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            Category Archives: Tips for Volunteering Abroad

            How Not To Be A “White Savior Barbie”

            By | IVPA Members, Tips for Volunteering Abroad | 3 Comments

            The instagram account “BarbieSavior” is less than three months old but has already garnered a 95k following and been reported on in the BBC, Huffington Post and The Guardian.

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            “BarbieSavior” is a satire account poking fun at the na?ve “white-rescue” attitude of young volunteers traveling to Africa or other less-developed regions.

            In the tradition of good satire, it is funny, while calling out contradictions and problems with voluntourism. Yet, there is the danger with satire that instead of having an impact of change, the object of the satire becomes only an object of ridicule. Those laughing become self-congratulatory and the dialogue doesn’t move forward.

            So how do we have change? Here are some tips on how to not become a “White-Savior Barbie”.

            Research before you go: Research research research! There are many options out there to do good in a way that is collaborative, sustainable, and mutually beneficial. Choose a program that is dedicated to quality and will discuss concerns about sustainability and partnership. Consider organizations that have gone through a vetting process and are committed to standards like those who are part of International Volunteer Programs Association. Talk to former volunteers and learn as much as you can before you go. If the project involves vulnerable youth or medical interventions, consider the organizations and your own qualifications. Educate yourself on the ethical issues surrounding volunteer projects and make sure you are choosing a project that aligns well with your values.

            Check your privilege: In other words, reflect on advantages you may enjoy because of your social standing. One great way consider privilege is to ask yourself if your behavior would be allowed back home in a similar circumstance. Be conscientious with the camera. Be humble and learn cultural customs and norms

            Realize you are not going to save the world. While it is honorable to want to have a lasting impact, consider the complicated and complex issues surrounding poverty, social justice, and global health. Consider your own experience and qualifications and realize that volunteering abroad may just be the beginning of your journey.

            Happy Earth Day + Conservation Volunteering

            By | Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Volunteer opportunities | No Comments

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            To celebrate Earth Day we highlighted a few conservation projects?offered by IVPA member organizations.

            Projects Abroad – Projects Abroad offers a range of conservation projects with a variety of accompanying time commitments.

            Project:?Veterinary Medicine & Animal Care in China

            Location:?China:?Chengdu, Ya’an


            Volunteers on the Veterinary Medicine & Animal Care project are based at the Bifengxia Panda Base, a center primarily for captive breeding. Daily tasks include preparing food for the pandas, cleaning out enclosures, and keeping data on panda behavior. This project is open to anyone interested in animal care and wildlife conservation. No specific work experience with animals is required.

            For more information:?http://www.projects-abroad.org

            Globe Aware?

            Project: Sustaining Thailand’s Treasures

            Location:?Thailand:?Ayutthaya, Bangkok

            Globe Aware

            Take a volunteer vacation and see and participate in how Thais really live and help to preserve Thailand’s native elephant habitat. You will find yourself in one the most unique environments, working to build an ecologically sustainable reforested habitat to give elephants a home. With a volunteer vacation, you can be a part of the solution and help change the fate of elephants in Thailand by creating ways for the people of Surin Province to promote sustainable elephant eco-tourism, preserve their natural habitat and provide an alternative to the current use of elephants as revenue in circuses and street begging operations.

            For more information:?http://www.globeaware.org

            Amigos de las Americas

            Project:?Collaborate for Environmental Sustainability?

            Location:?Perez Zeledón, Costa Rica

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            This summer volunteers in Costa Rica will play an integral role in collaborating with local youth to promote environmental awareness and stewardship in local host communities and national parks. ?Beyond traditional AMIGOS activities, this unique project also includes two 6-day “campamentos” (camps) in national parks where Tico and AMIGOS volunteers work alongside one another in trail maintenance, cultural exchange, and team-building activities.

            More information:?http://www.amigoslink.org


            This is just a small insight into ways volunteers can get involved in conservation projects around the world. Volunteering abroad projects often incorporate conservation aspects even if it isn’t the main focus.?To take a look at all of IVPA members and their programs, please reference IVPA’s Member List







            International Volunteering for Teens

            By | Amal El bakhar, IVPA Members, Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Volunteer opportunities, Volunteer Stories | One Comment

            Volunteering abroad is a thought provoking, challenging and stimulating experience. For teens, the experience provides a new perspective on life, allowing them to perform activities in a new culture, with meaning and value.

            Volunteering abroad can give a teen the opportunity to shadow people in different professions, gain insight to diverse cultures and ?have a life-changing experience.

            According to Simone A. Bernstein, Co-Founder and President of VolunteenNation.org, students need to volunteer abroad in order to gain skills that will help them succeed in their future. For example, Shannon McNamara, began volunteering at age fifteen in Tanzania, and thus far, has donated 33,000 children’s books to girls in Africa. Her work has impacted more than 8,000 students and teachers in Africa, and has earned her numerous awards and recognitions.

            However, before letting your teen volunteer abroad, it’s important for parents to ask certain basic essential questions when they contact the organization directly. These questions include:

            • Who should I email/contact in your organization to obtain more information about the volunteer program?
            • Who licenses your organization?
            • Do you have any counselors at the volunteer site? If so, whom are they licensed by?
            • What will my child be doing in the community? What are the expected tasks that my child will have to perform?
            • Where will my child be volunteering? (ask for specific location and address)
            • Is my child responsible for planning their own meals, travels and any other logistics?
            • I am concerned about my child’s safety. What policies are in place to assure that my child is safe?
            • Where and with whom will my child be residing?

            Additionally, not all volunteer abroad programs provide volunteer opportunities for teens who are younger than 18 unless accompanied by a parent. But here are some international community service programs that are members of IVPA that do:

            Upcoming Information Sessions and Webinars: CFHI

            By | IVPA Members, Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Volunteer opportunities | No Comments

            There are some great?opportunities?to find out more about volunteering internationally. This post highlights one of IVPA’s members upcoming webinars. More info opportunities to come!

            Child Family Health International (CFHI)

            CFHI Staff will be conducting live?CFHI Program Information Webinars?on Thursday January 19th at 1pm Pacific/ 4pm Eastern, and Wednesday January 25th at 5pm Pacific/ 8pm Eastern.

            All interested in learning more about CFHI Global Health Education Programs are invited to call in and follow along online as staff and CFHI alumni talk and take questions about:?

            To Participate:

            About CFHI:
            Child Family Health International (CFHI) offers socially responsible?Global Health Education Programs?for health sciences students of all levels. Through CFHI participants go on 4-16 week placements alongside local doctors in underserved communities. Participants rotate through local clinics and hospitals, attend medical lectures, and become immersed in the healthcare system of the community.

            New Year’s Resolution…Volunteer

            By | Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Volunteer opportunities | No Comments

            New Years is a time to reflect on the past but also look to the future and make goals. Making New Year’s resolutions often get’s mocked for how quickly resolutions are broken but I welcome the idea of a fresh start. The new year brings a clean slate and the opportunity to ponder what we? want to accomplish and?ultimately the type of person we want to be.

            Common resolutions include losing weight and quitting smoking but two also frequently cited goals are to take a trip and to volunteer to help others usa.gov). You can combine volunteering and travel by volunteering abroad. There are so many opportunities out there for volunteer travel it can be overwhelming if you are just beginning to navigate your options. Some things to consider include

            • How long can you be away? Is a week more realistic or would you like to spend a month or more abroad? There are opportunities for all different time frames. The longer you are in a location will of course deepen your experience but even with just a week you can have an amazing experience, build cross-cultural bridges and help with the sustainability of a local project.
            • Do you have an special skills? Often if you have training or background in a certain field or profession you can find?opportunities?to use those skills on a project.
            • Do your research before you go. Research the country you will be traveling to so you better understanding of the culture, history and political?environment. You will also want to research the organization you choose to go with. Besides just looking at on organization’s website, you should also call up to talk to a representative, ask to talk to a past volunteer, and ask questions about how long they’ve been?operating, how they make their local partners and what is included in the program fee. Other ideas of questions here.

            International Volunteer Programs?Association (IVPA) is also a resource for those interested in volunteering since our member organizations all run their own programs (meaning they are not just a?placement?agency), meet the IVPA Principles and Standards and have been through a?rigorous?application process.

            IVPA’s current member list includes:

            American Jewish World Services (AJWS)

            American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad (AYUDA)

            Amigos de las Americas

            Child Family Health International

            Cross-Cultural Solutions

            Global Citizens Network

            Global Service Corps

            Globe Aware

            Habitat for Humanity

            Projects Abroad





            Can Being an International Volunteer Land You a Job?

            By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director, Research, Tips for Volunteering Abroad | No Comments

            Can?becoming?an international volunteer help you get a job? According to The?University of California San Diego?Extension’s?Center for Global Volunteer Service?(CGVS) the answer is maybe. By spending time abroad volunteering you may be developing?important?skills that?translate?to the workplace back home. ?CGVS recently completed a survey studying global volunteer service and the workplace.

            The survey was completed by 1010 adults from across the country. They found that respondents thought that those participating in international volunteering also developed leadership skills, creativity and?resourcefulness??Other benefits may be?developing compassion and a willingness to give to others and intercultural awareness.

            Voluntourism continues to grow in popularity. CGVS reported the highest ever?exposure and participation in global service.

            “Over half (52 percent) of respondents said they had joined in a discussion within the past year about participating in a volunteer service project or trip to regions outside their own community or country — a 7 percent increase over the previous UC San Diego Extension survey in 2009 and the first time that figure has risen above 50 percent.”

            The younger populations also report very high interest and exposure to international volunteering.?Out of college students surveyed 91 percent said they knew someone personally who had been a global service volunteer and 87 percent of high school students gave the same response.

            So how can you leverage an international voluneer trip when applying for jobs? Make sure to highlight the experience on your resume. Remember to quantify your service by giving numbers that tell a story. For example, you could say that you taught English classes to 30 kids or gave 80 hours of service in building a home. You can also use stories of lessons you learned or skills you developed when in an interview. Prepare with practice questions beforehand so you?narratives?flow.

            What’s it Really Like to Volunteer Abroad?

            By | Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Volunteer opportunities, Volunteer Stories | No Comments

            If you’ve never been abroad to volunteer, you may be wondering what it is like and the truth is no one volunteer experience is the same. But reading through volunteer stories, first hand descriptions of volunteers’ own experiences can be enlightening.

            I’ve compiled a list of out IVPA members’ blogs where they feature volunteer accounts or other news about their programs.

            Global Service Corps I love the photography of GSC’s blog!

            Amigos de las Americas This is a recent update from an Amigos Project Director in Nicaragua

            Child Family Health International News and information about Global Immersion Programs

            Cross-Cultural Solutions A whole list of individual CCS volunteer blogs!

            Global Citizens Network Some great information on GCN programs

            Habitat For Humanity This links to some of Habitat’s Global Village volunteer stories

            Projects Abroad A blog that posts on a variety of experiences of Projects Abroad staff and volunteers

            I love Theresa Ball’s description as a novice traveler about her experience in Romania taken from Projects Abroad’s post

            “I have been trying for almost a year now to describe to others what my time in Romania was like. I’m sure there are many flowery adjectives and humorous anecdotes that I could used to describe my experiences there. Yes, it was beautiful. Yes, the experience changed my life. Yes, I recommend that you all go there. Mostly though, it was the right place for me at the right time. I came back a different person, ready to take on anything and knowing that if I really wanted something, I could achieve it. I found a part of myself that I didn’t know existed.”

            I think everyone can have a life changing experience but, like Theresa, volunteers need to find the right fit and follow what “calls” to them.

            IVPA Global Volunteering Fairs

            By | Global Volunteering Fairs, Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Volunteer opportunities | No Comments

            IVPA is excited to announce that we will be holding two Global Volunteering Fairs this Fall!

            In 2008, 2009, and 2010, Idealist.org hosted several highly successful Global Volunteering Fairs in cities from New York to Los Angeles.? Building on the success of these events, and with gratitude to Idealist.org, we are excited to announce that these fairs – no hosted by IVPA – will be held in New York City and Washington DC this Fall.

            The format for these events will be the same as previous fairs: Each fair will be a three-hour evening event where prospective volunteers can chat with representatives of international volunteerism organizations as well as attend free workshops. Registration rates will also be similar to past fairs.

            For more information or to reserve your spot please contact Erin Barnhart erin(at)effectivealtruism.com

            International Opportunities for Mature Volunteers

            By | IVPA Members, Tips for Volunteering Abroad | No Comments

            When you hear about people going abroad to volunteer you might imagine a 20-something-year-old taking a semester or summer to give service. Statistically young people (15-24 year old) are more likely to volunteer but people 55 years old or older are also a significant portion of volunteers that go abroad.

            Mature volunteers have a lot to contribute. A lifetime of experience and knowledge and a desire to give back make older travelers committed voluntourists.

            So what opportunities are there for more mature volunteers? There are so many opportunities it is helpful to narrow down your interests before beginning your search.

            Is there a certain type of service that interests you?

            For example:

            What about certain countries you would like to travel to?

            Some organizations, like Amigos de las Americas focus on a specific geographic region but many organization have locations throughout the world.?Cross Cultural Solutions,?Projects Abroad and?ProWorld all offer a variety of service opportunities in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

            How long would you like to be away?

            There are a range of option for length of stay from one week to a year or more.

            Globe Aware is an organization that offers 1-week programs perfect for looking for a volunteer vacation. Many organization have a range for option and can also?customize?opportunities to fit your needs.

            New Year’s Goals?…Find Your Place to Make a Difference

            By | Book Review, Tips for Volunteering Abroad | No Comments

            New Years is traditionally a time of reflection on the past year and a looking forward to the one to come. It is a time of of self evaluation and?making goals.

            I recently picked up Frommer’s 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference and it got my wheels turning for New Year’s goals. There are so many needs in the world but I am a firm believer that volunteer service can be a force of change in the world and is an important?component?in combating poverty,?disease,?environmental?degradation and a host of other problems that?plague?humanity.

            If you are thinking of traveling this coming year you might consider picking this book up and taking a look. ?The number and variety of projects is mind opening to read through.

            The book is divided into 15 categories of service?opportunities! I was impressed by the diversity of the categories, some I wouldn’t have even thought about like “Special Events” and “Crossing Generations”.

            As far as organization of the book there are, as the title indicates, 500 opportunities listed under the 15 different?categories. Each listing fills about a page and includes a heading with a title summarizing the opportunity and the location and then a few paragraphs that provide some detail. At the end of the listing is a ‘Next Step” that provides the contact information for the organization providing the opportunity, details on cost and what else to see in the area.

            Visually the book doesn’t provide a lot, only a few black and white pictures but what it lack is photography it provides in?breadth.?This is a fun book to flip through and get the creative juices flowing. And if you are looking of opportunities in a specific country you can always use the index in the back.

            So make 2011 great…get out and be the change.




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