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Family Volunteer Vacations for Lifetime Memories and Impact

For many people, family vacations create the longest lasting, happiest memories that are carried and shared for a lifetime. A family volunteer vacation has the added element of a new country, community and culture and changing personal outlooks as families give back while receiving a profound, eye-opening experience. Here is a fantastic article in a recent edition of Chesapeake Family Life


Volunteer Vacations that Give Back

November 1, 2019

Taking a family vacation can be a great way for families to relax and reconnect. But what if your family wants a more meaningful experience than the annual trip to the beach or a theme park? Enter volunteer vacations, a popular alternative to the traditional vacation that allows families to give back while also getting away.

Volunteer vacations have been on the rise for the past decade, and volunteer tourism or “voluntourism” is now an almost 200-billion dollar industry. It’s a trend that continues to grow as more families search for ways to make a concrete impact on the world around them.

“I think more people are seeking this kind of vacation because they have a personal desire to connect with a cause they support,” says Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Executive Director of Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization that pairs families with volunteer vacation experiences. “We are living in such a digital world that it can be hard for kids to gain perspective on the world around them, and parents want to give their children the experience of making a difference in a direct way.”

Many organizations, like Globe Aware, Discover Corps, and Together for Good, are helping plan vacations that directly impact a community in need. Globe Aware’s popular Cambodia trips have families build wheelchairs for land mine victims, while its Guatemala trips focus on a local mountain community where families help improve housing and plant vegetable gardens for single mothers.

Though many volunteer vacations focus on global experiences, travelers can also make a difference closer to home, like the trips offered by the American Hiking Society during which participants repair trails at national parks.

Volunteer vacations also take the hassle out of planning, as trips are completely planned by the organization and almost always include housing, food and real-time training. “A volunteer vacation takes the legwork out of planning and it’s a great way to vacation while doing good and working toward a common goal,” says Libby Wile, Senior Director of Programs at the American Hiking Society.

While volunteer vacations are aimed at making a difference for others, the experience is just as impactful for those doing the work. “When a family experiences this type of vacation, the effects can be felt long after the trip is over,” says Haley-Coleman. “It can give kids a sense of appreciation for what really matters, and it can be empowering for them to know that they’ve truly made a difference.“

Read on for five volunteer vacations that offer a variety of experiences from exotic travel to far-off locales, to one-day Caribbean opportunities, to nature-based trips closer to home.

Globe Aware
For almost twenty years, Globe Aware has been connecting families with volunteer opportunities around the world. With 20 international locations, Globe Aware offers a variety of experiences for families who want to make a difference. Travel to Thailand and work with endangered elephants or help rebuild in hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico. Globe Aware’s planned trips last one week and include food, accommodations, medical insurance and bilingual translators. Additionally, Globe Aware also offers customized experiences that can be added on to existing vacations.
globeaware.org

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Cuba-U.S. Flight Rules Changed, No Effect on Globe Aware Volunteer Vacation Programs

The current U.S. administration announced Oct. 25, 2019  that all flights to Cuba would be stopped to any city other than Havana. Globe Aware’s volunteer vacation programs are based in Havana and will continue to function.


U.S. stops flights to all Cuban cities except Havana

By Karen DeYoung
Oct. 25, 2019 at 5:08 p.m. PDT

Washington Post

The Trump administration further limited the ability of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba Friday, ordering American airlines to discontinue flights to any city there other than Havana.

U.S. carriers currently offer direct flights from various U.S. cities to nine destinations other than the Cuban capital, including Santa Clara, Santiago and Holguin. An order issued by the Transportation Department gave them 45 days to cease those operations. American, Delta and JetBlue are among the airlines offering flight to locations in Cuba.

In June, the ministration effectively prohibited U.S.-based cruise ships from visiting Cuba, following a series of increasingly restrictive measures limiting the purposes for which American travel there is allowed.

The State Department said that Transportation Department issued the new measure suspending scheduled air service, other than to Havana, “at the request of the Secretary of State.”

“In line with the President’s foreign policy toward Cuba, this action prevents revenue from reaching the Cuban regime that has been used to finance its ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its support for Nicolás Muro in Venezuela,” a State Department statement said.

The administration in January withdrew its recognition of Muro’s government, instead recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president. But the goal of pushing Muro from office has been slow to materialize, and the United States has blamed Cuba and Russia for continuing to support him.

In addition, the statement said, “the human rights situation in Cuba remains abysmal, with state authorities harassing and arbitrarily jailing activists, dissidents, artists, and others questioning regime authority with impunity.”

Direct commercial flights and other expanded travel opportunities from the United States to Cuba came as part of the Obama ministration’s opening to Cuba, which reopened diplomatic relations with Havana in 2015. Tourism remained prohibited, under the terms of economic sanctions in effect since 1962, but a number of categories of permitted travel were expanded. Many restrictions have now been reimposed by President Trump.

In June, Travel Weekly reported that “airlines have h relatively consistent U.S.-Cuba bookings of between 130,000 and 170,000 one-way passengers per month since September 2017, following higher numbers during the first year after commercial flights were authorized” in 2016.

Charter flights, most utilized by Cuban Americans, will still be permitted under the new restrictions.

Last week, the U.S. Commerce Department also said it would revoke licenses for aircraft leases to Cuban state-owned airlines, forcing national carrier Cubana de Aviación to suspend flights to several Latin American destinations.

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Have Personal Time Off? Consider a Volunteer Vacation

The workplace is changing. Employees in some companies are enjoying greater flexibility in work scheduling, planning days off and personal time off. Here is a great NASDAQ article profiling several companies who are leading this trend and offer employees an ideal opportunity to take a life-changing volunteer vacation.


20 Companies Offering Unlimited PTO

OCT 15, 2019 11:01AM EDT

Have you ever fibbed about being sick just to get a day off? Are you currently counting how many hours or days you have left in your PTO to see whether you can take a summer vacation? We know the feeling.

Companies with limited PTO policies can be a pain — set yourself up for something different by applying for a job at a company with unlimited vacation days. Monitor your own work-life balance, and take ownership of your schedule.

Depending on location, these companies offer flexible vacation policies that make vacationing far more feasible and enjoyable. Plus, they’re all hiring now!

GrubHub

Policy Details: “PTO. It’s true, we provide you a generous amount of time to recharge. Better Benefits. Get quality insurance, flex-spending accounts, retirement options and commuter perks. Stock Up. All of our employees are owners, in fact, they’re granted Restricted Stock Units, which means we’re all in it to win it.”

Where Hiring: Boston, MA; San Francisco, CA; New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Chandler, AZ & more.

What Roles: UI Developer, Product Data Analyst, SEM Manager, Technical Solutions Engineer Manager, Marching Associate: Events & Content, Product Manager, Ruby on Rails Developer, Client Success Manager, Senior Front-End Developer & more.

What Employees Say: “Best Things – Unlimited PTO, free tech lunches, 30$ grubbucks every week.”—Current Employee

VMware

Policy Details: “VMware has a Non-Accrual Vacation (NAV) policy for all US exempt (salaried) employees. You may take time off from work when you and your manager agree, based on business needs. You should discuss your time off in advance with your manager so that business coverage is in place while you are out of the office.”

Where Hiring: Palo Alto, CA

What Roles: Director of Unified Communications and Collaboration, Manager of Wavefront Customer Success, Business Systems Analyst, IT Applications Development Intern, Product Manager, Product Line Manager, Vice President of North American SLED, Senior Staff Engineer, Sr. Integrated Marketing Manager & more.

What Employees Say: “Great benefits overall. Amongst the best I’ve experienced and heard of across many companies. Great for parents looking to have children.”—Former Employee

Evernote

Policy Details: “Of course we offer catered lunch, generous PTO, and great insurance… but here’s what makes us different: Yearly Vacation Stipend. Plan a trip! Employees at Evernote are encouraged to take time off and relax. Every year use a $1,000 vacation stipend to travel somewhere new.”

Where Hiring: Redwood City, CA; Austin, TX; Bothell, WA; San Diego, CA & more.

What Roles: Site Reliability Engineer, Build and Release Engineer, Sr. SW Engineer -Evergreen, Lifecycle Marketing Specialist, Counsel.Senior Counsel of Privacy & Product, Security Engineer, Senior Full Stack Engineer, Director/Sr. manager of Product Design, Senior QA Engineer & more.

What Employees Say: “Unlimited PTO, flexible work environment and WFH Wednesday, daily catered lunch, snacks, drinks, and of course all the usual medical benefits.”—Current Employee

Sailthru

Policy Details: “Benefits include: Health, Vision and Life Insurance; Flexible Spending Accounts; 401(k) Savings Plan + Employer Match; Unlimited Vacation Time Policy; Commuter Benefits; Weekly Catered Lunch; Paid Volunteer Time; Personal Growth Stipend; Generous Parental and Family Leave.”

Where Hiring: New York, NY & San Francisco, CA

What Roles: Implementation Project Manager, Enterprise Sales Director, Strategic Account Executive, Senior Product Designer, Director of Data Science, Senior Software Engineer, Senior Content Marketing Manager & more.

Conversant

Policy Details: “All associates can take advantage of 401(k), Transportation Reimbursement, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), TELADOC, Auto, Home and Pet Insurance, and various wellness resources to help you achieve your health goals. We also offer benefits that aid with life’s challenges, such as Backup Child and Elder Care. Our flexible time-off policy allows associates to take the time off they need without worrying about vacation allotments or accruals.”

Where Hiring: Chicago, IL; New York, NY & more.

What Roles: Data Scientist, Associate Creative Director, Senior Account Executive, Analytics Associate (New Grad) Director of Client Development, Director of Customer Success, Interactive Front-End Developer, Art Director & more.

What Employees Say: “Very positive working environment and culture. Makes you do your best and work towards their slogan of ‘1% better every day.’”—Current Employee

Roku

Policy Details: “We believe you can be highly productive at work and still have plenty of time for life outside of the office. That’s why we offer a generous time-off policy. In fact, for salaried employees, we don’t track vacation or have official holidays. Instead, you can take as much vacation as you think is appropriate, as long as you get your job done and don’t impact the team’s work.”

Where Hiring: Austin, TX; New York, NY; Los Gatos, CA; Santa Monica, CA & more.

What Roles: Sr. Software Developer -Test, VP of Engagement Growth Marketing, Director of The Roku Channel, Sr. Product Manager of Roku TV, Software Engineer of New Products, Senior FP&A Manager, Sr. Hardware Engineer, Senior Software Engineer of Roku Voice, Senior Stock Administrator & more

What Employees Say: “Strategic moves in the right direction. for e.g. The Roku Channel, Roku TV program and Audio products. Very quick in learning from mistakes and ditch fancy buzz projects early in the stage. The best talent in the industry. From Machine learning, AI engineers, all the way to SOC gurus.”—Current Employee

Hubspot

Policy Details: “Our exciting perks and benefits include unlimited vacation, a retirement savings plan matching program, $5,000 a year for continuing education, and comprehensive health and dental insurance, just to name a few.”

Where Hiring: Cambridge, MA; New York, NY; Portsmouth, NH & more.

What Roles: Data Analyst in Sales Operations, Remote Customer Success Manager, Senior Content Editor, Director of Corporate Development, Senior Manager of Customer Support, Migrations Specialist, Leadership Development Partner, Partnerships Account Executive & more.

What Employees Say: “[Flexible vacation] allows people to be autonomous and get their work done and still make personal time off decisions.” —Current Employee

Dropbox

Policy Details: “Work-life balance is an important aspect of wellness. That’s why we provide generous time off policies for everything life throws your way. Whether it’s a new baby (new parent leave), a family vacation (paid time off), or a nasty cold (trust sick leave policy), we’ve got you covered.”

Where Hiring: San Francisco, CA; Austin, TX; Seattle, WA; New York, NY & more.

What Roles: Product Manager, Software Engineer Internship, Growth Analyst, Design Researcher, CX – Technical Support Specialist, Paid Media Manager – APAC, Network Reliability Engineer, Strategic Customer Success Manager, Workplace Business Analyst, Manager of Risk & Compliance, Product Engineering Manager, Diversity Business Partner & more.

What Employees Say: “The unlimited paid vacation policy is amazing! The company trusts employees to be reasonable and responsible, which is really empowering.” —Current Employee

KeepTruckin

Policy Details: “We offer fantastic benefits, a phenomenal office culture, unlimited PTO, and a stocked kitchen.”

Where Hiring: San Francisco, CA; Nashville, TN; Buffalo, NY

What Roles: Business Operations Manager, Enterprise Customer Success Manager, Software Engineer Intern, AP Specialist, Account Executive, IT Manager, Head of Business Operations, Head of Design, Product Operations Manager, Director of Learning and Development, VP of Sales – Mid Marketing & Enterprise, Channel Program Manager, iOS Engineer, Test Automation Engineer & more.

What Employees Say: “Compensation is great, opportunities for advancement are endless, and you always get support for anything you’re working on that you need. This company has done an incredible job getting top talent and great people. It’s honestly, a joy to come to work everyday, not to mention the flexibility when you need it to take time off.” —Current Sales Employee

GitHub

Policy Details: “We encourage Hubbers to build amazing things with a high level of autonomy and self-direction. Work/life balance is important to us, which is why we offer flexible work schedules and unlimited PTO. We believe that if a job allows for it, people should work wherever they’re happiest.”

Where Hiring: Remote & San Francisco, CA

What Roles: Event & Sponsorship Marketing Manager, Technical Support Account Manager, Director of Global Sales Development, Manager of Workplace Operations, Creative Director, Strategic Finance Analyst, Field Marketing Manager (Remote), Senior Analyst of Data Analytics, Public Relations Manager & more.

What Employees Say: “Health insurance is the best I’ve ever had. Not only does GitHub absorb the costs, they also contribute to the HSA account on my behalf. They match 401K and also any charitable giving I do (up to a certain percent). We have unlimited time off for vacations or sick time. An extremely liberal family leave for new parents (4 months off for either parent). As a remote worker, they will set you up with a home office and give you a new laptop every 2 years. They also contribute to phone charges and have a very liberal T&E policy.” —Current Employee

Workday

Policy Details: “Sure, we offer a number of awesome benefits—such as unlimited time off, discounted backup child and elder care, dozens of onsite amenities, subsidized ride-sharing, and more—to make our employees’ lives easier, but we recognize that life is more than what happens at work.”

Where Hiring: Pleasanton, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Chicago, IL; Boulder, CO; New York, NY & more

What Roles: Developer Evangelist, Manager of Software Development Application, Value Manager, Customer Success Manager, Director of Customer Success, Delivery Assurance Manager, Product Designer, Senior Manager of Sourcing Business Technology, Marketing Manager & more.

What Employees Say: “PTO is based on you and your manager. As long as you’re doing your job, you can take time off.” —Current Employee

Glassdoor

Policy Details: “Salaried employees participate in our Vacation Matters policy that allows employees to take vacation time when they need it without worrying about vacation accruals. Hourly employees receive up to three weeks of Paid Time Off as well as two floating holidays and one day off each quarter to volunteer at the non-profit of their choice.”

Where Hiring: Mill Valley, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; Uniontown, OH & more

What Roles: Director of Learning & Development, Business Operations Product Analyst, Creative director, Customer Success Manager, Senior Product Manager of Jobs Experience, Front Engineer of Site Discovery, VP of IT – Business Applications, Director of Sales Strategy, VP of Data, Sr. DevOps Engineer & more.

What Employees Say: “Having paid time off is just a really nice extra bonus to have so I could go on some type of family vacation or visit my parents every year or so.” —Current Senior Account Manager

Grant Thornton

Policy Details: “Grant Thornton is the first firm in our industry to offer flexible time off — a testament to our dedication to putting our people first and making sure they are able to enjoy healthy, balanced lives. The policy lets employees take as much time off as necessary to attend to their personal needs. This extra time will allow employees [to] bring their whole selves to work, making them even more effective and focused when they serve clients.”

Where Hiring: Alexandria, VA; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Washington DC; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Dallas, TX & more.

What Roles: Business Process Consultant, Tax Intern-Summer, Data Science Analyst, Senior Strategy Manager, Financial Management Consulting Associate, Strategy Manager, Data Visualization Analyst, Deputy Program Manager, Strategic Planner & more.

What Employees Say: “No balance, and can’t lose days. Have to work around an approval system, but still great to have.” —Current Audit Senior Associate

GE

Policy Details: “The US GE Permissive Approach to Paid Time-off is peace-of-mind for my family, my team and me. Of course, I always coordinate with my manager. Permissive time just adds another tool to the toolkit. It is great knowing that we are not being measured on the amount of time we are at work or not, but rather on delivering on our priorities.” —Current Employee in GE Aviation

Where Hiring: Wind Filed Service Deputy, GE Research Technical Fellow Intern, Principal Infrastructure Architect, Research Scientist Corrosion, Aerodynamics Engineer, Executive Counsel of Global Investigations, Research Scientist – Computer Vision, Production Operators, Sr. Technical Project Manager & more.

What Employees Say: “Permissive time is offered so you can take as much paid time off as you want as long as your manager approves.” —Current Human Resources Manager

Kronos Incorporated

Policy Details: “Benefits like flexible working arrangements, myTime (open time off), and an employee assistance program recognize that you have a life outside of the office and give you the freedom to balance your life the way that works best for you!”

Where Hiring: Lowell, MA; Newark, NJ; Indianapolis, IN; Chicago, IL; Irvine, CA & more

What Roles: Learning Consultant, Manager of Customer Engagement, Manager of Services Programs & Effectiveness, Escalation Manager, Sales Executive, User Experience Researcher, Competitive Intelligence Analyst, Practice Manager – Manufacturing, Payroll Analyst, Sales Executive & more.

What Employees Say: “Unlimited time off with myTime, multiple growth opportunities within the organization, casual fun work environment with large break area and snack bar, various employee activities every month hosted by an employee-run group.” —Current Workforce Solutions Consultant

StitchFix

Policy Details: “There are also general perks like 4 month paid maternity and paternity leave, unlimited vacation, and not overly long hours.” —Current Data Scientist

Where Hiring: San Francisco, CA; Austin, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Cleveland, OH; Pittsburgh, PA & more

What Roles: Manager of PeopleOperations, Warehouse Team Supervisor, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Director of Strategy, Director of CRM Strategy & Operations, Product Manager of Client Engagement, Assistant Buyer, Global Treasury Manager & more.

What Employees Say: “Great health insurance, unlimited PTO, the best snacks/kitchen I’ve seen, not obscene hours, employee discount, free gym in the building.” —Current Employee

SADA Systems

Policy Details: “Unlimited PTO. More awesome benefits include competitive and attractive compensation, huge performance-based bonuses, holidays, medical, dental, vision, life, short and long term disability insurance, 401K and more.”

Where Hiring: Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX; New York, NY; Atlanta, GA

What Roles: Cloud Solutions Architects, Cloud Support Engineer, Data Engineers, Data Engineering Managers, Senior Data Engineers, Senior Software Engineers – Backend, Business Development Associates, Client Partner Executives, Business Development Managers & more.

What Employees Say: “I love the PTO policy! Unlimited PTO allows me to take a personal day for adult things like doctor and dentists without having to worry about my actual vacation.” —Current Employee

Monetate

Policy Details: Unlimited vacation policy

Where Hiring: Conshohocken, PA; remote for certain positions

What Roles: Javascript Engineer, Senior Product Manager, Customer Success Manager, Site Reliability Engineer & more.

What Employees Say: “Unlimited PTO, paid maternity leave, stock options, flexible work environment (both in terms of locations and hours). Medical benefits are affordable and comprehensive. No 401K matching. Employees in the PA office get free catered lunches every day.” —Current Employee

Procore Technologies

Policy Details: “Need to take a vacation? Or maybe you just need a mental break? Procore provides value-driven paid time off. No accruals, no ‘use it or lose it’ game playing with your vacation bank, just straight up openness, ownership, and optimism.”

Where Hiring: Carpinteria, CA; Austin, TX; New York, NY; Portland, OR; Willmar, MN & more

What Roles: Senior Business Analyst – Customer Success, Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Data Research Specialist, Sales Development Representative, Director of Customer Success (Latin America), Senior IT Manager, Senior Manager of Facilities and Maintenance, Group Product Manager, Sr. Competitive Intelligence Manager, Product Marketing Manager, Head of Marketing Automation, LATAM Channel Manager & more.

What Employees Say: “Dogs in the office! Flexible time off that they actually expect you to use (on top of a genuinely healthy view at work-life balance).” —Current Employee

CoverMyMeds

Policy Details: “In addition to CoverMyMeds’ unlimited vacation, we also offer leadership training, an on-site chef who serves free/nutritious lunches every day, paid benefits, supportive community involvement, flexible work-life balance and an amazing program called CoverMyQuest (each year, employees have three minutes to present a passion, idea or lifelong dream for a chance to win one of eight $4,000 mini-grants during our week-long CoverMyQuest).”

Where Hiring: Columbus, OH

What Roles: Sales Engineer, Data Analyst, Strategic Data Partner, Privacy Director, Director of Engineering, Sr. Director of Pharmacy Network, Software Development, Marketing Data Analyst, Public Relations Manager, Manager of Payer Accounts & more.

What Employees Say: “Flexible PTO policy. This does not mean ‘untracked’ but it means we’re all adults and are treated as such. Paid time off is at the discretion of each supervisor how they go about handling, but technically 3 full weeks are offered. As long as you give your supervisor notice or a decent heads-up, things like doctor’s appointments, events for kids, illness etc. they are very flexible. By allowing this flexibility, we work hard in return.” —Current Employee

The Motley Fool

Glassdoor combines all the latest jobs with millions of reviews and insights to make it easy for people to find a job that is uniquely right for them. As a result, Glassdoor helps employers hire truly informed candidates at scale through effective recruiting solutions like job advertising and employer branding products. Launched in 2008, Glassdoor now has reviews and insights for more than 900,000 companies located in more than 190 countries. To learn more, visit glassdoor.com.

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Volunteering Abroad: Corporate Strategy to Connect Globally

Corporations of all sizes have international suppliers, manufactures, agents and customers. Learning about the countries, communities and people is important in understanding how best to manage these business relationships.Kimberly Haley-Coleman of Globe Aware has decades of experience leading groups around the world on short-term volunteer experiences and creating and managing volunteer abroad solutions for groups and companies of every size. Here is a recent article by Stratfor Worldview Enterprise examining the benefits.


Managing Risk and Reward When Volunteering Abroad

Nearly every public company in the world, and an increasing number of smaller companies, have some level of international engagement linked to their core business. It’s part of the globally connected present. Industries ranging from medical, tech, import-export, energy, and finance to agriculture, production, construction, manufacturing, marketing, executive and risk management need to be alert to how geopolitical events could affect their people, product and profit.

Globe Aware volunteers immerse themselves in service and in a community. Projects range from building schools in the Andes to building irrigation projects in Southeast Asia to teaching students in Guatemala to working at an animal rescue in Costa Rica or preserving elephant habitat in Thailand. Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware

At Stratfor, we believe success in working internationally can be developed with the application of geopolitical know-how: understanding the implications of historical, social and cultural mores, business practices, geography, politics and infrastructure of the countries where you choose to do business.

Tracking and managing those geopolitical risks can be nearly unmanageable for smaller companies, unless they have strategies and partnerships in place to complement what they can do themselves.

Kimberly Haley-Coleman has firsthand knowledge of what’s at stake. She is founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware, a non-profit company that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments. The company’s goal is to provide an immersive volunteer experience for busy professionals who want to make a difference in a short amount of time doing projects that are actually requested by the communities they serve. Ventures in giving range across continents, from Southeast Asia to South America to Eurasia and beyond. Globe Aware works with communities on projects they identify and volunteers in both service work and learning more about the people with whom they are working. Globe Aware links volunteers with ventures and people all over the world.

I’ll say it’s sort of a mini-Peace Corps experience. While the typical Peace Corps experience is a 2 1/2 year commitment, this is a one week intensive immersion.

Globe Aware volunteers immerse themselves in service and in a community. Projects range from building schools in the Andes to building irrigation projects in Southeast Asia to teaching students in Guatemala to working at an animal rescue in Costa Rica or preserving elephant habitat in Thailand.

“I’ll say it’s sort of a mini-Peace Corps experience,” Haley-Coleman explained. “While the typical Peace Corps experience is a 2 1/2 year commitment, this is a one-week intensive immersion. It’s similar in the sense that you’re giving back to the community, side-by-side with locals, as equals, on some project that they’ve chosen, that’s important to them, that will hopefully make a really big impact in a short period of time.”

Prior to launching Globe Aware, Haley-Coleman led a distinguished career in a broad number of private sector fields tied together by a central theme: helping internationally-focused businesses succeed. As both a for-profit and non-profit leader, Haley-Coleman has a deep appreciation for the value of global awareness.

She told Stratfor that when she decided to launch her company, it became apparent on where she should focus in providing a potentially life-changing experience: awareness and mitigation of risk, and the need to understand at a deeper level the place where you are working.

First and foremost, while we’re looking for communities that have need, we also want them to be communities that are culturally expansive… It doesn’t mean we’re necessarily in the communities of the greatest need, we have been asked to have programs and places like Somalia, Darfur, Afghanistan, Syria, and in terms of risk and liability we just aren’t in a position to go into war-torn countries… We really have to watch in terms of safety where were putting our volunteers, and then the projects we work on have quite a few criteria. We’re not operating heavy equipment and machinery, we’re not high on ladders, we’re not Doctors Without Borders, so we are not handling bodily fluids and things like that.

But confounding and complicating efforts is a continually shifting menu of issues that face most developing regions. These changes can be disruptive to people and business as well as potentially dangerous. Or they can be rich in opportunity, if you are knowledgeable and poised to take advantage of change. Haley-Coleman said:

We are very actively monitoring the state department sheets that come from Canada, the U.S. and England. They do a pretty good job of any even minor possible situations, such as an expected protest or strike. Then we also monitor the CDC… alerts relating to health and things like dengue fever, Ebola, Zika. This is another thing that’s always changing. Avian influenza and H1N1, when those things came out they really impact who’s willing to go where, and who’s allowed on a plane and what is deemed safe or not. However, we also are staffed locally by people who are based there looking at that situation. Those can change too. For example, in Puerto Rico it’s not just about, “Hey is there a hurricane coming, is there a protest, is there a war?” It’s also, “Can we get the materials right now to even put roofs on houses, given how difficult it is to get donations delivered in Puerto Rico?”

The rapid pace of change from one project to the next and from one country to the next takes careful pre-planning and close attention during trips. There are always challenges to managing multiple projects across multiple continents from the home office to the field: including, sometimes, evolving in-country laws and even some level of corruption. Haley-Coleman says she enjoys navigating it all.

If materials are expected and needed at a particular location, the idea is all the materials are there before the volunteers get there. Well, there have been times when we’ve been asked for bribes to get materials there on time.

These are the kinds of things that are always changing so this is an area where it is helpful to have somebody who is notifying our volunteers of what’s going on, what to expect, how much to pay for this or for that, where to get the best value for your money in terms of bringing money into a country. Because that’s changed too, there was a time when travelers checks were the primary safe currency, and I would never tell anyone to do that now… While we have seen, in terms of bribes, where we’re more likely to encounter that, the volunteer, it might be invisible to the volunteer. For example, if materials are expected and needed at a particular location, the idea is all the materials are there before the volunteers get there. Well there have been times when we’ve been asked for bribes to get materials there on time.

Haley-Coleman loves what she does, and enjoys the challenges presented by constant change and the constant need to stay updated. But those challenges have also become central to most businesses in the digital age. The same skills needed to juggle projects and secure the safety of supplies and people are critical elements for success — whether your business is local, national or global in scope.

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Volunteer travel to Guatemala with Globe Aware

A family tradition of volunteer travel continues

A family’s tradition of sending grandchildren, once they reach the age of 16, on trips to introduce them to different cultures and people and around the world continues. Here is a travelogue entry by Zeth to Guatemala with Globe Aware. Previous grandkids selected volunteer work in the Andes mountains of Peru, with the Roma people of Romania and in a small rural village in the West African country of Ghana.

Day One: Lake Peten Itza, El Remate, Guatemala

Moments like yesterday are why I’m a travel junkie. The guys still asleep, I took an early walk along a small road where we’re staying. What a treat! No city noise, only the idyllic sounds of nature: tropical birds unlike we hear at home … the occasional cry of a monkey, perhaps chiding her youngster … insects buzzing … and the crunch of my footsteps along the gravel-dirt road.

After a while a small older man walked in my direction, and I offered my best “Buenos dias, senor.” He offered me a mostly toothless smile and gently reached out toward me – but not his right hand, as if to shake hands, his left hand. He held onto my hand and we had this wonderful nodding and eye-to-eye exchange while he said something I couldn’t understand. Had he been an American in the U.S., I would have likely averted my eyes and pulled back thinking, “Why is he still holding onto my hand?” But he just continued to smile with old soul eyes and, as we parted, he blew me a kiss! For me travel is less about the big Eiffel Tower/Pyramids/Vatican imagery, and more these small, magical moments when we have real human contact with people we would otherwise never encounter. Blissful!

Day One was mostly orientation and a few hours of R&R. Globe Aware’s local organization is Project Ix-Canaan, founded by Canadian Anne Lossing who came to Guatemala 20+ years ago toward the end of Guatemala’s long civil war. She wanted to empower the local Mayan community to protect their own rain forests, and identified the community first needed health, education and opportunity.

Over the years she and her Guatemalan husband, a doctor, have established a medical clinic and a dental clinic (at left) which is staffed largely by visiting clinicians from the U.S. and other places. (No patients on the weekend, so it was empty.)

They also have established an after-school youth development center and a women’s center, each of which we toured today.

We also visited a school where we’ll be teaching later in the week, and Anne pointed out shards of pottery on the ground – at least hundreds but easily 1,000 or more years old – that can be found in several places in this region called Peten. The Mayans believed that vessels had a kind of spirit and they would break most of their pots during sacrifices or in burials, and also every 40 years to start a new beginning.

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