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That one-of-a-kind special volunteer vacation

August 23, 2016

Wisconsin State Journal
By LISA M. DIETLIN For Lee Enterprises

Are you always in search of that one-of-a-kind special vacation? Are you constantly trying to find time to do good?

There’s a tremendous opportunity to have a very special vacation, meet amazing people, visit places you’ve never been all while making a difference by taking part in voluntouring or in a do-good vacation.

Volunteer vacations

Volunteer vacations offer countless benefits and opportunities

Voluntouring is a chance to  participate in programs around the world that make a difference within a short time frame – anywhere from one week to about three months, while vacationing!

Because you’re donating your time and effort to a nonprofit organization, a significant portion of your vacation costs may even be tax deductible.

Here’s how voluntouring works:

You will be working side by side with a community and its residents.

Voluntouring vacations are available around the world in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia.

The projects cover many important areas, such as children, the environment, health care, education, historic restoration, animal conservation, senior care, construction and others.

Voluntour participants often speak about building tremendous new friendships that last for many years.

While some trips are for adults only, there are many that are appropriate for families and young people.

Voluntourism has become both a big and global business primarily supported by the increasing desire of travelers to take worthwhile and meaningful trips while trying to do some good.

Examples of voluntouring vacations

Through Projects Abroad, a two week program offers voluntourists the opportunity to work in archaeological ruins of ancient pre-Inca structures in Peru. Anyone 16 years or older can participate. The work would include preliminary investigations, excavations, analysis and registration of cultural materials, site visits, office registry work, working at museums, archaeology presentations, classification of ceramics and community activities including working at an elementary school. The group also organizes social events for volunteers.

Another example of a trip takes place with Greenforce (www.greenforce.org); for approximately $3,900 you can work to save the endangered orangutans in one of the oldest and most beautiful rain forests in Borneo.

Other types of trips include voluntourists working on restoring temples by spending half the day cleaning paintings or building walls with the monks. The rest of the afternoon they spend their time sightseeing.

Or a penguin rescue and rehabilitation program in South Africa with accommodations and a meal allowance during six weeks of catching, feeding and cleaning up after penguins and other seabirds. But you also have two days off per week to sightsee.

The possibilities and opportunities are truly endless.

Alternatively, you might also want to consider a do-good vacation, which includes travel to more common holiday destinations in places like Ireland, Italy and Spain. These vacations are different from voluntouring in that you will be working with a nonprofit to raise money for a cause and not be working in a local community.

Often travelers create their own trip by raising money or awareness on behalf of a cause or organization that is near and dear to their hearts. Work with your favorite nonprofit organization to create a plan of action that includes doing good on your next vacation.

Tips for voluntouring

  •     Find an organization that matches your passion and has a proven track record.
  •     Select a trip that suits your abilities and interests and be prepared to work!
  •     Speak with people who have been on the excursion before or worked with the company you choose.
  •     Learn about local customs – even a bit of the language – before you go, but be prepared for a trip that may be tremendously different from what you might expect.
  •     Expect none of the comforts of home, in other words, you will be “roughing it.”
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Ways to Give Back Through Volunteer Vacations

Emma Sarran Webster writing for Teen Vogue explores how to turn spring break into a truly worthwhile, beneficial vacation through volunteer vacations with Globe Aware and other working vacation facilitators.


6 Spring Break Ideas That Allow You to Give Back While You Vacation

From a Kindergarten in Argentina to the health campaigns in Ghana.

This Spring Break, take the opportunity to travel and help others, through a volunteer vacation. The combination of volunteering and travel is growing in popularity as an increasing number of companies offer the chance to explore and make a difference. You can take your pick from working at orphanages in Africa, assisting in wildlife conservation efforts in South America, or protecting natural environments right here in the States. “Volunteering overseas is, without a doubt, one of the top experiences anyone could hope to undertake in their lifetime,” Dr. Ken Dorman, a board member of service travel organization Globe Aware, wrote on their website. “Even a short-term volunteer adventure can change your life and world perspective. Few things can give you a greater sense of meaning.” So as you plan your Spring Break, consider gaining perspective through one of these six companies that offer service trips at home and abroad.

Globe Aware

Globe Aware offers 8-day, Saturday-to-Saturday international volunteer vacations — perfect for a full and fulfilling Spring Break. The company focuses not on giving charity, but on helping host communities build renewable, sustainable programs. “The goal is not for volunteers to change the host communities, but rather to help them in the needs that the host community has identified as important,” the Globe Aware site states.

As a Globe Aware volunteer, you can travel to places like Cambodia to help with reforestation efforts; Brazil to help build a community center; or Romania to help teach English. And fear not: You don’t need any special skills or prior qualifications to join; the volunteer coordinators will help you throughout the process. Book your trip as a solo traveler, with your family, or even a group of girlfriends.

Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad, a company that sends more than 10,000 volunteers overseas every year to work on service projects, offers week-long Alternative Spring Break Trips designed specifically for college students. Sign up to volunteer at a kindergarten in Argentina or Fiji; help with public health campaigns in Ghana; participate in renovation work in Morocco; or help protect sea turtles in Mexico, among other options. Not in college yet? Check out Project Abroad’s High School Special programs.

Fathom

Fathom gives travelers the chance to head out on a cruise — with a purpose. Depart by sea from Miami to one of two Caribbean destinations: the Dominican Republic or Cuba. While on board the ship, you’ll get to know your fellow travelers, learn about your destination and its customs, and participate in orientation activities and lessons that will prepare you for your on-land experience. Sail to the Dominican Republic to serve the local communities through projects like working with a women’s collective on their successful artisanal chocolate business, or helping locals gain access to clean water. Or immerse yourself in Cuban culture through visits with Cuban professionals, entrepreneurs, and family business owners to learn about education, economics, the role of government, and more in this country that was, until recently, mostly off-limits to American travelers.

Sierra Club Outings

Sierra Club is the country’s largest grassroots environmental organization, on a mission to “explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.” As part of that mission, Sierra Club Outings offers environmentally friendly, outdoor excursions throughout the year — among them, inspiring and adventurous service trips. Head to Big Sur State Park to help with trail improvements; to New York City to assist with maintenance and invasive species removal in the Thain Family Forest; or to Florida to work on restoring the ecosystem on the island of Cayo Costa.

Earthwatch

Earthwatch Institute gives adults and teens alike the chance to work with scientists on various expeditions focused on protecting the planet and its species. As a “citizen scientist” on an Earthwatch Expedition, you can explore the impact of climate change on the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park; research ocean health as it pertains to whales and dolphins in Costa Rica; or learn about wildlife and ecosystems as you help conserve river dolphins and monkeys in Peru’s Amazonian forests.

American Hiking Society

American Hiking Society (AHS), a national organization that promotes and protects foot trails and the surrounding natural areas, offers volunteer vacations focused on building and maintaining trails throughout the country, with a healthy dose of backpacking or day hiking. Explore AHS’s Project Guide to find a trip that’s right for you, whether that’s assisting with boardwalk maintenance at Virginia’s Kiptopeke State Park; protecting the sand dunes at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; or helping construct a new trail at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Tennessee.

AHS also offers Alternative Breaks, open to groups of 8-15 students who sign up together and are touted as “part volunteer work project, part kick-back outdoor vacation” on the website. Though the Spring Break trips are full, summer trips to places like Texas, Florida, and California are open — perhaps a sign to get a head start on your summer break planning?

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Five Latin American Destinations Worth a Volunteer Vacation

Great news article by By Erika Miranda, writing for The Latin Post, on how youth can be inspired to give back to their community through a volunteer vacation.


Teach youngsters to be grateful for their blessings and give back to the community while enjoying their Spring break vacation in Latin America.

Nowadays, youngsters look forward to Spring break because it is a chance to get away from all the toils of studying and spend time with family and friends out of town or overseas.

While that sounds like fun, there may be better ways to enjoy the vacation while doing something to better the lives of others.

Globe Aware

Globe Aware can help your teenagers tap their inner altruistic self by going to Costa Rica where they can stay in a village near one of the country’s most diverse biological reserves: the Carara Biological Reserve.

They can also visit the popular “cultural and natural paradise” in Orosi Valley where they can help create sustainable members of small communities in the locality.

Here is a video description of what’s in store for volunteer vacationers from Globe Aware.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

The International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) founded by Dan Radcliffe in 2007 promotes literacy in Guatemala where vacationers can teach residents how to speak English and Spanish as well as proper care for children and the elderly.

The program also includes teaching about Lake Conservation, Animal Care and Animal Rights, Construction and Renovation, Eco-Agriculture Conservation, and Special Needs.

The program period ranges from one to 24 weeks, depending on how long the volunteer wants to stay.

Of course, the organization will provide training for volunteers prior to their departure to ensure “an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program.”
Volunteering Solutions (VolSol)

Founded in 2006, this international volunteer organization opens popular tourist destinations like Peru to volunteers who want to spend their holidays and vacation days helping others.

VolSol’s Peru-Cusco program promises an unforgettable experience with the country’s ancient ruins, history, customs and traditions as well as an awe-inspiring tour of the enigmatic Machu Picchu.

Volunteer work with VolSol in Peru includes dental, medical and teaching programs as well as child care for normal and differently abled children.

Projects Abroad

Already catering to over 10,000 volunteers every year, Projects Abroad presents a chance for tourists to help young children of Argentina earn kindergarten knowledge with their “Care in Argentina Alternative Spring Break Trip.”

Set up in Cordoba, volunteers will be assigned to assist local kindergarten teachers by playing with the children and helping them with homework.

Volunteers would also be assigned tasks to help with general maintenance of the school and the kids’ homes.

American Hiking Society (AHS)

As its name implies, the American Hiking Society is composed of a group that protect and promote foot trails as well as the surrounding natural areas.

While they mostly do hiking and backpacking with adults, AHS also has a special program for youngsters that allows them to do “part volunteer work project, part kick-back outdoor vacation.”

With a group of 8 to 15 students, the AHS combines hiking, exploration, trail work and crew camaraderie into one fun experience and gives them the choice of camping out or staying in lodges, bunkhouses or cabins during the course of their week-long vacation-slash-volunteer stay.

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Globe Aware partners with Everyday Ambassador

Globe Aware is pleased to announce a partnership with Everyday Ambassador, a best-practice network of global citizens and organizations that believe that human connection, even in an increasingly digital world, is the key to lasting, positive social change.

April Wrap-Up: Updates from Our Partners

EA Busi CardsToday’s post marks the third post of a new initiative: the last Wednesday Wisdom post of every month will be dedicated to announcing updates from our experiential partner organizations. Due to technical errors this post is being featured today. See what each organization is up to, whether it be a new initiative, a star volunteer, or an exciting new program, below.

Also a special shout-out to organizations who are working with their partners on the ground in Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate those who have been affected by last week’s tragic earthquake.

New Partners:

We are proud to announce two of our newest experiential partners, Globe Aware and Global Citizens Network! Both are committed to promoting culturally responsible leadership for participants who are interested in giving back in a responsible way. Read a little bit about both of them below!

Globe Aware

Globe Aware is a nonprofit that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. The mission of Globe Aware’s volunteer trips is to promote cultural awareness and create sustainability. For GlobeAware the concept of cultural awareness means to recognize and appreciate the real beauties and real challenges of a culture, but not to change it. The concept of sustainability is to help others stand on their own two feet and to teach skills rather than reliance.

Globe Aware recently launched their newest program to South Africa, in which volunteers will help to improve and maintain local homes and schools throughout the community. Projects include replacing roofing, home waterproofing, and installing concrete floors. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in community and school activities such as soccer, volleyball, and Physical Education classes. GlobeAware is very excited about the South Africa program and looks forward to watching the community thrive. Globe Aware is also excited about announcing the launch of its Cuba Program for this summer as well!

Globe Aware has also been participating in an amazing social media campaign through FLOAT (For The Love of All Things), through which they are selling designed limited-edition shirts. For each t-shirt sold to Globe Aware, FLOAT will donate $8 for every shirt to promote sustainability in communities Globe Aware serves abroad.

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware’s founder, had this to say:

“South Africa took the proud step to end apartheid more than two decades ago; we are delighted to see volunteers working in partnership with locals to help bring the vision of a better future to all South Africans. We welcome you to come and be a part of it.”

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Boost your earning potential through volunteer travel

Writer Morgan Quinn looks at volunteer vacations for U.S. News & World Report and considers the career and résumé they may hold.

6 Vacations That Will Boost Your Résumé

These trips will give your earning potential a lift.

By Morgan Quinn

April 30, 2015

Game-Time-6891No matter how many corners you cut and airfare deals you score, taking a vacation is expensive. What’s more, many Americans avoid taking time off altogether because they’re worried how it will affect their careers. A 2014 Glassdoor survey found that U.S. employees only use only half of their eligible paid vacation and paid time off. A U.S. Travel Association study last year also found that nearly half of employees continue to check their work email when they do go on vacation.

What if you could take a vacation that would help your career – not hurt it? What if your time off added valuable skills to your résumé and even put you in line for a promotion when you returned?

A growing trend among American workers and recent college graduates is the volunteer vacation, where travelers work their way through various cities around the world, adding skills, learning new languages and boosting their earning potential. If you want to take some time off to travel this summer – while still working on your career – try one of these vacation ideas.

1. Learn a language. Taking language classes in another country gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and hone your linguistic skills, both inside and outside the classroom. Classes and prices vary, but there are numerous programs that help foreigners study languages around the world, including French in Quebec City, Spanish in South America or Japanese in Tokyo. Whether you are learning a language from scratch or just brushing up on your skills, you’ll return home with a new section to add to your résumé and some real-world experience.

2. Volunteer on an organic farm. Do you want to get your hands dirty this summer? The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization links volunteers with organic farms for a unique work experience. In return for volunteering, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles and farming. WWOOF farms exist across the globe, from Argentina to Thailand.

The length of stay is negotiated between the host and volunteer, with visits as short as several days to as long as half a year. This is a truly one-of-a-kind experience for people looking to add organic farming and sustainable agriculture experience to their résumé.

3. Practice a trade. If you’re handy with a hammer or looking to get construction and contracting experience, there are a variety of opportunities to lend a hand to an organization in need of volunteers. For instance, Habitat for Humanity offers an international program that organizes volunteers to build well-constructed, affordable shelters for people living in poverty. Another organization, HistoriCorps, works with volunteers to restore historic sites on public lands throughout the United States.

4. Teach overseas. No matter what industry you work in, teaching is an impressive addition to your résumé. Plus, the huge availability of teaching positions across the globe means you can find a tenure that works for you. You can also choose whether you’d prefer to work with children, teenagers or adults.

There are overseas teaching programs like The English Camp Company, which organizes summer camps in Taiwan, Italy and Austria for kids ages 6 to 14. Volunteers have the opportunity to tutor campers in English, live with families and experience authentic local culture firsthand.

5. Conduct scientific field research. If you’re a science enthusiast or interested in exploring ways to make our planet more sustainable, this type of vacation is for you.

Earthwatch Institute expeditions send volunteers to do field work side-by-side with leading scientists. Volunteers work directly under the supervision of experts and get the opportunity to collect data and work as a full-fledged expedition member. Not only will you add an impressive and memorable experience to your résumé, you’ll help the world’s top scientists conduct research that makes our planet a better place to live.

6. Work with animals. If you already have experience working with animals or are simply an animal lover, consider taking a vacation to volunteer at a facility that helps injured or abandoned animals. You can spend a few days or a few weeks giving hands-on care to furry friends who need your help.

For example, the Earthwatch Institute offers a weeklong trip where volunteers monitor threats to ocelots in Trinidad. The Pacific Whale Foundation sponsors a free program, Volunteering on Vacation, for Maui visitors who want to help protect the island’s rare and endangered species.

Just a word of caution: All these vacations may be in historic, beautiful or exotic locations, but they are definitely not a day at the beach – so be prepared to get down and dirty.

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