TEFL

VCD Nepal (Volunteer for Community Development Nepal)

Tefl teaching in Nepal is a must if you enjoy happy, enthusiastic, vibrant folk who are eager to learn, get on and want to assimilate the best of British including Manchester football clubs!
Teaching at the Monastery was brilliant. The students and staff are bright, clever and curious. It was a joyous learning curve to be immersed in a living, lively, loving Buddhist environ. The healthy food and glorious sunshine added to the feel good factor, likewise the opportunity to paraglide with eagles, trek and canoe (camel rides too in Pokhara!).
Teaching at the orphanage was heart warming and humbling. The children (Dalaits, untouchables) have so very little materially, we bought food, toiletries, cooking and washing utensils, books, paper, crayons and, so they grew inches in pride (as requested), a pair of blue socks each for school..... The Didis' (sisters) who care for the children are like them, spiritually resilient, loving, resourceful and healing their cultural wounds.
If you want to help an aspirational nation save its 'living faith', colourful vibrancy, ecological importance and beauty and change other less noble aspects, teaching English is a worthy objective and a truly enriching, life enhancing, memorable experience. Go and hug the Himalayas!

Program: TEFL
Location: Nepal
Posted: May 5, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10

Frontier

Tefl teaching in Nepal is a must if you enjoy happy, enthusiastic, vibrant folk who are eager to learn, get on and want to assimilate the best of British including Manchester football clubs!
Teaching at the Monastery was brilliant. The students and staff are bright, clever and curious. It was a joyous learning curve to be immersed in a living, lively, loving Buddhist environ. The healthy food and glorious sunshine added to the feel good factor, likewise the opportunity to paraglide with eagles, trek and canoe (camel rides too in Pokhara!).
Teaching at the orphanage was heart warming and humbling. The children (Dalaits, untouchables) have so very little materially, we bought food, toiletries, cooking and washing utensils, books, paper, crayons and, so they grew inches in pride (as requested), a pair of blue socks each for school..... The Didis' (sisters) who care for the children are like them, spiritually resilient, loving, resourceful and healing their cultural wounds.
If you want to help an aspirational nation save its 'living faith', colourful vibrancy, ecological importance and beauty and change other less noble aspects, teaching English is a worthy objective and a truly enriching, life enhancing, memorable experience. Go and hug the Himalayas!

Program: TEFL
Location: Nepal
Posted: May 5, 2014
Overall:
5
Support:
5
Value:
5

TEFL Worldwide Prague

The program was pretty nice, i was convinced after I have read quite a lottefl online reviews about them.

The tutors in the program are very nice, fast response time for all your questions, literally no questions were unanswered.

The location was clean and organized and it was in Prague, which is a beautiful city. Was refreshing to be in a new place, while studying. It gives a preview on my future life.

The course was a little too intimidating for to be honest in the first week, however i become more confident and gain momentum, by the 3 week i was pretty relaxed about the whole thing

Program: TEFL
Location:
Posted: May 5, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

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

Balkan Canadian Association - Teach and Travel

my unfortunate experiences and interaction with ABC

Program: TEFL
Location: Turkey
Posted: Dec 30, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Balkan Canadian Association - Teach and Travel

Hello.

I caught the travel bug last year and started looking into abroad opportunities. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised by what is out there, but every once in a while, people come across something that makes them lose fate in their passions and sometimes people in general. This was my very unfortunate experience with the Balkan Canadian Association(ABC). ABC is an organization that sends youth to Turkey to teach/ intern/ work with an NGO

I was told by my friend about ABC, an organization that gives youth international internship and teaching experience. An organization that also gives young Muslims a chance to learn more about religious scholars that have expertise in all things Islam in a unique camp environment. I was sold, planned my application for months in advance, and committed myself to the application process.

A student coordinator contacted me informing me that interviews would only be held for students that pay sixty bucks at a weekend retreat. I hesitated but was still very excited, after all 160 positions were advertised to be available! I reached the retreat and was shocked by the amount of people that came. About 300 people came! It was impressive. What was not impressive was the rumored interview questions that were asked. One applicant told me that the interviewers had interrogated her about why she does not wear the hijab. Another applicant informed me that her interviewers had questioned her about why she does not pray five times a day and if she believes school work is more important than her prayers. Another applicant told me in disbelief that the panel of interviewers had asked him why he does not have a family member as a reference. Did I begin to doubt the Balkan Canadian Association? Questions did arise in my head, but I am not one to base my opinion solely on what people tell me. I have to admit, I did have hesitations when I realized that no events were planned for the retreat. I had even more hesitations when a student coordinator whispered in my ear that the organization needs some serious work. But I overlooked it all. My interview went well, and I left the retreat feeling like I was about to have a fantastic summer.

I eventually received a chain email by the Balkan Canadian Association requesting for me to submit to a second interview; only two dates were presented in the email, both within just a few days of the email sent. The main coordinator of the program wrote down her number in the email and specifically requested for everyone wanted to schedule the second interview to call her.

I did. No answer, left a message. Two days later I call again. No answer. Only 2 days left until the second interview. I call again, no answer. One day until the interview; sent an email no answer. It was beginning to get frustrating. Finally, I spoke to a student coordinator about it and she was able to schedule the interview. The time slot for the interview was very narrow, so I decided to miss thirty minutes of my university class. Went for the interview, with less enthusiasm but still pretty excited. I left not feeling much different.

About a week later, I received a voicemail message from FEBA, the american equivalent of the organization that handles official affairs. I had been accepted into the program! I was absolutely ecstatic, what I had planned for 6 months was coming to life before my eyes. I told family and friends, took out a loan from the bank to pay the reasonable deposit, came to school the next day with my nose in the air and my expectations in the sky; i was totally day dreaming about Istanbul. I was rudely awakened when my friend who is a student coordinator came up to me with a look of sympathy on her face

” — they sent you the acceptance by accident– I think your on the waitlist”. "I think you should speak to —–( the main coordinator whose name I will not mention). ” I looked at my friends phone, with a message from the main coordinator—” just tell him to ignore the voicemail”.

I was not happy. Called the main coordinators number and again- it went straight to voice mail. I finally decided to call FEBA( the exact same organization) and inquired about the false acceptance. I also anonymously addressed some of the concerns and hesitations that I had about the organization. She said she was taking notes; “things were a bit bumpy on the Canadian side”, and “she would address my concerns at a meeting the following week”. I did not know what to do with the bank loan and emailed the Balkan Canadian Association about what I should do with it. I was shocked when they responded! ” Please come to our office- we would like to speak to you in person”.

If you thought the story was bad up until now, it gets worse, Viewer Discretion is Advised.

I took time out of my university schedule to go to the office. When I arrived I smelled excitement amongst the two official coordinators. I was immediately rushed into a private room. The main coordinator brushed her hair back, took an agitated sigh, started in my eyes for about 5 seconds before excitedly etching out ” We want to confront you about some of the bad opinions you have about the organization”. I began to tell them about the false acceptance and how I had a bank loan that needed to be returned, but I was interrupted by the male main coordinator who to my absolute shock began to recite stories and sentences from the Quran about what happens to backbiters and I should not exemplify traits of an backbiter. I was pretty disturbed that they would use a religious text that I value very much as a weapon to attack me. Might I add, they used the recitation inaccurately. I was stunned and at that moment it made sense. They called me in not explain why I received a false acceptance. and why my phone calls were being ignored, but to jump me with accusations; they wanted to hurl all their bad decisions on my shoulders and call it a day by avoiding all accountability. Obviously they had gotten into trouble and were looking for a scapegoat.

They were hurt and enraged that I said on the phone to the U.S coordinator that they should work more closely with the Balkan Canadian Association to avoid any false acceptances in the future. They began to yell. They were upset I spoke to the U.S coordinator; they told me she knew “absolutely nothing about anything”. I was apparently a backbiter for speaking out and inquiring about my false acceptance to the organization.

A facebook group was made by hopeful applications of the program who met each other at the paid interviews. On the facebook group people were beginning to communicate to each other and question why the main coordinator was not answering her phone. This was just unacceptable according to the coordinators the Balkan Canadian Association. In a hissy fit, the main coordinator angrily asked why I called throughout the week before my second interview. My response… ” because you told me to in the email”. She gave me a disgusted look.

The meeting ended with the main coordinator stating that the Balkan Canadian Association is one of her children and its painful for her to see her child attacked. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and angrily proclaimed, “that’s it– that’s all we want to know”. I asked again, “what should I do with the bank loan that I took out?” They responded promptly, “we’ll get back to you by the end of the week”. Of course they did not. I returned the loan, and was lucky that interest was low.

I left feeling pretty stupid for coming. I called the u.s coordinator and told her what had transpired. She stated that they were on the defense because they got in trouble at a meeting. But that is the reason you call in an unsuspecting applicant and hurl insults and accusations at them? Why, because the applicant needed to know what to do with a bank loan after receiving a false acceptance? I was pretty disgusted with this lack of professionalism. I was bothered by how I was accused of everything wrong with the organization because I inquired about a bank loan. I was even more bothered by how quickly and intensely the Balkan Canadian Association threw a U.S coordinator under the bus for addressing concerns by an applicant. Just bringing her name up in front of the Canadian coordinators would require a fire extinguisher. Employers should not put each other down in front of applicants.The message was clear to me at this point. You remotely question the coordinators of the Balkan Canadian Association, you are a backbiter. That would be almost OK if there was not so much to question!

Is this justified? I think its simply wrong, but this horrible meeting might be a blessing in disguise. Of course I never again heard back from the organization. I politely emailed them asking what I should do with the loan, and apologized for any misunderstandings. They did not respond.

From my horrible experience during the application process, I am happy I did not go on the trip. Based on the degree of disorganization in Canada, I cannot imagine what transpired in Turkey for the successful applicants. Maybe I was lucky that things ended the way they did.

The coordinators of the Balkan Canadian Association were simply inconsiderate of their applicants. This case is a horrible cocktail of incompetence mixed with people becoming a bit drunk with power.This is ABC’s second year in Canada( FEBA is much more established and organized). They were overwhelmed, perplexed, inconsistent and tardy. I saw a shady side of an organization that promised the world( literally), A promise that drove me forward despite the warning signs that hit me during my journey as an applicant. Bottom Line. Trust Your Gut. Don’t be submerged by what could be, But analyze facts in front of you. It would have saved me from a very unfortunate dialogue with the Balkan Canadian Association, which will make me doubt all international NGO’s down the line.

Program: TEFL
Location: Turkey
Posted: Dec 30, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Frontier

When coming to Frontier's teaching program in Madagascar, I had an open mind, with no set expectations. What I got out of the project was more than I could have asked for. There is an incredible amount of teaching experience you gain while here, as well as a wide variety to keep you busy. Teaching every day at the primary school in town was really fun. When originally hearing there would be classes of 100 students, it was a bit overwhelming. However, the kids were extremely disciplined, loved learning English, and were always excited to see you. I would get well over 100 enthusiastic hello's a day whether it was during school or seeing the kids around town. The adult class is very interactive and with the level of English they have, you really get to know them on a more personal level. Teaching at Atafondru on Friday can be challenging, yet quite the experience. You will always walk away with good stories from teaching. This has been an incredible and rewarding four weeks. The time flies by too quickly.

Program: TEFL
Location: Madagascar
Posted: Nov 30, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
9

Frontier

Loved the teaching in Madagascar, kids are absolutely amazing and energetic. It's so good to see you can make a difference for them.

Program: TEFL
Location: Madagascar
Posted: Sep 15, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I chose Frontier through word of mouth as I knew they had a vast selection of volunteering opportunities and were rated highly overall on the internet. After my initial skype call with them, I felt immediately reassured that I had chosen a reputable company. They offered me very clear advice about which project I may be most suited to and I felt they were thorough and professional by proceeding with a telephone interview that each potential volunteer must undergo. I ended up opting for the 'teaching in Siem Reap' project as I wanted to work with children and gain a qualification. Frontier's online profile is easy to complete and they upload all the necessary information needed for your specific project.

I arrived in Siem Reap on July 29th and was rather nervous as this was my first trip abroad alone. I was met promptly by Michael, a volunteer coordinator for the teaching project who was very friendly and chatty. I felt instantly reassured that I had chosen a safe company to travel with.

The volunteer house was basic but comfortable and in a very good location. The rooms were bunk bed dormitories with a shared bathroom. I was pleased to be living with other volunteers as this proved to be very social. Breakfast and lunch could be easily made at the house and we were often able to 'request' certain food items before the 'weekly shop'.

On my first night I was taken to the bike shop as each volunteer is required to rent a bike for the duration of their stay. This is necessary for travelling to and from school each day and short trips around the city at the weekends (although you can take a Tuk Tuk for a fee). Following this, I had dinner at the 'night market' area of the town with all the volunteers and Mike. This was a great chance to meet the other people and ask them questions.

I went to school the next day after my arrival at 7:10am. The cycle to school can be slightly daunting at first, especially if you are jet lagged and adjusting to the heat. Luckily, it gets a lot easier and it is a great way to see the city. I think we cycled around 10km a day so expect to get fit! The first morning I followed close to the other volunteers who easily navigated their way around the traffic and after around 15 minutes we reached the school. I didn't quite know what to expect when meeting the children and Khmer teachers but I felt instantly at ease when I saw their smiling faces and welcoming nature. Because I arrived at a time when there was a large number of other volunteers, I got to experience teaching/observing all of the four classes at the school. I didn't realise we would be given so much responsibility in the classrooms but I guess the best way to experience something new is to throw yourself right into it! Luckily, having others in the same position meant there was a lot of support and advice on hand. It wasn't until my third week that I began planning my own lessons with the help of the Khmer teacher for that class. As there were around 6 volunteers at this time, we were allowed to express a preference for the age group we wanted to teach and by the time we left the school, we had all grown very attached to our classes.

The school day is usually 7:30 - 10:15am in the morning and 1:30 - 5pm (2 classes and a conversation class) in the afternoon. This means there is a long lunch break and I mostly spent this at a pool near to the house. I enjoyed having this time to relax and prepare lessons. (The children who attend school in the morning are not the same as those in the afternoon, although the classes are of similar standard). I felt that having this weekday schedule helped me to adjust to the new experience of teaching and immersed me in the Cambodian culture.

The city very much comes alive at night and so in the evenings I would mostly go out for dinner. There are some delicious and extremely cheap restaurants around the night market area (I would particularly recommend Steven's Corner, Triangle and the $0.50c shake restaurants that border the old market). The Blue Pumpkin is great for ice cream and sweet desserts. You can also watch a free Aspara dance show if you eat dinner at Temple Bar.
The night markets themselves are definitely worth a number of visits and are a great place to buy souvenirs, Cambodian clothing and home ornaments. I bought many pairs of the Cambodian patterned trousers as these are suitable for school and comfortable for cycling. Don't forget to try the street food pancakes which are delicious and only $1!

At the weekends the other volunteers and I would explore the city. We often took a trip to the day market and the supermarket and lounged by the pool. One Saturday we got up at 4:30am to visit Angkor Wat Temple and watch the sunrise. Although it's early I would highly recommend going at this time as it meant far less tourists! We were taken around a selection of the temples by a lovely tuk tuk driver. The only disappointment of the day was all the Cambodian children that tried consistently to sell us merchandise.

As I was in Siem Reap for 5 weeks, I was quite keen to spend one weekend in a different city and so three other volunteers and I took a sleeper bus down to Sihanoukville (beach town) on a Thursday night. The bus was only $13 and despite a very bumpy journey, we managed to all sleep the majority of the way there and back. We found accommodation whilst there and despite the slightly dodgy weather we made the most of our trip by exploring the town, took a boat trip to a nearby island and eating local street food.

I felt the whole experience was a great balance between being on holiday and being a teacher. Each school week was hugely rewarding but tiring too. The Cambodian people were so friendly and happy and the children were polite and enthusiastic. I really appreciated the constant support I received from Michael and Nick during the course of the trip and if I had any concerns they were more than happy to help me out. Michael was mostly at the school with us in the day and not only was this hugely useful if any issues arose whilst teaching, but it also felt like Frontier promoted a team effort and we were all working collectively. He was enthusiastic about teaching and constantly encouraged us (and cooked a couple of tasty meals for us!).

My only slight complaint is I feel that the kit list for this project was somewhat misleading. There are a number of items labelled as 'compulsory' that in fact should be labelled 'optional'. This would have saved me money had I known that I would not need to purchase a couple of the items. Also, the project is expensive and there are more costs on arrival such as the hiring of the bikes, the school t-shirt and the internet. The spending money advised in the field brief is by no means enough for 1 month and we all had to get additional money out.

Overall it was a unique experience that allowed me to learn a great deal about teaching, introduced me to an entirely new culture, boosted my self confidence and made me further appreciate those less fortunate. I feel that Frontier themselves provided excellent support both prior to and during my time away. I was lucky to be on the project with other volunteers who were like-minded and friendly. We all bonded during our time in Siem Reap and it was great to help one another with lesson preparations and teaching. I will miss the children but I know that Frontier will continue their productive work in Cambodia and I hope that more volunteers choose this exciting and immensely rewarding project!

Program: TEFL
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Sep 5, 2013
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
6

RCDP Nepal

It was my first time travelling abroad by myself and there were many things that I was worried about. However, when I reached the airport, I was greeted by a friendly face and from that point onwards, I felt comfortable. All my questions were answered, the accommodation was nice and I was placed in an orphanage in Kathmandu, like I had requested. Volunteering in the orphanage has been the most rewarding experience I have had so far; the children are beautiful and so welcoming. I am extremely grateful to RCDP for arranging everything and for making everything run smoothly. As I am about to leave Nepal, I wish that I had stayed much longer than the 11 days and I will definitely return again next year to complete the Annapura trek and visit Chitwan and Pokhara with RCDP.

Program: TEFL
Location: Nepal
Posted: Sep 5, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

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