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Global Vision International (GVI)

It may have been well over a year since my 10 week GVI wildlife conservation and community development expedition in Kenya, but I honestly think about the time I spent there every single day...
I had the most amazing experience in Kenya and gained so very much; new friends and contacts, amazing work experience, increased confidence in my abilities and myself, a greater understanding of culture and religion, the opportunity to sample new foods, and time spent in glorious locations with fantastic company!
The people, both GVI staff and locals, were incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable. I found the activities to be well organised and was impressed by the effort GVI had taken to build a rapport with the community. I would highly recommend a GVI expedition to anyone interested in expanding their horizons, who has a passion for wildlife or community work, and isn't affraid of a little hard work and getting their hands dirty.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Kenya
Posted: Apr 13, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Comments

Hi, I am considering going on the Kenya trip, and I am mainly concerned with with conservation. I am about to get my bachelor's degree in biology, and I was thinking of using this experience to gain experience in the field before I go to graduate school for biology. Do you think the work experience you gained would be valuable for someone who is hoping to get into a competitive graduate program in ecology or animal behavior? What certifications did you, or other interns you worked with, gain from this training?

Global Vision International (GVI)

I volunteered with GVI last year, teaching Indigenous children in Guatemala. Trying to sum up the experience in one sentence is hard, but if I had to it would simply be that it has been a life changing experience. Not necessarily how I live my life, as it’s impossible to try and physically live life differently when you’re back home in a developed country, but it has changed the way I think and perceive the world. I’m so much more grateful for the things I have; a roof over my head, an education, food and water whenever I like, the opportunity to choose a career, friends, free time to spend with friends! The children I was teaching had very little in terms of material possessions, were working from dawn til dusk with only a 3 hour break to come to school, and had barely enough to eat. Yet everyday when they walked into my class they smiled and gave me a hug! They were so appreciative of every little thing that I did, it really does make you think about what’s important in life and how privileged we really are. It was nice to give something back. It was nice to see that for 3 hours a day, these kids could just be kids. Whether playing football, chasing each other or drawing, they were 8 year olds, not adults. It was a privilege to be able to meet the children, teach them and get to know them.
Away from the school, there are too many experiences to tell you about that I had the chance to do, as I would be glued to the computer for an eternity if I did! Some of the highlights though were living in the beautiful city of Antigua, hiking around Lake Atitlan, learning Spanish, meeting locals, visiting the market, haggling, riding a chicken bus, touring a coffee and macadamia nut farm, climbing a volcano, eating local food, meeting people from the USA, Europe, Australia (lots of whom I still speak to now!) and the infamous GVI BBQ’s on a Friday night (complete of course with the Manteca...)
A note about GVI too, without whom I wouldn’t have had one of the best experiences of my life and met some fantastic people from all around the globe! From the outset they were professional, friendly, approachable, organised and a pleasure to deal with. All the staff from the first email, to the phone calls, to the in-country orientation and to the day-to-day running of the project were fantastic! I would recommend travelling with GVI, as the work they do in the community really does count for something. Although it must go through everybody’s mind, as it certainly did mine, it does seem a lot of money to ‘volunteer’. But when you see that the money you pay actually goes into paying the staff, buying food for your lunches that are prepared by the community, buying fruit for the children at break time, improving the school buildings, buckets of paint to decorate, buying pens, pencils, and of course not forgetting the sacapuntas!, it is definitely worth it. But you’re not just paying for the physical things, it’s the investment of a child’s college scholarship, which means he can then earn more money to support his family, and send his own children to school. You will be investing in a sustainable future, not just putting money into a charity box. The best part for me is that I get to see in front of my eyes where the money goes, and to see the progression the kids are able to make because of it. All this of course whilst meeting some great people along the way and doing and seeing things you never thought you would!
My time with GVI has truly been a life changing experience, I now see the world differently and know what the important things in life are. I hope to volunteer with GVI again, or maybe even work with them at some point! If you get the chance, or are half thinking about going, then go!
Buen viaje!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Apr 12, 2010
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
8

Adelante Abroad

Where to start...
Well I've been down here in South America for the past 15 months now and at the time I didn't want to go back home just yet. So, I went online and did some researching about internships in spanish and places in South America. It so happened to be that I found the website of Adelante Abroad. Things went as smooth as butter as it seemed while I turned in my application along with the so called "interview"; paid the "economic" amount that they wanted and I was off.
Now things went fine when I got here but slowly the picturesque scene of what I imagined to be a great internship slowly started cracking.
1.) DEADTIME. Unfortunately, YOU don't get to pick where you intern at. They choose for you and you have no choice but to stick with it for atleast 10 business days. That doesn't sound horrible but if your program is only for the typical 3 months and you have to spend 2 weeks waiting for you to PETITION to place you in a new one then you've just wasted 2 weeks. Now finding another one is a gamble because it can take another week for them to search for a new one or it could take your whole program time. From other reviews I've read they said that they were often better off just looking for a new one by themselves during the meantime. They also fail to inform you that if you work at a winery, then you'll be placed outside of town and that you'll have to commute by charter bus for 2 hours there and back.
2.) IS THIS SPANISH OR CHILEAN? The spanish classes that they set you up on, in your first couple of weeks here aren't really classes of spanish. There more like classes of Chilean that you'll probably never end up using outside of this country. It's cool to learn the local colloquial but, I'd like to freshen up my spanish. If you're coming to Chile and you think you know spanish be prepared to be blown away. These Chileans talk fast, don't pronounce their "D" and "S" and use a lot of slang. Chile is the last place to reccommend for any novice spanish learner.
3.) SPANISH "IMMERSION". The only spanish "immersion" you're going to get is the fact that you'll be in Chile. You're stuck in home with a bunch of Gringos and since your new roomates become your core group of friends that speak english...you'll struggle speaking the language as much as you'd like. This will also hinders your abilities to sway in Chilean friends; since A. you're not improving your spanish much and B. your loud gringo group mentality shenanigans are only going to reinforce the negative Gringo stereotype which only scare off the locals.
4.) IS THE MONEY WORTH THE HOUSING? No. Definitely not. Now I can understand this is a business that plays the middle man, finds your housing, your intern and feeds off your nervousness with a quick solution to resolve all.You are an "extranjero" which means prices of things are gonna be more for you than they're going to be for the locals. But if you take a local newspaper and you read the housing/rent page you'll realize that you're probably paying atleast double for a "livable" apartment that you share with 5 people instead of a nice beach penthouse for two. There is also cleaning lady that comes in once a week but she too complains about how much the company pays here and that I'd be better if you paid her directly instead. She won't do the dishes (or you pay extra).
5.) LIVING WITH A FAMILY. This is by far the best way to improve your Spanish since your with a local Chilean family. But Adelante Abroad/International Center will ask you to sign a contract that states that you need to pay an additional $200-250/ month for laudry, food and etc. But you'll soon find out that the International Center is only paying $360/month. This doesn't equate since you've paid at least $800-1000/month for "package" of housing, service (very vague word and they'll take it to another level when you complain about how much you're paying). But if you take that $200 out of the $360, you're left with $160. So they're only paying $160 for housing out of your monthly $800-1000? Are you kidding??? You will not get your money back since you signed away blindly at more than 5 different contracts that are just as vague as the "services" they say to provide; which consists of pretending to care by asking for updates, trips which cost no more then $40/person once a month,
If you love aspirins and headaches. This program is for you!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Apr 11, 2010
Overall:
3
Support:
1
Value:
2

Comments

The newer comments are listed as the first by the way! :O Start reading from the last :) Sorry for the inconvenience!
Hello Ellie of Adelante who likes to comment on every negative comment because her business is suffering from people that went through her program FIRST HAND. To answer your question, just because you have good review from the Better Business Buerau doesn't defines that you have a good business outside of the nation. The problem is that they only have JURISTICTION INSIDE THEIR OWN NATION. Meaning that whatever happens outside from a "second-hand" business owner (which whom Adelente is passing business to) is not inside their jurisdiction, nor will the business that has a complaint be dealt with internationally by them. I can't comprehend how you guys automatically get so defensive without hearing the other side and I find it personally insulting that you must step so low to defend yourself on a website that's founded on the program alumni's review. Was Adelante Abroad personally there when I was interning abroad in Chile? No (You work with a second-hand company called the International Center). Was Adelante Abroad there to manage how the money was handled personally? No. Did Adelente fail to tell me that the only internships available for my major were two hours outside of the city? Yes. Was it possible to Change internships instead of working so far? Yes, but you'll be placed in an internship where you teach english or babysit ninos. The only one in my field being the winery (I'm a marketing and sociology major by the way. Very broad.). I'm not saying that they have a problem within themselves, but the problem lies with whom they pass their business off to in Chile. Meaning that the revered Adelante Abroad office can only do so much, but throw "strong words of discontent" when something goes wrong with the "International Center". The owner of the International Center is named Oscar, he likes to say one thing to the face of the interns and to Adelante. So they bicker in fight and he doesn't, while he shovels in the money from both sides. I also find it highly dissapointing that Adelante Abroad failed to show me a "reciept" of what I paid fully but not indivually. Ellie above likes to use the analogy of a restraunt to my payment. First of all my 6 month stay is not a one-time meal at a restraunt and doesn't cost $6,000. When money goes into the thousands; clarity is needed. I'm not asking the restraunt for salaries, tax-cut information, rent nor the price of the dishes. I'm only asking for what I PAID. Which I feel I AM ENTITLED TO SEE. Much like going to a restraurent and asking how much it was for extra mushrooms :). Adelente speaks of "Very Independent". What they really mean is "low manteniance". You're free to do as you wish and as you please but please don't ask us for help. They pay for the airport ride when you arrive but fail to tell you that YOU, yourself must find YOUR OWN way back which happens to be a good two hours away. Taxi fee = hundreds of dollars. I happened to be in Chile during the 8.8 earthquake and Adelante was the last person to verify if I was well and the situation with my internship. I don't mean one or two days, I mean two weeks later. Classes are also for only a week out of the 6 months I was there. Excursions meaning one, and not the monthly ones that are promised. Thanks Independance! Really, If you don't believe a peer that went and experienced it first-hand or the reviews of the other collegues. Go find out how much it's not worth the money yourself. Quoting Ellie "...maybe just best to do it all on your own instead of paying a program to arrange everything for you." Maybe if you arranged and managed like planned, then we customers wouldn't have a problem?
Seems as if what you paid for was what you received: the Adelatne programs read as very independent and they have been in business for 12 years and they have a pretty good rating on the Better Business Bureau. Trying to divide yup what you pay for rent, classes, etc is a pretty futile excercise (do you try and figure out how much a restaurant paid for the meat they are serving you? The dishes? what about salaries, rent, taxes, insurance, etc to run the business) Anyways, if you paid for airport pick up, classes, your internship some excursions and your housing was excellent, you got what you paid for. (By the way, any winery will be outside of town!! Have you ever visite da winery in a city? Impossible, they are acres and acres, of course, so the are logically located outside of urban areas - this too, is on the Adelante website) good luck in future travels, maybe just best to do it all on your own instead of paying a program to arrange everything for you.

Global Vision International (GVI)

In January I volunteered in Latvia for 4 weeks, at an orphanage. It was an awesome experience! Coming from North Queensland, Australia and going into a European winter was very exciting! Apparently it was the worst winter in 30 years, so the staff thought it was hilarious that an Aussie was amongst it. The support from the GVI staff was wonderful, and they answered all my questions thoroughly and quickly.
As part of my volunteering I helped the children with their English homework, helped a bit at meal times, and just chilled and played with them. One weekend we went skiing which was great fun! And another weekend I played outside because it had been snowing for about 5 days. I taught them how to make damper for Australia Day, which was a bit messy with all the flour. Haha!
The staff at the orphanage were amazing, especially Christoph, the founder and director. He has an incredible vision and such love for these kids, I feel honoured to have met him. When I went, there were two houses with 6-8 kids in each one, and an adult 'educator' would pick the kids up from school and stay overnight. There were three educators in each house. They were lovely and so welcoming, and very funny!
I guess one of the most challenging aspects was living alone for 4 weeks. I didn't mind being the only volunteer but for the first week or so I found the living very lonely.
The language barrier was pretty huge, given some of the kid could speak a small amount of English, and most of the adults couldn't. I thought it was fun and challenging because you communicate in a whole different way. Just don't leave home without the trusty Latvian/English dictionary.
I found the history of Latvia devastating, and many of the staff can tell you stories of Soviet times and what happened. One of the boys who used to live at the orphanage and was back for a visit said many children do not have grandparents because they were deported during Soviet occupation.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Latvia
Posted: Apr 11, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
10

WLS International

Our family enjoyed our volunteer experience in Chiang Mai tremendously. WLS did an excellent job of coordinating our volunteer work. Their flexibility to work around our schedule and their organization once we arrived in Chiang Mai was incredible. They arranged everything and took great care of us. We built a water reservoir in the Hill Tribe community and this was a very positive experience. Each day 10 villagers would join us to construct the tank and it was very rewarding to see the outcome of our efforts.
We were also able to visit the school and give gifts to the children. This was amazing as the children were so polite and grateful.
It was a life changing experience and we want to return to Thailand with WLS. The people of Thailand are so friendly and polite. The money paid to WLS was reasonable for the excellent services we received.
The home stay family taught us to speak some Thai and we were honored to be guests at their beautiful home. They cooked delicious meals for us with food from their garden and made us feel very welcome.
Our coordinator Prachit and her husband Surrat were wonderful. From the time they picked us up at the airport, to the final farewell night at the beautiful cultural center and drop of at the airport we were amazed by their warmth and hospitality. They are extremely intelligent and knowledgeable and made us feel like part of their family. They made our experience a fantastic one.
See you next year!
Warmest regards,
Victoria Sullivan, Cynthia Sullivan, Michael Sullivan, Lauren Sullivan and Jordan Edwards
From Nova Scotia, Canada

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Apr 11, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

My daughter is planning to join WLS/Gap Year International in January, in Chiang Mai. Can anyone advise me on mosquito born disease incidence in the area, and any considerations regarding personal safety for a young woman traveling in the area & in this program?

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