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Category: Voluntourism
Volunteer vacations, Voluntourism and Globe Aware: Peter Greenberg

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

volunteer vacation Romania

Street in Sighisoara, Romnia

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.

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The importance of volunteer vacations
volunteer vacation in Cambodia

Kimberly Haley-Coleman on volunteer vacation in Cambodia

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!

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Globe Aware volunteer vacationer named finalist to carry Olympic torch

Jamie Piekarz has always had a passion about the welfare of women and children in third world countries. Jamie has travelled with and worked with Globe Aware, caring for orphaned children in Peru, and Peace Matunda, an orphanage in Tanzania, to raise awareness of impoverished women and children in developing countries. We are pleased to see that Jamie has been named one of seven finalists to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

The entire news release and story follows:

Samsung Canada Chooses Seven Inspirational Canadians To Participate In The London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay

MISSISSAUGA, ON, June 5, 2012 — Delivering On A Commitment To Enable Canadians To “Pursue Your Passions,” Samsung Canada Torchbearers Get Set for Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

MISSISSAUGA, ON, June 5, 2012 /CNW/ – Samsung Electronics Canada, a leader in consumer electronics, today unveiled the seven inspirational Canadians chosen to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. As part of a campaign in which Samsung Canada encourages Canadians to “Pursue your Passions,” Samsung Canada selected the winners based on their Passion for the Olympic spirit and their contributions to the community through philanthropic activities.

“At Samsung Canada we want to help enable Canadians to better pursue their passions. It is a core tenant for our company, as Samsung products empower Canadians to do the things they love in life,” said Andrew Barrett, Vice President, Marketing, Samsung Electronics Canada. “After a cross-country search for deserving Canadians, we are excited to announce Samsung Canada’s Torchbearers who have made tremendous contributions to the community and are truly passionate about the Olympic spirit.”

As a part of ‘Everyone’s Olympic Games,’ the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay will offer new and memorable experiences to Canadians across the country. Samsung’s Olympic Torchbearers were selected to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity based on their passion to help others. Each Torchbearer has an inspiring story about how they helped others better pursue their passions, such as:

Dr. Lynn Wilson – is passionate about improving healthcare and juggles a variety of volunteer positions including Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and Co-Director of BRIDGES in support of innovative models of healthcare system integration to advance healthcare in Canada.

Michael Joseph Bruni is a self-proclaimed sports enthusiast and leverages his position as the Volunteer Chair on the Board of Directors for Hockey Canada to inspire others to support Canada’s beloved national pastime.

Jamie Piekarz is dedicated to improving the welfare of women and children in third world countries and supports a number of not-for profits with similar missions including Globe Aware and Peace Matunda.

Kunaal Jagtianey is passionate about helping others and uses his work with the SAINTS, a senior citizens assistance agency, to inspire others to lend a helping hand.

Also running on behalf of Samsung Canada is President and CEO, Haktae (H.T.) Kim. “The Olympic Torch Relay is a giant thank you to everyone who has ever helped somebody and provides well-earned recognition,” said Kim. “I’m honoured to be carrying the flame in Edinburgh. This will be a unique experience for me and I’m looking forward to meeting some of the amazing people from all walks of life that Samsung Canada has invited to take part. This is truly an Olympic Games for everyone.”

Samsung has also selected a number of globally recognized Torchbearers who are known for their continuous inspiration to others. British TV star and campaigner Jamie Oliver, nine-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist John Legend, Ivory Coast and Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba and Vladimir Tolstoy, the essayist and great grandson of Leo Tolstoy will all be carrying the Olympic Flame. To top the bill, the brand new Samsung GALAXY SIII is Samsung’s Olympic Games Phone for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Torch Relay began its 70 day journey around the UK on Saturday May 19th taking in many of the UKs cultural landmarks. Visiting over 1,000 cities, towns and villages along its 8,000 mile route, the Olympic Torch aims to excite the UK and marks the official start of the London 2012 Olympic Games upon its celebrated arrival at the Olympic Stadium on July 27th.

For more information about the Samsung Pursue Your Passions campaign, please visit the company on Facebook at www.facebook.com/samsungcanada

About Samsung’s Canadian London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Participants

Dr. Lynn Marie Wilson Dr. Lynn Wilson, from Toronto, Ontario has always had a passion for improving healthcare for all. She juggles a variety of positions in the field of medicine to advance healthcare in Canada including being the Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and a member of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care Physician Services Committee where she helped implement Primary Care Renewal in Ontario. She is also the Co-Director of BRIDGES in support of innovative models of healthcare system integration and worked with Addis Ababa University to implement the first Family Medicine residency program in Ethiopia. Dr. Wilson has been a physician for 27 years and currently practices at Women’s College Hospital. This summer, Samsung Canada is helping Lynn pursue her passions and dreams of carrying the Olympic Torch in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Michael Joseph Bruni Michael Joseph Bruni, from Calgary, Alberta has always had a passion for sports, especially hockey. He leverages his position as the Volunteer Chair on the Board of Directors for Hockey Canada to inspire others to support Canada’s beloved national pastime. Mike is truly committed to youth sports programs in Canada and focuses his efforts on raising awareness around respect, fairness and safe fun as top priorities for young athletes. This summer, Samsung Canada is helping Michael pursue his passions and dreams of carrying the Olympic Torch in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Jamie Piekarz Jamie Piekarz, from Toronto, Ontario has always had a passion about the welfare of women and children in third world countries. She uses her work with Globe Aware, caring for orphaned children in Peru, and Peace Matunda, an orphanage in Tanzania, to raise awareness of impoverished women and children in developing countries. Jamie inspires and coordinates the involvement of colleagues and friends from Canada to volunteer in Ghana to build schools. With two schools already complete, the construction of a third is scheduled to be underway in fall 2012. This summer, Samsung Canada is helping Jamie pursue her passions and dreams of carrying the Olympic Torch in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Kunaal Jagtianey Kunaal Jagtianey, from Toronto, Ontario has always had a passion for helping others. He uses his work with the SAINTS, a senior citizens assistance agency, to inspire others to lend a helping hand. Kunaal assists the elderly with day-to-day tasks around their home that they are unable to complete themselves such as unclogging storm drains or racking lawns. As a winning member of the Samsung Mobilers competition, Kunaal secured a spot on the Samsung Mobilers team whose members act as social media ambassadors for Samsung. This summer, Samsung Canada is helping Kunaal pursue his passions and dreams of carrying the Olympic Torch in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Joel Lightman Joel Lightman, from Toronto, Ontario is passionate about music. As a professional musician, Joel has worked tirelessly with a number of charities, such as WhyHunger, to coordinate donation generating musical events including staging awareness events for World AIDS Day. In pursuit of his passions, Joel has contributed more than $30,000 to SOS Children’s Villages. As a winning member of the Samsung Mobilers competition, Joel secured a spot on the Samsung Mobilers team whose members act as social media ambassadors for Samsung. This summer, Samsung Canada is helping Joel pursue his passions and dreams of carrying the Olympic Torch in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Mostafa Karima Mostafa Karima, from Burlington, Ontario has always had a passion for sports. He pursues this passion by coaching Humber College’s regionally ranked extramural basketball team while working on his certificate in International Business. Mostafa wants to share the enjoyment he gets from sports with those in underprivileged communities and is currently working on bringing a non-profit rugby program to Egypt. As a winning member of the Samsung Mobilers competition, Mostafa secured a spot on the Samsung Mobilers team whose members act as social media ambassadors for Samsung. This summer, Samsung Canada is helping Mostafa pursue his passions and dreams of carrying the Olympic Torch in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Francis Pelletier Francis Pelletier, from Toronto, Ontario has always had a passion for exploration. As a flight attendant Francis inspires others to discover the world. With an unquenchable thirst for adventure, Francis was a winning member of the Samsung Mobilers competition. As a result, Francis secured a spot on the Samsung Mobilers team whose members act as social media ambassadors for Samsung. This summer, Samsung Canada is helping Francis pursue his passions and dreams of carrying the Olympic Torch in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Become a Volutourist: fun article on volunteer vacations and Globe Aware

A fun take on volunteer vacations and voluntourism at Go Girl, group of enthusiasts who take a fresh new look at travel through the unique eyes and experiences of women around the world.

Enjoy!

A modern day conundrum: You want to go on holiday, but you feel bad for just lazing around for a week and you are really just harming the environment with your carbon footprint….but you reeeeally want a holiday. What do you do?

Become a Volutourist.

It’s a surprisingly short time ago that volunteering  became so wide-spread and easily available. These days you can volunteer from one week to two years, but this is a relatively new phenomenon. The most recent development for volunteering  is ‘voluntourism’. This is, as the name suggests, where you combine vacation travel with volunteering  at your chosen destination. Typically a two-week holiday will be split between the two ‘themes’ of the holiday. By doing this, it creates a far more personal experience to any holiday as well as giving you a different insight to a country you might not have visited before. Volunteering will inevitably introduce people on vacation to the people and culture’s rather than just the tourist spots and crowds. The idea of it is connected to ‘sustainable travel ’, defined as “lessening the toll that travel and tourism takes on the environment and local cultures.”

There are many bonuses to volunteering while on holiday, cost being a huge one. Not only do you feel like you have really earned your holiday by helping out, it also can cut the price quite significantly. Europe and North America are home to the highest amount of voluntourists, with the majority heading to Asia, Africa and South America. While anyone can benefit from voluntourism, people with a vocational skill can be especially beneficial to the people of the country they are visiting. Doctors, carpenters, construction workers, teachers to name but a few can really help to lead a team through experience and maximise the short time spent with a community.

As I mentioned earlier, volunteering will often take you away from the crowds and into the smaller villages and the ‘real’ cultural centres, which is why more people are turning to ‘voluncations’.

While there are the “pro”s to holidaying this way, there are of course some negative factors to consider. The main one is this: What happens after you leave? Is there a constant stream of people to volunteer, or is it only seasonal? You want to make sure the community is actually benefitting from your cumulative weekly volunteer groups, and not damaging their infrastructure. You also need to make sure the organization you have booked through has an in-country contact and a reasonable orientation programme.

It is also vital to remember that you don’t have to leave your country to help make a difference. In situations of national disasters, as much help as is possible is needed. Think of the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina that required such huge manpower to help clear and feed the thousands left homeless.

There are multiple companies that specialize in voluntourists. Globeaware.org and womeninprogress.org have specifically women-based volunteer help to help teach skills so these women can make a living for themselves.

Voluntourism is great for people who have not traveled alone abroad much, but who have the desire for adventure and interest in learning, as well as busy people who cant take a long time off to volunteer, but who want to help and also relax!

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Not a Fan of Cold Winter Weather? Be A Voluntourist!

With winter approaching, outside volunteer projects are not as appealing as they used to be. Need ideas for projects? We’ve got you covered. Why not plan a fun trip to a warm climate that you’ve never been to? Experience volunteering for your leisure vacation; give a little while you travel and gain a lot of rewarding sense of importance. Go on a voluntour trip!

What is voluntouring? Voluntouring is a cultural emersion volunteer experience that gives you a chance to lend a helping hand while experiencing other cultures and countries. Voluntouring creates stimulating, service-oriented vacations.

Voluntourists embark on trips to serve, to learn and help others. They return with new skills, life-experiences, and understanding.

Voluntourism advantages for the individual volunteer:

  • Participating in meaningful service and having a deep impact on a community
  • Developing new skills
  • Interacting with locals and experiencing new cultures
  • Seeing and exploring places you typically wouldn’t go to as a tourist
  • Creating friendships and memories
  • Experiencing true satisfaction from your vacation leisure time

Want to get involved and find vacations you can serve with?

Globe Aware is a great organization that helps people search and sign-up for vacations that give more. Globe Aware coordinates, organizes and leads volunteer vacations, service vacations, working holidays and service trips to places all over the world. Get out of the cold, and try your hand in some voluntouring!

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