Espanol en la Naturaleza

Kate Sommers-Dawes finds Spanish natural in Costa Rica

Excerpt below from the August 2009 issue of Language Magazine:

With Globe Aware, students can begin their own adventure in service. It’s “Costa Rica Road Less Traveled Rainforest Village Experience” program offers a unique way for volunteers to earn service hours while immersing themselves in the language and culture of Costa Rica. All volunteer projects are sustainable in nature and focus on both building infrastructure and preserving the natural environment. Planned cultural activities include, but are not limited to, learning how to make trapiche with the village elders, traditional cheese making, and incredible nature hikes. Globe Aware also offers a new program on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the “Caribbean Community Experience,” in which vol- unteers can engage in recycling programs, school building and mainte- nance, and sea turtle conservation projects while also taking advantage of the distinct Caribbean culture that this area of Costa Rica provides. Take a boat ride through the canals to view wildlife, join in a coconut oil and fish salting demonstration, or simply learn the art of salsa and meringue. Globe Aware offers one of the best ways to immerse oneself in another culture: volunteering to make a difference.

Download the full article. (PDF)

What a Trip!

Volunteer vacations are a feel-good way to spend a summer break. Here’s how to turn your family’s kick-back time into a give-back experience.

by Alia Akkam – What has been your favorite family vacation? Sitting on a beach, perhaps, watching the kids make sand castles? Or maybe that fun trip to a water park? If you’re like the Hatfield family of Provo, Utah, you might be reminiscing about mixing concrete and lugging around corrugated metal roofing. That’s because they spent one particularly memorable holiday together in Guatemala, helping families turn their dirt-and-wood houses into sturdier homes.

For people who’ve devoted their time off to volunteering, there’s nothing like the chance to combine travel, education, and service. What a way to see the world with your kids â€" and show them compassion in action. “Voluntourism,” as its known, can expand your family’s worldview, change people’s lives, and still be a fun break from the everyday.

The Give-Back Vacation

The Hatfields set off for Guatemala through CHOICE Humanitarian, a volunteer organization that sends workers to Bolivia, Kenya, and other countries. The family spent their days helping the local people, and their nights sleeping in a schoolhouse. Not your typical theme-park vacation, but an extremely valuable one for them all. “My wife and I thought for a long time that we’d like to let our children see how other people live â€" and not just from a vacation point of view,” says dad Harlan Hatfield. “You leave thinking you’re helping those in poverty, but you come away realizing that you’ve also nourished yourself. All of the things we’re accustomed to, all the conveniences, they aren’t necessary for being happy.”

Laura Kuykendall, a mom of two in Andover, Massachusetts, also found that her family’s volunteer vacation had long-lasting effects. It was her daughter, Ariel, who inspired the trip” During a school break, she’d traveled with a group from her family’s church, which had been working with the Christian group Harvest Hands Ministries to help build an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico. Her mom was so moved by Ariel’s experience that she went along the next year, and brought Ariel’s brother, Joseph, too.

During that weeklong trip, the Kuykendalls worked on various building projects at the orphanage, conducted a Bible school for local children, and cooked for residents. Kuykendall describes herself as a workaholic and says her kids were startled to see her without a Blackberry or cell phone in hand. She, in turn, was amazed that, without their iPods and televisions, her children amused themselves by making up games with rocks. Kuykendall says it was extremely satisfying to see tiny glimpses of change in her and her children’s daily lives based on what they’d experienced in Mexico: “I was the most tired and dirtiest I’ve ever been, but the most fulfilled I’ve ever felt about anything. And to do it with my children was pretty amazing.”

Voluntourism: Getting Started

If you’re thinking of giving up the breakfast buffet for a volunteer vacation, check out these organizations:

Globe Aware

The one-week volunteer vacations in Peru, Thailand, Cuba, Laos, and 11 other countries have no age restrictions. Kids as young as 2 have taken Globe Aware trips and helped with planting, building, and more.

Can You Swing It?

The truth is, voluntourism isn’t cheap. Prices can run into the thousands, and while interest has been up in recent years, it’s still a hefty price tag for most families. The website Travelocity, though, has one way to help. Through its Travel for Good program, which helps connect do-gooders with voluntourism opportunities, it awards grants of up to $5,000 to “change ambassadors,” people who want to travel and volunteer but can’t afford to do so.

“We know that when you visit a place, you don’t always really get to see what’s happening there,” says Amy Ziff, Travelocity’s editor-at-large. “We believe that travel can build bridges between cultures. We can all be change ambassadors by helping others in need, even while on vacation.” If you’re interested, check out and click on the Voluntourism button on the home page. There are four application deadlines throughout the year.

Keep in mind, too, that this kind of vacation isn’t right for every family. Some kids are simply too young. Many voluntourism trips are best for preteens and teens (though it’s worth checking, especially if you have one older and one younger child). The upside? By the time your child is old enough for a volunteer vacation, perhaps money won’t be as tight and you’ll have made a head start on planning (and even saving).

If swimming pools and fluffy towels and the chance to put your feet up are important to your family (and, hey, who doesn’t love those things?), you might think voluntourism isn’t right for you. That may be true; your family may be happiest doing other kinds of volunteering, and only you’ll know best. But don’t underestimate your kids’ â€" and your own â€" ability to adapt.

Volunteering with kids doesn’t just help others, it brings families closer together. When you can share a meaningful project â€" or a desperate need for a long, hot shower! â€" there’s a feeling of connectedness that’s often hard to find in day-to-day life. And whenever you can achieve that kind of bond, it’s the best vacation of all.

Massachusetts' Man on a Mission

Even in Tough Economic Times One Man’s Vision Has Inspired Many

The community of Gbled-Gbogame in Ghana will benefit from a new school building, access to clean water, and sanitary bathrooms thanks to the herculean fundraising efforts of Mike Devlin, of Hingham, MA.

What started as desire to simply go and volunteer in Ghana with Globe Aware to mark his 40th birthday has evolved into an impressive campaign to drastically improve the lives of children in Ghana.

Currently, the children in the Ghanaian community of Gbled-Gbogame have no running water and the children hold class in a shed held together with iron sheets. The primary school students are compelled to study under trees. Given such conditions it is virtually impossible to recruit teachers to come into the area.

“It bothered me to think that where you are born can actually determine whether you live or whether you die. Something as simple as access to clean water is not available and the current water conditions are killing children,” Devlin says. Access to education is also key to the campaign because, as Devlin puts it, “all children should have the opportunity to learn and be educated and […] to live a life that we all deserve.”

Partnering with Globe Aware, a non profit organization based out of Dallas, TX, that organizes volunteer programs in 15 countries around the world, Devlin has organized an impressive fundraising campaign culminating in a “Golf for Ghana” Golf Tournament in Pembroke, MA this month.

Devlin’s determination has already inspired many to join his cause. Donations for the volunteer projects have come from across the country, with his sister, Julie Devlin, organizing an additional fundraiser in Albuquerque, NM.

Devlin says he has been overwhelmed by the generosity of the donors supporting his cause, especially during these rough economic times, “A few of the people I know are unemployed, but gave contributions stating that they wish they could give more, but they truly understand that every dollar does make a difference.”

The “Golf for Ghana” charity golf tournament will be held on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at the Pembroke Country Club at 8:00AM. A silent auction will follow at 1:30PM.

About Globe Aware

Globe Aware(R) is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity that mobilizes short term volunteer programs around the world. These adventures in service focus on promoting cultural awareness and sustainability and are often compared to a mini “peace corps” experience. All volunteers are accompanied by a bilingual volunteer coordinator to assist the volunteer throughout their program. The program fee and the airfare to get there are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Globe Aware is a member of International Volunteer Programs Association, Volunteers for Prosperity, the Building Bridges Coalition, maintains United Nations Consultative Status for the Social and Economic Council, and administers the President’s Volunteer Service Awards. Additionally, Globe Aware offsets its carbon emissions with, the country’s leading carbon offset organization. Our carbon footprint is estimated at less than 70 tons annually, and we have chosen to support carbon-reducing projects in renewable energy to offset the CO2 that is produced in running our offices worldwide, from powering our offices to the transportation used to get to and from our work sites. This commitment places Globe Aware as an environmental leader in the volunteer abroad community and demonstrates proactive steps being taken in the fight against global climate change.


If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Globe Aware’s founder and Executive Director, Kimberly Haley-Coleman, please call Catherine McMillan at 214-824-4562 or e-mail

Honeyteering: Increasingly more newlyweds opt for 'honeyteering' vacations

To have and to hold – and to help

by Aimee Heckel

The most popular destinations are Costa Rica, Peru and South America, according to the Lasso study. And the most popular volunteer activities were building and teaching, following by community development (including caring for children) and conservation.

Nestoria recently traveled to Costa Rica (via to help with a sea turtle project. She said this kind of trip is ideal for newlyweds because volunteers stay in private shacks and patrol the beach at night collecting sea turtle eggs.

“During the day, there might be beach clean-up, but there is chilling out,” Nestoria said, “a lying-on-the-beach vacation, but also giving back to the local community.”

She encourages newlyweds to remember that the trip is not about them; it’s about the needy community. This can seem counter to the Bridezilla-style wedding where the couple is the center of attention.

“Just make sure your motives are in the right spot,” Nestoria said.

Read the full article.

Cuba & VolunTourism interview with David Clemmons

Listen below (or download the MP3) to a discussion of voluntourism in Cuba featuring Christopher P Baker, renowned photo-journalist and the world’s foremost authority on travel to Cuba, and Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware’s founder and executive director.

Canadian-Costa Rican cultural exchange

by Hollie Pratt-Campbell – One crash course in culture shock coming right up.

Twenty students from Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School are travelling to the remote Costa Rican fishing village of Parismina this week to fulfil a requirement for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.

The rigorous academic program is aimed at highly motivated students who are interested in receiving an education with a global perspective. The IB diploma requires students to complete 150 hours of creativity, action, and service, in which they strive to make a difference in the lives of others.

“We try to arrange opportunities for students to get involved in something like this to complete that requirement,” says teacher and guidance councillor Len Whalen. “[This trip will inspire them to] ask questions about the greater existence of life outside our own community, and the challenges they face working within another culture.”

The students will work with the organization Globe Aware, which offers local community projects financial assistance and help with manual labour; they will have opportunities to work at Parismina’s turtle hatchery, help out at schools, and work in restoration projects across the community. […]

Read the rest of the article at Kingston This Week.

The Trip that Changed My Life

“In Cambodia I discovered I don’t have to change who I am to help others.” – Brianna Castillo
“My Ghana honeymoon taught me to slow down.” – Michaela Mancusi

The Trip that Changed My Life - Glamour Magazine

View the article larger here.

Vacations With a Heart: Voluntourism Opportunities Around the World

What better time to show your love for the world than Valentine’s Day? Volunteer vacations provide a way to lend a helping hand, whether it’s across the globe or close to home. And with Disney’s new Give a Day, Get a Disney Day promotion, you can even earn a free ticket to a Disney park. Whether you want to spend a few weeks building communities, or just tack on an extra day to your vacation, you can make a difference by donating your time and efforts to places in need. […]

Read the entire article at Smarter Travel.

Top 5 Tips on how to Volunteer and Travel Successfully

More and more travelers want to incorporate community service projects into their travel itineraries. For those who want to volunteer and travel at the same time, a volunteer vacation experience can satisfy both wanderlust and the need to give back, on a global scale. Below are the Top 5 Tips on how to Volunteer and Travel Successfully, brought to you by Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization that specializes in facilitating volunteer travel.

  1. Research organizations that specialize in placing volunteers in international environments. By participating in an organized volunteer program you can make sure that your volunteer time will be well organized, and your skills well utilized, within a community in need. Volunteering with an organization also ensures safety while you volunteer and travel abroad.
  2. Choose your travel destination based on the type of volunteer work you would like to be engaged in. If you would like to volunteer in environmental initiatives, you might want to consider traveling to Costa Rica. If you would like to volunteer in building infrastructure initiatives, you may want to consider traveling to Ghana. Choosing the location based on the type of volunteer work you would like to do will ensure that you get the most out of both volunteer and travel time.
  3. Research the visa and immunization requirements necessary for each volunteer and travel destination you are interested in. For instance, because of visa requirements, organizing a volunteer trip to Ghana might take more planning time than a volunteer trip to Costa Rica.
  4. Do some homework and investigation about the culture of the community you will be volunteering in. This will help you be able to experience the culture in a deeper, more meaningful way while you volunteer and travel.
  5. Travel with an open heart and open mind. Don’t pack any pre-conceived expectations. Concepts of scheduling and organization are not universal, so be ready to go with the normal flow of thing sin the community in which you will volunteer and travel.

If you are interested in learning more about how to volunteer and travel at the same time, visit to see how a volunteer vacation can change the way you both see, and interact, with the world around you!

Top 10 Ways Families Can Volunteer and Travel

Have you ever dreamed about taking your family on a volunteer adventure of a lifetime? Globe Aware, the nationally recognized international volunteer vacation organization that has worked with family groups since its inception, offers up ten tips to help you make the most of your family volunteer vacation:

  1. Search for a volunteer organization that is family friendly. Are projects safe and are there a variety of projects available that are suited to the various ages of your family members?
  2. Choose a location as a family. Allowing everyone to research and discuss possible locations for your volunteer vacation ensures that everyone is excited about the experience.
  3. Consider how much time you have to devote to a volunteer vacation as a family. If work and school schedules are tight, consider a one week volunteer vacation that coincides with a holiday.
  4. Do some “cultural homework” as a family before your volunteer vacation. Have your children read age appropriate literature about the country you are going to visit and give each other informal reports on information learned.
  5. Talk about the importance of serving others. Does your family volunteer in your local community? Talk with each other about what it means to be a global citizen.
  6. Don’t pack electronics. Nintendo DS, iPods, and the like should be discouraged. Try to unplug from these “Western Necessities” for the duration of your volunteer vacation.
  7. Do pack some snacks. A jar of peanut butter and a box of granola bars can be a lifesaver, especially if you have a finicky eater!
  8. Journal about the experience as a family while on your volunteer vacation. Have each family member take turns expressing themselves in the journal (even if the contribution is only a drawing).
  9. Remember that the ideal volunteer vacation mixes fun, cultural experiences and meaningful work projects. Make sure you encourage one another to spend downtime with the locals and really absorb the local culture.
  10. Post-vacation take some time to create an album to remember the trip. Online sites like make it easy for you to make high quality scrapbooks or albums with text and photos. Preserving your experience like this ensures that your family volunteer vacation memories are safe for years to come.