Worldwide

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

My daughter went with GLA to both Ghana and Peru and loved both of them. She has traveled before on her own, so we weren't that worried about her, but also always knew she was in good hands! GLA made the application process really simple, and we loved all the communication we got! They set up a blog that would be updated pretty frequently! GLA is awesome!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: May 3, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
9

Concordia Volunteers

A fantastic organisation! There are so many different international opportunities to get involved with and the team are excellent and very supportive!

I have been able to enjoy many enriching overseas experiences through Concordia such as volunteering on various different social and environmental projects in Europe, exchanging my time and enthusiasm to help community projects in return for accommodation and food.

I have also had the opportunity to lead one of Concordia's UK summer projects here in the UK, where I coordinated and organised the daily social activity programme for the volunteers who were working at a youth centre in Kent to deliver outreach sports and creative activities to youth in the local community.

I have also been fortunate enough to take part in "European Voluntary Service" through Concordia. My project was in the French Alps, working for an organisation which promotes intercultural appreciation and tolerance through international summer youth activity camps, festivals, local community projects etc.

These are just a few examples of the many diverse opportunities that are made possible through Concordia! I would highly recommend the organisation to anyone wanting to take part in "ethical" overseas voluntary projects which benefit local communities and to those wanting to feel enriched and inspired!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Jan 27, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Visions Service Adventures

Hey Guys!

My name's Jacob Rosen and I have done 3 Vision's programs. I started in 9th grade and am now going on my 4th program as a senior (in Highschool). I have done the Alaska, Nicaragua, and Peru programs. This summer I am going to Cambodia.

I have never found a better program that involves alll the aspects of the fun of traveling and the rewarding feeling of community service. The thing about the community service though is that it is very hard labor. I know most people think community service is picking up trash or hanging with elderly but here on visions you do some real building. From concrete work to carpentry projects like building roofs for cabins you really get the experience of hard work. That being said it isn't painful and debilitating! It's an incredible experience because you work side by side with local builders. The spanish programs allow you to practice your spanish with the local builders and they are usually younger guys so you make lasting friendships. Also, on the weekends the program plans out INCREDIBLE exploration days to see the local area, immerse yourself in the culture, and experience the local landmarks. I have truly seen the most beautiful sights in my entire life on visions. I hiked to the top of Macchu Picchu in Peru and have hiked/ ice climbed on a glacier in Alaska.

Im very open and friendly and LOOOOVE sharing my experiences. I can fill you in on details about the daily life inside the house and the other little details I didnt mention. Feel free to email me at Rosenj@ewsdmail.org or add me on facebook where we can then video chat. My facebook is Jacob Rosen.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Apr 19, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

CSA - Center for Study Abroad

CSA offers low cost, fully accredited programs worldwide. Open to all students and adults worldwide - from all countries. Gap year students also encouraged to register with us. Program lengths vary, but include Semester, Trimester, Academic Year, Summer, Monthly and Weekly. Programs are held at Universities, Colleges, and Institutes worldwide. Earn academic credit for college or high school available on most programs, especially the "University based" ones. Housing flexibility is offered - student residences, flats (apts), and host families are available. You can arrange own housing if you prefer. For over 20 years (since 1990), Center For Study Abroad (CSA) has provided low cost opportunities to study abroad....all in a easy, convenient process. Join us !
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Program: Study Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Jun 13, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
10

GeoVisions

Bill Keane's Ha Noi/GeoVisions Experience Summary

Major players:

GeoVisions -- The Company promising 15/week conversational English program in Ha Noi, Vietnam, including Private accommodation and meals.

Vietnam Resource Group (also called Viet Group) -- A US based company that acts as an agent For GeoVisions' placement of Americans teaching English in Vietnam.
PO Box 2163 Fairfax, VA 22031 202.271.8200

Randy LeGrant -- The GeoVisions Executive Director.

Jodi Standrowicz -- The Geovisions US representative working directly with me in establishing my program.

Mr. Trung Trinh -- Managing Partner of Vietnam Resource Group. A contact for me since March 2012, responsible for pre-arranging my specific placement in Ha Noi.

Ms. Hoa Dinh -- Works directly under Trung Trinh. She is a local resident in Ha Noi, and was my local GeoVisions contact in Ha Noi.

Dreamhouse -- A private school for primary school students, with locations around Ha Noi.

In basic:

1) I signed on to and paid for a "Conversation Partner" program of teaching conversational English to Vietnamese University/Business level students, for 15 hours per week, for the month of July 2012. At the very last minute I was switched to a program of teaching English to primary school students, but, in the end, this only involved an hour of teaching for the month. While in-country, arrangements were made so I could teach University level students at an English Club, but in the end, this engagement only totaled 10 hours for the month of July.

2) I was promised private apartment/hotel accommodation in Ha Noi, but at the last minute, I was placed with an un-vetted host family. The head of household in this family willfully forced me into a direct, illegal, and dangerous encounter with prostitution and drugs.

3) While arranging a new accommodation (which could have been provided all along) GeoVisions personnel listed above were largely evasive and revisionist in their approach to me in Ha Noi, and my wife in Connecticut. Eventually, I was offered a program fee refund, provided I sign a waiver. I did not respond to this offer.

Expanded details are set forth below…

-- Planning with GeoVisions since late in 2011, checking out a number of possibilities, I signed on, and paid for ($1,350. not including airfares) for a program of teaching Conversational English for 15 hours a week, in Ha Noi, Vietnam, to university aged/business track students.

-- Doing further research, and before making a final commitment, I found that July/August were traditional holiday/low season months in Vietnam, I raised this concern with GeoVisions, and was assured by them and then by Mr. Trung Trinh (GeoVisions' main Vietnamese contact person) that adequate opportunities to work as planned would be available in July (the only time I had available to me).

-- As directly requested, and assumed all along in planning, I was promised private apartment/hotel style accommodation for the duration of my month long stay in Ha Noi, starting June 28th, ending August 1st. Thus I completed payment to GeoVisions for my program and purchased my airfares in March 2012 (AEROFLOT: $1554.26).

-- On March 12, Jodi Standrowicz emailed to say, "It was so nice to speak with you Bill! 2 of the schools Trung is looking into for you are Ha Noi University Of Agriculture or Ha Noi International School." These are both consistent with the website promise and serve students exactly in my chosen demographic.

-- April and May passed, and finally, on June 2nd I received an email from Trung Trinh offering 2 options for the Conversation Partner Program (either IEC or Dreamhouse). I chose IEC as that is an adult based company working with business folks, and Dreamhouse works with small children. My choice was communicated to Mr. Trinh the same day.

-- June 2nd Mr. Trinh responded to my email of the same day and wrote, "Ms. Hoa will be working with IEC to arrange your accomodation and then your working agenda. Thanks and I am sure that you will enjoy your stay there."

-- I was due to start my trip on June 27th. However, on June 24th, I was informed by Trung Trinh via email that the prior choice I'd made of teaching adults at a firm known as IEC was not possible due to low enrollment. He wrote, "For your information, your host organization is Dream House – They have arranged your homestay at one of their staff families located on Nha Chung Street, near the main cathedral of Ha Noi. I understood that earlier you have expressed your interest in working at IEC. However, they just informed us that due to their summer schedule with limited number of students they do not have enough students to participate in the conversational program with you."

-- I simply forwarded Mr. Trinh's email to Randy Le Grant and Jodi Standrowicz, as they were most aware of my chosen and promised plan, and would be aware that this latest iteration was fundamentally different from what I'd agreed to and paid for.
-- In a phone conversation, Jodi indicated that, after she'd communicated with Mr. Trinh, she determined that there'd been a misunderstanding, and that I would, in fact, be staying in a private apartment, not host family accommodation, and, that while Dreamhouse did work with small children well below my agreed demographic, there would be adult teachers and parents who would be wanting to learn conversational English from me.

-- I really had no viable option, but to proceed to Vietnam, so I did, hoping to make the very best of the experience. My expressed sentiments were very positive.

-- However, upon arrival in Vietnam, Thursday, June 28th, I was taken from the airport by my local GeoVisions contact, Ms. Hoa, to a private home, set to stay with a completely unvetted host family. Ms. Hoa met this family for the first time when I did. I would come to find out the following week that this host family was led to believe, as were the administrators of Dreamhouse, that I would be a personal English tutor for their children, aged 6 and 9. Indeed, the first evening I was situated with the host family, I was left with the children, and a niece, while the parents went out swimming at a nearby hotel.

-- I emailed Jodi Standrowicz indicating that indeed I had been placed with a host family, and she responded in an email, saying, "I apologize for not understanding the living arrangement. When I asked Trung about the living arrangement he explained you would be in a private residence, I clearly misunderstood. I thought he meant your own private residence. Please let me know if you are ok with the arrangement." I did not demand a change because the family seemed nice, and it would have been a tremendous insult to arrive and then leave. I decided to stay and make the best of things, as I did not yet know that the host family had any expectations.

-- Meeting with representatives of Dreamhouse (named: Ngu, Thuy and Hoa), on Monday July 2nd, they told me that GeoVisions (presumably via Trung Trinh) placed me in a host family situation to "save money", and they were told that if they found and supplied room and board with a host family, I would be available to do pretty much whatever was asked (teaching the family children/teaching the kids at Dreamhouse). They also expressed dismay that I had come to Vietnam in July, as this was a time when things really slowed down and there would not be a whole lot for me to do in the classroom setting. Upon hearing what I had been promised stateside, they said GeoVisions had "mishandled" my placement. At that point, July 2nd, they offered me a brief, hour-long teaching interaction late that afternoon with small children at one of their schools far on the outskirts of Ha Noi, and they scheduled me for two engagements teaching primary school children on July 17th and July 19th (these engagements were later cancelled due to low enrollment). At that point, those were the ONLY specific teaching opportunities offered to me for the entire month. Ms. Hoa indicated that she was working on getting me some adult teaching engagements with students at English Clubs around Ha Noi. One possibility was an engagement on Sunday, July 8th.

-- After my conversation with Dreamhouse administrators, I spoke to the host family parents, saying there'd been a great misunderstanding, and I was not informed that I would be acting as a personal tutor/nanny for their children. I also indicated that this was an expectation I did not intend to fulfill. Much embarrassment was expressed all around, but there was a new level of understanding as well because they had wondered why I wasn't doing what was expected (daily classes with their kids).

-- While initially included in appropriate, very enjoyable, wider family gatherings, on July 3rd, the head of household requested I go away with the family for several days in the country. When I indicated that I had a potential teaching engagement at an English Club on July 8th (when the trip was due to be on) he said if I didn't go with the family, he would be "very disappointed". I avoided the issue by saying I would have to speak to Ms. Hoa. The possessive tone was disconcerting.

-- On the evening of July 4th, the head of the household in my host family, with other family members and friends (about 7 in total), invited me out, and late in the evening took me to an isolated Ha Noi neighborhood, ostensibly to sing Karaoki in a private club. We were directed to a plush upstairs private room with a large TV and audio equipment for singing Karaoki. However, within a few minutes the head of the household said he wanted me to have a "good time", and, soon after, four prostitutes entered the room, with one immediately, directly, physically and intimately subjecting me to unwanted, unsolicited encounters. As another prostitute jumped on my lap, the first one attempted to remove my shirt while kissing my body and face. When I didn't respond positively, the one who jumped on my lap, moved on to someone else, and the first one opened a purse carrying several blister-packs of drugs, showing me a variety of pills and asking me how much money I had to spend. I made no positive response to any of these solicitations, and directly stopped them, twice making the host aware I was not going to be participating in this aspect of the evening's entertainment. The prostitutes eventually left, and not very long after, we all returned home.

-- After arriving back at my accommodation, I took two Advil, called my wife, and Jodi Standrowicz. Jodi asked if I was OK, but expressed no interest in further exploring any specific details of my encounter. She indicated she would be bringing Randy LeGrant into the conversation.

-- Concurrently, I received an email from Trung Trinh (the Viet Group representative, then in the US) that referenced all the planning that had been done for my visit -- a sentiment completely at variance with the facts. I responded in as strong and derogatory a manner as I could (cc'ing Jodi Standrowicz), indicating my extreme displeasure at being a victim of a deliberate "bait and switch" scheme. I also referenced the prostitution encounter, which he never fully responded to.

-- The following morning, my time in Ha Noi, I phoned Randy, who remarked that it was a holiday in the US (July 4th), as if he was going the extra mile in working with me, and he was totally guarded in referencing any details of my previous night's experience. He made no specific mention of the incident. When I forced him to acknowledge the prostitution, he said he didn't want to be "drawn into discussing" the email I'd just sent to Trung Trinh. I indicated I wanted to leave the host family situation immediately, under a pretext related to Visa issues (because I didn't think the wife and wider family knew about the head of household's behavior, and I had no interest in provoking a domestic upset). Randy agreed, and said I would be contacted by Ms. Hoa later that day to enable a move.

-- Indeed, at 2pm, as per the plan, Ms. Hoa came by to move me to a hotel that I was told other GeoVisions teachers had stayed at previously. The pretext she offered was one related to insurance.

-- While the head of household and his wife left their residence upon seeing Ms. Hoa, a member of the host family threatened Ms. Hoa and me with police action if we tried to leave the premises. Upon request made by that family member, we waited for an hour and a half for the homeowners to return, so that we could say "goodbye". They did not return, and as we made it clear we were leaving, we were again threatened with the police. Ms. Hoa was quite shaken, moved to tears, and she called Trunh Trinh, who was in the US. According to Ms. Hoa, he advised Ms. Hoa to leave me in the residence, rendezvousing with me after I managed to get out on my own. I told Ms. Hoa this was a terrible plan, that she should not leave me alone, and that we would be going out together. This, we did, under more direct threats, and not without Ms. Hoa leaving her government ID with the very angry host family member.

-- Via taxi, Ms. Hoa got me to a hotel, but for most of the remainder of my stay, the original host family tried to discern my whereabouts. They repeatedly contacted Ms. Hoa to find out where I was staying. They never attempted contact with me directly, even though the head of household had my email address.

-- Upon my asking, Ms. Hoa expressed the view that the host family was "mafia". I cannot confirm this, but this possibility had crossed my mind.

-- The folks connected with Dreamhouse, were very upset at my change of residence (as they had arranged it). It was a major embarrassment.

-- I had left the host family under a pretext related to insurance. According to Hoa, Trung Trinh blew this cover story under pressure from a Dreamhouse representative who didn't buy it. I then received emails from Thuy and Ngu, asking about the prostitution incident (Mr. Trinh's rendition wasn't entirely accurate). This necessitated two separate meetings, one with Thuy, and the other with Ngu, to explain what had actually transpired. They both then understood my need to make new living arrangements, but Thuy said the host family was not one to take lightly, and that I should be "very careful" while I was in Ha Noi. Ngu also expressed serious misgivings about Viet Group, and their trustworthiness.

-- In the meantime, Hoa set up a schedule for me to teach conversational English to college age students at one institution, the RES English Club, on 5 occasions (July 8, 15, 21, 22 & 29) altogether totaling 10 hours of teaching for the month. The other two previously scheduled opportunities at Dreamhouse were cancelled due to low enrollment, and indeed, according to Dreamhouse personnel, there were no adults, teachers or parents within their establishment, interested in learning English.

-- Late July 4th I also received an email from Trung Trinh, with attached "working agenda". It outlined about 7 hours of projected teaching activity with the RES English Club, and included the Dreamhouse July 17/19 plan (which never transpired).

-- In general, Randy LeGrant's emails to me from July 4th onward ran the gamut of attempted intimidation, to complete oblivious denial. There was a request that I should offer advise on improving the program (he mentioned other participants having problems), and then in later emails there were expressions of blatant, cynical revision of the basic facts. I repeatedly tried, via emails, to engage him from a standpoint of reality, but completely failed in this endeavor.

-- From July 4th onward, GeoVisions refused to respond to my wife's direct and pertinent questions relative to my situation, even after I gave them direct permission to do so. She was justifiably concerned for my safety, and communicated this. She also wanted to know why I hadn't been initially placed in the hotel that had been used before. Jodi Standrowicz said not responding was a "legal" issue, so it was then that we secured legal advise.

-- Randy LeGrant said, in emails, that he could only communicate substantively with me (since I was the program participant), and he would do so after compiling his own "report", but in the end, he refused to answer my questions as well.

-- Thus, my conclusion is that my encounter with GeoVisions was a dangerous and deliberate "bait and switch". It was a "bait and switch" they had been caught in and were being called on. While they may have hoped a decent program would be available in July, they took no responsibility for making any adjustments when it became obvious that no such program would be available. This explains the immediate, very guarded approach they used the instant problems arose. Claiming a lack of understanding with an individual (Mr. Trinh) they've extensively worked with before in Vietnam simply doesn't make sense. Teaching adults and private accommodation are not mysterious concepts in Ha Noi. Perhaps for his own benefit, Mr. Trinh made assurances to GeoVisions and Dreamhouse that he couldn't live up to, but it was GeoVisions' responsibility to ensure an adequate program and adequate safety. They did neither, and in reality, made matters worse.

-- My program quantity and initial accommodations were nothing close to what I had signed on for (15 hrs./week; Private accommodation), and GeoVisions' only attempt at restitution was a late offer from Randy LeGrant that I would receive a full program refund, provided I sign a "waiver". One gets the very clear impression they have been down this track before.

-- The Vietnamese people are great, and my limited interactions with the students at the RES English Club were wonderful. However, these late-coming teaching engagements were not arranged until after I was in country, they did not start until July 8th, and, as noted, they were fractional in time comparison to what was promised, and paid for. Ms. Hoa, I believe, did her best to attempt fashioning a reasonable program for me, but trying this in real-time, in July, was simply not feasible. This was particularly frustrating in that I sensed there would be a paucity of opportunity in July months earlier.

-- The original host family situation, arranged by GeoVisions/Trung Trinh-Viet Group with Dreamhouse directly put me in serious personal danger. The stress engendered, for me and my wife, was enormous, and the potential personal, familial and career damage… profound. Prostitution and drugs are highly illegal in Ha Noi. The risks of HIV/AIDS and arrest were aspects I never signed on for, and deeply, deeply resent having to deal with (this is not to mention the moral aspects). Added to this, the GeoVisions' willful and repeated attempts at denial and revision were and are blatantly reprehensible.

-- In general, I believe the negligence, deliberate deceit, and dangerous incompetence, merit far, far more than a simple refund of program fees. Our petition in this case needs to be a strong one to ensure that what was done to me will not be repeated ever again with anyone else.

Bill Keane

Program: TEFL
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Apr 26, 2014
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Original Volunteers

Volunteering with Original Volunteers in Cambodia was a brilliant experience and definitely value for money. A friend and I did our two weeks when we were 18 and although we were the youngest out of all of the volunteers (only by about a year) we felt very welcomed and after the end of our time we were upset we couldn't stay for longer. The project coordinator was very friendly and along with the other volunteers eased us into the teaching, firstly placing us in classes as helpers and later on we led classes ourselves. The experience was incredibly rewarding and as well as insightful into the Cambodian culture. I have recommended original volunteers to friends who have then volunteered on different projects and have greatly enjoyed their time as well. I felt very secure and at ease, which is remarkable as it was my first time so far away from home without my family or a large group of friends. We were picked up from the airport by our project co-coordinator and trips were organised at the weekend for us to see different areas of the country with the other volunteers, we were very well looked after and had a great time. Hopefully in the future I will be able to go back to that project but I am also keen to branch out and try other volunteering opportunities in different countries organised by Original Volunteers.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Aug 16, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Worldwide Helpers

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Gestion virtuel adopter un levier économique similaire, avec peu d'investissement capital pour le développement de produit et image de marque, pour déloger nécessite des cycles de fabrication et de vente importants investissements en capitaux, obtenant ainsi le développement l'échelle de l'entreprise à court terme. Société Nike à pénétrer le marché chinois, touché un grand nombre d'entreprises en Chine, beaucoup d'entreprises suivre le modèle d'entreprise virtuelle de <a href="http://www.footlockernike.fr/">nike free run</a>, belle prestige nation Tess et Li Ning sont gestion virtuel de chirurgies de correction de vision.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Aug 8, 2013
Overall:
2
Support:
3
Value:
2

Semester at Sea

Semester At Sea is a wonderful program! I am so glad I was able to attend the Spring 1999 program. It is amazing to me that 13 years has passed by! Even after all that time, Semester At Sea remains relevant in my life. The learning, growth, confidence, perspective, and life experience I gained during SAS prepared me for many, many, many more adventures! Living in Portugal for 2 years (2005-2007); graduate school (2000-2002); volunteering in Kenya, in my career field (2004); traveling around Europe (ongoing); working as a "traveler" all around the USA in my career field (2007-2009); and now enhancing daily family life and enriching my, and my family member's personal lives. My sister attended SAS for the Spring 2001 voyage; often everyday events or watching the news, will trigger great memories or give us understanding of situations. It is great having her to talk things through with and to support each other with the "out of the box" ideas we have. I believe our experiences with SAS helped develop our unconventional way of seeing the world. I hope my own children will one day be able to experience the world from the structure and expertise of Semester At Sea!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Aug 4, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

CSA - Center for Study Abroad

This website - Abroad Reviews - can not be trusted. Anybody can post reviews....and they are not "verified" in any way. Some people have a bad experience abroad...so they post a complaint....but their problem may have been their fault.....did something dumb while abroad. Overall, this website is not very useful.

Having said that, I must say that I used CSA services.....to study in France......and I have only good things to say about CSA -Center For Study Abroad.....I received my confirmation documents quickly and CSA was very convenient. They helped me study abroad at such a lower cost than many of the other providers......and I got to do some things myself and have control over my housing and airfare booking. Thank you CSA !

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Apr 1, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
6
Value:
8

Global Volunteer Network (GVN)

Excellent program and people in the office have actually been to their sites in which they fund. Staff is educated and passionate about children and follow their mission statements. Web site is maintained and up-dated, they always return calls and provide detailed information and safety of their volunteers is the utmost importance.
GVN is also a receipt of funds from the Gates Foundation in the USA and have to maintain a high standard of care, plus they are affiliated with the United Nations.
I strongly support the education they offer volunteers and the great opportunities to which peoples's lives are enchanced because of this organization.
If you have been to their seminars (new) and where they are located you will see they are good stewards of the funds to which they are trusted to deliver.
Miki Teixeira
Director of Crowley Children's
USA

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Sep 17, 2011
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
9

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