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.

5 Ways to Take Volunteer Vacation without Breaking the Bank or Using All Your Vacation Time

Traveling abroad while serving others doesn’t need to be as time consuming or expensive as many might think. Globe Aware, the nationally recognized international volunteer vacation organization, offers up five tips to help you make the most of your volunteer vacation time while keeping costs to a minimum:

  1. Seek out volunteer programs with only a one week time commitment and try to choose a week that coincides with a normal paid holiday. This way the total days taken off from work is minimized and so is the impact on your pay check.
  2. Choose a non profit organization to facilitate your volunteer program. By going with a non profit you are able to deduct the costs associated with volunteer travel from your yearly income taxes.
  3. Check with your employer to see if your company matches employee contributions to charitable organizations. If so, your employer’s generosity could slash the cost of international volunteer participation in half!
  4. Search for grant opportunities available to help people fund international volunteer service. For instance, Travelocity’s Travel for Good Program awards a $5,000 grant each quarter.
  5. Ask family and friends for support. Many volunteers fundraise to cover the costs associated with international volunteer service. Find a cause that you care about and ask family and friends to sponsor you in any amount they are able. Remember, many small contributions add up to a big total!

For more information on how to take advantage of a volunteer vacation you can visit Globe Aware at


Globe Aware(R) is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity that mobilizes short term volunteer vacations 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.