Difference Maker

Globe Aware was featured in the October 29th issue of The Christian Science Monitor: People Making a Difference. As part of The Christian Science Monitor’s efforts to Create a World Where Giving and Volunteering Are a Natural Part of Everyday Life®, the publication regularly features NGO partners. The Christian Science Monitor also uses social media to continually inform readers about how they can get involved with the NGO partners.

Difference Maker

Alexis Hurd-Shires found her calling helping Syrian refugees

She headed to Lebanon with the general aim of doing some good. Finding a struggling refugee community badly in need of a school, she decided to open one.

Beirut, Lebanon — When Alexis Hurd-Shires decided to leave the United States and move to the Middle East, she didn”t know which country she would be going to or exactly what she would be doing. She only knew that she was going to try to make a positive impact.

1102 PMAD MHURDThe daughter of a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, she was accustomed to traveling. While working on a master”s degree in social work, and after graduation as well, she found short-term opportunities to work abroad. Still, she dreamed of finding something more permanent.

In 2013 the door opened for her to be part of a project sponsored by the Adventist church in Beirut, Lebanon, and Ms. Hurd-Shires jumped at the opportunity. But after she arrived, she found that the work she would be doing wasn”t clearly specified.

“It was actually almost like someone handing you a blank check and saying, “Go imagine something and do it,” ” she says. “Basically, the Adventist church here in the Middle East felt like their church was very inwardly focused and not really reaching out … and they said to themselves “this is not healthy for any organization.” ”

Hurd-Shires immediately began to assess what she could do to make a positive impact. As she explored Beirut, she came across the Bourj Hammoud community, a traditionally Armenian suburb that in recent years has seen an influx of migrant laborers, as well as refugees from the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria.

Many charitable organizations were already working in Bourj Hammoud and providing for particular needs. But as Hurd-Shires began to talk directly with community leaders and the directors of various local organizations, she found that the Syrian refugee community in particular was in need of a great deal of support.

Educating their children was one of their biggest struggles.

Officially, Lebanon welcomes Syrian children into its public schools. The reality, however, can be less inviting. Along with Arabic, the curriculum is largely taught in French or English. Yet even if the Syrian children show competency in one of these languages, schools often still turn them away.

“Sometimes they say it”s because of the ratio. If there are 20 Syrian kids, they say, “We don”t want to accept them if we only have 10 Lebanese kids [in the class]” because they don”t want to throw off the equilibrium of the school,” Hurd-Shires explains.

Lebanon”s entire population before the huge influx of refugees hovered around 4 million.

Because of the number of Syrian refugees fleeing into Lebanon – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees listed 1.3 million registered refugees in Lebanon as of early 2015 – discrimination against Syrians has become commonplace.

Hurd-Shires recognized that her “blank check” project could help to alleviate some of the challenges facing the refugees. So, in the fall of 2013, she opened the Bourj Hammoud Adventist Learning Center – just a few months after her arrival in Lebanon.

Hurd-Shires already had been collecting the names of refugee children who had been out of school for two to three years.

“By the time we were ready to open [our school], we even had a waiting list,” she says. “And it”s always been that way ever since.”

The school, now entering its third academic year, is able to accommodate 70 students. With a curriculum taught in both Arabic and English, it is run by a mix of full-time staff, university students, and a few volunteers from abroad.

Even before the school opened its doors, Hurd-Shires began working to meet the needs of the refugees by providing medical supplies and food. Through a steady stream of donations from other countries – and from the local Adventist community – the center has been able to provide support.

The school also works to build lasting relationships with those it serves.

“Three days a week after school, the teachers go out and they spend time in the homes, just visiting with the families, talking with the families, befriending the families,” Hurd-Shires says.

In addition to these home visits, the school also holds regular weekly gatherings and arranges outings that bring the refugee families together.

Last June, during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, Hurd-Shires and other staff joined refugee families for iftar dinners, as they broke their fast. The school has also organized iftar meals for the families at the school.

Such gatherings have not only caused the refugees to see Hurd-Shires and her staff as extended family, but also have helped to bring the Bourj Hammoud refugee community itself closer together.

During this year”s Ramadan, “Everyone was sharing what they felt blessed for,” Hurd-Shires recalls. “And one mother said, “I was really dreading Ramadan this year because for us Ramadan is a time for family, a time where everybody goes to cook food with family and neighbors. But here, who do I have? Even though I don”t have my real family here, I came to this iftar on the first night of Ramadan, and I am with my family.” ”

Tragedy struck earlier this year when a student at the center died. But Hurd-Shires again saw how the community had grown together.

“As we were at the mom”s house, grieving with her and the family, one by one the other parents started coming to support her and be there for her,” she says.

Now, when the Bourj Hammoud Adventist Learning Center teachers and staff visit with a family in the evenings, it”s normal for other families to show up as well.

At the center of this budding community is Hurd-Shires herself.

“Alexis is trying her best to be friendly and helpful. She is always the shelter they come to whenever they have any problem,” says Noor al-Masery, a university student who works at the learning center.

“I”ve seen the impact of the center in the children”s lives … through making them feel that they are not alone in this world [and] allowing them to think about a better future through education,” says Christine Watts, another university student who has worked at the school.

Ayat Hariri, a 13-year-old student, says Hurd-Shires has become more than just a teacher. “She helped me very much, and I love her not just like a teacher, [but] like my friend.”

Hurd-Shires says she feels blessed by the support that the school has received thus far. But she has even bigger dreams. She hopes that the school someday will be able to expand to accommodate more students, or that perhaps she can open a second school elsewhere in Lebanon.

The gratitude of the refugees has been shown in some unusual ways.

“One day I came in and this one particular family was so excited to see me,” she says. “They were saying, “We have something for you! We have something for you!” ”

They gave her a dried piece of skin, which they told her was the umbilical cord of their newborn baby. In their region of Syria, she learned, it”s traditional to put the umbilical cord in a place that signifies what you want for your baby”s future.

“We don”t have big dreams of what we want him to become or do in life,” they told her. “All we know is that we want him to be like you.”

How to take action

Universal Giving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by Universal Giving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to three groups that help children in need:

  • The Shirley Ann Sullivan Foundation provides educational opportunities and seeks to protect children from exploitation and physical harm. Take action: Empower children through education.
  • World Food Program USA (Friends of WFP) supports the work of the United Nations World Food Program, the world”s largest hunger relief organization. Take action: Provide relief for Syrian refugees.
  • Globe Aware helps people and communities prosper without becoming dependent on outside aid. Take action: Volunteer to build a school in Ghana.

The Christian Science Monitor

Voluntourism comes to Cuba via Dallas

Globetrotter Kimberly Haley-Coleman takes East Dallasites around the world

By Brittany Nunn

Kimberly-Haley-Coleman-Globe-Aware-Rasy-Ran-02As the Obama administration eases travel restrictions to the long-exiled island of Cuba, millions of Americans are preparing to flock there in the upcoming years. Among those celebrating is Kimberly Haley-Coleman.

Haley-Coleman, a multigenerational Lakewood resident, is the founder and director of Globe Aware, an organization that takes groups to countries for short-term, volunteer-centric trips.

It’s “voluntourism” at its best, taking people into 17 countries from Costa Rica to Cambodia, and Haley-Coleman is especially excited to add Cuba to her list.

Since the ’50s, when tension between the United States and communism reached its Cold War boiling point, Americans largely have been banned from traveling to the island nation, which sits less than 500 miles from U.S. soil. Cubans, conversely, have been banned from purchasing any American products, which has had a chilling effect on its fragile economy. Conflicts have since cooled, and the Obama administration has worked to lift some of the remaining restrictions, especially allowing for freedom of travel.

“Cuba is undergoing huge changes right now,” she says, “And of course, there are people who don’t like it, but Cuba is crumbling, and it has been crumbling since the Cuban Revolution. Well now the restoration process is happening again.”

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Which is exactly what Haley-Coleman wants to be part of, particularly because she understands the importance of cultural sensitivity. To her, work trips aren’t about going into other countries with an egotistical hero complex; they’re about helping in any way possible, while also giving neighbors an opportunity to immerse themselves in an unfamiliar culture.

“We can learn from each other,” Haley-Coleman says. “It gives us a chance to look at the beauties and the challenges of our own culture compared to the beauties and the challenges of others.”

In the 15 years since Globe Aware was founded, Haley-Coleman’s give-and-take mindset has attracted thousands of East Dallasites to travel with Globe Aware. Each trip is 10 days long and includes a task, such as assembling wheelchairs for landmine victims or helping schoolchildren.

“In Cuba, we’re fixing up playgrounds, working in elderly homes and working in schools,” she says. “We don’t go into places and tell them what they need. We ask them, ‘What is your challenge? How can we help you?’ And those are the projects that we do.”

Interested in participating in a trip to Cuba or another country? Go to globeaware.org.
– See more at: http://lakewood.advocatemag.com/2015/10/23/globetrotter-kimberly-haley-coleman-takes-east-dallasites-around-the-world/#sthash.Sm3czx56.dpuf

 

Self

Column: Never too young for “voluntourism”

Writer Sally Bassett Brown offers a commentary in Carmel, IN, Current in Zionsville newspaper on the joys of traveling abroad, engaging locals and volunteer vacations.

One of the greatest joys of leading "voluntourism" retreats, trips mixed with travel and service, is the mixture of ages within a group.  Recently I had 20 people join me to Costa Rica including high school students, an 11 year old girl and a 5-year old boy.  Our oldest was 70 years young.  Bernadette was a delight as she zip lined through the rainforest for her first time.  Grey, our 5 year old from Zionsville, kept everyone joyfully engaged throughout the week as we worked at our International Center for Girls.

CIZ HEALTH 0721 Sally Bassett Never Too Young for Voluntourism.docxThe group visited the school on four different occasions.  Reading stations were set up, tie-dye activity was implemented, the classroom was completed cleaned and reorganized, backpacks were given as well as special stuffed animals and beanie babies, fluoride treatments were applied to each child”s teeth, games and singing with the children were a big hit, and a wonderful workshop on Empowerment was given by a sex education teacher from Richmond, IN.

Each girl received new pink shoes to go with their "Girls for Success" t-shirts.  We were able to deliver a much requested computer to Yainsey, our miracle child who has had 8 surgeries on her leg.  Yainsey will also be receiving a $150 pink bicycle so that she is able to get around easier.

Bends of material were brought down so our sewing program can go to the next level of making revenue producing items.

A field trip with the girls to the beach followed by pizza was a huge hit.  Adventure activities (zip lining and river rafting) and trips to the beach were also part of the week”s schedule for our group participants.

The highlight, as always, were the dinners with the families the last night in the rainforest.  Six or seven families host 3-5 people for a couple of hours and serve traditional Costa Rican fare.

Grey”s mother, Courtney Gorman, says, "I am extremely passionate about voluntourism, having been a trip organizer and leader for many years. To take my five year old on his first one was a dream come true….His light shone so bright, as I knew it would, and he immersed himself fully in everything we did.  For me to sit back and watch him connect so open-heartedly with everyone, especially the Costa Rican children, will forever be a treasured memory.  I know journeys like this will keep him seeking out adventure, hungry for learning, and passionate about service work throughout his life."  What more can you want for you child.

Self

The Student Becomes the Teacher

A family traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia on spring break and shared their experience and the confidence-building activities their son engaged in during their Globe Aware volunteer vacation.

Learning in a one-to-one environment helps students build confidence. They grow in ways they never knew possible, and try new things they may have not done before.

Patrick, a Fusion Park Avenue student, is a glowing example of this. He and his family spent their spring break on a service trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

service trip to Siem Reap CambodiaPatrick”s mom sent the Park Avenue team the following email about their trip:

"I hope everyone had a nice spring break. I thought you guys might like to see some highlights from our sightseeing and service trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia with a great voluntourism organization, Globe Aware. Patrick was awesome in taking on the role of a "teacher" and the kids " despite language barriers " really connected with him.

Patrick’s Family

We volunteered at the small "English-speaking" school in one of the poorest villages just outside Siem Reap. We were charged with helping the kids ranging in age from about 7 to 15 practice their conversational English. We were with them, totaling about 50 students, for 3 days. It was an incredible experience and Patrick was really moved by it and the children he met. While some of the kids were clearly amazingly bright, because of their economic disadvantages, I”m told the vast majority of them will ultimately stop going to school by the time they reach 7th or 8th grade. And, the school”s continued sustainability also remains fragile. As inspirational our time there was, parts of it were also heartbreaking.

I hope the time we spent there, and the students” interactions with my kids, motivate them even just a little to try and keep pursuing their education in spite of the challenges they face economically and at home.

Patrick Family service trip to Siem Reap CambodiaWith that in mind, thank you all for the influence you”ve had on Patrick which helped him be able to shine in that setting and to feel he was doing something worthwhile and meaningful. You are all great mentors and have really helped Patrick emerge from a much more difficult place two years ago when he first came to Fusion. As I mentioned to Heather (Head of School, Fusion Park Avenue), he came there emotionally "broken" and you”ve all been huge contributors in his ability to heal and put him back on the path to being the kind, empathetic, and impactful member of society that I”ve always known he can be. Who knows, maybe some day he”ll go back to Cambodia or journey elsewhere and be a force that helps those children stay in school and break the seemingly inescapable cycle they are in.

I will be eternally grateful for the influence each and everyone of you have had in his development and growth.

As you”ll see, for his foray in the classroom, on one of the days we had him wear his Fusion t-shirt. I think it was a bit symbolic and a bit of a tribute to his teachers back home.

Cheers,
Judy

Self

Difference Maker

Ian Tilling, a retired British policeman, went to Romania to help children in need. His nonprofit Casa Ioana is a place where women and children can go to feel safe and learn how to rebuild their lives. Ian was so inspired and pleased with the impact and success of his efforts, he never left Romania. Here is his story from the The Christian Science Monitor.

World People Making a Difference

By Kit Gillet, Correspondent

effa0a0f0a538262f96ed7a70b9a5634 LBucharest, Romania — It’s been a journey to Romania of a quarter-century-and-counting for Ian Tilling. During that time he has been instrumental in setting up long-term shelters in Bucharest, the capital, initially for orphans, later for the homeless, and later still for families suffering from domestic abuse.

Casa Ioana, which he founded 20 years ago, recently opened a second night shelter in Bucharest, where women and children can go to feel safe and start to rebuild their lives. The charity is also about to roll out a series of courses to help recovering women develop job skills.

“Without a job the chances of changing the situation [for these women] is quite remote. The only way out really is through employment,” says Mr. Tilling, sitting in the historic Old Town neighborhood in the heart of downtown Bucharest.
Recommended: 11 quotes from difference makers

Tilling, a retired police detective from England, first came to Romania after seeing disturbing televised images of institutionalized children that were broadcast around the world following the Romanian revolution in December 1989.

“My wife asked me if I had seen the pictures coming out of Romania, the awful images of children languishing in orphanages,” says Tilling, explaining his first glimpse of the country that would come to dominate his life.

Within six weeks he and a British nurse had gathered up supplies and were driving across Europe in a borrowed van filled with donated baby food, diapers, toys, and medicine. They ended up at an orphanage called Plataresti, a “hellhole 40 minutes drive outside Bucharest,” Tilling recalls.

At Plataresti, Tilling was asked to help with a group of twenty 7- to- 9-year-olds who lived together in one room. Their cots were lined up 10 on each wall “like a row of prison cells” and the children never left them, he says. Most were still being bottle fed. The smell was awful. Tilling was tasked with talking with the children and keeping them clean, neither an easy task.

“For the month I was working there I was numb,” he says. Yet during the drive back across the Continent to Britain he decided he must go back to Romania. A little while later he did return, this time with 298 other people and a convoy of 100 trucks with supplies.

At the time of his first visit Tilling had been coming to the end of a long police career and wondering what to do next.

“I joined the police at 16 as a cadet. It was all I knew,” he says. He was living in the south of England with his wife and four children. Then in 1991 his eldest son, just 19, died in a motorbike accident and Tilling’s life fell apart.

In 1992 he took early retirement and moved to Romania to run a British charity he had established to provide lifelong care to some of the children from Plataresti.

“Looking back I was clearly escaping the hurt I felt back home,” he says.

However, rather than helping to heal his pain the project proved to be a nightmare itself, with the Romanian government breaking promises and officials demanding bribes. He was left trying to manage a small apartment block in Ferentari, a district of Bucharest that was fast becoming a ghetto inhabited primarily by desperately poor Roma (commonly called Gypsy) families.

“It was all unraveling, and my personal demons were coming to the front, and I was having to deal with that, too,” Tilling says.

In the winter of 1994-95 he lived with 300 Roma families in a collection of dilapidated apartment buildings. To top it off his marriage was breaking up.

“It was the lowest point in my life, but I was fortunate in that I finished my grieving process,” he says today.

Near the end of that winter friends gathered to urge him to leave, even going so far as collecting money for his plane ticket. But he didn’t want to return to England defeated. Instead he regrouped, creating a new charity – a Romanian one – that would pick up where the British charity had left off.

Casa Ioana was born. Over the next few years it became a halfway house for formerly institutionalized young adults and a resource center that helped local organizations set up a school for children with profound disabilities, as well as a kindergarten for local Roma families.

In 1997 Tilling was approached by the mayor of Bucharest with a request to open a night shelter for homeless men, who had become a growing problem in the city. He eventually agreed after the mayor offered to supply a building to house the shelter.

It opened as an emergency shelter for homeless men. But after a few years Tilling noticed the large number of women who came looking for a place to stay together with their children.

Recognizing that the system was failing these families at a time when they needed to keep together he refocused his efforts. Today, Casa Ioana is the largest provider of temporary shelter for survivors of domestic abuse in Bucharest. “I do what I do out of a profound sense of justice,” he says. “I hate to see people suffering.”

Those who know Tilling say he works day and night. “He is a one-man tornado,” says Nigel Bell, a British expatriate businessman who volunteers his time and expertise to Casa Ioana. “He tries to do everything himself; it is absolutely personal to him.”

Despite having the title of president of Casa Ioana, Tilling is often found painting the walls or cleaning the toilets.

Women and children who arrive at the shelters are left alone for the first few weeks. When they are ready they sit down with members of his team, which includes psychologists working pro bono, to develop a plan for moving forward.

Families can stay for as long as a year but Tilling says the vast majority move on within six to eight months. The women get jobs and are able to afford their own places, he says.

Casa Ioana perpetually faces challenges of space and money. It has room for 20 families and nine single women; last year it had to turn away 200 families. “We simply didn’t have room,” Tilling says.

His charity has a budget of about $100,000 a year; 80 percent of its funding comes from private donors and 20 percent from the Romanian government. It employs six staff members. Tilling himself takes no salary and lives on his British pension.

“Ian keeps us together. He brings people in from outside, and he opens the right doors,” says Monica Breazu, one of the social workers employed at Casa Ioana.

Parts of Romania are very traditional, and domestic abuse is often swept under the rug. Women who break away from abusive relationships and end up at Casa Ioana are likely to have been almost completely reliant financially on their husbands.

“Many haven’t got high school diplomas, and without that they can’t access formal training,” Tilling says. “So we created the opportunity for them to return to school. We give them the equivalent of a minimum salary in order to study.” Casa Ioana is also developing a financial-literacy program and six other courses that cover what employers will be looking for from new hires.

Tilling’s journey has never been easy. In 1998 the first Casa Ioana was ransacked by outsiders; everything was stolen right down to the fixtures and electrical wiring. “There were many occasions when I was close to saying enough is enough,” he says. “I’ve invested so much of myself. The good thing was I literally had nothing to go back to, so that was a good incentive to persevere.”

In 2000 Tilling was honored with an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II, shortly after Prince Charles visited Casa Ioana. Two years later he was awarded Romania’s equivalent.

Tilling knows that eventually he’ll have to pass the responsibility for Casa Ioana along to someone else. But it appears that it isn’t going to be anytime soon.

How to take action

Universal Giving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by Universal Giving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to groups that help children worldwide:

  • Globe Aware helps people and communities prosper without becoming dependent on outside aid. Take action: Volunteer to work helping the underprivileged in Romania.
  • Eastern Congo Initiative works with the people of eastern Congo, where local, community-based approaches are creating a sustainable society. Take action: Support access to education for girls in eastern Congo.
  • Half the Sky Foundation enriches the lives of orphans in China, offering loving, family-like care. Every orphaned child should have a caring adult in his or her life. Take action: Help a teen in Half the Sky’s youth services program.

 

Self

Volunteering and Your Dream Job

Infographic-volunteering-and-your-careerMark Horoszowski is Co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their skills with social impact organizations around the world. Mark recently wrote this great article on volunteering which appearred in his blog and in The Huffington Post.


Good for the World, Good for You – This Infographic Shows How Volunteering Can Help You Find and Get Your Dream Job

Finding and earning your dream job is no easy journey, but it turns out that doing good for the world might be your golden ticket.

Over the past few years, we’ve spoken with hundreds of volunteers, hiring managers, recruiters, and career coaches to explore the theory that volunteering can help people get their dream job in any sector: public, private, or non-profit. We’ve complimented our qualitative stories with quantitative research to show that volunteering helps you at all the main steps of your career path:

  1. Identifying your passions and career calling
  2. Building critical skills and making your resume stand out
  3. Helping you ace the interview and hiring process

Our team is incredibly eager to show this research as it represents a true win-win: Some of the biggest challenges facing this earth are skills-related challenges, meanwhile people benefit by contributing their skills to global issues.

“No matter the position I’m interviewing for, I look specifically for volunteer experience – it shows me that the person has passion, thinks beyond him/herself, and has the ability to take initiative. In short, it shows me the person will be a better team member.” – Mary M, Leadership Development Professional at Fortune 50 Company

In summary, our research shows that people should be pickier about the way they engage in volunteering by making sure their time and talents are actually needed – not just their physical presence. In fact, we found that volunteers are more engaged, deliver more value to organizations, and stay longer if they donate their real talents as opposed to their muscles. In doing so, they also tend to experience “career enlightenment”.

However, there appears to be a right and wrong way to both volunteer AND communicate your experience on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter. The following infographic shows you why and how volunteering your skills, especially on a dedicated project like an international volunteering trip, can help you find and get your dream job. It is also full of useful tips about how to choose a project and how to talk about your volunteer experience during the interview process for public, private, or governmental jobs.

Volunteering Can Help You Identify Your Dream Job

Beyond helping you understand your strengths, being purposeful about your volunteer work can also help you learn more about specific industries, gain experience working on different types of teams, and gain exposure to what it’s like to work inside different sizes of organizations. The combination of these can help you refine what and where your dream job is. In fact, 95% of career advisers agreed that volunteering “brings clarity to the job search”, and 76% strongly agreed that it made you “more likely to get your dream job”.

“If you’re thinking of making a career change years down the road, consider volunteering now to lay a foundation for the future. It helps you identify your real strengths, build a bigger network, and explore what truly motivates you. You’ll look back and be glad you had the foresight to plan early.” – Brad Waters, Founder of Brad Waters Coaching and Consulting

There is a great article in the Harvard Business Review that hits to the theory as to why this is true: Profession and Purpose

Volunteering Can Improve Your Resume and Help You Stand Out

This was one of the most interesting areas in our research… We found that most recruiters spend less than 60 seconds looking at a resume, and experienced recruiters spend even less – one recruiter shared that she spends less than 30 seconds per resume. Only 30.4% felt that candidates with international skills-based volunteering experience stand out.

So what do they look for? They focus their few seconds of attention on REAL work experience that tells a “cohesive story” about why you are applying for a job and deserve to get it. While recruiters tend to agree that volunteering makes you a more interesting candidate (54%), the slight majority DO NOT look specifically for it.

In other words, while recruiters don’t look for volunteer experience, our research hints that if it is communicated the right way, it makes your resume “stand out”. However, one anonymous recruiter told us that “a resume with too much volunteer experience is a negative thing if the person is applying for a for-profit company, even if that company has a history of good social responsibility”.

Recruiters did agree that there is a “best” way to position your volunteer experience, and it’s probably not what you expect.

“If you have completed meaningful projects, include it as real work experience, not in a ‘volunteer or interest’ section. Call it ‘Pro Bono consulting’ and articulate the situation, task, action, and result – just as you would a normal job.” – Katie Kross, author of Profession and Purpose

Your skills-based volunteer experience should help you round out your resume and tell a recruiter that you have the skills and experience needed for it, as well as a passion for the industry. As an example, if you are a finance professional looking to get into the tech industry, like Google, volunteering finance skills at a tech nonprofit or a tech startup can help show your passion for tech. Or, perhaps you’re a program manager at a tech company and want to get into global development at the Gates Foundation. In this second case, having volunteered overseas for an extended length of time with a similar type of beneficiary organization will prove that you have the skills and field experience to earn a position.

Volunteering Can Help You While You Interview

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of managers that get excited when candidates have real volunteer experience – 66% specifically look for it and strongly value it. Similar to career advisers and recruiters, they agreed that “day of labor” style volunteering didn’t add much value. Instead they emphasized that people who engaged in skills-based projects for a specific cause “stood out as more interesting candidates because they are likely to be better team members”.

“International experience (of any kind, personal or professional) leads to a greater life experience, which then leads to a greater awareness of needs. In my experience, candidates who have these things then have a greater ability to innovate.” – Harry Weiner, Co-founder and Partner at On-Ramps

Similar to on your resume, volunteer work is only interesting it if demonstrates that you took initiative and delivered meaningful results. Anecdotally, we also feel that managers value volunteering for another reason – many felt that it involved “transferring skills to others”, and this resonated as being very valuable as it showed you had prior experience with coaching and developing others.

Why is Volunteering Experience Valued so Highly?

Along the entire candidate screening and hiring journey, volunteering your skills simply shows that you take initiative, are more selfless, and truly value your professional skills. Managers equate this to mean that you are more likely to be a better team member and deliver results.

“In every situation – from financial to creative positions – I look at a candidate’s volunteer history. It’s a good indication of their passion, leadership and problem solving abilities.” Julian Lorentz, Owner at Awakening Visuals

Indeed, we saw that managers agreed or strongly agreed that skills-based volunteering, especially in international environments, was a great way to develop skills needed to succeed:

  • Collaboration: 93.8%
  • Communication: 97%
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ): 89.3%
  • Grit: 80%
  • Innovation: 70%
  • Leadership: 90.3%
  • Problem Solving: 90.3%

However, managers were quick to note that “not all volunteer experiences are created equal”. First and foremost, managers are most interested “in finding quality people with demonstrated skills… volunteering doesn’t automatically mean you are either of these. It has to be the right type of volunteering project”.

An Important Caveat

As an organization with a mission of accelerating the impact of changemakers around the world, we would like to add the caveat that volunteering should be approached as selflessly as possible. Our research should not be used to motivate people to volunteer just for the sake of professional gain… In fact, our research shows that people should start their volunteering endeavor by auditing their skills, formalizing their goals, and then searching for an organization that specifically needs their skills. Groups like MovingWorlds, Catchafire, and LinkedIn For Good can all help you find the perfect placement. Done improperly, volunteering your skills might make your resume look better, but it can harm the organization you are trying to support.

In fact, a notable number of respondents felt that volunteering did NOT even belong on your resume at all and were quick to add comments that if they felt volunteer experiences were engaged only for professional gain, it would negatively impact the candidate.

In Summary

Our research shows that volunteering can indeed help you in all steps of your career journey, from identifying your passion to standing out in the hiring process regardless of your career ambitions. However, volunteer experience doesn’t automatically launch you past other candidates, and in fact, it can even detract from your resume. One of the senior level managers we spoke with best summarized this point when he shared that

“When I’m looking for someone to join my team, the recipe is actually pretty simple… I want the person to have the required skills, I want to know the person has passion for our company and industry, and I want proof that the person will be an effective team member and the potential to be a long-term contributor, and hopefully, a leader… the right type of volunteer experience can help with all of those, especially the latter, but it’s not a replacement for job experience… it’s more of an icing on the cake situation. But when you’re looking for the best cake, icing is pretty @%&$ important!”

It is our contention that in this globally-connected and competitive job market, the more connections you’ve made, skills you’ve practiced, and experiences you have, the more you stand out. And, considering some of the world’s biggest challenges are propagated by a lack of access to skills, we also live in a time when doing good for the world can help you get ahead, and is good for your health, too!

If you have additional insights on the topic or care about it, we’d love to talk to you. Find us on Twitter or contact us.

This post originally appeared on the MovingWorlds blog and is reposted with permission.

This page contains materials from The Huffington Post and/or other third party writers. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) has not selected or reviewed such third party content and it does not necessarily reflect the views of PwC. PwC does not endorse and is not affiliated with any such third party. The materials are provided for general information purposes only, should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors, and PwC shall have no liability or responsibility in connection therewith.

The Huffington Post

International Day of the African Child

International Day of the African Child

UniversalGivingâ„¢, a website that helps people give and volunteer with the top-performing projects all over the world, is recognizing the International Day of the African Child and some of the better projects and volunteer vacation facilitators.

UniversalGiving Celebrates International Day of the African Child

On June 16th, 1976, about ten thousand schoolchildren marched in Soweto, South Africa to protest the poor quality of education they were receiving, as well as to demand the right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of these young children were shot, simply for daring to believe that they deserved better.

The International Day of the African Child (DAC) is a holiday taking place on June 16th that seeks to commemorate the children who died in Soweto, recognize the complex needs of African children, and reaffirm a commitment to protect their rights. This year, the theme of DAC is "25 Years After the Adoption of the African Children”s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa.”

UniversalGiving celebrates DAC to ensure that the needs and rights of African children are protected and respected. Today, many children in Africa are suffering every day from a lack of food, healthcare, education, and other basic human rights.

Celebrate International Day of the African Child by donating to or volunteering with one of UniversalGiving”s top-quality partner organizations committed to bettering the lives of children in Africa. UniversalGiving offers a wide selection of thoroughly vetted, highly trustworthy organizations to choose from. You can rest assured that all of the organizations on our website have been held to the highest standards of quality, transparency, and trust, and 100% of donations made through UniversalGiving go directly to the cause. So go ahead–do your part for these children, and check out one of our Top Projects, Top Gift Packages, or Top Volunteer Opportunities!

Top Projects

Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI). ECI”s partner, HEAL Africa, is a specialized hospital in Goma that has provided healthcare to the population of Eastern Congo since 1994. ECI”s maternal health and child health initiatives have boosted the quality of life for many children of Congo. Recently, heavy fighting outside of Goma has increased the need for health care in Congo; now, more than ever, these children need your help. Your donation of $25 goes to delivering medical supplies to wounded civilians.

Develop Africa. Funding this Develop Africa project will help provide lifesaving serum to patients infected with ebola in Sierra Leone–many of whom are children. A $25 donation to this project will fund the purchase and shipment of one FDA approved machine which will help create the Convalescent Serum. Just $25 could save a life from ebola–too many lives have already been lost.

Top Gift Packages

Develop Africa. Many facilities in African schools have not caught up to the information age, making it difficult for children to receive the training and knowledge they need to succeed in today”s world. Develop Africa is providing computer training to empower African students and equip them with the tools they need to thrive. $50 will sponsor training in basic computer skills and office application for young African students.

World Food Program USA. It is estimated that 66 million students around the world go to school hungry. The World Food Program USA provides essential school meals to children, feeding their bodies so that they can grow their minds. School meals can also provide incentive for families to send their children to school, so these families no longer have to worry about feeding their hungry children during the day. These meals can lift entire communities out of poverty– your $50 gift could save a life and promote education in poverty-ridden communities of Africa.

Top Volunteer Opportunities

Globe Aware. Volunteers with Globe Aware will travel to the Imizamo Yethu township of South Africa, where they will assist in numerous projects including improving pre-school care centers, refurbishing the Community Youth Center, and participating in school sports lessons. Traveling to South Africa and engaging with this unique community is sure to be an incredible and rewarding experience.

The Global Volunteer Network Foundation (GVN). GVN has many enriching volunteer opportunities in Uganda, where participants will help provide primary and secondary education for needy children. GVN volunteers will be able to provide crucial love, affection, support, and education to orphaned or abandoned Ugandan children who desperately need help. Working with these children is sure to irrevocably change your life for the better–and their lives, too.

Self

Being Aware of Your Globe

Globe Aware founder and executive director Kimberly Haley-Coleman wrote an article for Everyday Ambassador’s "Wednesday Wisdom", a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador Partnerships Manager Anjana Sreedhar. In her article, Kimberly highlights central values such as empathy and patience, and how they all relate to building a comprehensive cultural understanding about our environment.

kimberly-hockadayAs a high school student in Dallas at Hocakday, I was fortunate to be able to travel internationally and to be involved in many lo­cal community service projects from candy striping at hos­pitals to working in women' s shelters. I was interested in other cultures and languages from a young age, and perhaps most specifically how cultural conditioning dictates such a great amount of our behaviors. It is something we don' t often examine, that our actions are often largely LEARNED. It may be something as simple as how much free time is considered a humane and normal amount to have in one' s life. The answer is hugely divergent even based on the country in which one was born, or the culture to which one is attached. I find this important because it also shows how a person can change their perspective. The kind of message that has the ability to completely change your life " to be happier, healthier and to have a greater impact helping others achieve their goals " which in itself has a coronation to happiness.

After high school, I went to Emory University and continued educa­tion in international cultures and held many jobs that re­quired multi-cultural skills. I then went onto receive my Masters in French and Art His­tory and my MBA in inter­national business then worked for a variety of corporations. Like many, I saw my pocket book expand, but felt my soul shrinking. I would find myself in a country like Brazil over the weekend on business, and looking to fill free time. Beyond tourist activities, I wanted to connect to the local communities by volunteering. I found that most organizations simply do not want to accept anyone short term, as the amount of time and resources it takes just to organize fro or train someone for a few days is more trouble than its worth. I did understand. But my appetite grew. I called every organization I could and kept coming up against the same response. Eventually I started organizing my own short term programs and found there was a huge response by others to join me. Once I was able to live on the income from my spouse, I left prior work and set about creating these experiences full time.

Globe Aware' s objectives are two-fold. One is to promote cultural awareness; essentially to allow the participant to get a more complete understanding of the real beauties and challenges faced in a different culture, rather than just a tourist, post-card view. The other goal is to promote sustainability, which is to say to help people stand on their own two feet. To that end, we work side-by-side with locals, as equals, working on projects that are important to them. They choose the projects, the materials, and how we go about doing it. The experiences are all one week. not because that is the ideal amount of time to spend to get to know a culture, but because it is what is feasible for most North Americans. I am frequently asked if working with the Peace Corps for 2 and a half years might not be a better experience. Of course that length of time will give you a much deeper comprehension and allow significantly more time to make a meaningful contribution.

My hope is that our one week experiences light the lamp of inspiration for participants to want to come back and discover and give back to more and more cultures. We have programs in 17 countries around the world and are always expanding. In Cambodia we assemble and distribute wheelchairs for landmine victims, in Peru we build adobe lorena stoves that greatly reduce deforestation and decrease smoke inhalation inside the home, in Guatemala we install concrete floors in the homes of single mothers, we have built schools, homes, hygiene stations, the spectrum is large and each program is very different. We spend about 40 hours a week working, and still have 3 to 5 planned but optional cultural excursions. We purposefully do not work in orphanages. A quick google about "orphanage tourism" will explain why. We do, however, work with and for needy children in many of our programs. It' s a wonderful, organic learning process.

Occasionally people will ask if it' s really a good thing when volunteering abroad benefits the volunteer. Our feeling is that is a full 50% of why we exist " YES! To expand the minds of the volunteer so that they understand the real challenges of the world and return home reinvigorated to make a difference and continue giving back. While we definitely want to provide for those in need, we are not heroes. We are not coming in to save the world. Usually the locals are faster and better at every activity we take on, which in itself provides a wonderful learning experience. The goal is that our work benefits the community where we are working and the volunteer doing the work. I think it' s critical that in order to be a really involved, successful person, one should also be a globally aware. citizen. We want more people who are able to care about the globe, who are trying to help find resolutions, on a global scale, to conflicts that are im­portant, whether it' s political peace or bringing groups and different nationalities together to find a solution to problems that we all face.

Last but not least, participating in a travel abroad program can be a huge source of joy for someone for their whole life, to have those wonderful moments of cultur­al understanding.

Everyday Ambassador

Globe Aware partners with EA

Globe Aware is pleased to announce a partnership with Everyday Ambassador, a best-practice network of global citizens and organizations that believe that human connection, even in an increasingly digital world, is the key to lasting, positive social change.

April Wrap-Up: Updates from Our Partners

EA-logo-500Today' s post marks the third post of a new initiative: the last Wednesday Wisdom post of every month will be dedicated to announcing updates from our experiential partner organizations. Due to technical errors this post is being featured today. See what each organization is up to, whether it be a new initiative, a star volunteer, or an exciting new program, below.

Also a special shout-out to organizations who are working with their partners on the ground in Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate those who have been affected by last week' s tragic earthquake.

New Partners:

We are proud to announce two of our newest experiential partners, Globe Aware and Global Citizens Network! Both are committed to promoting culturally responsible leadership for participants who are interested in giving back in a responsible way. Read a little bit about both of them below!

Globe Aware

Globe Aware is a nonprofit that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. The mission of Globe Aware' s volunteer trips is to promote cultural awareness and create sustainability. For GlobeAware the concept of cultural awareness means to recognize and appreciate the real beauties and real challenges of a culture, but not to change it. The concept of sustainability is to help others stand on their own two feet and to teach skills rather than reliance.

9Globe Aware recently launched their newest program to South Africa, in which volunteers will help to improve and maintain local homes and schools throughout the community. Projects include replacing roofing, home waterproofing, and installing concrete floors. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in community and school activities such as soccer, volleyball, and Physical Education classes. GlobeAware is very excited about the South Africa program and looks forward to watching the community thrive. Globe Aware is also excited about announcing the launch of its Cuba Program for this summer as well!

Globe Aware has also been participating in an amazing social media campaign through FLOAT (For The Love of All Things), through which they are selling designed limited-edition shirts. For each t-shirt sold to Globe Aware, FLOAT will donate $8 for every shirt to promote sustainability in communities Globe Aware serves abroad.

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware' s founder, had this to say:

"South Africa took the proud step to end apartheid more than two decades ago; we are delighted to see volunteers working in partnership with locals to help bring the vision of a better future to all South Africans. We welcome you to come and be a part of it."

Everyday Ambassador

Make more of your time off

Writing for the Dallas Morning News, Lynn O' Rourke Hayes, editor of familytravel.com, offers suggestions on creating a family bucket listy with meaning.

Make your time off mean more

Are you creating your family travel bucket list? Here are five things to consider as you put yours together.

  1. Let your values lead the way. Ask yourself what aspects ' geographically, spiritually and culturally ' of the world you want to share with your loved ones. Then create your list of possible destinations and experiences accordingly.
  2. Share your heritage. Have you spent time in the area where you were raised? Have you toured the Old Country or explored your family' s genealogy? Time spent researching your family story and planning a trip to uncover more detail or to meet long-lost relatives can make for powerful bonding.
  3. Get back to nature. Head to the Galápagos Islands for friendly wildlife and stunning flora. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, families can kayak, hike, swim and dive among sea lions, flamingos, blue-footed boobies, whales, dolphins and supersized tortoises. Learn about the fragile ecosystem and the dynamic geologic forces that forged the 12 major islands and numerous outcroppings.
  4. Make it multigenerational. Busy and geographically diverse families often choose vacation time for shared experiences. Join the mother-daughter team of Sarah Aciego, a distinguished glaciochemist, and her mother, professional photographer Mindy Cambiar, for their inaugural tour of West Greenland. The photo-hiking adventure offers a dramatic introduction to glaciers, icebergs, dog-sledding, indigenous life, arctic wildlife and fjords.
  5.  Give back. Make your family holiday about more than relaxing on a beach or museum-hopping in the city. Plan a volunteer vacation that helps those less fortunate. Teach English, read to children, paint a building or help plant a garden. Many resorts and cruise programs offer the opportunity to give back in local communities.

Self