skills.

"If you're able to give two-and-a-half years, you will learn much more about that culture," said Haley-Coleman, who has traveled to 75 countries. "It's not that [Globe Aware] is the only way or the best way- it's a way that's accessible to people who otherwise aren't able to do this ." Take high school students, for example - in particular, the kind who really want to help, but only have a few weeks of summer to spare.

"This was really the first time I'd done anything like this," incoming Hockaday freshman Amelia Brown said of her recent Globe Aware trip to Peru, from which she returned in early June. "We have so much and we live with so many luxuries [in America] - they live with so little but they're all still really happy. Everyone basically relies on each other." Sophomore Ashna Kumar came away from the service trip with similar impressions.

While she has volunteered locally by tutoring and visiting hospitals, projects such as installing pipelines in Peru and renovating a boarding house proved to be completely eye-opening experiences for the Hockadaisy.

"I really appreciated all the stuff that we have at Hockaday and in Dallas, and all the accommodations we have here," Ashna said. "I never realized that there are people actually living in huts. I obviously knew that, but we just have it so great here." There's a difference between knowing facts and statistics about third world countries, and experiencing the poverty and the need firsthand. The latter incites a revelation that Haley-Coleman, who graduated from Hockaday in 1988, can still relate to.

"Going to a school like Hockaday - even living in Dallas - it's hard to understand the level of privilege that we experience," Haley-Coleman said. "People go into [Globe Aware trips] thinking they might save someone or help someone.

Really, we're working side-by-side with individuals in the community." Not to mention, with each other. Despite the fact that Ashna didn't initially know any of the other Hockaday students who served alongside her in Peru, "We all became really close over the two weeks we were there. We bonded in a different way than we would have at school."

Additional Info

  • Source Park Cities People
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 15:44

Voluntourism: Travel and give back!

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0650060292013Costa Rica Orosi Valley

VOLUNTOURISM A new way to travel and give back! Costa Rica Orosi Valley About an hour from the city of San Jose, in a gorgeous, hidden valley (Orosi) rests the tiny community of El Yaz known for Its clean water, rich soil eternal, spring-like temperatures (about 75 degrees every day) and organic, agricultural way of life. Although the villagers love their natural paradise they have struggled to make ends meet as even low paying jobs are rare. Most Villagers are not in abject poverty, but have no access to hot water, cars, or the quantity or protein sources to which a North American may be accustomed. Volunteer vacationers in this paradise location stay in one of two side by side mountain top houses.

Built In traditional Costa Rican style, furnished with fans and comfortable beds. These include Western-style bathrooms and showers, and hot water. On the nine-acre property are many fruit trees, spectacular views, hiking paths, many tropical birds, a covered gazebo social area, basketball court and hammocks.

Volunteers are fed plenty of fresh, healthy, abundant, Costa Rican dishes, heavy with fresh fruits, vegetables, rice and beans, with some chicken egg and beef dishes. Electricity is available, though on a more limited basis than you may be used to at home.

While traveling for business in the late 1990's, Kimberly Haley-Coleman often found herself in foreign countries with free time on her hands, and a desire to see beyond the traditional tourist attractions.

On one trip to Brazil she remembers looking for short volunteer opportunities but could only find multi week options.

"I found that so many people wanted the same thing I did, but once you've got kids, a mortgage and a busy lifestyle, you can't go and take three weeks off,” says the former global strategist and business development officer whose portfolio Includes "Everyone dreams of going Into the Peace Corps. but that's a two-and-a–half year commitment.”

In 2000, Haley-Coleman founded Globe Aware, a nonprofit specializing in weeklong service-inspired vacations around the world. Since then, the voluntourism movement has taken hold, and many of the nonprofit and for-profit companies are offering shorter trips catering got busy Westerners with limited vacation days. Most of Globe Aware's programs are built around a predetermined service project that can be finished In seven days. From installing concrete floors in the homes of Guatemala single mothers to building wheelchairs for Cambodian land mine victims, participants spend 30 to 35 hours working in an immersive environment, with the option of visiting the area's important attractions in their free time. But even the traditional tourist activities are designed to promote cultural awareness.

“Our volunteers come away with a real understanding of both the beauties and the of a culture,” says Haley-Coleman. “I would argue that’s more Important than the physical projects we work on-being able to make that human connection and understand each other's view of the world."


Additional Info

  • Source Perreault Magazine
Monday, 30 June 2014 11:48

Travel brings father, son closer

Writer George Rush has appeared in Conde NastTraveler, Travel + Leisure, Departures, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Esquire and other magazines. To better connect with his young son, Eamon, George embarked on a number of trips throughout the world, seeking adventure and new experiences:

How Traveling the World with My Son Brought Us Closer

George Rush

June 13, 2014

(All photos courtesy of George Rush)

My dad took our family on typical vacations when I was growing up – Gettysburg, Williamsburg, the Wisconsin Dells. We stopped for clamwiches at Howard Johnson’s. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I left the United States.

When I finally procured a passport, I lit out with friends on a three-month trip around the world. We were in Kashmir, riding horses through the Himalayan foothills, when we crossed paths with an American couple and their two children. I found it incredible that these kids were experiencing such an ethereal place. Then and there, I said to myself, “If I ever have a kid, he or she is coming with me!”

My son, Eamon, was 1 year old when he got his passport. He picked up his first few immigration stamps in Europe and the Caribbean. Later, my wife, Joanna, and I, who are both journalists, started taking him farther afield – to Tunisia and Indonesia.

Eamon, 10, in Ghana.

One year, I got an assignment in Ghana. Joanna couldn’t break away from work. I asked Eamon, then 10, if he wanted to go. He said, “Sure,” though he later claimed he thought I’d said, “We’re gonna go on a vacation!”

I wanted to push the boundaries this time. So, besides touring the West African nation, we volunteered with Globe Aware, an organization that helps build schools. Eamon had never been a big chore-doer. But, in Ghana, he carried lumber, mixed cement, and sawed iron rods. He played soccer with village kids and showed them American football. He went to a voodoo ceremony, where, he likes to recall, I got a little carried away with the trance drumming and ritual libations. It was his longest time away from his mom. But he came home with some stories – like the day he scared a toddler who’d never seen a white boy.

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Eamon was 13 when he and I went to Madagascar. His cement-mixing skills came in handy on another school construction site, this one run by Azafady, a pioneering NGO. He also helped take a census of frogs on an island crawling with lemurs, chameleons, and other species found nowhere else on earth. His main project was getting me to grow a beard. I didn’t want to grow a beard, but he seemed to think it was something dads did in the wild.  He also insisted on naming my beard “Sebastian.” He asked Malagasy strangers if they wanted to touch Sebastian. Thankfully, most declined.

Last summer, we headed to Ecuador. By then, the burbling ‘tween I’d brought to Ghana had turned into a supremely cool 15-year-old who spoke to us sporadically. But, once we’d left the States, once he couldn’t text his friends and he’d run through all the movies he’d downloaded, he had no one left to talk to but me. We fell into our routines: gags with sleep masks and neck pillows, inside jokes about invasive worms, Eamon goading me to grow another beard.  Again, we volunteered.

The terrific VenaEcuador program arranged for us to live with families while we tutored students in the Galapagos. We met some more astonishing creatures: Darwin’s finches, slag heaps of iguanas, the blue-footed booby. The trip was infused with more adrenalin – rafting, scuba-diving, mountain-biking, volcano-climbing. I tried to keep up.  Fortunately, I now had someone who could help pull into the boat or through the hole in a cave.

It’s funny how you sometimes have to go far away to get closer. Eamon now appreciates more of what he sees around him. But there’s never a bad age for a kid to discover the world’s wonders and sorrows, and feel what it’s like to be an outsider. This summer, we’re due to volunteer in Kenya with the anti-poaching foundation, Big Life. Now Eamon is the one who can grow the beard. My only question: what will I name it?

George Rush has written for the Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Departures, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Esquire, among other magazines.  His new book is, Scandal: A Manual.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 15:53

Volunteer Abroad at 40

Yelena Parker, expatriate, executive coach and writer with The Huffington Post recently shared her views on volunteering abroad after reaching 40.

In a nutshell, Yelena says "Dot it!"

Read her insight and averviews for yourself:

4 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer Abroad at 40

Life begins at 40. Forties are the new twenties. We have heard, spoken and overused these sentiments, more so during the year we turned 40. Big dates make us pause, review where our lives have taken us, reevaluate our priorities and set new goals. Some people choose to go through a radical change: have an affair, get a divorce, get married (again or finally), have a child. Many are interested in restyling their careers: it is time for me to do what I really want! Others are happy with a few new toys that their hard-earned money can finally buy: a fancy car, an upgraded house.

For those who do not to have children, a change of scenery to clear their heads and think through what the next 10, 20, 30... years are going to be like, is an easy solution. What is it going to be: an exotic location to relax and spoil yourself, or a destination to make a difference for communities in need? Sign up for a few months and break to:

1. Check back with your ambitions and passions
Do you remember what they were? Yes, I am talking to you, careerists! In the past 20 years you have pushed upwards, onwards, worked crazy hours and told yourself that there was going to be a reward once you were done. What was that reward exactly? What does done mean? We are so overconnected and overplugged in that there is rarely any time left for seriously thinking about who we wanted to be at the start of the career journey. Were you planning to get out of the corporate world to go satisfy your passion for teaching? Have you been telling your friends about this amazing book idea for the past 10 years? Did you want to try something new before you actually commit to a career change? Was your dream to start your own business? Volunteering projects allow you to enjoy new environment, get new ideas and test the old ones while you are actively helping a local community. They also are a fertile ground for discussions about life, universe, priorities as well as comparing experiences.

Volunteer Abroad2. Understand the current gap year generation
You know how people in your office sometimes start their complaints with "These recent graduates, I just don't get them! They... " Joining a group of volunteers in any country in Africa gives you instant access to the minds and hearts of the current gap year generation. Their experiences growing up are drastically different from yours. They are idealists and seek meaning from the start of their first jobs. They don't just want to go to the university, but rather want to know why and how they will apply their education. You will also realize that you are not really that different. It just took you extra 20 years to articulate the same goals and feel safe to pursue them.

3. Create new friendships
Eight-hundred Facebook friends is a fun number, but when was the last time you made a real friend? Chances are if you are in a career race anywhere in the world, you barely manage to keep up with people who you have got close to over the years across many countries. Maybe you meet a few interesting and useful contacts, or get a few new friends in the office.
Shared volunteering experiences create strong new friendships. You bond across a wide range of age groups. You have time for endless debates and discoveries, laughs and silly games besides your hard work. Yes, volunteering is work! Just unpaid. Meet new people, both locals and fellow volunteers and be open to share who you are and why you are on this journey far away from home. Enjoy your new friendships!

4. Learn about new cultures
You have traveled so much for work and on holiday that there isn't possibly anything new you could learn. Wrong! Volunteering sites provide access to unedited life stories, local reality and needs. You can be in a beautiful hotel in the north of Zanzibar, for example, and never speak to a single person who grew up there. Even if you do speak to them, it's most likely going to be a set of polite greetings.
When you volunteer, you become part of the community. There is something truly amazing about walking through a village and hear people of all ages call out to you from their homes: "Teacher Nicole! Teacher Pauline! Teacher Toni!" Whether you are 18 or 40, your status is of an educator. You will also meet the locals and understand what their lives are like. You will get extra interpretation of what you have learned from your volunteer coordinators.
Turning 40? Never volunteered abroad? If you read the post this far, I hope you sign up for a project close to your heart!

Additional Info

  • Source The Huffington Post
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:48

Things That Have Made Travel Better

Chis Clayton has compiled an interesting list of 85 Things That Have Made Travel Better. Featured in Delta Sky Magazine's June 2014 Innovation Issue, #24 is VOLUNTOURISM:

"Global Travelers are increasingly choosing to mix travel and philanthropy, from building soccer fields to helping orphaned lion cubs. Some well-regarded programs include Roadmonkey, Globe Aware, and Habitat for Humanity ..."


Additional Info

  • Source Sky

DSCN3001By Sucheta Rawal

Travel Writer

Posted: 06/09/2014 4:27 pm EDT Updated: 06/09/2014 4:59 pm EDT

Huffington Post, Travel Section

Volunteer vacationing, or voluntourism, is a relatively new phenomenon that includes a service component built into a short-term vacation. Don't confuse it with a mission trip, which is a trip designed specifically to work on a charity project or spread the philosophy of a religious group, or with the Peace Corps, which offers an opportunity to live and volunteer abroad for extended periods of time. The idea behind a volunteer vacation is to give back to the community you are visiting while having fun and learning about the local culture.

This type of a meaningful summer getaway can be especially useful for teenagers. Imagine a real-life lab where teens are learning as well as contributing. Choose any topic of interest to plan your themed trip, including the environment, health, education, micro lending, crafts, firefighting, sports, animals or construction. Most organizations require no prior experience or special skills but may not admit children less than eight years old.

1. Learn the real culture

International travel provides the opportunity for a great learning experience, but if you only take group tours and do solely tourist activities, you never really learn about a place's true culture. Volunteering makes you get out there and meet the locals, as well as talk to and work alongside them. When you are forced into a situation where you are interacting with the locals everyday, you start to pick up on their cultural nuances and understand their culture on a deeper level. The recipients also feel grateful for your contributions and may invite you to private dinners, family gatherings or festivals that you wouldn't otherwise have access to.

2. Strengthen family bonds

Traveling is a family bonding experience, but doing projects while traveling builds a sense of teamwork. Kids of all ages can work together building homes in villages, sowing seeds at community farms, taking care of animals at sanctuaries or engaging street kids in sports. Grandparents, uncles and cousins who don't get to spend time with each other outside the once-a-year Thanksgiving or Christmas get-together can hang out as well as feel good about making an impact.

3. Be a positive role model

When your kids see you working hard to build toilets for village schools versus sipping margaritas on the beach, they develop a deeper admiration for you. As a parent, you become a positive role model who encourages them to think beyond themselves and to lend a helping hand to the global community. You empower your kids to be responsible, compassionate and good global citizens by leading by example.

4. Prepare the leaders of tomorrow

Working abroad as a volunteer helps teach greater tolerance and understanding towards people from diverse cultural backgrounds, lifestyles, ages and income levels. It helps young people break down stereotypes at a young age and grow into responsible, caring leaders. According to certain studies, adults who volunteered as kids were twice as likely to be involved in community service as adults who did not. If you expose your kids to volunteering at a young age, they are likely to become contributing members of society and future change agents.

5. Get a break on your taxes

Many volunteer vacations are tax deductible. If you are traveling with a registered charitable organization and the main reason for your trip is to do volunteer work, you can deduct all or most of the expenses you incur. For a family taking an international trip, the savings can amount to thousands of dollars.

6. Leave a positive footprint

Going on a volunteer vacation as opposed to a regular one will always leave a positive footprint. When you depart a destination, you bequeath something of value to the locals that will help them in their future. Weather you teach English to women or bring smiles to the faces of little kids, it is certain that the impact of your visit is much more than the dollars you spend at the hotels and restaurants.

7. Build your teen's resume

Any volunteer work adds value to college applications. Teens can draw references from their experiences of traveling internationally, seeing how people live in different parts of the world, and helping make a positive impact. It provides them with great content that is relevant in class discussions, interviews and term papers. It also boosts their confidence and social skills.

8. Make them appreciate what they have

Perhaps the greatest benefit of a volunteer vacation experience is making your teens appreciate the lives they have and halting the trap of overconsumption. Witnessing how the majority of the world's population lives without 24-hour running water, electricity, down comforters and overstocked pantries is truly an eye-opening experience for which no textbook or documentary film can substitute. After making friends with others of a similar age who live with very little, they will probably not demand the latest electronic gadgets next Christmas!

Thursday, 08 May 2014 12:16

Film on Globe Aware up for Three Emmys

Celebrate with us!

We are excited to announce that the PBS documentary on Globe Aware's Cambodia program has received three Emmy Award nominations.

Produced by the good folks at Journeys for Good, the documentary is nominated for Best Cultural Program, Best Camera and Best Editing.

In December 2012, award-winning  husband and wife production team, Steve and Joanie Wynn, embarked on a volunteer adventure to Cambodia with non-profit Globe Aware.   They documented the experience for their public television series, “Journeys for Good”, developed with KQED-TV and their San Francisco Bay Area production company, Bayside Entertainment.

Award winners will be announced June 15 - stay tuned!


Additional Info

  • Source Journeys for Good

Great profile of Globe Aware in the May 2014 edition of 'Sky', Delta Air Lines' onboard magazine:


Globe Aware: A voluntourism outfit for time-crunched travelers


globe awareWhile traveling for business in the late 1990s, Kimberly Haley-Coleman o en found herself in foreign countries with free time on her hands and a desire to see beyond the traditional tourist attractions. On one trip to Brazil, she remembers looking for short volunteer opportunities but could only and multiweek options.
“I found that so many people wanted the same thing I did, but once you’ve got kids, a mortgage and a busy lifestyle, you can’t go and take three weeks off,” says the former global strategist and business development officer whose portfolio includes “Everyone dreams of going into the Peace Corps, but that’s a two-and-a-half-year commitment.”
In 2000, Haley-Coleman founded Globe Aware, a nonprofit specializing in weeklong service-inspired vacations around the world. Since then, the voluntourism movement has taken hold, and many other nonprofit and for-profit companies are offering shorter trips catering to busy Westerners with limited vacation days. Most of Globe Aware’s programs, now available in 15 countries, are built around a predetermined service project that can be finished in seven days. From installing concrete floors in the homes of Guatemalan single mothers to building wheelchairs for Cambodian land mine victims, participants spend 30 to 50 hours working in an immersive environment, with the option of visiting the area’s important attractions in their free time. But even the traditional tourist activities are designed to promote cultural awareness. Coffee-tasting in Costa Rica? Globe Aware arranges it with a family in their private home as opposed to in a factory.
“Our volunteers come away with a real under-standing of both the beauties and the challenges of a culture,” says Haley-Coleman. “I would argue that’s more important than the physical projects we work on—being able to make that human connection and understand each other’s view of the world.”
Globe Aware’s trips start around $1,100;

Additional Info

  • Source Sky
Thursday, 24 April 2014 14:56

School Built For Guatemalan Community

ga-logoDallas-based nonprofit gives disadvantaged children opportunity for higher education

Dallas, TX April 23, 2014 -  Globe Aware, an internationally recognized leading international volunteer vacation organization, has built with its volunteers and local community members a school for disadvantaged youths in El Remate, Guatemala, its newest program site to date.

Globe Aware is a Dallas-based nonprofit organization that mobilizes teams of volunteers to carry out international service projects in 17 countries. The organization led over 90 North American volunteers in a week-long effort alongside locals from the community to build a kitchen and lunchroom area, concrete sports field, computer lab, a groundskeeper house, as well as improve bathroom facilities.

Recognizing that many buildings are erected without funds for staff, money was also raised to cover salaries for an initial period of three years. Materials and the building design were sourced locally to promote sustainability. Community involvement was high, ranging from volunteers working side by side with local students, teachers and parents, as well as enthusiastic community residents who gathered to play musical instruments at the work site, or bring meals to the volunteers.

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“We must accept our roles as global citizens and work in union to achieve a brighter tomorrow,” said Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Executive Director of Globe Aware. “Through such service, and in this globalized world, we all learn solutions that benefit all involved, not the least of which is learning to create solutions in an environment of different cultural conditions. We look forward to working on many other projects to come as the communities further scope their needs.”

The remote community, a half hour from Flores, suffers from poor nutrition, disease and lack of access to education, social services and basic infrastructure. Unlike more tourist-destination countries in Central America, such as Costa Rica, Guatemala has not yet seen significant investment trickle down to many of its communities. The average educational level of residents in El Remate hovers at 6th grade, and the new school will offer curriculums from 7th to 9th grade, increasing the educational level and opportunities offered in the community.


About Globe Aware (R).

Globe Aware(R) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity that mobilizes short term volunteer programs around the world. These adventures in service focus on promoting cultural awareness and sustainability and are often compared to a mini "Peace Corps" experience. All volunteers are accompanied by a bilingual volunteer coordinator to assist the volunteer throughout their program. The program fee and the airfare to get there are fully tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Globe Aware is a member of International Volunteer Programs Association, Volunteers for Prosperity, the Building Bridges Coalition and administers the President's Volunteer Service Awards. Globe Aware is also in Consultative Status for United Nations Social and Economic Council.

Additionally, Globe Aware offsets its carbon emissions with, the country's leading carbon offset organization. Its carbon footprint is estimated at less than 70 tons annually, and has chosen to support carbon-reducing projects in renewable energy to offset the CO2 that is produced in running our offices worldwide, from powering our offices to the transportation used to get to and from our work sites. This commitment places Globe Aware as an environmental leader in the volunteer abroad community and demonstrates proactive steps being taken in the fight against global climate change.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Globe Aware’s founder and Executive Director, Kimberly Haley-Coleman, please call Shanti Shahani at 214-824-4562 or e-mail

Monday, 07 April 2014 15:10

Volunteers share hearts, experience

A former school principal and business executive look abroad for adventure and volunteer opportunities. They find their calling overseas working with communities in Africa and Eastern Europe:

LI volunteers share their hearts, experience abroad

Published: April 4, 2014 8:56 AM
By CARA S. TRAGER  Special to Newsday

For Helen Boxwill, it was as simple as this: Retire? YES. Rest and relax? NO!
So, in 2003, after a 23-year career in education, including three years as principal of Southdown Primary School in Huntington, Boxwill answered an ad for volunteer teachers in Africa. Nine months later, Boxwill landed in a remote Ethiopian village called Hosanna. It has since become her home away from home, she said.
Boxwill, 68, a divorced Huntington Station resident with three grown children, returns at least once a year, staying three weeks to 12 months, while pursuing different projects. During her time there, she said, she has developed a community library in Hosanna; expanded and refurbished a school in Tetema, a community 25 miles from Hosanna; and instructed college faculty on training new teachers. h2Empower, a nonprofit she established in 2006, provides financial contributions for her projects, and Long Islanders, including schoolchildren and her church's members, have supplied books and other materials.
"I have found my purpose in life," said Boxwill during a Skype interview from Ethiopia. "Everything I've learned or done professionally, I can apply in a place where my experience can make a difference."
For some Long Islanders, retirement, sabbaticals or vacations are an opportunity to volunteer, pursue an interest or travel to distant lands. Some manage to accomplish all three by volunteering overseas. "It gives you the advantage of seeing a new culture and new ways of living and looking at the world and an appreciation that the grass is not greener on the other side or, if it is, it can give a new sense of purpose," said Jaye Smith, 59, a Sag Harbor executive coach and author of "Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career & Life by Taking a Break."

More boomers volunteer

There are no hard statistics on how many boomers volunteer abroad, but the 50-plus crowd has represented a steadily increasing percentage of Peace Corps volunteers since 2006, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Chamberlain. Currently, 8 percent, or 577, of its 7,209 volunteers are 50 or older.
With many retired from teaching or running a business or nonprofit, the corps' older volunteers know how to work with groups and motivate the local population to ensure a project's continuity, Chamberlain said. And because the organization typically places volunteers in areas where the culture venerates elders, their age is an asset, too, she said.
But volunteering can be challenging, experts said. In underdeveloped regions and non-Western countries where volunteers often serve, Internet service can be sporadic and local cuisines may not be compatible with the average gastrointestinal system. In addition, certain prescription medications may not be available, and top-notch medical care may be difficult, if not impossible, to find, experts said.
Volunteering overseas also means acclimating to new environments. For instance, in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, where few traffic lights exist, Boxwill said she follows other pedestrians when crossing a street, and during rush hour traffic jams, she forgoes public transportation and walks everywhere.
For the adventuresome and altruistic, though, overseas opportunities abound. A Google search for "overseas volunteering opportunities" will generate a lengthy list of nonprofits with programs abroad. The Peace Corps, which generally requires a 27-month commitment, offers assignments in 40 countries, such as teaching English in China. Globe Aware, a nonprofit that develops short-term, international volunteer programs, has projects in 17 countries, including Cambodia, where volunteers assemble and distribute wheelchairs to land mine victims, an official said. Project HOPE has been sending health care professionals throughout the globe to provide medical assistance since 1958, according to its website.
Agency policies differ regarding program duration and who picks up the tab for transportation overseas, daily lodging and meals. For example, Globe Aware's tax-deductible program fee, which covers food, accommodations, medical care and a bilingual coordinator, costs each volunteer $1,100 to $1,500, depending on the project, a spokesman said.
Given the commitment that overseas projects often require, Smith suggested that potential volunteers test the waters by participating first in the efforts of a local nonprofit involved with international programs. The local experience can help volunteers become confident and comfortable working with the population the organization serves and determine whether they can add value to its overseas work, she said.

Back to Kenya

Since 2005, Kenyan-born Anne and George Mungai, who live in Baldwin, have volunteered annually for one month in an orphanage and school they founded in Wangige, a suburb about 16 miles from Nairobi. The Caroline Wambui Mungai Children's Home pays tribute to their daughter, who died nine years ago of lupus. Caroline, then 25, was pursuing a master's degree in early childhood education and had envisioned starting a school for Kenyan children in need.
"We lost our daughter and gained 40 children," said Anne Mungai, 60. "We are carrying on her dream." Both parents have doctorates. She is chairwoman of the Curriculum and Instruction Department and director of the Special Education Graduate Program at Adelphi's Ruth S. Ammon School of Education. George, who is 63, teaches math at a Brooklyn high school.
They started the children's home by donating a four-bedroom house and 31/2 acres they inherited. The site now encompasses nine buildings, including classrooms, dormitories and a dining hall. George designs the classrooms and supervises the construction, keeping track of their progress through photos that are emailed to him.
"We are rescuing these children from poverty to destiny, which is our motto, and we want them to be independent and stand on their own," said George. "And that's what the kids want, too."
With three daughters, all in their 30s, accompanying them to the orphanage, the Mungais work in the kitchen, read to the children and take them to the doctor, pitching in wherever they are needed.
"If they need a hug, I give them a hug," Anne said.
"I feel so gratified and so fulfilled that we are living my daughter's legacy, multiplied many times over," George said. "It's not just what we are doing for one generation, but I believe the children will give back."
Along with organizing fundraisers, receiving financial support from Adelphi students, alumni and her colleagues, many of whom have volunteered at the home, the Mungais contribute part of their salaries to the Caroline Wambui Mungai Foundation, which sustains the facility.
"When I go to the orphanage, I think I am going to help, but the children help balance me to see what's important in life," said Anne. "When we see the children in good health and the love they feel, it gives us joy."

Philanthropy and photography

Volunteering has allowed Hollis Rafkin-Sax, 58, to channel a passion for travel overseas and photography into a philanthropic endeavor.
In 2008, Rafkin-Sax left the global crisis communications company she helped build. After enrolling at the International Center of Photography in New York City, she completed the yearlong general Studies degree program in 2010. Since then, she has participated in humanitarian missions with various organizations. On each trip, she has gone beyond the group's activities, taking photos and providing them at no charge to the nonprofits to use in printed materials and websites.
"I have always loved photography and wanted to use it in a way I could give back," said Rafkin-Sax, who is married with two grown sons and has homes in Sag Harbor and Larchmont.
In 2012, she spent two weeks in Bosnia, courtesy of a mission organized by the nonprofit Women's World Banking. While there, she took photos and shared her marketing experience with young women entrepreneurs.
And as a participant in a one-year fellowship last year under the aegis of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an international social service agency, Rafkin-Sax delivered food staples and medicines to the homes of impoverished, elderly men and women in the Ukraine and Hungary. The fellowship also involved a mission to Haiti, where she advised student leaders on entrepreneurship.
Wherever she has lent a hand, Rafkin-Sax said, she has not only been moved by the people she helped but also by other volunteers.
The committee "changed my whole way of thinking about the world and who the unsung heroes are," she said. "You go to disaster places, like Haiti, and you see people who have given up their relatively comfortable lives because they want to help, and that's hugely impressive."


Think you might be interested in volunteering overseas? Here are experts' tips for a positive experience.

  • Learn about the destination and its year-round climate, which could include drought and rainy seasons, as well as scorching temperatures, by contacting former volunteers and by researching online.
  • Visit a doctor specializing in travel medicine for vaccinations, medications and health-care advice.
  • Review the U.S. State Department's website for travel alerts and warnings about your destination.
  • Don't bring expensive or flashy jewelry.
  • Limit how much cash you carry each day.
  • Follow the local dress and etiquette code.
  • Only drink bottled water.
  • Keep travel documents in a safe place.
  • Be open to different people and a different culture.

Additional Info

  • Source Long Island Newsday
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 12:50

Holidays That Help

AW Media Inc. of Austin, Texas publishes austinwoman Magazine, Austin Man Magazine, Pink Pages, Guide to Good Health and produces an annual AW Aniversary Event as well as numerous other events throughout the year. In the April 2014 edition of austinwoman Magazine, the focus was on volunteer travel and vacations and on Dallas' own Globe Aware.

Holidays That Help

Want to take a holiday that benefits the world? Here’s how to do it right.

By Carla Avolio

volunteer-vacations-for-WomenIt was during a trip to Croatia’s gorgeous, glittering coast that Misha Donohoe realized she wasn’t enjoying her holiday.
“I just had this uneasy feeling that I wasn’t contributing,” says the science communicator and travel lover. “The culture there is so rich and yet, by doing the typical touristy thing, I was just an outsider. I really wanted a holiday where I could give to a society rather than take away from it.” For Donohoe, the solution was to combine travel with volunteering. She signed up with WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and went to work on a goat farm in the Yukon, on Canada’s Western frontier.
“I forged deep connections with the land and people, which made my stay so much richer than your average holiday,” she says.
Donohoe is one of millions of travelers who are seeking more from their vacations than the usual sightseeing and relaxation. This growing breed of conscious traveler wants to know that spending their tourist dollars somewhere might also mean that wildlife is better protected, more homes are built in disaster-ravaged communities or fewer trees are cut down.
It’s a concept that has been gaining momentum since the early 1980s when the term “eco-tourism” was first coined. Defined by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people,” eco-tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of the global travel industry, increasing 20 to 30 percent every year, according to TIES.
While eco-tourism generally focuses on natural areas, another increasingly popular form of tourism seeks to help people in need. Volunteer vacations, also known as “voluntourism,” see philanthropic travelers combining short-term travel with contributing labor or skills. Unlike simply donating money, volunteering shows you exactly how your efforts are helping to build wheelchairs for landmine victims or more village schools. And it’s no longer just for skilled professionals like doctors and engineers. The volunteering industry now offers a wealth of opportunities for all kinds of passionate and adventurous people. With the huge growth in this sector, there are literally thousands of eco-lodges and charities offering holiday experiences for conscious travelers. So how do you know where to go? To find out, we asked the experts to list their top tips on doing conscious traveling the right way.


volunteer-travel-for-WomenAndy Drumm, a sustainable tourism and eco-tourism expert who has been working with indigenous communities for more than two decades, says while many tour companies offer trips to natural areas, sadly, most are contributing to the pressures rather than helping.
“Surprisingly, it’s usually the cheaper tours that actually pass on benefits to the community and environment, rather than just to the tourists,” he says.

  • Drumm suggests asking the following questions to identify responsible operators: R How do they contribute to conservation? For example, do they give money back to conservation projects and national parks in the areas they visit? Legitimate operators should provide clear evidence of this on their websites.
  • Do they engage local communities? Responsible operators will provide social benefits to the indigenous community either by hiring local guides, contributing financially or providing skills training. They also should have safeguards in place to protect the cultural integrity of the community.
  • Where are you staying? Accommodation must have sound waste-management strategies and employ sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind or hydro.


The Cultural Experience: Huaorani Ecolodge, Ecuador

This multi-award-winning operation, conceptualized and developed by Drumm, is the gold standard in eco-tourism. Tucked in to a remote corner of the Amazon jungle, the lodge is owned and operated by the Huaorani, an indigenous tribe that has been in contact with the outside world for less than 60 years. This truly environmentally and socially sustainable operation provides visitors with a rare glimpse in to the culture of one of the most isolated tribes on earth.

  • Do: Huao-guided rainforest hikes, kayaking and experiencing the Huaorani way of life.
  • Sleep: one of five palm-thatched cabins built by the Huaorani from wood handpicked by a forest engineer.
  • Operated by: Tropic Journeys in Nature, an award-winning eco-tourism company specializing in Ecuador.

Austin-Woman-2014 Page 4With 10 days of elephant spotting, bush walking and sipping gin and tonics at sunset, this trip has all the trappings of a luxe safari. But don’t be fooled; conservation is the main goal of this eco-tourism experience. Ingwe Leopard Research teamed up with a tour company to create an unbeatable trip that raises awareness and funds for threatened leopards

  • Do: game drives, bush walks, behind-thescenes tour at a wildlife rehabilitation center, setting camera traps to help track leopard movements
  • Sleep: stylish, tented camps with plunge pool overlooking a mountain gorge
  • Operated by: Tribes, a U.K.-based tour operator offering tailor-made eco-holidays.


Kimberly Haley-Coleman, executive director of volunteering site Globe Aware, says there are countless benefits to voluntourism, from gaining deeper cultural understanding, to increased personal happiness.

“It’s such a unique, fulfilling sense of empowerment that there’s simply nothing else like it!” she says.

To gain the experience of a lifetime, Haley-Coleman suggests considering the following:

  • What’s your story? Good organizations will assess your interests, language skills and how much travel you’ve done before suggesting a destination. For example, an English speaker who’s never left the U.S. might be better matched to Puerto Rico than Cambodia. Deciding on a culture is probably more important than the type of volunteer service, be it building homes in Nepal or stoves in Peru
  • Show me the money. Volunteering organizations charge a huge fee, so you should find out how much of this is actually going to the community versus administration costs of placing volunteers. All nonprofits are required to publish their financials, which you can read on the website Guide Star.
  • They know best. Make sure the volunteer project has been determined by the community rather than a foreign charity. It’s far more likely that your work will have real benefits that way
  • Safety first. Your selected organization should come with medical insurance, liability insurance and a crisis plan in the event of a disaster.

The Visionaries:

Zábalo Cofán Community, Ecuador

Eco-tourism is just one of many innovative programs coming from the Cofán indigenous community in Northeastern Ecuador. In addition to tours, the Cofán run programs for training local rangers to protect 1 million acres of land, turtle repopulation, carbon management and making sustainable eco-canoes using traditional methods.

  • Do: trekking, canoeing, fishing, rainforest camping.
  • Sleep: swinging hammocks strung up in thatched roof huts.
  • Operated by: Cofan Survival Fund.


The book: Recently updated in 2012, Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others by Bill McMillon is packed with 150 in-depth profiles of select organizations.
The website: Catering to families and the time-poor, Globe Aware offers weeklong programs in 15 countries.
The international option: In Habitat for Humanity’s international program, Global Village, volunteers build and renovate homes to create sustainable communities throughout the world.
The domestic option: The American Hiking Society offers 60 volunteer vacations each year, contributing to the beautification of trails in America’s most iconic natural landscapes.
On the cheap: While volunteering usually comes with a hefty fee, Peace Corps ( pays you a stipend for 27 months service and WWOOF ( provides board and lodging in exchange for a day’s work on the farm.


Additional Info

Thursday, 27 March 2014 13:46

You’re Retired? How to Volunteer Overseas

volunteer-vacation-peruAugust 16, 2013 - 2:30 AM
By Susan Ladika

Remember when you were young and idealistic, and wanted to make a difference in the world?

Now that you’re retired, you have your chance.

Baby boomers and members of the Silent Generation are flocking overseas to take part in volunteer vacations.

You’ll be in good company if you head abroad to volunteer. Those age 65 and older are the fastest-growing group of international volunteers, soaring nearly 75 percent, from about 73,000 in 2008 to 127,000 in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. For those between the ages of 55 and 64, the number of people volunteering internationally jumped from about 102,000 in 2004 to 161,000 in 2012.

Where to look

So how do you find opportunities to volunteer abroad?

There are two good places to start – the Internet and a religious organization. In fact, of all those who volunteered abroad, regardless of age, nearly half were connected to a religious organization, the Census Bureau found.

You’ll find opportunities detailed online with organizations connected to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Islamic faiths, or perhaps with your own church, synagogue or mosque.

Your other option is to plop yourself in front of your computer to search out organizations, and you’ll come up with a wealth of opportunities. These were recommended by founder Jim T. Miller on The Huffington Post:

  • Earthwatch Institute. “Expeditions” focus on environmental research and conservation.
  • Globe Aware. This group offers volunteer vacations of a week or more.
  • Global Volunteers. It offers volunteer vacations of one to three weeks.
  • Road Scholar. This group used to be known as Elderhostel.
  • Habitat for Humanity. You can volunteer with this well-known charity overseas.
  • Another site we recommend is Projects Abroad.

What to expect

Where you go and what you’ll be doing on your volunteer vacation depends on your own interests and skills. You can find opportunities in dozens of countries, from Poland to Peru.

You might be able to tap into the skills you’ve honed in your professional life, or choose something that simply appeals to you. Tutoring, general labor, mentoring youth and providing medical care are some of the most common ways that volunteers spend their time abroad, the Census Bureau survey found.

Once you’ve found something that piques your interest, you’ll need to fill out an application for that position.

In many cases you’ll work alongside locals as you do your tasks, so not only will you be able to share your skills with others, you’ll likely be developing new skills, while having the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. Many programs also set aside time so you can take part in cultural activities.

What are the costs

It often will cost you a couple of thousand dollars to volunteer for a week or two abroad. Typically that will cover your accommodations, food and local transportation, and you’ll usually need to pay your airfare separately.

If it’s not included in the fee you pay to the organization, make sure to purchase travel insurance in case your travel plans go awry, and health insurance if your coverage doesn’t apply overseas.

While the costs of an international volunteer vacation may seem steep, because you’re volunteering with a nonprofit you’ll be able to deduct your expenses from your taxes.

Retirees, does the idea of volunteering in a foreign country appeal to you? Have you done it? Share your experience on our Facebook page.

Additional Info

  • Source MoneyTalks News
Thursday, 27 February 2014 16:57

Hard at work in Cambodia

by Hilary Whitesides

When over 60 Vivint volunteers traveled to Cambodia recently, they didn’t know exactly what to expect, but they knew they wanted to work hard.

“I was super pleased to see our teams put to work—seriously hard work,” said volunteer Neal Rogers.

Vivint volunteers partnered with Globe Aware, a non-profit organization that organizes short-term international service projects that encourage cultural awareness as well as giving back. Volunteers were able to enjoy the environment, associate with people native to the area, and provide incredibly important services to people in need.

On day one of the service trip, volunteers delivered water filters to families in a floating city that were in serious need of water filtration. But that was just the beginning. The volunteers then painted a community center, taught English classes at local schools, and built wheel chairs for landmine survivors. Perhaps most impressive of all, however, were the latrines volunteers dug to ensure clean sanitation and the new buildings they built for a local orphanage.

“I have never been a part of something that brought so many people together to do that much good in a short amount of time,” Rogers said. “I think our teams got as much out of the experience as the Cambodians we helped did.”

Additional Info

  • Source vivint blog
Monday, 17 February 2014 12:13

Spring break trips with a difference

cusco casa del corazone thumbGeorgina Cruz, special correspondent with the Orlando Sentinel, looked at volunteer vacations and the upside of a "voluntourism" vacation in a February 13, 2014 article:

Spring into service with a "voluntourism" vacation. You can mix with the locals, living and working in communities on a variety of projects and activities, from teaching English to caring for youngsters in orphanages, taking part in community improvement projects or conservation efforts.

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.

Cruz spotlighted Globe Aware's program to the Inca city of Cuzco in Peru:

Globe Aware Adventures In Service: This non-profit has been developing short-term volunteer programs internationally for 15 years. Trips are intended to promote cultural awareness and/or sustainability. 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 service trips this season are programs to the Inca city of Cuzco in Peru, near the legendary Lost City of Machu Picchu. Visit


Additional Info

  • Source Orlando Sentinel
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 15:26

Globe Aware in Guatemala

Globe Aware in Guatemala.
The project Ix-is based in El Remate, Peten, Guatemala, a small lakeside community, located midway between the International Airport in Flores and the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal (30 km.)
Project began in August 1995 in a small lakeside building loaned by a local resident. In late 1996, Eduardo Cofiño purchased over 2 manzanas of land for ongoing development.
In 1999, the funding for the present clinic building was donated by the Rice Millers Association of Guatemala, and the Grand Opening was held in February, 2000.
In February of 2004, a new building to house the Library & Computer Center was funded by Friends from Calgary, Alberta.
In January of 2005, a group of village women, under the direction of Global Coalition for Peace, began learning techniques of Square Foot Gardening and composting, to improve general nutrition and to prepare to teach gardening in other villages.
In 2007, Friends of Ix-canaan and the Wild Rose Foundation, under the coordination of the Ayudamos Foundation, funded the new Ix-canaan Women’s Center.
In November of 2007, AGAT Labs of Calgary, Alberta funded a laboratory in the middle section of the Clinic Building where many basic tests can now be done to diagnose patients.Offering programs of Health, Education and Opportunity, to enable the people of the jungles to become truly "IX-CANAAN ... the Guardians of the Rainforest"
News and Blog Posts

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Thursday, 24 October 2013 17:59

Family Volunteer Vacation in Cambodia

our family and meangs familyA Dallas family’s week-long volunteer vacation in Cambodia harvested a new global perspective for their four children, ages 10-17. Feeling that their kids were at an age where they were ready for a different type of travel experience, parents Stan and Lezlie decided a family service trip with Globe Aware was the perfect fit for them. Their goals were two-fold: to have their children understand that satisfaction and happiness are not tied to material wealth, and to have them understand that humans are the same around the world and that we all have more in common than differences. Prior to departing, Lezlie and Stan discussed expectations with their children to help prepare them for the poverty and difficult scenes they might encounter during their trip. While the children may have been ready for the work they would do and the people they would meet, nothing could have prepared them for the overall eye-opening experience that would ultimately change their lives.

For their volunteer project, the family spent time building a well for the community, assembling and distributing wheel chairs to landmine victims, and teaching English at Friends of the Orphan Children Organization (FOCO), a local non-governmental organization that provides schooling for disadvantaged children in Siem Reap. It was during their time at the school that the family became intimately acquainted with the richness and reality of the Cambodian culture.

Claudia, the family’s 15 year old, was taken aback by the positivity of the Cambodians amidst their living conditions. Over 30 children both attended school and lived together in a small facility that Claudia quickly realized was not even half the size of her entire house. Yet despite their living conditions and lack of material luxuries, the children were full of joy, respectful, and welcoming to friends and strangers. Caiden, the family’s youngest, also noticed the unquenchable joy of the Cambodians: “The kids in Cambodia are different from the kids here in the U.S. because they are just happy, and kids here always want more. They were always smiling, even when they had to go help work.”

our-famiy-and-meang-at-wellDuring English lessons, the family members each had a chance to spend time with students, learn about their lives, and get to know more about who they are. One particular young girl stood out to the family. Full of smiles and giggles, her tiny frame exuded to all those around her a contagious joy that would have deceived anyone of her traumatic past. Although she looked no older than four years old, the family discovered from one of the FOCO staff that she was actually nine, and further learned that she came from an abusive past and a tragically broken family.

Filled with sorrow for the girl’s heartrending story and a desire for justice, the family was moved to consider how they might further enrich these children’s lives. The school had recently commenced a new project to expand the facilities but was restricted to complete the work within a certain time period, even though the necessary funds were not available. Stan and Lezlie consulted their family for how they would like to help, and they unanimously agreed they would love to contribute to the funding of the school’s new building.

well-family-and-chanda-and-usMotivating the family’s decision to help the children was the relentless reminder of the differences between their own lifestyle and that of the Cambodians. As Claudia describes, “We saw the difference – I have two computers, a cell phone, an air mattress, an iPhone, an iPad – and, these kids, all they have a long bench of wood for a bed with a picnic covering, two shelves in a room, and some books. Fifteen kids slept in a room just the size of my room.”

Both Claudia and her 17-year-old sister, Maggie, recognize that because of their age, their 10- and 13-year-old brothers, Caiden and Liam, may not have fully grasped the impact of poverty on the Cambodian people. But everyone agrees that having young volunteers on the trip made the experience all the richer. As the same age as most of the students, Caiden and Liam were able to relate with them in a special way, offering a unique connection. Liam explains his perspective on the experience: “It was really hard to understand how the Cambodians lived compared to how I live. The biggest difference was the way they acted – everyone was so happy and nice, as happy as the richest people over here. It was really different from what I was used to and eye opening to how privileged I am.”

Walking away from the trip, the children of the family all realized that there is something rich and fulfilling in the lives of the Cambodians that the American culture may not have tapped into yet. Reflecting on this mystery, Claudia profoundly noted “I think they are so happy because they don’t have to worry about the social media and the money and the business and famous people and the media. It makes life so much more simple and so much more meaningful than getting a like on a Facebook picture.” Even more notably, Maggie and Claudia were both impacted by the appreciation for education they saw from the Cambodian children. The girls were inspired that rather than complaining or begrudgingly go to school, as their peers often do, the kids were eager to learn and excited to soak up all the knowledge they could.

wheelchair-recipients-group-shotIn addition to funding the school project, the family’s help with FOCO in Cambodia has not halted since their return. Unable to shake the now-familiar realities of young children who live off a dollar a day and possess only one outfit to wear for the week, the four children have been inspired to continue their support of the students at FOCO. As Maggie recaps, “The work the school does is of such a benefit to the lives of these children and their communities, and the teachers and staff are really fun and caring people. I am so happy and grateful that I was able to be involved in this school, and I hope to continue to help even while in Dallas.” And help she has, as she is currently in the planning stages of launching a literacy and pen pal project to connect peers at her school with students at FOCO.

Assuredly, any parent would be proud to hear their child respond to a volunteer experience with the openness, positivity, and initiative that this family’s children have demonstrated. But the development of characteristics like cultural awareness and generosity can only be attributed to the children’s first-hand observation of authentic parents who demonstrate compassion for humankind and a desire to contribute to other cultures. It is thanks to commendable parents such as these that global citizens rise up and take action to change the world.



Additional Info

  • Source Globe Aware
Thursday, 01 August 2013 00:00

Traveling With Purpose


Summer 2013 Reserve Magazine by Clare Curley “Traveling with Purpose: Volunteer Vacations”

Three years ago Kimberly Haley-Coleman and her two young daughters, then 4 and 6, took an unlikely trip. They traveled from Dallas, Texas, to southeast Ghana and immersed themselves in the local culture while building educational facilities for the children there.

Haley-Coleman — Executive Director of Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization that plans volunteer vacations in Asia, Latin America, Ghana and Romania — says trips like this have instilled in her daughters a unique cultural awareness. “They don’t take for granted that their way of doing things is necessarily the right way,” she adds.

The volunteer travel market, also known as “voluntourism,” offers an increasing diversity of niches for such philanthropic-minded travelers. “Volunteer vacations are definitely on more people’s radar,” says International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) Executive Director Genevieve Brown. Every year thousands of travelers roll up their sleeves and lend a hand on projects ranging from wildlife conservation in Kenya to assembling wheelchairs for landmine victims in Cambodia.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about volunteer vacations.

Q: How can I be sure the trip is in my comfort zone?

A: Even if you're open to stepping out of your comfort zone, it’s important to consider the kind of environment that’s suitable for you. Accommodations vary greatly between programs, from homestays and modest hotels to luxurious, high-end cottages. Decide if you'd be comfortable in rural settings or staying in facilities without running water. “Even if you extensively travel abroad, you’re going to experience culture shock,” Brown says.

Organizations should be able to provide ample

information on their trips and might even put you in contact with past participants. Asking these three questions will also help assess the quality of the program:

  1. How are the projects chosen?
  2. How long have you worked in the community?
  3. Why did you choose this particular community?

A well-researched volunteer trip can be as personally fulfilling as it is culturally enlightening. The right combination can be a real adventure.

U.S. Bank is not responsible for and does not guarantee the products, services or performance of its affiliates or third party providers.

Please see important information below.
- See more at:

Additional Info

  • Source Reserve magazine
Monday, 06 May 2013 19:00

Volunteer trips that actually help

peru-volunteer-vacationsGreat story from 2010 on volunteer vacations and finding the one that fits right and provides the greatest benefits to the destination community:

The idea of volunteering away from home seems like a win-win to many travelers: a way to experience and help another community at the same time. But without a solid, well-designed program and reasonable expectations, volunteer travel can do more harm than good.

Showing up in parts unknown, hoping to make a big difference in a small amount of time, is likely to leave travelers and hosts disappointed.

"You're not going to change the world in a week or two. You're not going to eradicate poverty in a village. You're not going to teach a kid how to read," said Doug Cutchins, a former Peace Corps volunteer and co-author of "Volunteer Vacations: Short-term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others.”

The key to having a positive impact in a short amount of time is realizing that your efforts are part of a process, Cutchins said. Results are subtle and come about slowly through a long line of volunteers.

"Development is a tricky process, and as Americans we are very, very product-oriented," he said.

He's concerned with what he calls "development by monument," where volunteers want a completed building or another physical representation of their volunteer efforts to answer the inevitable "what did you accomplish?" question from friends and family at home.

"That's one of the first questions you're going to get asked, and it's hard sometimes for people to say, 'well, I was kind of part of a process, and we engaged in cultural exchange.' But that's really the very best way to do it," Cutchins said.

Daniela Papi agrees. She is one of the founders of PEPY, a non-governmental organization dedicated to educational development in rural Cambodia. PEPY Tours hosts learning trips that help fund the group's projects.

The organization has gone from referring to those trips as "voluntourism" to calling them "edu-tourism" or "educational adventures.”

"The number one thing that's going to happen is that you are going to have a new perspective on your country, on your life, on your choices and how they affect the world, on what it means to live in whatever country that is," Papi said.

The 10 days or so spent traveling and learning would ideally inform participants' choices and outlook at home, where they will have the largest impact, Papi said.

Finding volunteer trips that actually help - 1 of 3 5/7/2013 1:47 PM Teaching English and construction projects are the most common types of voluntourism projects Papi sees in her region. Travelers involved in a construction voluntourism project should ask the operator and organizations involved about the plans for the structure when the volunteers go home, she cautions. Who is going to take care of it, who will work in it, how will they be trained, and who will fund the training? A poorly constructed school without trained teachers isn't likely to have the benefits volunteers envision. And in the case of teaching English, who will teach the children when there are no volunteers, and what effect does a revolving-door model of teaching have on kids? Successful projects start with the needs of the community, voluntourism organizers say.

"We don't go in and say, 'this is what your problem is, and this is how we're going to fix it,' " said Catherine McMillan, a spokeswoman for Globe Aware, a nonprofit that develops short-term volunteer programs.

Members of the community should be involved in identifying and addressing areas where partner organizations can help.

The organization you're working with should have a strong and ongoing relationship with the community, local non-governmental organizations and project leaders on the ground.

"It's a complicated kind of tourism, because you don't want to send folks and do something and then not have, not measure the consequences of that action in the long term," said Erica Harms, director of the Tourism Sustainability Council, an initiative involving the United Nations and travel partners.

Travelers should ask about the program's history and its involvement with NGOs or other organizations. Find out where the funding is coming from and where it is being allocated. Ask about how the project is supported over time and how the community was involved in its development, Harms said.

And keep in mind that organizing volunteers to help support these efforts is not free. There are costs associated with housing and feeding volunteers, with transporting them locally, with training them and establishing a system of working that allows visitors to contribute for a short period.

Most of Globe Aware's programs require a contribution fee of approximately $1,200 per week, which does not include airfare. PEPY Tours cost $500 to $700 a week, plus a fundraising or donation minimum of $500 for individuals.

PEPY Tours participants are giving back mostly through their financial support -- which is what will keep the education projects running, Papi said. But visitors can see where their money is going and may have an opportunity to get physically involved.

Cutchins says reputable organizations will be up-front about costs, what is included and where your money will be spent.

Globe Aware's McMillan recommends looking up nonprofits on, which compiles tax forms from nonprofits, to see how operators are spending. It's also a good idea to contact past volunteers or people who are familiar with the organization's work on site.

Travelers should be realistic about what would make for a positive experience and select opportunities that fit their skills and interests.

"I think there are very few people who would make really bad volunteers. ... It's really about matching the Finding volunteer trips that actually help the right person with the right opportunity," Cutchins said.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Thursday, 28 February 2013 18:00

Globe Aware in Cosmo

Globe Aware's volunteer vacations were featured in a article in the March edition of Cosmopolitan:

lndulge the do-gooder within by taking a 10- or 14 day service expedition in the Caribbean through Discover Corps. You'll work with other volunteers to improve local communities and get a chance to explore the D.R.'s diversity, from the natural (waterfalls and forests) to the historical (colonial Santo Domingo). Another resource for volunteer vacations is Globe Aware (, which has destinations across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.


Tuesday, 05 February 2013 18:00

Q & A with Globe Aware

Volunteer VacationsQandA with Volunteer Vacation provider Globe Aware

Kimberly Haley-Coleman takes time out of her busy schedule to tell Voluntales about Globe Aware.

Can you tell us a little about your organization? What does Globe Aware aim to achieve? Why is volunteering important?

We seek to promote cultural awareness and sustainability by mobilizing small teams of volunteers to carry out humanitarian assistance projects the communities have requested in 17 countries around the world. First, it just makes the world a better place and it makes one happy to give of oneself. It also affords the local communities a way to learn about the world outside their own borders, an opportunity for cultural exchange for all involved. It’s a chance to connect, participate and participate in meaningful projects.

In what ways does Globe Aware differ from other organizations offering volunteering vacations?

We have small teams going for only one week, Saturday to Saturday. We usually work on short term *concrete* projects that you can finish in a week, like assembling wheelchairs, building adobe lorena stoves, schools, houses, installing water filtration systems, etc. Many of our peer organizations won’t put money toward such projects as they believe it only builds dependency. Our aim is to build capacity.

What have been some of your biggest challenges and successes? Or the greatest challenges for your volunteers?

One of our greatest is a doctor in Florida who came on a program and was so inspired that she led a mass fundraising campaign to install water filtrations for a huge number of villages. There are so many examples, really a Globe Aware experience is a way to light that lamp for passion for what happens when you give of yourself in this unique way.

What are the most popular destinations for your volunteers?

Peru, Costa Rica

What type of professional background are you looking for? Can anyone participate? Can non-US citizens/residents travel with you?

Anyone, no skills required at all. Yes we have had many non-US citizens, and in fact are also a registered Canadian charity. We’ve had volunteers as young as 2 who came with their parents and helped with forming mud for the stoves, for example

Do volunteers have to pay to participate, and if so, what does this payment support?

Yes, the pay goes toward project materials, coordinator salary, accommodations, food, in country transportation, medical insurance, any local expertise contracted, etc. A more full list of what’s included is on our site in the FAQs section.

In general, what do people gain from volunteering with your organization?

I’d say we must be close to 100% feeling that they got more than they give. Its true because you learn from the locals. Its an exchange, not a situation where volunteers are flying in as superman to save the day. They already know how to address many of their challenges. We are working side by side with different communities as equals on projects that are important to them. Not much greater satisfaction in this world!

In general, what are the key questions potential volunteers should ask about a host organization?

Where is your money going, will I have a bilingual staff member with me the whole time; who will take care of me in the event of an emergency. Just as important is what NOT to ask – if you ask for an exact schedule, you’re off track. Most cultures that support volunteer programs like this are not bound by clocks and calendars the way many Westerners are.

Thank you to Kimberly and to Globe Aware!


Wednesday, 23 January 2013 18:00

Christmas in Cambodia

Volunteer vacation CambodiaTexas family spend Christmas in Cambodia on volunteer vacation with Globe Aware

St. Michael's Catholic Academy Freshman Quentin Bentzin and his family traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia, over Christmas on a family service trip.

The group of 14 did a variety of service work, including assembling wheelchairs donated by www.freewheelchairmission. org and then delivering them to disabled Cambodians.

Pictured at right is Quentin mixing concrete for the floor of a village water pump. Quentin is also pictured with a young Cambodian girl whose bedroom the group had painted and furnished.Volunteer vacation Cambodia

Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia and is also home to the famous Angkor Wat temple.

"This trip was an incredible opportunity for my family to learn about Southeast Asia while helping others," Bentzin commented.


Additional Info

  • Source West Austin News
Monday, 31 December 2012 18:00

Voluntourism films inspire others

California couple hopes their voluntourism films inspire others

A LITTLE MORE than three years ago, Steve and Joanie Wynn were looking to get out of a rut. Their video production company, Bayside Entertainment, was in a slump along with the rest of the economy.

So when Joanie Wynn stumbled upon Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy, a fledgling business started by a former New York Times war correspondent, she thought, here's a chance to do something different — document six women volunteering at a school for AIDS orphans in Tanzania while also enjoying a trip abroad and scaling Mount Kilimanjaro.

The experience was "life-changing." The Muir Beach couple returned with a lot more than a sense of adventure and some great footage; they discovered a new purpose and passion.

"We both traveled extensively before and to Africa before on various projects," says Joanie Wynn, who worked in Hollywood for clients such as Disney, Sony and Dreamworks. "But we were amazed by the transformation by the people who were on the trip, and we came back and thought, wow — these are the stories we really want to tell."


They launched Journey for Good (, a website that lists voluntourism opportunities in hopes of inspiring others to participate. Their documentary, "A Journey for Good: Tanzania," which aired on public TV stations around the country, garnered four Emmy nominations and two Telly Awards. Now they're in talks with KQED to turn "Journeys for Good" into a series.

"Travel programs resonate with our audiences" says Scott Dwyer, KQED's director of programming. "'A Journey for Good' was the first travel show I've seen that expanded the definition what a vacation can be when you include 'doing good' at the same time. I think the producers are on to something."

The Wynns and their 9-year-old son, Ryan, a third-grader at Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito, left for Cambodia on Dec. 26 with Global Aware to document their second voluntourism trip together. (Last spring, Steve Wynn traveled with a group of women who built a playground at a school in Nicaragua.) This time, the family is joining others in building wheelchairs for land mine victims, teach English to Buddhist monks and a well at a home for the disabled.

Their focus is not only on the projects, but also on the people who volunteer — what motivated them, how it changed them.

"Our goal is to show people that this is a great way to travel differently," she says. "You can still go and experience a different culture, a different country and have an even richer and deeper experience by working side-by-side with local people."

Working with locals is an entirely different experience than arriving in a village or community to donate books or schoolbags, she says.

The Wynns got close to the teachers, students and local laborers as well as the bibi — the Swahili word for grandmother — who started the school as they built desks, refurbished classrooms and installed a water filtration system among other improvements together.

"We felt so honored to be invited into her home and share lunch each day," Joanie Wynn, 48, says. "Those are experiences you don't get to do just by being a tourist."

"The connection was not just with the people we were serving but the people we were following," Steve Wynn, 52, says. "It was really neat to see how they changed and how their view of the world changed. You could see the potential ripple effect."

Neither had done extensive volunteering before, although Steve Wynn, a Marin native and longtime cameraman who has worked with the Discovery, History and Travel channels, has been a Muir Beach volunteer firefighter since 2009 and the chief for the past year.

Voluntourism has been one of the fastest growing forms of travel, according to, which follows the industry. Last year, global guidelines were developed for the first time to help voluntourism organizations focus on sustainable projects, community needs and responsibility.

That's important to the Wynns, too, who only establish relationships with nonprofit groups that embrace that philosophy for their series.

"It's really important that the trips that we do and the trips that we cover, to go with well-vetted organizations who have been around for a while, who focus on sustainable projects and that really have good in-country relationships with nonprofit organizations so you know that it's a good project that will actually benefit the local people," she says.

So far the Wynns have had to raise the money for the series themselves. "It's still a passion project," she says.

But the stories need to be told, they believe.

"If more people do the smaller projects, bit by bit, it can make a bigger impact," says Steve Wynn.


Additional Info

  • Source Marin Independent Journal
Thursday, 29 November 2012 18:00

The Best Places for Everything

Travel writer Peter S. Greenberg offers some warm praise for Globe Aware in his latest book, The Best Places for Everything: The Ultimate Insider's Guide to the Greatest Experiences Around the World.

On the Chapter titled "Voluntourism", Greenberg lists some of the great organizations that offer amazing volunteer vacation experiences. “Globe Aware offers 1-week volunteer vacations that combine hands-on experiences with cultural activities. To get the most for your travel dollar, look for destinations like Mexico, Laos and Cambodia where you can get accommodations, meals, excursions and volunteer activities for about $1200 a week. Projects vary, but in Cambodia you might teach English at a Buddhist school or get involved with a children’s center in Luang Prabang.”

Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor reporting regularly on The Early Show, its replacement CBS This Morning, and the CBS Evening News, is best known as the Travel Editor for NBC's Today, CNBC and MSNBC from 1995 until 2009, says he wrote The Best Places for Everything because he is “constantly being asked by just about everyone to name my choices for best, and the travel categories are almost endless. After resisting for many years (partly because I didn’t think I could give it the completeness it needed,) I’ve now been able to compile the Best Places for Everything. Its based on my personal travel history of comparison and constant points of reference, relevance, and long-term value. In this book, I answer the question of “best” with a caveat: It’s not done in an arbitrary way, but by personal experience, measured by relative terms, not absolute or impossible ones.

“I was at an editor’s conference, and an Indiana newspaper’s travel editor said: ‘We feel that if we don’t have something nice to say about a place, we just won’t say it.’ I couldn’t believe a professional journalist would make such a statement! I immediately stood up and challenged him. ‘If that’s your philosophy, you should resign,’ I said. ‘You’re being irresponsible to your readers. What you are describing is a newspaper that is an advertising vehicle for the travel industry, and as such it has no credibility.’ There is no room in travel journalism for quid pro quo approaching to reporting. From that moment, I’ve kept a running file of my own bad travel experiences (compiled in his book titled Don’t Go There about all sorts of places and companies he does NOT recommend).

Greenberg has visited every U.S. state multiple times and 151 of 196 countries around the world. “With each trip, my list of where not to go grows. I know I will be accused of being unfairly subjective and that I have somehow violated the spirit of travel journalism by not being a promoter of travel. Well guess what? I have never worked for the travel industry. I report on it - - good(and sometimes very good), bad, and yes, quote often ugly. Travel writing is not being part of a popularity contest. Like all other reporting, it’s about presenting—not promoting—facts that allow people to make reasonably intelligent, independent decisions about choices available to them.”



Additional Info

  • Source Peter Greenberg
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 18:00

Everyday Ways to Give Back

Everyday Ways to Give Back

Give Back While You're on Vacation

Your heart is full of wanderlust, but your bank account is empty.
Travel the globe (Europe? Indonesia? Yes!) for the cost of airfare through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You'll get your hands dirty picking crops or tending livestock, but you can arrange day trips, too. Lodgings aren't luxurious, but, then again, they're totally free.

You're ready to try your first solo vacay.
Sixty-five percent of Globe Aware volunteers are single travelers, so you won't feel awkward showing up alone to construct schools in Ghana or distribute wheelchairs in Cambodia. Each weeklong trip ($1,190 and up) offers three to five cultural excursions, too.

You don't consider it a vacation unless there's a spa nearby.

Why forgo luxury? At the Ritz-Carlton, call the concierge a few days ahead of your trip to ask about devoting a day to volunteering. Visitors to Washington, D.C., can head to the DC Central Kitchen and help feed the homeless; travelers in Shanghai can pitch in at a local school.

You're all about hiking somewhere beautiful.

Hit the trails with the Sierra Club at the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John ($1,125). You'll hike and snorkel to your heart's content for seven days, while also helping to maintain walking paths and clear beaches for turtle nesting. Trailblazing experience isn't required, but good boots and sunscreen are!

You're into mingling with the locals.
Grab a mosquito net and head to Guatemala for nine days with Habitat for Humanity ($1,310 to $1,450). You'll build houses and take your Spanish beyond "Una cerveza, por favor." Some trips are BYOSB (bring your own sleeping bag), so be ready to rough it.

The beach is calling your name.
You can flaunt your new bikini and save the dolphins on an eight-day trip to Greece with Earthwatch ($2,575). You'll board a research vessel to track dolphin pods. The early outings mean time later for the beach and a little ouzo. —Amanda Woerner


Additional Info

  • Source Global News
Tuesday, 30 October 2012 19:00

GlobeAware in Cuernava

Article source:

It’s Wednesday so we’re updating our voluntourism archives. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we will be keeping you up to date on the latest ways you can volunteer. Right now, the first way you can help is by donating to the Red Cross (text REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation).

In terms of travel, this week’s Voluntourism Spotlight introduces the Mexico Rediscovered program with Globe Aware. Check back every Wednesday for more voluntourism opportunities and tune into Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio on Saturday for more information.

Volunteers involved in the Mexico Rediscovered program work with staff at a center in Cuernavaca (about 2 hours outside Mexico City) dedicated to providing shelter, food, life-skills, and job training to people with intellectual disabilities. The center’s focus is self- advocacy and providing its residents with the proper support and means to reintegrate into the larger community in a positive, life-affirming way.

Volunteers are involved in any number of projects including helping at the job training center, doing workshops on solid waste recycling, tamale making, organic egg production and engaging in repairs and maintenance of the center such as painting, improvements to the court yards and common areas, and sprucing up the activity center.

GlobeAware develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. The organization works to promote cultural awareness and sustainability. For Globe Aware the concept of cultural awareness means to recognize and appreciate the beauties and challenges of a culture, but not to change it.

Mexico Rediscovered volunteer opportunities are offered year-round for one week intervals at a cost of $1180 per person, but there is also the option of becoming an “Extended Volunteer” please click here for more details.

By Kari Adwell for


Tuesday, 11 September 2012 19:00

Your travel queries answered

The experts Your travel queries answered *Volunteer Vacations

"I have heard of volunteer vacations and am thinking of undertaking one this winter. Where would you suggest I go, and how should I plan the trip?"

STEVEN ROSE Founder and executive director Cross Cultural Solutions


ARJUN SHARMA Managing director. Le Passage to India Select Group

KIMBERLY HALEY COLEMAN Executive directo, Globe Aware  
Meaningful volunteering can be as simple as sharing love and affection with orphans. or practicing conversational English w1th adults seeking new career opportunities. We at Cross-Cultural Solutions (www. have sent over 26,000 volunteers to 12 countries since 1995. including our founding programme in India. Volunteers in Dharamsala. for example,have assisted teachers in special education. In Peru. volunteers have cared for people with disabilities. When planning, consider the region you want to explore, the type of work that interests you. and the time you can allocate.I recommend selecting an organisation that provides positive impact within the communities served.  Volunteer tourism is a great form of travel that allows you to make a difference while on holiday. When choosing a destination. your prime consideration should be the kind of volunteer work you will be comfortable with-whether it's environmental conservation.teaching or animal welfare. Also choose a project based on the time you can commit to it you can choose to volunteer from two weeks to two months. Your options are varied. from teaching in Cambodia and volunteering at an orphanage in Goa to working With elephants in Kerala and raising lions in South Africa. Book through a reliable tour company. as travelling independently can be challenging and finding the right project difficult. The good news is that the destinations are virtually limitless. The bad news is that there are so many companies conducting volunteer tours that it's difficult to choose one over the other. Most companies offer programmes from one to 52 weeks. With genuine need virtually everywhere narrow your options down by selecting a place to which you have never been or to which you have an attachment. In Jaipur for example, Globe Aware (www. volunteers can help children in extreme poverty with basic needs. (Other safe destinations with urgent need include Thailand. Laos and Peru). Once you've compiled a list review itineraries of agencies that offer such trips and contact former volunteers who have gone on their programmes for feedback before you make a decision. Reputable companies will gladly give out references. Many organised tours include the cost of food, accommodation, local transport, insurance, orientation material and a guide. Finally, know where your money is going: read up on how the organisation you pick spends its funds. Habitat for Humanity and Doctors Without Borders are two good options.   
Email us at and our panel of experts will answer it. For more,

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 23:15

Reflections from Journeys of the Heart

globeaware journeysoftheheart"Journeys of the Heart" is an inspirational television series that documents the challenges, successes and failures of adventuresome volunteers, who travel to Cusco, Peru to care for deaf orphans. - Concrete Pictures

Click on each name to read reflections from our volunteers during this documentary.

Dallas, TX (May 8, 2012) Volunteers Beth Karbe, Krystal Nix, Carol Barron, and Judy Keathley traveled with Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization that coordinates 17 unique volunteer programs in 15 countries worldwide, to San Pedro de Casta, Peru. While there, the group of volunteers began work on a badly needed irrigation system for community use. They now plan to return in order to offer the village a professionally executed solution to their water crisis.

Water is hard to come by in this secluded village high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. While it is only 50 miles from the Peruvian capitol of Lima, the journey usually takes over 5 hours due to the rocky terrain and single lane road. Globe Aware specializes in short term voluntourism, trips usually one week in duration. In that week all four women fell in love with the spirited people of San Pedro de Casta, especially the children. The ladies worked closely with the school and quickly realized the detrimental effect the lack of water has had on the village.

Kimberly Haley Coleman, Founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware comments on the impact a volunteer can make in one week, “we think of this more as like lighting a lamp. If a volunteer has an experience of helping someone side-by-side as part of a community you've lit that lamp of wanting to give back and wanting to volunteer and serving and knowing that joy.” Haley Coleman continues, “Volunteer Vacations are an ideal way to both encourage service while offering the benefit of international travel to small communities in the developing world. This experience exposes individuals to the beauties and challenges faced by others and also serves as a culturally immersive exercise”

Upon return to Florida: Beth, Krystal, Carol, and Judy decided to continue their work for the 999 residents of San Pedro de Casta. They organized and held the “Bring Water to San Pedro” fundraiser in Gainesville, Fl where over $20,000 was raised to fund an engineering team to excavate and build a proper irrigation system for the people of San Pedro de Casta.

The trip made an immeasurable impact on Beth Karbe’s view as well as the impetus to reevaluate her goals in San Pedro de Casta:

“This is a crucial need in San Pedro, since water is very scarce. The irrigation trench was essential, but despite spending hours digging every day and working very hard, we honestly didn’t get very far. The ground was bone dry and full of rock, and the 3 foot deep trench needs to run eight tenths of a mile! The new plan would not involve hand digging, nor dependence on infrequent volunteers, but construction by an engineering company with real machinery and big boy prowess.  I am committed, I will go back.  I will stay on this.  And honestly I won't rest until it's done. This has been quite literally my life's purpose for 9 months and it will continue to be until the water flows.”

Work for this new irrigation system is planned for Summer 2012. If you would like to contribute to the Bring Water to San Pedro cause please visit :

About Globe Aware (R) 

Globe Aware(R) is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity that mobilizes short term volunteer programs around the world. These adventures in service focus on promoting cultural awareness and sustainability and are often compared to a mini "peace corps" experience. All volunteers are accompanied by a bilingual volunteer coordinator to assist the volunteer throughout their program. The program fee and the airfare to get there are fully tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Globe Aware is a member of International Volunteer Programs Association, Volunteers for Prosperity, the Building Bridges Coalition, was recommended for United Nations Consultative Status for Social and Economic Council, and administers the President's Volunteer Service Awards. Additionally, Globe Aware offsets its carbon emissions with, the country's leading carbon offset organization. Our carbon footprint is estimated at less than 70 tons annually, and we have chosen to support carbon-reducing projects in renewable energy to offset the CO2 that is produced in running our offices worldwide, from powering our offices to the transportation used to get to and from our work sites. This commitment places Globe Aware as an environmental leader in the volunteer abroad community and demonstrates proactive steps being taken in the fight against global climate change.  

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Globe Aware’s founder and Executive Director, Kimberly Haley-Coleman, please call Vaughn Hancock at 214-824-4562 or e-mail


Additional Info

  • Source Dallas Morning News
Friday, 31 August 2012 19:00

Improve Your Relationship

Elisabeth Joy LaMotte, Psychotherapist; Author, 'Overcoming Your Parents’ Divorce: 5 Steps to a Happy Relationship' and contibutor to The Huffington Post, suggests a volunteer vacation may help your relationship:

relationshipsAs a couples therapist, I hear a lot about the challenge of finding quality time and the importance of vacations. Many couples are balancing two demanding careers not to mention kids, chores and family demands. It is no wonder that when couples do finally plan some romantic time away, many opt to lie on a beach somewhere -- preferably a location accessible through a direct flight -- and chill. Many couples and families are getting ready to do just that for the last few days of summer. For sure, unstructured beach time is a wonderful way to de-stress, reconnect and recharge.

However, in terms of building intimacy through shared experiences, lounging on a beach is not necessarily the answer. Through my work with many couples, I notice that planning a brief vacation doing something more meaningful (and less vegetative) can do a lot to enhance a relationship. As a client recently described:

My wife and I plan such luxurious trips to treat ourselves since our work is so demanding. But the volunteer trip we took with our church did more for our marriage than any five-star restaurant or high-end resort. We were helping others together and it was such a welcome change of pace from the rhythm of our daily routine. Sharing a joint purpose and taking the focus off of daily life brought us back to what it was like when we first met.

Whether vacationing as a couple or as a family, there are many options through which your vacation time can be used to make a genuine difference.

GlobeAware, Habitat for Humanity and American Red Cross are a few of the wonderful organizations to consider. Many places of worship also arrange trips to volunteer. Or , since it is election season, consider volunteering on a political campaign.

Pick a candidate you both truly believe in. Spending a weekend with your partner canvassing for a candidate you respect can help make a difference and help your relationship. (Plus, canvassing is good exercise!) No, it is not necessarily relaxing, so take your relaxing holiday this weekend and plan something more meaningful for a weekend (or week) in the fall.

It is not uncommon to feel hesitant about taking a trip to volunteer. The experience will obviously entail breaking out of your routine and going beyond your daily comfort zone. However, try to push through that hesitation and tell yourself that you and your relationship will grow from the experience!




Additional Info

  • Source The Huffington Post
Saturday, 01 September 2012 19:00

A life-changing experience

Seventeen-year-old Madison Leatherwood took a two-week working vacation in the rainforest of Costa Rica with Globe Aware. She relates her remarkable adventure with the  Morris Daily Herald of Morris, Illinois:

LeatherwoodMINOOKA — When some people go on vacation, they think of relaxation — but not 17-year-old Madison Leatherwood of Channahon, a senior at Minooka Community High School.

This summer, Leatherwood took a two-week working vacation in the rainforest of Costa Rica. She could have opted for working with turtles on the beach in Guatemala or a surfing vacation.

Instead she chose a remote village, high up in the mountains, with only 60 residents scattered around a tiny “town” called El Sur.

The residents of El Sur originally lived deeper in the rainforest, but were forced to relocate as part of a movement to preserve the land.

“A lot of people left (the community) because they didn’t want to re-establish their lives,” Leatherwood said. “They are very poor.”

As they try to rebuild in a different area, residents are aided by volunteers through an organization called Globe Aware.

Leatherwood used the opportunity to work with Globe Aware so that she could travel. In this way, she can satisfy her travel bug and help people around the world at the same time.

“I really wanted to experience a different culture and felt like this was the best option for me,” she said.

There is only one phone, a pay phone, in El Sur. Just five years ago, they got flush toilets; seven of them serve the community. They have electricity, even some TVs, but the power goes off and on.

The town has a church, a store that doubles as a tavern with an adjacent make-shift pool hall, a one-room school and a town hall building used for community dinners and meetings. The library inside the town hall is a single shelf lined with books.

Leatherwood stayed the first week in a large (by El Sur standards), one-bedroom cabin built for Globe Aware volunteers, along with a small group from three different states. The bathroom and shower, sans hot water, were underneath the raised living area.

The other volunteers went home during Leatherwood’s second week, so she stayed in the home of Gilda, a resident and representative for Globe Aware. Because she is underage, Gilda and Leatherwood’s guide Mario worried for her safety.

Gilda’s home was much smaller and more run down than the volunteer cabin. An opening between the walls and roof allowed air to circulate, but it also made it easy for critters to get inside. A huge spider didn’t faze Gilda as she swatted it off Leatherwood’s bed, saying it was nothing.

Two of the nights she was visited by a vampire bat while she was in bed. She had to keep shining a flashlight on it to startle it away.

“I didn’t sleep much,” she said.

The work Leatherwood did to aid the people of El Sur was varied. She milk cows and learned to make cheese from it. She worked at the town sugar mill, helping to prod along the oxen as they walked in a circle, turning gears that ran rollers to pulverize the sugar cane.

Some days she worked directly with the cane, straining it as it liquefied or stirring it as it turned to a consistency of syrup.

She dug shallow drainage ditches alongside the roads and helped construct small wood boxes that were used as frames and filled with cement. The cement squares were then embedded with water pipes to use in homes, protecting the pipes from swelling and bursting.

“I tried pretty much all the jobs,” Leatherwood said.

Every bit of supplies were used and re-used, she said.

“We took all the nails out of the wood, scraped the cement off and reused it,” Leatherwood said. “We also reused all the nails. That’s how limited they are.”

Leatherwood learned an entirely different way of life in El Sur. She awoke at 5 a.m. to get her work done before the rains set in around noon. During the down time, residents did a lot of relaxing, she said.

By late afternoon, the sun came back out and it was time for dinner and a little fun, like a community soccer game most nights.

Leatherwood often went horseback riding when she had free time. One day her group followed a stream through the rainforest to a waterfall. They jumped into the lake below and swam.

The locals chose a specific horse for Leatherwood to ride — white with black spots.

“They said it was like me because it had freckles,” she said.

The best part of her adventure was the many people she met and came to care about. Like her guide Mario, who did much of the construction around town; and Robert, the town carpenter who built amazing pieces of furniture with not much more than an electric saw and a few hand tools.

Gilda taught her to make cheese, peel cocoa beans for hot chocolate and strain fruit from the rainforest into delicious juices.

“Everyone was so nice. I met friends I would like to go back and see again,” she said. “(But) there’s also places like Australia. Someday I want to go to Ireland or New Zealand. I want to see how different it is from here, in as many places I can afford to go.”


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  • Source CNN

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  • Source Dallas Morning News
Sunday, 28 February 2010 16:29

Commentary: Global Volunteerism

Saturday, 21 April 2012 23:59

Volunteer Vacations Can Change Your Life

Volunteer Vacations Can Change Your Life

. . . and Maybe a Little Part of the World as Well

By Dianne Brause

When we think of an ideal vacation trip many of us imagine white, sandy beaches with exotic drinks and delicious meals and fine entertainment. The place should be filled with beautiful and smiling women (or deeply tanned beach boys) in skimpy bathing suits. And of course it should be an amazing bargain so that we can tell our friends about how much we got for "next to nothing!"

I have been both participant and guide on several trips of this type over the years.

I have also participated in and led a number of very different kinds of trips in which the goal was not only to enjoy but also to give back to our hosts and their community in ways that were beneficial to both parties, trips that give host and visitor the opportunity to connect with one another in immediate and genuine ways.

My volunteer vacations have generally been less luxurious and more strenuous than the storybook kind. Yet working with other travelers and community members on a worthwhile project has been significantly more rewarding than a typical tour. Many people's lives have changed (I'm one of them!) as a result of the contacts made and understanding gained during these short sojourns in someone else's territory.

The volunteer component of a volunteer vacation might involve helping to build a clinic for cane cutters in the Dominican Republic or repairing a trail in the national park in Costa Rica or teaching African teenagers about the dangers of AIDS or protecting sea turtles from extinction or excavating the site of an ancient civilization with a global team of volunteers.

DIANNE G. BRAUSE has been writing about responsible travel since her first trip to the Middle East in 1964. She has been a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, a college teacher, a public health educator, the founder of an intentional community, and a trainer of tour guides. She has also set up responsible travel programs in several countries. This winter is co-leading a Lisle, Inc. trip to India. Contact her at . This article has been reprinted from Transitions Abroad Magazine.

Saturday, 21 April 2012 23:58

Coming Home After Volunteering Overseas

Coming Home After Volunteering Overseas

Surviving the Transition and Staying Involved

By Joseph Collins, Stefano DeZerega, and Zahara Heckscher

The fast pace of life back home can be overwhelming, and staying involved globally can be difficult once you are back to the financial realities of life in the USA.

From interviews with hundreds of international volunteers, as well as our own sometimes rocky re-entry experiences, we have pulled together some tips for staying sane and staying involved when you come home.

1. Realize the Transition May Be Hard. Allow yourself time to process your overseas experiences and re-adjust to life at home. The longer you were overseas and the more culturally immersed you were, the harder the re-entry process will be. Keeping a journal and making a scrapbook while your memories are fresh can help you through the reverse culture shock experience. Recognize your emotional vulnerability and avoid making major life decisions until you feel grounded. Do what you have to do to maintain-or regain-spiritual balance: go for long walks, meditate, or practice the rituals of your faith or tradition.

2. Create a Support System. Seek out people with whom you can discuss your experiences. Be aware that not everyone will want to hear your stories or appreciate the ways you have changed while overseas. Try to identify one or two friends who can relate to your experience and really want to listen to you and support you in the transition.

3. Stay Connected. Maintain contact with friends overseas. If you were overseas with an organization, take advantage of opportunities to meet people who will be going to the region where you work. Try to identify ways to build community with those who share your interest in the region from which you have returned. For example, if you have just returned from Central America, find out about opportunities to teach English to immigrants from the area you left.

4. Continue to Seek Knowledge. Many people return from overseas with more questions than answers. If you have returned from a low-income country, take the time to educate yourself about the root causes of the "underdevelopment" and poverty you may have experienced. Start a book discussion group to explore the history of the area where you worked or traveled, or take a class to study the literature from that region. As global news coverage is notoriously weak in North America, seek alternative sources of information: newspaper web sites in the country where you lived, magazines like this one or World Press Review and the BBC On Line.

5. Get Involved with Advocacy or Solidarity Work. Join a network of people working on sustainable development or global justice issues. You can help yourself while you help others by getting involved in campaigns to end hunger and land mines, cancel debt and reform the World Bank, promote grassroots development, or address the AIDS crisis.

6. Share Your Story Publicly. Public education is the basis of most social change. Use your status as an "instant expert" to make presentations to schools, religious institutions, universities, businesses, volunteer clubs, and the media.

7. Volunteer Locally. Recognize the similarities between the problems you found overseas and those in your own community. Apply the ideas and strategies you learned overseas to local issues. Get involved with a local school, health clinic, or refugee resettlement program.

8. Research International Careers. There are almost endless types of international careers, so think about the kind of work that best matches your goals, skills, and personality. If you want to explore graduate schools, check out the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs; 202-326-7828; [].

Remember, what you do when you return home may be more important than what you do while overseas. Your international work has just begun. Now go forth and change the world!

ZAHARA HECKSCHER is the co-author of How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas (with Joseph Collins and Stefano DeZerega, Penguin Putnam, 2002), available at most bookstores or at . This article has been reprinted from Transitions Abroad Magazine.

Volunteer vacations are a feel-good way to spend a summer break. Here's how to turn your family's kick-back time into a give-back experience.

by Alia Akkam - What has been your favorite family vacation? Sitting on a beach, perhaps, watching the kids make sand castles? Or maybe that fun trip to a water park? If you're like the Hatfield family of Provo, Utah, you might be reminiscing about mixing concrete and lugging around corrugated metal roofing. That's because they spent one particularly memorable holiday together in Guatemala, helping families turn their dirt-and-wood houses into sturdier homes.

For people who've devoted their time off to volunteering, there's nothing like the chance to combine travel, education, and service. What a way to see the world with your kids - and show them compassion in action. "Voluntourism," as its known, can expand your family's worldview, change people's lives, and still be a fun break from the everyday.

The Give-Back Vacation

The Hatfields set off for Guatemala through CHOICE Humanitarian, a volunteer organization that sends workers to Bolivia, Kenya, and other countries. The family spent their days helping the local people, and their nights sleeping in a schoolhouse. Not your typical theme-park vacation, but an extremely valuable one for them all. "My wife and I thought for a long time that we'd like to let our children see how other people live - and not just from a vacation point of view," says dad Harlan Hatfield. "You leave thinking you're helping those in poverty, but you come away realizing that you've also nourished yourself. All of the things we're accustomed to, all the conveniences, they aren't necessary for being happy."

Laura Kuykendall, a mom of two in Andover, Massachusetts, also found that her family's volunteer vacation had long-lasting effects. It was her daughter, Ariel, who inspired the trip" During a school break, she'd traveled with a group from her family's church, which had been working with the Christian group Harvest Hands Ministries to help build an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico. Her mom was so moved by Ariel's experience that she went along the next year, and brought Ariel's brother, Joseph, too.

During that weeklong trip, the Kuykendalls worked on various building projects at the orphanage, conducted a Bible school for local children, and cooked for residents. Kuykendall describes herself as a workaholic and says her kids were startled to see her without a Blackberry or cell phone in hand. She, in turn, was amazed that, without their iPods and televisions, her children amused themselves by making up games with rocks. Kuykendall says it was extremely satisfying to see tiny glimpses of change in her and her children's daily lives based on what they'd experienced in Mexico: "I was the most tired and dirtiest I've ever been, but the most fulfilled I've ever felt about anything. And to do it with my children was pretty amazing."

Voluntourism: Getting Started

If you're thinking of giving up the breakfast buffet for a volunteer vacation, check out these organizations:

Globe Aware

The one-week volunteer vacations in Peru, Thailand, Cuba, Laos, and 11 other countries have no age restrictions. Kids as young as 2 have taken Globe Aware trips and helped with planting, building, and more.

Can You Swing It?

The truth is, voluntourism isn't cheap. Prices can run into the thousands, and while interest has been up in recent years, it's still a hefty price tag for most families. The website Travelocity, though, has one way to help. Through its Travel for Good program, which helps connect do-gooders with voluntourism opportunities, it awards grants of up to $5,000 to "change ambassadors," people who want to travel and volunteer but can't afford to do so.

"We know that when you visit a place, you don't always really get to see what's happening there," says Amy Ziff, Travelocity's editor-at-large. "We believe that travel can build bridges between cultures. We can all be change ambassadors by helping others in need, even while on vacation." If you're interested, check out and click on the Voluntourism button on the home page. There are four application deadlines throughout the year.

Keep in mind, too, that this kind of vacation isn't right for every family. Some kids are simply too young. Many voluntourism trips are best for preteens and teens (though it's worth checking, especially if you have one older and one younger child). The upside? By the time your child is old enough for a volunteer vacation, perhaps money won't be as tight and you'll have made a head start on planning (and even saving).

If swimming pools and fluffy towels and the chance to put your feet up are important to your family (and, hey, who doesn't love those things?), you might think voluntourism isn't right for you. That may be true; your family may be happiest doing other kinds of volunteering, and only you'll know best. But don't underestimate your kids' - and your own - ability to adapt.

Volunteering with kids doesn't just help others, it brings families closer together. When you can share a meaningful project - or a desperate need for a long, hot shower! - there's a feeling of connectedness that's often hard to find in day-to-day life. And whenever you can achieve that kind of bond, it's the best vacation of all.

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  • Source Self
Saturday, 21 April 2012 22:32

Extended Volunteer

Even in Tough Economic Times One Man's Vision Has Inspired Many

The community of Gbled-Gbogame in Ghana will benefit from a new school building, access to clean water, and sanitary bathrooms thanks to the herculean fundraising efforts of Mike Devlin, of Hingham, MA.

What started as desire to simply go and volunteer in Ghana with Globe Aware to mark his 40th birthday has evolved into an impressive campaign to drastically improve the lives of children in Ghana.

Currently, the children in the Ghanaian community of Gbled-Gbogame have no running water and the children hold class in a shed held together with iron sheets. The primary school students are compelled to study under trees. Given such conditions it is virtually impossible to recruit teachers to come into the area.

"It bothered me to think that where you are born can actually determine whether you live or whether you die. Something as simple as access to clean water is not available and the current water conditions are killing children," Devlin says. Access to education is also key to the campaign because, as Devlin puts it, "all children should have the opportunity to learn and be educated and [...] to live a life that we all deserve."

Partnering with Globe Aware, a non profit organization based out of Dallas, TX, that organizes volunteer programs in 15 countries around the world, Devlin has organized an impressive fundraising campaign culminating in a "Golf for Ghana" Golf Tournament in Pembroke, MA this month.

Devlin's determination has already inspired many to join his cause. Donations for the volunteer projects have come from across the country, with his sister, Julie Devlin, organizing an additional fundraiser in Albuquerque, NM.

Devlin says he has been overwhelmed by the generosity of the donors supporting his cause, especially during these rough economic times, "A few of the people I know are unemployed, but gave contributions stating that they wish they could give more, but they truly understand that every dollar does make a difference."

The "Golf for Ghana" charity golf tournament will be held on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at the Pembroke Country Club at 8:00AM. A silent auction will follow at 1:30PM.

About Globe Aware

Globe Aware(R) is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity that mobilizes short term volunteer programs around the world. These adventures in service focus on promoting cultural awareness and sustainability and are often compared to a mini "peace corps" experience. All volunteers are accompanied by a bilingual volunteer coordinator to assist the volunteer throughout their program. The program fee and the airfare to get there are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Globe Aware is a member of International Volunteer Programs Association, Volunteers for Prosperity, the Building Bridges Coalition, maintains United Nations Consultative Status for the Social and Economic Council, and administers the President's Volunteer Service Awards. Additionally, Globe Aware offsets its carbon emissions with, the country's leading carbon offset organization. Our carbon footprint is estimated at less than 70 tons annually, and we have chosen to support carbon-reducing projects in renewable energy to offset the CO2 that is produced in running our offices worldwide, from powering our offices to the transportation used to get to and from our work sites. This commitment places Globe Aware as an environmental leader in the volunteer abroad community and demonstrates proactive steps being taken in the fight against global climate change.


If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Globe Aware's founder and Executive Director, Kimberly Haley-Coleman, please call Catherine McMillan at 214-824-4562 or e-mail

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  • Source Harvard Business

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The Andean Village Volunteer Vacation Experience

In the mountains north of Lima, travel to the village of San Pedro de Casta, where the campesinos work the terraced land.

The Road Less Traveled high in the Andes

If you are looking for a truly "off the beaten path" experience in a community with real need, then you've found it! Your volunteer program will take place in beautiful San Pedro de Casta, a secluded and traditional village located high in the Andes, about 4 hours outside of Lima. The people of San Pedro make their communal living by farming the terraced land of the surrounding mountains, as their ancestors did for thousands of years before them.

Working Vacation: Volunteer Work Projects in San Pedro de Casta

Volunteers work on a variety of community development projects, from building repair, establishing irrigation channels for the schools, reforestation, and offering instruction in basic skills such as English, computers, hospitality, and first aid.

Volunteer vacationers also build simple Lorena stoves (which greatly reduce fuel consumption and increase the health of the home's inhabitants by reducing smoke), and work on other projects. Work projects are selected prior to your arrival based on immediate needs in the community.

Some of our Super Volunteer Coordinators.

Projects vary and depend on the number of volunteers; which projects were completed by the previous group of volunteer workers; what priorities have changed; weather conditions; which supplies are available; and often the interest and fitness level of the volunteers. For these reasons, specific projects are often not fixed until the week prior to your arrival and can even change upon arrival.

Globe Aware volunteer vacations to San Pedro de Casta Peru - SIGNUP NOW!

Volunteer Holiday Food and Lodging

Volunteer vacationers stay in the central village lodge. Electricity and modern bathrooms with running (not hot) water are available. Fresh Andean specialties with lots of fresh vegetables and beans from the surrounding hills will be served.

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Leisure Activities During Your Service Vacation

Many enriching activities are offered throughout the week. All activities are planned, but participation is optional. You may choose to take a horseback ride to the ruins at Marcahuasi, visit the cheese or hat maker, learn to cook an Andean specialty, visit the mummies at the local museum, make Hualquies alongside local women (special pouches for carrying coca leaves) or explore the town at your leisure.

San Pedro de Casta is small and quiet, offering no bright lights or big city nightlife. Volunteers will feel they are living in ancient Peru. Click here for a sample itinerary.

Arranging Your Volunteer Vacation Airfare

You will need to arrange to be at the meet-up point in Lima by 9:30 am on the Sunday your program begins. The program ends at between 7:00 am and 9:00 am the following Saturday. It takes approximately four hours to return to Lima. The airport is one of the return drop-off destinations our driver will make. You should not arrange a return flight that departs any earlier than 3:30 pm. For more on flight tips, click here.

Safety and Security During Your Volunteer Vacation

Lima, Cuzco and immediate surroundings are considered safe in terms of political stability and health risks. Be aware that both Globe Aware Peru programs are at a high altitude, and if you have any sort of high blood pressure or respiratory condition, you should check with your doctor before deciding to go. More Safety and Security.

Globe Aware volunteer vacations to San Pedro de Casta Peru - SIGNUP NOW!


Additional Info

  • Source Self
Thursday, 07 April 2011 13:39

Volunteer vacation in Cuzco, Peru

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  • Source Steven Learner Studio
Thursday, 24 February 2011 12:51

Spring Break a Chance to Give Back

Monday, 21 February 2011 12:10

Teen heading to Africa

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  • Source Chicago Tribune

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Globe Aware is 100% volunteer funded!  Please help us help you Have fun and Help people!  Click on!/ChaseCommunityGiving?v=app_162065369655&ref=ts

 and in the box that says charity name type Globe Aware and press enter.  When the page opens scroll down once more and click on the blue Globe Aware link and after a new page opens one last time look to the top right and click a green box that says "Vote Now" make sure to say allow when the Chase pop up window comes up or your vote will not count! 

Thank you so so very much if you vote!! You are basically donating to a GREAT cause with just a few clicks! 

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  • Source Self

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  • Source Self
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 07:19

Taking the Road Less Traveled

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