Forget the Ferrari: travel can transform your life. Here are 10 trips to make it happen.

Teaching English in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Why Go Now: Philanthropy is fantastic, but a one-week, hands-on stint volunteering in Cambodia' still in need of much aid' can be much more personally satisfying. It can also pretty quickly make a person grateful for his life back home. Globe Aware' s volunteer vacations in Angkor Wat engage travelers in making a genuine influence on others' lives in a very short time: teaching English, working with children, distributing wheelchairs to adults and children in rural villages. The accommodations will be modest, but the Khmer food and magnificent Angkor Wat temples make the authentic experience entirely welcome.

Read the full article.

What a vacation!


When Tom Shumate decided to take a vacation this year he didn’t want to go to Disney World or on a cruise.

He wanted to go on a “volunteer vacation.”
He found on the Internet a group called Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization which offers volunteer vacations in Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil and India. These 1-2 weeks in service focus on cultural-awareness.

So Shumate got in touch with the group and took a 10-day vacation to Peru.

I wanted the vacation to be more of an experience-type thing and I wanted to help out the kids who are there,” shumate said.

Shumated helped special needs kids who were in an orphanage in Peru.

The 19-year-old 2002 Chesterton High School graduate still beams when he talks about his experiences there with all the children.

“I was working with the children from 6 a.m .to 8 p.m. every day and would play with the kids,” shumate said. “Many of them taught me sign language. About 70 of them were deaf.”

The children at the orphanage ranged in ages ffrom infants to age 16.

“It was very hard to leave there when my trip was over,” Shumate said. “I bonded with many of the older boys and got along with the girls as well. The kids really made this trip enjoyable.”

The kids made it so much fun that Shumate didn’t mind the 17-hour flight to Peru.

“My parents were a little nervous before I left on the trip but now they are happy that I had a good time and know I was there doing something good.”

Shumate hopes to return there and do another volunteer vacation through Globe Aware. When he went the first time he took soccer and tennis balls with him because the kids there don’t have too much as far as sporting equipment.

“Seeing the kids and how happy they were made it all worth cominghere and makes up for what the trip costs,” Shumate said. “People from all over take these trips and volunteer their time in different countries.”

Shumate said people are welcome to check out the Web Site at The group is always looking for people to either attend the trips and they also are looking for donations. “THey are in need of sunscreen and all types of sports equipment,” Shumate said.

When Shumate does go back he will be a volunteer coordinator for a few months while there. He eventually wants to be a policeman.

The Latin American and Caribbean Student Health Organization, Harvard School of Public Health community, generously donate funds to Globe Aware

The Latin American and Caribbean Student Health Organization (LAC Health) and the greater Harvard School of Public Health community, generously donated funds to Globe Aware to buy medical supplies for the medical clinic in San Pedro de Casta, Peru. To raise these funds, LAC Health engaged in a week long sale of handmade Peruvian jewelry to the students and faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health.

LAC Health is a student organization aimed at promoting, analyzing, and resolving health problems affecting Latin America and the Caribbean.

Our objectives are:

  • To increase awareness throughout the Harvard community of health problems effecting the countries of Latin America And the Caribbean;
  • To promote healthy practices and give exposure to successful health programs unique to LAC;
  • To create an arena for raising concerns and discussing issues about public health problems and policies with experts from LAC;
  • To create an informal setting/environment for all students interested in making LAC a healthier place to share experiences, ideas and concerns with fellow students and faculty.

Sharlene Bagga, who collaborated with Globe Aware, Harvard’s attention the need for medical supplies at the clinic in San Pedro de Casta and they were happy to work with her on this fund raising event.

Their hopes are that their contribution will benefit the workers and clients at the medical clinic in San Pedro de Casta. They reiterated how much they enjoyed working on this venture to help Globe Aware’s Latin American activities.

Special thanks to the Organizers:

  • Leah-Mari Richards, Founder and Co-President LAC Health – Harvard School of Public Health
  • Moira Breslin, Founder and Co-President LAC Health – Harvard School of Public Health

More Americans Take Volunteer Vacations


When you think of teenagers on spring break, visions of Daytona Beach or Cancun may come to mind â€" not necessarily a trip to Cambodia.
But that’s where Kate McNamara, a 16-year-old New Yorker, went on vacation with her family, volunteering to teach children English and build wheelchairs for land mine victims.
“It wasn’t that long and it was a small group of people … but it made just such a huge difference, ” she says. “It was one of the most rewarding things that I think that I’ve ever done.”
Her mother, Elizabeth McNamara adds, “In a world that needs so much, just to a little bit to make a difference in someone’s life is a very positive experience.”

Watch Gigi Stone’s report on “volunteer vacations” Saturday on “World News.”

Check your local listings for air time.
More Americans are choosing to go on philanthropic vacations â€" along with their extra time and money. Globe Aware, the nonprofit group that organized the McNamaras’ Cambodia trip, says enrollment has gone up 40 percent every year since the organization started in 2001.
Last year, more than 65,000 Americans traveled overseas to take part in volunteer vacations, estimates Stefanie Rubin, director of the International Volunteer Programs Association. Organizers say there was a surge of renewed interest after 9/11 and the Asian tsunami in 2004.
“I think it’s got people thinking about the world: ‘What’s out there? What real need is out there?’ And how they can connect and be a part of this beautiful world we’re in?” says Kimberly Haley-Coleman, the executive director of Globe Aware. “I suspect that there is a growing contingent of people who feel that writing a check to an organization doesn’t feel as significant as donating their time. Both are important.”
It’s not just overseas: After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of volunteers flocked to the Gulf region to help rebuild.

More companies are joining in as well by organizing charitable activities for their employees.

Home Depot provides resources for its workers to help build affordable housing and playgrounds in New Orleans and around the country. Last year, more than 40,000 of the company’s employees took part in one or more of these volunteer projects on their day off.
“Once you do one [a volunteer project] and you see those children over there … it gets your heart and you can’t stop,” says Seth Owen, a Home Depot employee who helped build a playground for Hiram Elementary School in Atlanta.
The company admits that such ventures benefit the company’s bottom line. It gets free advertising by using Home Depot products, and establishes business contacts in the various communities.
“We have to be good philanthropists, good citizens and strategic investors in our community,” says Kevin Martinez, the vice president of community affairs at Home Depot.

Sidebar: Interested in a Volunteer Vacation?
If you’re interested in taking a volunteer vacation, there are some things to keep in mind:
If your company isn’t paying for it, the cost of a one-week volunteer vacation usually starts at around $1,000. But there is a silver lining: It is tax deductible.
The online travel agency Travelocity recently announced a Travel for Good program to make information about volunteer vacations more easily available.
Make sure you’re traveling with a nonprofit not a commercial organization, because they’re required to account for how money is being used.
Check that you’re with a company that provides emergency medical insurance. Companies are joining in as well by organizing charitable activities for their employees.

She Turns Vacations Into Voluntours

SMU Alumni Magazine

They help Buddhist monks teach poor children in Thailand, make
wheelchairs for victims of Vietnam-era landmines in Laos, and build
stoves to save families from respiratory illness in Peru.

And during their trips abroad, Globe Aware volunteers also find time to
be tourists.
Kimberly Haley-Coleman (M.A., art history, ¹97) founded in 2000 the
Dallas-based nonprofit Globe Aware, which also sponsors weeklong
volunteer vacations in Costa Rica, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil, Vietnam, and
Cambodia. As its executive director, she runs the nonpolitical,
nonreligious organization with two principles in mind.

³We promote cultural awareness, which means we work to appreciate both
the real beauty and challenges of a culture,² she says. ³And we promote
sustainability, which means we train people using local resources; we
don¹t create dependence.²

Globe Aware grew out of Haley-Coleman¹s experiences as an international
businesswoman and volunteer. The Dallas native, who also earned an
M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas and a B.A. from Emory
University, has worked for companies including Infotriever in Canada,, and the Capstone Japan Fund, where she often has focused on
strategic partnerships and development. During business trips and
between job changes she squeezed in international volunteering with
organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Volunteers for Peace,
which usually require commitments of at least several weeks.

³I always came back thinking there had to be a better way for busy
Americans, who have almost the least vacation time among developed
nations but are the world¹s most generous volunteers and donors,²
Haley-Coleman says. Through her travels, she built a network of
like-minded volunteers­ many of who now serve on Globe Aware¹s board
­and together they launched their first weeklong program in Thailand.

Today Haley-Coleman, who devoted herself to the organization full time
in 2003, spends time in Dallas communicating with coordinators in the
field and re-evaluating and developing programs, such as this year¹s new
trips to Romania, China, and Africa. She seeks out communities that are
safe and culturally interesting, and with needs they want groups of
volunteers to address.

Community service was a significant part of her life, says
Haley-Coleman, as was SMU. Her parents, aunts and uncles, cousins,
grandparents, and great-grandparents are all alumni of the University,
where she recalls hours spent analyzing art with University
Distinguished Professor Emerita Alessandra Comini and Associate
Professor Randall Griffin. ³They helped reinforce my passion for truly
examining and appreciating cultures.²

Learn more at

­ Sarah Hanan

Voluntourism: Good Times and Good Works

Voluntourism: Good Times and Good Works

by Steve Kallaugher

Most people come home from vacation with a nice tan and a suitcase full of souvenirs. Carolyn Bentley returned from a trip she took with her 17-year-old daughter, Julia, with a new outlook on life â€" and a renewed bond with her child.

“It was life changing,” says Bentley. “It’s an amazing way to grow yourself and develop bonds with others. You become part of the country, instead of just looking at it out a window.”

With those sentences, Bentley sums up the appeal of one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry: Voluntourism.

Euromonitor International announced at the 2006 Travel Trust Association Conference in London that Voluntourism will be one of four key growth areas in travel over the next three to four years. A 2006 Travel Forecast poll conducted by Travelocity revealed that 15% of travelers planned on taking a volunteer, educational or religious trip this year. That’s an increase over last year’s record, when more than 65,000 Americans traveled overseas for volunteer vacations, according to the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA)

“Voluntourism isn’t simply growing in popularity, it’s exploding,” says Delta Willis, communications manager for the Earthwatch Institute. She cites two reasons for its emergence. “First, the fantastic growth of adventure travel. Second, the increasing number of travelers who want to learn or do good deeds.”

Globe Aware’s experience confirms this: Enrollment in the company’s programs has increased 40% each year since 2001. According to Executive Director Kimberly Haley-Coleman, “Voluntourism is flourishing at such a rate it is hard to comprehend. September 11 changed everything. When that was followed by the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, it made everyone aware of how much is needed. People want to make a concrete connection, to give more than money.”

Getting More Than You Give

The voluntourist concept was born with the establishment of the Peace Corps in 1960. But devoting two years of one’s life to volunteering in a distant country isn’t possible for most people. Still, as a generation of travelers wandered further off the beaten path in their search for adventure, they saw the face of need first handâ€"and they came home determined to do something about it.

Ask any voluntourist why he or she takes precious time from work to serve others and, chances are, you’ll get the same response: “I got so much more than I gave.”

Indeed, Voluntourism is by far the best way to experience in depth the country you’re visiting. Working, eating, and living with local residents takes you out of the bubble most tourists live in, and away from well traveled tourist haunts. It breaks down the barriers that most travelers face, giving you a much deeper understanding of the culture, challenges, and pleasures of the people who live there.

A voluntour vacation may not be a day at the beach, but voluntourists come home refreshed from the changeâ€"even if some projects can be demanding work. They’re also filled with accomplishment and a sense that their spirits have been replenished as well. For time-pressed professionals and their families, who might not be able to volunteer regularly at home because of their busy schedules, a voluntourist vacation offers a means of connecting, not only with themselves, but with their desire to give back.

A Voluntour for Every Taste

Then again, a volunteer trip may well be a day at the beachâ€"literally. There are thousands of opportunities in every part the world, so you can choose a program and place that suites your passion.

Most voluntourist organizations, of course, focus their efforts on less developed parts of the world where the need is greatest- from Nepal and Vietnam to Ghana and Botswana, from Peru and Nicaragua to the Cook Islands…volunteer opportunities in the developing world tend more towards humanitarian aid and development projects, such as Globe Aware’s project assembling wheelchairs in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Getting Started

Questions to ponder while planning your trip:

  1. Where in the world do I want to go?
  2. What cause means the most to me-humanitarian, educational, medical, environmental, professional?
  3. How much time do I want to devote?
  4. What are the physical requirements of the work and living conditions?
  5. Do I need to know the local language? How can I learn at least a few phrases?
  6. What immunizations will I need?
  7. Is the organization a recognized 501(c) (3) that accounts for how its money is spent and how much it gives to the local community?
  8. Is my trip tax deductible?
  9. How much experience has the organization had in the country?
  10. Can I speak to previous volunteers about their experiences?
  11. What background reading can I do about the country and culture?

Steve Kallaugher is a freelance writer and veteran voluntourist.






PHILANTHROPY: a dossier of stat, facts, manners and mores for your consideration.

Compiled by Jonathan S. Paul and Rosecranns Baldwin

Volunteer Vacations
Just because your idea of a good vacation requires tanning on a beach doesn' t mean you can' t save the world while you are doing it. Here, six of the best volunteer trips, where you can sport a good-works glow along with a sunburn.

Land Mine Aid, Cambodia, Globe Aware Between visiting a floating village on Tonle Sap Lake and the temples of Angkor Wat you' ll help assemble simple metal-and-plastic wheelchairs. There' s no expertise required and you' ll deliver your finished chairs to some of the thousands of Cambodians devastated by land mines. One week trip, $1,200.00;877-588-4562;

Volunteer Vacationing, See the World and Make a Difference

If you are looking to take a different type of vacation this year consider a volunteer vacation. Volunteer vacations give you the opportunity to see a different part of the world and make a small difference by contributing to a specific project while you are away. Each trip can last anywhere from a week to several weeks and range from working with scientists on research projects to building schools in Guatemala to maintaining forest trails.

Besides benefiting the project that you volunteer with you will benefit from the well deserved downtime and an experience that you cannot get from a regular vacation. Here are four well known organizations that have been matching up travelers with worthwhile projects for years.

Globe Aware

This non profit organization sets up volunteer vacations to nine countries in Central and South America and Asia. Globe Aware sets up their vacations in one week intervals and the work projects range from working with Buddhists monks in Thailand to teaching English to Peruvian children in an isolated mountain village. The trips allow plenty of time for after work exploring and sightseeing and because most of the locations are in residential rather than in tourist locations you are able to immerse yourself in the culture.