Globe Aware’s volunteer vacations were featured in a article in the March edition of Cosmopolitan:
lndulge the do-gooder within by taking a 10- or 14 day service expedition in the Caribbean through Discover Corps. You’ll work with other volunteers to improve local communities and get a chance to explore the D.R.’s diversity, from the natural (waterfalls and forests) to the historical (colonial Santo Domingo). Another resource for volunteer vacations is Globe Aware (globeaware.org), which has destinations across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.
Peter Greenberg, America’s most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist, shares his thoughts on voluntourism, alternative spring and summer vacation destinations on his popular blog, www.petergreenberg.com:
Travel Tip: Alternative Spring (and Summer) Breaks
Volunteering is always a worthwhile way to spend a vacation, but when it comes to students, it often comes down to budget and time.
Every year, I have to give a shout out to the American Hiking Society, which hosts working spring breaks in national and state parks around the country. The great thing is that it’s totally affordable—about $225 for a hiking membership, food and accommodations or camping for the week.
Globe Aware connects volunteers with programs everywhere from Brazil to Romania. What I like about these guys is that it includes cultural experiences, and there are one-week options—many of the other volunteer vacation providers have two-week minimums.
The Dallas-based Institute for Field Research Expeditions has programs all over the globe. You pay by the week, which includes meals and accommodation, and—perhaps most important—an on-the-ground contact and emergency support.
And there’s Global Volunteers, which not only has international programs, but also has volunteer opportunities right here in the U.S. on Native American reservations. And all because it’s a non-profit, your service fees, airfare and other travel expenses are tax deductible.
Kimberly Haley-Coleman takes time out of her busy schedule to speak with Voluntales about Globe Aware, the importance of volunteer vacations and the role her company plays in helping people in developing countries meet with travelers from developed nations:
Can you tell us a little about your organization? What does Globe Aware aim to achieve? Why is volunteering important?
We seek to promote cultural awareness and sustainability by mobilizing small teams of volunteers to carry out humanitarian assistance projects the communities have requested in 17 countries around the world. First, it just makes the world a better place and it makes one happy to give of oneself. It also affords the local communities a way to learn about the world outside their own borders, an opportunity for cultural exchange for all involved. It’s a chance to connect, participate and participate in meaningful projects.
In what ways does Globe Aware differ from other organizations offering volunteering vacations?
We have small teams going for only one week, Saturday to Saturday. We usually work on short term *concrete* projects that you can finish in a week, like assembling wheelchairs, building adobe lorena stoves, schools, houses, installing water filtration systems, etc. Many of our peer organizations won’t put money toward such projects as they believe it only builds dependency. Our aim is to build capacity.
What have been some of your biggest challenges and successes? Or the greatest challenges for your volunteers?
One of our greatest is a doctor in Florida who came on a program and was so inspired that she led a mass fundraising campaign to install water filtrations for a huge number of villages. There are so many examples, really a Globe Aware experience is a way to light that lamp for passion for what happens when you give of yourself in this unique way.
What are the most popular destinations for your volunteers?
Peru, Costa Rica
What type of professional background are you looking for? Can anyone participate? Can non-US citizens/residents travel with you?
Anyone, no skills required at all. Yes we have had many non-US citizens, and in fact are also a registered Canadian charity. We’ve had volunteers as young as 2 who came with their parents and helped with forming mud for the stoves, for example
Do volunteers have to pay to participate, and if so, what does this payment support?
Yes, the pay goes toward project materials, coordinator salary, accommodations, food, in country transportation, medical insurance, any local expertise contracted, etc. A more full list of what’s included is on our site in the FAQs section.
In general, what do people gain from volunteering with your organization?
I’d say we must be close to 100% feeling that they got more than they give. Its true because you learn from the locals. Its an exchange, not a situation where volunteers are flying in as superman to save the day. They already know how to address many of their challenges. We are working side by side with different communities as equals on projects that are important to them. Not much greater satisfaction in this world!
In general, what are the key questions potential volunteers should ask about a host organization?
Where is your money going, will I have a bilingual staff member with me the whole time; who will take care of me in the event of an emergency. Just as important is what NOT to ask – if you ask for an exact schedule, you’re off track. Most cultures that support volunteer programs like this are not bound by clocks and calendars the way many Westerners are.
Thank you to Kimberly and to Globe Aware!