United Planet

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7.5 / 10 after 20 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

As an international non-profit organization, United Planet strives to create a world in which all people understand, respect, and support one another. United Planet's global network of leaders and volunteers fosters cross-cultural understanding and addresses shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders.

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I find it difficult to express in words the amazing experience I had volunteering with United Planet in Peru. I took a short, 10 day trip, and had the time of my life. Everything about the program met or exceeded my expectations, and I can confidently say that I made an impact in the local community there.

Working with the United Planet coordinators was easy and took all the stress out of planning my trip. They were responsive to my questions, and followed up with me in a timely manner. They also provided virtual trainings online for me before my trip that answered many questions that I didn't even know I had!

My host family in Cuzco was very sweet and they had two young daughters that were a joy to interact with and practice my Spanish with (and help them with their English). They provided me with three very good, authentic meals per day, but I did get the chance to experience the local restaurants and nightlife in the city as well.

Mafred, the United Planet coordinator in Peru is the owner of a Spanish school in Cuzco. Here, I got the chance to make friends with volunteers from all around the world. This was super interesting and not something I was expecting. Manfred and Niko, who worked with Manfred, were so much fun and helped me in so many ways during my time there. Oh, and the Spanish lessons were top notch too.

I had the chance to volunteer at an all girls orphanage that was just a short bus ride from my host family and the Spanish school. The conditions were pretty bad, but that's why they need volunteers, right? All of the kids were so sweet. United Planet advised us to bring along activities for them to do, so I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of school supplies, educational workbooks, and some games. We had a blast and I could really tell that the girls enjoyed having someone there to care about them and interact with them in a meaningful way.

Along with volunteering, United Planet provides excursions to sites around your destination. I got to see all of the Inca ruins around Cuzco, museums, churches, and...oh yeah...Machu Picchu!!! Riding the train through the Andes to Aguas Calientes at the base of MP was like something out of a movie. Actually exploring MP and climbing Huana Picchu was just indescribably incredible. Easily one of the best days of my life.

I would highly recommend United Planet for anyone who is looking to travel and make a difference in the world. I plan on taking another trip this year with United Planet.

Oh, and if you do go to Peru, make sure to order Cuy. ;)

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Location:
Posted: March 15, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: T.young
Age:

In March 2012 I had the pleasure of traveling to the beautiful and unique city of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Meng, the United Planet country coordinator in Cambodia, picked up my friend and I from the airport and drove us to the hotel we would be staying at. Everything about Siem Reap is bustling and hectic, but in a crazy-beautiful way. After a brief rush of anxiety and stress seeing the way the roadways worked, we felt beyond welcome. Meng helped us feel comfortable right away, but also everyone we met went out of their way to make us feel at home. The staff at the hotel patiently helped us with our Khmer (the local language), and we were able to help them with some English pronunciation as well. After our week and a half staying there we felt like family, and had a hard time saying goodbye!

During our United Planet trip, we spent about a week and a half volunteering as teachers at the Orphanage in Cambodia. It was quite an experience. My friend and I were assigned to two different sections and we had to "pick up" where the previous volunteer had left off in the lessons. For first-time teachers like my friend and I, this was quite a daunting task, but we definitely got the hang of it after a couple sessions. What we learned was that in Siem Reap there was not enough funding for public school students to attend full class days. Instead, they would either attend a morning or an afternoon session. The kids we taught would go to regular classroom school that day, but we were an additional resource to their English language studies. Knowing that took off a lot of the pressure we initially felt because we realized we were there to hone in on their English language lessons and help them practice practice practice...It was great to be able to work with these kids! They absolutely loved singing us Justin Bieber songs, showing us their drawings, asking us how we were, where we were from etc...they also LOVED games (who would have thought, kids loving games?) and we found ways to incorporate lessons into fun games that all ages enjoyed.

In one week I can't begin to quantify the impact we had on the kids; however, I learned that volunteering abroad is NOT about that--we were able to spend quality time helping incredibly bright and enthusiastic children learn pronunciation and basic language techniques. In a city where the economy relies almost solely on tourism, learning how to converse in English is an incredibly important skill for these kids. We hope that we were able to show them in our short time there that we both care about them and believe in them.

Overall, I'd recommend United Planet trips because you are able to immerse yourself 100% within a city. Not only are you giving back for the greater good of that place, but you are also able to see a side that many tourists never get to experience. I'd also recommend visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia, for a unique and incredible experience that you will undoubtedly never forget.

As volunteer travel becomes more and more popular throughout the world, I find it important to remember that as a volunteer, you are not there to swoop in and save the day. Maybe in some instances you will literally save someone, but for the most part, it is important to remember that you may not have quantifiable results and/or a quantifiable impact. Do not feel like you need to be able to report with numbers or figures on this important act, but rather, take from it as much as you can and try in your every day life to emulate the little acts of kindness that you were a part of. Small changes can make a big difference, like the United Planet logo says..."Individually we are on drop. Together, we are an ocean."

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Location:
Posted: January 16, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: lilyB
Age:
24

Comments

Individually we are ONE drop*** whoops...

I am 54 years old and a just retired teacher. I choose United Planet because it was "so highly recommended'. I wish I would have known of this sight first. My quest was/is for 6 weeks. I was in discussion on placement and the verbal information was that I would go to Morogoro and teach at a school for children with disabilities. I get here, am sent to Morogoro and then further out. The 'school' is a community centre and the children are a front, being exploited for the woman who runs it to get money for, out of her mouth, her DYNASTY. I agreed to stay for 2 weeks. I was with another volunteer from Denmark who paid 1/2 what I paid for the first week. The second week I was alone. And I mean ALONE. I ate meals almost always by myself and there was no school. And no one cared. It was obvious to me immediately that this was about control. I pushed to be reassigned and that took UP another week to do, but they did have me move out of this place and in with a nice family. I finally arrived at my new home, a very nice family. At this time I found out that they had been waiting for me for a week! And amidst all of this, school was on holiday when I arrived (8-16) and was not suppose to start again until 9/10. Long story short, of 30 possible volunteer days, I missed 1 due to illness, 3 to national exam and 1 because of my trip to Zanzibar. I had 25 days left and volunteered for a total of 9 days. I felt there was no support, everyone was just always busy! And no one seemed to care. I could never get the same story twice from the country coordinator, Greta. She told me that she has never had a bad review of the site I was at and then tells me that one of her volunteersonly lasted 3 days last December because he was harassed so badly by the people of the center for money. I am also aware of 2 volunteers leaving in February because of the farce and while I was there an organization was there that is a supporter. The second day they questioned me because they did not believe it was on the up & up. I choose to pay extra to go to Zanzibar along with Swahili lessons. Again, something was off and I started questioning my fees. It ended up that UP charged me for a trip that doesn't exist - $90. They also charged me $185 for my language lessons and only paid the teacher $40. I am still fighting to get her the remainder of the dollars.
I would NEVER use UP again. I found other programs in India with more to the program for 1/2 the price. I can't believe it will be worse than what I am going through.
I have listened to my host family tell me of how other volunteers that have stayed with them have been unhappy, too. They did say the previous coordinator was much more involved and attentive to both the volunteer and the host family.
The people of this country, Tanzania, are good people, but UP, from my experience, exploits them. 1500 shillings is equal to $1. I paid $2195 for my quest. I have kept track of everything and believe that a whole $500 or so has been spent on my stay here. A 75% or so pick-up for UP.
Dig deep. Look at money exchanges, guidebooks, check all international airports for a country. I do not think this is a good company. And when I write and question things, I get rhetoric. I have yet to have anyone ask me how I'm doing. I was honest and up-front that I had medical issues, issues that could be triggered by stress. I was fine when I left home, excellent actually. All of this stress has made me ill, yet I don't, no, I know they don't care. They got the paperwork they wanted and the money, so who cares if she is ok.
HORRIBLE HORRIBLE COMPANY FOR TANZANIA!!! BEWARE!!!

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Location:
Posted: September 20, 2012
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: lmwancata
Age:
54

United Planet went above and beyond for our group of nursing students who spent ten days in Quito, Ecuador. They managed our logistics -- from planning through traveling through fun excursions -- flawlessly.

We were a big group, spread out through 3 medical projects. We got to do some real work -- helping deliver babies, doing intake, doing vaccinations -- and we got to observe many different practices.

We also had a lot of fun -- salsa dance class, excursions to Otavalo for shopping and an indigenous clinic, Spanish lessons, parties, and more.

The country coordinator was great -- he picked up us and our giant boxes of medical supplies from the airport; helped sort them out; and delivered them to the best medical projects. He made sure we had language help, good food, nice accommodations, and more.

From the home office to the hostel, it was all professional and a great experience.

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Location:
Posted: November 23, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
New User

returned from the quest - still waiting for my 25 dollar survey cheque.

You know its one of those organization, I chose because of my friends referral. my friend had gone for a quest to Costa Rica with united planet in November 2010. She apparently had the best time and the coordinators were very nice. Convincing me to spend my good chunk of money on to something which was contributing towards society: forced me to choose united planet over others.

The best thing about the whole trip was booking the quest. As any other organization, they had lot of people answering my calls and responding to emails: giving an impression of a professional and caring nonprofit.

The only question, I have is: WHY IS THERE NO COORDINATION AMONG UNITED PLANET BOSTON AND UNITED PLANET COSTA RICA. ALL SEEMS LIKE MIDDLE-MAN STUFF.

My host family was kinda ok. NO issues as such. In fact, I learnt few new cooking dishes by staying with them. However, paying 4+ grand for something, you would expect what you see on website like happy volunteers.

It seems like all other organization, there policy is same as: show the happy volunteers and ignore the complaining ones.

Overall, I am not satisfied with united planet. My friend would recommend it, cos she had a good time.. I wont.. It depends on your personality and appetite for spending 3000+ and not regretting..

Money wise - Expensive.. considering other organizations.. They are fine..but value wise--they fail..I wouldn't call them scam like other disappointed volunteers did.

There support staff is VERY NICE. but support staff is not what I paid the money for..

only suggestion is to have more coordination between united planet boston and costa rica.

Please have more coordination. I will try united planet once more in spring 2012, but this time for 2 weeks only.

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 2, 2011
Overall:
3
Support:
5
Value:
4
Age:
New User

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