Volunteer Abroad

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I volunteered with CCS in Guatemala City for two and a half months and had the most amazing experience of my life (so far). I decided to travel with CCS for personal reasons. I was born in Guatemala, adopted by Americans and brought up in the States. I wanted to visit my birth country but did not want to go back as just a tourist. While visiting, I wanted to experience the culture and give back if I could. CCS Guatemala offered everything I was looking for; cultural immersion, a chance to meet new people and friends, a great place to stay, and opportunities to volunteer. This trip was worth every penny! I met amazing people and went to incredible places. Furthermore, words cannot explain just how amazing the in-country CCS staff is! They were helpful, always a pleasure to be around and became a second family to me. I cannot thank them enough for such an incredible time. Choosing to travel with CCS Guatemala was and still is the best decision that I have ever made. I 100% recommend this program! I learned a lot about myself and the world outside my world. I bet you will too! I enjoyed every second of my trip and plan to volunteer with CCS again.

To all the travelers out there: Travel far and travel wide. Always travel with an open mind. Safe travels to all!

A more in depth look at my experience:
Before leaving for Guatemala, I was a bit apprehensive for the trip. This was going to be my first time out of the country by myself but I did not need to worry. Before leaving for the trip, the Guatemala CCS program specialist Hayden helped me through the pre-travel process. On the day of arrival, pick up from the airport was seamless and the in-country staff member that pick me up was very friendly. I arrived at the volunteer house and had a warm welcome from the staff that was present. The volunteer house was perfect and quickly became a second home for me. The food at the house was always delicious, I never had a bad meal. The in-country staff and the house staff were so amazing and very helpful. The in-country director, Virginia was so helpful and kind. She led us through orientation, answered our questions and gave excellent "life advice" when needed. The in-country staff quickly became a second family to me, they helped make my experience in Guatemala special.

While in Guatemala with CCS, I volunteered at a school by the city dump. I primarily helped in the 1st grade class. I helped with daily lessons (like math) and other activities. Besides helping at the elementary school, I also had the opportunity to assist the English language teacher at the high school. Volunteering at this school was amazing, I would do it again in heartbeat. Other than this school, some volunteers were assigned to other specialty schools around the city, health clinics, day care facilities and many other places. All the volunteers that I met throughout my two and half month stay had all good things to say about their volunteer assignments.

Besides volunteering, CCS also provided cultural learning experiences like a city tour (which was fabulous) visits to museums around the city, Spanish lessons and much more. These activities were wonderful and I always learned something about the history and culture of Guatemala from these excursions. Having these cultural learning experiences added something extra special to my trip! During my trip, I did have opportunities for travel in my free time. Traveling is on your own dime but it is worth it. With the other volunteers I met, I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala for Semana Santa in early April, Lake Atitlan (so beautiful) and Monterrico (a beach town). Also in my free time, I explored Guatemala City and went on small weekend trips to Antigua, Guatemala. Most of my free time in the city was spent walking up to Parque Central and experiencing the day to day activities of the city. Guatemala is an amazing place. I hope that you, the reader, consider this program and location. It will change your life!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Aug 30, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

"In terms of my internship, it’s been an incredible experience. There isn’t much speech therapy going on in the school, so this is why volunteers like myself are necessary! The students I worked with were amazing. Joe* is an 8 year old boy I worked one-on-one with. He has autism and severe ADHD. He is nonverbal and clearly not much has been established for him in terms of speech services because other than pointing and gestures, he cannot communicate at all. There are no communication boards, PECS systems, or any other alternative forms of communication for him. Behavior is a big issue as well. Although they reprimand the kids, there is a lack of corrective feedback and DRI. The kids get yelled at but behave more out of fear than because they know right from wrong. So corrective feedback is essential in therapy but culture differences and lack of training in the field contribute to that.

The other children are Jake* (16) who has autism, Jesse* (16) who has Down Syndrome, Isa* (11) who I has cerebral palsy, seizures and feeding difficulties, Andy* (7) who has autism and Griffin* (8) who has autism as well. All of the children in my classroom were nonverbal except for Isa* who speaks very little, and mainly repeats echolalia. The kids are awesome though and so sweet. The teachers definitely do their best given the circumstances and genuinely care about the kids. Each day is very routine, and they even adopted the visual schedule system which is great for children with autism"

This is an excerpt from my blog that I kept over the course of my internship in Ghana. The Projects Abroad staff was unbelievably supportive through my transition into African life, and are some of the most friendly people I have ever met. I am currently a senior studying Speech Language Hearing Sciences at Loyola University Maryland in the USA, and felt that this internship was the perfect opportunity to gain some real life work experience before applying to graduate school. I thoroughly enjoyed going to work every day and the children and staff at the school are all incredible.

I highly recommend going through Projects Abroad if you want this type of immersion experience. They help book flights, provide information such as how to obtain a visa, what to pack, and what to expect once in Ghana. When I arrived, a staff member picked me up directly at the airport, sporting his green Projects Abroad shirt for identification, and brought me directly to my home stay to help me settle in. I never once felt unsafe or nervous, and felt very comfortable in the care of Projects Abroad. My housing accommodation was awesome, the friends I made through volunteering were amazing, and one of the staff members is even willing to write my letter of recommendation for graduate school. Regardless of how much experience you have in the field, or how comfortable you are with traveling, I am here to tell you that I managed just fine and I traveled this journey alone. Luckily, I had the supportive Projects Abroad staff to help me navigate through it.

Thank you Projects Abroad! Volunteer with them, you'll be glad you did!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Aug 30, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I volunteered at the refugee project in Italy for my school's practicum for 4 weeks and it was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. I went into the program not really having much of an idea of what would be expected of me or what my jobs would entail. I quickly found myself doing things I had no idea I could do, such as teach english and fitness classes (thank god for Google!) My first week in Italy I got my bearings around town and my duties. The second week I began to make connections with the refugees and the locals alike. My third week I really deepened those connections, and my fourth week I began to see all my hard work come together as I saw some of the changes I had made in Camini and the people in it. Overall, the experience was an emotional rollercoaster with many highs and lows. But I'm so glad for the lows because the highs wouldn't have been as high. I made connections with people I never would have had an opportunity to make otherwise, not only with the refugees but with the locals and the other volunteers as well. Camini truly stole a place in my heart and I hope to go back one day.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Italy
Posted: Aug 30, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

I volunteered at a local clinic. I had a great time and Global Crossroad left me satisfied. I feel as though I had a great experience and learned a lot. I met many different volunteers and left with new friends all over the world. The country coordinators were more than nice and helped me whenever I needed it. I would volunteer with them again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Aug 29, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

After two volunteering in Peru, I am very pleased with IFRE. They were very accommodating and helped me plan every detail of my trip. I volunteered at an orphanage, and had an amazing experience! I made life long connections and wish that I could go back already. I would recommend IFRE to anyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Aug 29, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Voluntary Projects Overseas

I was a volunteer for one month in Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica. Every day I got the chance to see so many different animals not only in trails but in base too, such as birds, monkeys, crocodiles, coatis, baby turtles, whales, snakes, sloths and tapir. The days passed I was more amazed by the biodiversity of the Park. I will never forget how it felt to sleep listening to the ocean and the rainforest at the same time.
Maybe my stay there was a little unusual because of the Hurricane Otto. It was several weeks of rain. The park closed and the entire country was in red emergency so every night we had to turn on the generator to watch the news and see the direction of the winds. Because of the hurricane, we had to stay most of the time in the base, it was too dangerous to walk in the forest with that much rain and wind.
One of the most interest things of that period, it was to watch a vulture hatching a plastic ball thinking it was a egg. We tried to show him it was not an egg but every day the vulture was there taking care of his imaginary baby. It was incredible to watch the persistence, because he was there even with the strong wind and the heavy rain.
For sure I will never forget what I passed during my stay in Corcovado National Park. This park has so many biodiversity, I never saw something like that. The rangers are so committed to protect that area and the guides know a lot about the life there! I learned so much about animals, about the forest and about life. It was incredible to be surrounded by nature and had that experience!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Aug 28, 2017
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

Volunteering to provide medical and dental care in La Ceiba Honduras was one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences of our lives, I volunteered with my father. The people there really need the care and the equipment that we donated. It was also rewarding for my father to be able to perform and teach some extremely useful oral & maxillofacial surgical procedures on the patients and doctors working in the clinics.
The local coordinator Rafael was extremely accommodating making sure we were well taken care of throughout the entire duration of our stay. He set us up with pre-medical and medical students as well as dentists in training who hung out with us most of the time and took us to fantastic places off the beaten path that you would never see as an average tourist. They went with us to fantastic restaurants and we ate some of the best local food to be found in La Ceiba... maybe even all of Honduras.
I would highly recommend doing this program in La Ceiba Honduras to anyone, students or professionals.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Honduras
Posted: Aug 26, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I was in Nepal for 2 weeks volunteering in a cancer hospital. I stayed with a host family that was very kind, attentive and my host mom made the BEST food for me and the 3 other volunteers that I stayed with. The hospital was a great learning experience. All the doctors would take the time to translate any chance they could. This is also where I was able to watch my first surgery! Not only did I get to experience what it was like in a Nepali hospital but I volunteered in a school teaching children about the importance of eating healthy. I met amazing volunteers from all over the world, and was able to meet plenty of locals were we would spend hours over delicious coffee learning about our different customs and cultures. The Nepali people are very kind and love to have festivals and are just generally laid back and relaxed people.
Throughout the entire trip a volunteer coordinator was just a quick text or phone call away. They organized most of the taxi rides and events during the weekdays and helped us organize our weekend trips.
Traveling truly is the best way to learn about yourself. You realize just how tiny your corner of the universe is and just how large and beautiful the world really is. This trip was eye opening for me and I was humbled by my time in Nepal. I loved being able to do it all through Projects Abroad, they made it easy and made me feel safe though out the entire trip. I hope that many other people can have the opportunity to share in this experience!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Nepal
Posted: Aug 26, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

I would recommend volunteering with A Broader View because they offer a broad range of volunteering opportunities, not just all over Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands but all over the world. The US and Ecuador staff are all very knowledgeable and accommodating. They were very willing to work with us in constructing a program that worked for us given our tight timeframe (daughter, niece and me). Most of all we felt taken care of which is important when you are so far away from home in a foreign environment.
The children at the program were adorable and eager to work with us. We brought many English books translated into Spanish which they could not wait to get their hands on. Their enthusiasm was priceless.
Pack light versatile clothing and should include waterproof shoes and wind/rain jacket. Bring items you need like sunscreen, insect repellant, toiletries, anything else you may need from the states. The brands we are use to are not available in Ecuador and can be expensive. Bring a small laundry detergent so you can hand wash clothes. Clothing gets damp this time of year (August), so this will keep everything fresh.
This was a very nice experience to travel with my daughter and nice to volunteer abroad in Ecuador, I would recommend other families to do the same.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ecuador
Posted: Aug 25, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

Traveled to Peru in August. The volunteer session was great - working in a hospital, with their clinical staff. Working with Global Crossroad was the issue. First, their fees were confusing. The registration fee online is $99, but it's really not, it's really $299 which they have in their website. Then they try to sell you different packages, Spanish classes, health insurance, travel insurance, excursions. Don't do it!! The Spanish lessons were great but you could probably do that on your own once you get there for like 1/3 of the cost they are charging. And the excursions are way overpriced like 5 times what it costs if you bought the tickets when you got there. And Global Crossroad is very disorganized itself. I signed up for one site and was moved to another when I arrived. I thought I was getting one type of housing and was put on a site a couple miles from my work-site so I had to trek it there while others in my program were right nearby, in nicer housing. I was told that one person who spoke English would be at the airport to pick me up and then another person who didn't speak any English was there. The excursion was also a disaster. I paid a lot of money and didn't get tickets to half the tour - it was very disorganized. I would tell anyone to not go through Global Crossroad and if you already paid through them I would tell you to make sure you have agreement on (a) the site, (b) housing, (c) what you will be doing, (d) who is picking you up, (e) where you will be living and what type of living arrangements they are, and most of all (f) don't sign up for the excursions.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Aug 25, 2017
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

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