We have done multiple trips with Global Volunteers - Montana, St. Lucia, Ecuador and Greece. We have been doing these trips with our two sons starting from First Grade to now in Middle and High School. We are scheduled to go to Italy next year.
We have found each trip an amazing experience for us and our children. It has allowed us as family to both learn and give back together. In each trips, we have had the privilege of learning from the community and being able to share their lives and experiences. We have also loved interacting with other like minded volunteers. We have found the trips to be well organized with an opportunity for every age group to contribute. Our last trip to Greece, the team leader made sure that our 10 year old son was as engaged as our 13 year old. We look forward to many more trips.
My number one volunteer and contribution place is Global Volunteers. I know that the philosophy is compatible with mine. As volunteers we go where we are invited and work with the local people on their articulated needs. I also know that the money contributed is carefully used for those who need our help. I have seen and experienced the results of our volunteer services. I have listened to the mothers in Ipalamwa, Tanzania, who are so thankful for healthier babes and growing children, all because of the services provided by Global Volunteers. I have personally witnessed the scholastic improvement of children on the island of Rarotongo as a result of Global Volunteer Services. I could go down the list of the countries where I have served- India, Nepal. St. Lucia, Hanoi, Poland, Peru, Rarotonga, Tanzania are some examples, and in each one I have observed local leadership and volunteer participation that creates changes in lives. Of course, this requires not only volunteer service, but it requires gifts of dollars. One can be assured that the dollars are carefully and efficiently spent. I urge anyone to consider volunteering with Global Volunteers, and if that is not an option, to donate to Global Volunteers. Being a Global Volunteer is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my eighty plus years on this earth.
I have had the opportunity to volunteer with Global Volunteers five different times, Cuba, St Lucia, Peru, Cook Islands and Montana. Each experience was memorable and life changing. Always a culture experience beyond expectations. The work projects are well managed and coordinated and the community interactions have built life long relationships. I look forward to continuing my service with Global Volunteers.
I am a 4 time volunteer with Global Volunteers ( Montana 2X, Peru & South Dakota ) and have signed up for my 5th program ( Nepal ). I have taken my family on each of these programs and it has consistently been a meaningful, organized and memorable experience. I have volunteered through other organizations and churches but have found Global Volunteers to be the best choice and experience. They focus on meaningful work that makes a difference and working closely with local people ( vs tourism ). There is always time to learn about the local culture and to visit places before and after ( we did Machu Pichu on one trip ) .. but it is the people you will remember.
Upon retiring from a very loved career of teaching, I decided it was time to continue to "fly away" to exciting and interesting countries but to do it with a more sincere purpose. That purpose was to teach English through a nonprofit organization. It needed to have the highest standards for service and a sincere desire to help change the lives of deserving children and adults. Voile, Global Volunteers impressed with its mission statements, philosophies, professionalism, and its wide range of ways and places in which to do this service.
I have completed five Global Volunteer service trips thus far. The unique blend of G V's total cultural immersion experience each time has always far exceeded my anticipated high level of expectations.
It remains to be the best choice for travel, service, and people to people experience you can wish for.
Thank you Global Volunteers for continuing to pursue the highest level of standards and a most sincere desire to serve others.
Some of the best experiences I've ever had. I'll treasure them always. My wife and I have served with Global Volunteers in three different locations - Vietnam, Tanzania and the island of Crete in Greece. I also served on the Board of Directors for a few years. As both a volunteer and board member, I was so impressed by the quality of the organization, the dedication and skill of staff and leadership, and the philosophy of service driven by the communities they serve. They have excellent tools and processes in place to make the experience wonderful for volunteers and to make the best use of volunteers' talents and skills. They are outstanding at building effective project teams and maintaining the focus on serving the community.
To be of use in this world is a core human need. Global Volunteers provides that and more. It is a privilege to not just visit, but to work closely with the people of the community and to live and learn in a different culture. And finally, it is fun. As I reflect on the experiences I've had with Global Volunteers, it always makes me smile.
I have enjoyed 3 service experiences teaching conversational English with GV; looking forward to my 4th. On all 3 experiences the team leaders were very skilled at orienting each of the team members to the opportunity & the culture. The accommodations for my husband & I were fresh, clean & secure. The food was tasty & nutritious. We were successful in building positive relationships with children & teens because Global Volunteers shares their philosophy about serving as a volunteer which strengthens their connections to their global partners.
My husband and I have gone to seven different locations with GV and each one is unique and has its own special characteristics. Global Volunteer team leaders in every country know how to help us create a team that works together to bring out the best in each o f us so we can leave knowing that we've helped the people we've worked with, whether they're young children, seniors or anything in between. The choices of work projects, like painting, sewing, planting a garden, putting up sheet rock or interacting with people through teaching English, singing songs or just having a simple conversation is always satisfying not only for us but for the people we're there to serve. We look forward to our next trip with GV and know we'll have left the world a better place for the work we've accomplished under the warm and supportive guidance of the GV team leaders.
I have done 3 trips with this organization, my first one in Cuba and the other two in Greece. They are hands down the best experiences of my life. Being able to go to these amazing places and help people is the best thing you can do. Global volunteers handles everything so professionally making the whole process very easy. In Greece I was helping teach English to kids over the summer and had so much fun doing it. From the time you get there to the time you leave you can really see the progress the kids make in learning. They are so much fun to be around and it really creates a wonderful experience. I got really to close to the team leader Sam and the people helping out, they are so welcoming and fun to be around. I would recommend this organization and trip to anyone any time.
My wife and I have volunteered with Global Volunteers in 3 countries over the last 5 years and would have done more if not for the pandemic. We hope to do so again in 2022. Our experiences have been varied - working in a very large city, a small city and a village. Each site has its own personality, needs, challenges and opportunities. We have learned a great deal and also had the satisfaction of making a contribution to the goals of the community we visited. We like the Global Volunteer approach, the fact that they make long term commitments to each of the communities where they send volunteers and that the volunteers work on projects selected by the communities themselves. Volunteers are not just tourists giving a helping hand on sort of softball volunteer projects. We worked hard and side by side with local people to advance important work. Working with this model there can sometimes be unexpected glitches: shortage of materials, local schedule changes, skill mismatches, etc.; but we found that the coordinators, working with the local partner, could sort these out and/or turn them into learning opportunities for all. The experience has been very satisfying - and we will return!
I participated in Global Volunteers' (GV) program in Tanzania from July 31st through August 16th, of 2021. The program there is called Reaching Children's Potential (RCP). They have rented land in the Ipalamwa village and constructed four buildings that include a clinic, a meeting/dining hall/kitchen and to house guests, including volunteers and staff. The staff includes Caregivers that make home visits to the people in the villages in the area. These Caregivers encourage women to participate in the RCP program that encourages pregnant women to have healthy diets and mothers with children to feed them nutritious food starting with breastmilk at birth. Historically children in this area have had stunted growth because of poor diets. Volunteers at RCP help by providing garden boxes to the families in which they can grow spinach, kale, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. with very little effort. We also helped construct chicken coops that were being given to the people that participate in the RCP program along with ten chicks that will grow up and provided eggs to eat and perhaps sell as well as eventually meat to eat. I helped to maintain the records at the clinic and helped with the regular measurement of children in the program under the age of 24 months to demonstrate how well the children's growth has been progressing with improved nutrition and medical treatment at the clinic as needed. During my stay in the community I personally witnessed seeing a child who was in serious medical distress and with the aid of the Caregiver Manager was taken to the clinic where she was diagnosed with severe malnutrition and then transported to the closest hospital. I am sure without the intervention of the Caregiver Manager this child would not have survived another day. What better way to volunteer than to help this organization improve the health and lives of the people living in remote villages in Tanzania through helping on site, through financial donations with monthly/annual contributions and/or bequeathing funds in a will.
I recently returned (July - August 2021) to Ipalamwa, Tanzania from my second Global Volunteer trip as part of the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) program. I was part of the first team to reopen the volunteer program after travel restrictions related to COVID-19 pandemic were imposed in the region in 2020. I was very impressed with the way Global Volunteers prepared me for the program in advance for the program/travel requirements and how organized they were on the ground. In many ways I felt the team and the village was in a “bubble” which is at the “end of the road” on top of a mountain at about 5,000 feet.
I really like the philosophy of Global Volunteers: the community decides on the projects and the families from the RCP program and community are actively engaged in the volunteer projects and programs. In addition, the program is committed to use local materials, resources, and tools readily available in the community which fosters the ability for self-sufficiency and sustainable long-term change.
RCP program has a lot of depth and there are numerous opportunities for volunteers to contribute. Some examples of activities that the team participated this year are the following: Home visits with caregivers, building chick coops, working in the local primary school teaching English, working and supporting the local women’s co-ops, facilitating workshops at the center and in the community, building earth boxes, working in the green house, working on computer related project that relate to the collection of data for the program, assisting a local pastor with harvesting his wheat field and participate in community building activities with local leaders, hospital and Iringa University. This program has so many different types of opportunities for volunteers to contribute!
It is great to be on the ground again and see the progress made in the region over the past two and half years since I was here back in November 2018. I truly saw the impact the RCP program is making in the region and how this demonstration program is working. Some areas that I can see change.
1. Having a health center on the mountain that mothers can now have a safe place to birth their children. In 2018, one of the major concerns of the pregnant mothers was childbirth, since the nearest hospitals was either 90 minutes to 2 hours to a regional hospital, mostly on a bumpy dirt road or deliver at home. Mother’s now have a safe place to deliver their babies close to their homes. This has impacted mortality rates for both mother and child.
2. The RCP center has a small guest house for some of the expecting mothers to stay at the RCP center when they are near their due dates. This ensure that mothers that live far away from the center do not need to make the trip in labor up the steep mountain roads.
3. The schools are more well attended and reported by the teachers that the children are more attentive/progressing further in school since the program now provides for 2 healthy meals for the children each day.
4. Nursing mothers have healthier supplemented meals, plus many families now have earth boxes where they can grow their own food rich in micronutrients. This directly impacts the health and growth of the nursing children. The children in the program for the past few years you can see as growing faster and are healthier. This can be backed by the measurements that are taken as part of the program.
5. Many of the staff at the RCP program have been here for many years. Many I worked with back in 2018. With stable staff it fosters the ability to build long term relationships with the families and community leaders. The staff and volunteers are looked as trusted advisors with the RCP families and many of the local community leaders. This helps support sustainable change in the region.
6. The community is now ready to deal with mental health related issue in the villages with more of the community getting basic needs such as healthy food met. Mental Health back in 2018 was an aspirational goal for the village community leaders to be addressed.
This year, aligning with community leaders and member family requests, my team focused on Mental Health initiatives including creating partnerships with doctors and students from Iringa Hospital, partnership with Mental Health educators at Iringa University, rolling out new mental health related workshop series to program members mother and father, training the RCP caregivers on supporting the community /families and working with community building with local community leaders.
Both of my experiences with Global Volunteers were life-changing, well-planned, and well-organized programs of service and self-discovery. The local community and RCP staff were very appreciative of the volunteers returning after almost a year and half. I plan to participate in other service programs through Global Volunteers in the future!
Pictured above is my rock star volunteer team taking in our first sunset together, me on a home visits with a mother that just delivered 9 days before that we planted earth boxes in her home and a myself with Global Volunteer, RCP Staff, a Mental Health Doctor and students on community building trip at Iringa hospital.
My husband and I did our first Global Volunteer trip in 2002 when we went to Vietnam. Since that program I have completed 18 other programs in 7 different countries, usually working with students learning English. I have worked with all ages, from preschool through university students, including night school and even working with foreign English teachers. Every program has been different because of the people/students involved, and every program has been a very rewarding as well as an educational experience for me. I look forward to being able sign up for another program after the Covis19 situation has been resolved!
The programs that Global Volunteers offers are all excellent if one is interested in learning about other cultures and making new friends in those cultures! The "in country" leaders who have worked with me have all been excellent, helping the volunteers in every and any way possible.
I highly recommend Global Volunteers and any of the programs they offer!
Global Volunteers has been an amazing experience. Their staff is knowledgeable, helpful and easy to work with. My time in Poland, 10 years of volunteering, has given me one of the greatest blessings of my life. I taught conversational English and was rewarded yearly as I saw the students gain knowledge. All my needs were met by the friendly Polish staff. Accommodations were excellent. When asked, I say Poland feels like home, the only difference is the language. This gave me a chance to share my skills.
I have participated in two Global Volunteers programs, the first on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana for a week, during their annual PowWow. It was a test to see how organized and worthwhile their programs are. Mainly I worked in meal programs and visiting a skilled nursing facility on the reservation, though there were other options. I loved the whole experience, the staff, the other volunteers, and the community people and programs we worked with and learned from. I really liked the philosophy of Global Volunteers: the community decides on the projects and determines where we are most needed. After this initial and very positive experience, a year later I decided to venture out further, the second time to Crete for two weeks. Again, I had a fabulous experience, being part of a different community that appreciates the work that we do, this time working in local English Language Schools with 10 to 15-year-olds. Terrific kids who need to be proficient in English to get good jobs and go to University. They were thrilled to be able to talk with native speakers and prepare for their exams. I learned a lot about life on Crete, its culture and importance in world history, its art and too much about the food and wine. Again, a wonderful and life-changing experience in a well-planned and well-organized program of service and discovery. Loved the staff and other volunteers and the chance to meet locals who were inspiring, gracious and very appreciative of our work. I hope to return again after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Global Volunteers is an awesome nonprofit organization that offers humanitarian experiences to volunteers in the USA and around the world. I have personally volunteered with Global Volunteers in Ecuador and Tanzania, and these were very rewarding and life-changing opportunities to serve children and their families in their communities. Due to the coronavirus, most of the volunteer trips in 2020 were canceled. I have scheduled volunteer trips to Greece and the USA in Montana's Native American Blackfeet reservation for 2021. If you would like to serve others in meaningful and profound ways, I highly recommend Global Volunteers. –Gordon V. Smith
Global Volunteers is a first-rate organization that enables volunteers to lend a helping hand in many areas (both in the U.S. and throughout the world) that need assistance with various projects. It works to foster understanding and friendship between the volunteers and the citizens who reside in the regions it serves.
My most recent GV experience was in the summer of 2019 in Kunming, China, my third time there. Along with a volunteer partner, I worked with a group of Chinese teachers of English, helping them to practice and expand their English language skills by engaging in conversation with them, teaching them songs and games, and broadening their knowledge of American culture. At the same time we learned about their culture. For example, on two occasions we were invited to participate in karaoke, Chinese-style--once by hotel staff, and the second time, by our group of teachers.
Having served with GV numerous times--in Asia, in Europe, and in Spanish-speaking countries, I now truly feel like a citizen of the world, one who has pleasantly interacted with many people in faraway places. I treasure the opportunities that I have had to do this, and I look forward to having more of these memorable experiences.
We (Marcia 70 & Greg 74) have been on 11 service projects with Global Volunteers. We find that GV service programs offer intimate travel experiences by requiring that we work hand in hand with the people we serve. We learn so much from the people and frankly we feel we receive much more than we provide.
Our initial experience was in Calderon, Ecuador in 2007 with our 27 year old daughter. We were blown away by the organization and care that are integral parts of the GV experience - things that are hallmarks of every program in which we have served. We felt valued and greatly appreciated the amazing interactions with the local residents. At this site we worked in a day care center tending to children whose mothers were working. We played, tutored and fed a contingent of children all under the age of 5. We came away from this initial experience knowing we wanted more and sensing that GV could become our go-to NGO for our worldwide service.
We followed with a trip to Romania in 2008 working in a failure-to-thrive clinic in Tutova. Wrestling with six toddlers was exhausting and yet so exhilarating. Again we were surrounded by local "saints" who were completely dedicated to theses very needy children.
Since we have (twice) taught school, tutored at a children's home and worked construction in Chennai, India; taught English in Peru, Crete and Cooke Islands; taught English and worked construction in Ciego de Avila, Cuba; and, taught "Methods of Teaching English" to 30 teachers in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
In 2010 we served in Pommern, Tanzania where we taught school and helped remodel a home for the school headmaster. In 2018 we returned to Tanzania, but this time we worked in Ipalamwa with the "Reaching Children's Potential" program. Marcia participated in workshops featuring nutritional needs and general health practices - she also accompanied local workers on home visits to answer questions and provide support. Greg worked with a group of local men and team members in the construction of a green house. The clinic that was being built at the time is now functioning providing residents an option to traveling three hours for medical attention. We believe that this program is having a profound impact and we plan to return as soon as the pandemic will allow. (We were planning on March 2021, but that looks out of the question.)
In closing, if you are looking for meaningful volunteer opportunities with great organization and follow through look no further, Global Volunteers is the best.
My wife and I have done five volunteer trips with Global Volunteers - Ecuador (June, 2007), Romania (October, 2008), Tanzania (January, 2010), Peru (January, 2011) and India (January, 2012). GV is extremely organized and makes every effort to assure that volunteers are well prepared for each service project. GV provides a wealth of written materials, responds promptly to inquiries and questions and has a comprehensive web-site. Programs are sponsored by local entities which provides positive interaction with the community we serve. The country managers are well versed about their countries and assist each volunteer in having a meaningful cultural experience. We have great respect for GV and believe they are one of the best NGOs, if not the best around. We recommend the program highly and would be glad to answer individual questions.
I have taken part in 11 Global Volunteer programs since 2000. Except for the program in Montana on The Blackfoot Indian Reservation, they have all dealt with the teaching of English in Poland, Hungary, China, Mexico, Cuba, St. Lucia, and most recently Vietnam. All the programs had excellent team leaders which helped the participants bond into a team. Things were well organized in country with adequate accommodations and good food. I enjoyed all my teaching assignments. There was adequate time to experience the culture of the countries and I made some life long friends. It was great to travel, not just as a tourist, but to interact and have relationships with the locals.
From the moment I heard from an acquaintance about having volunteered with Global Volunteers at the Blackfeet Reservation, I decided I must go. Once I was there myself with my two daughters and began meeting members of the community -experiencing the trust that Global Volunteers had engendered with them - that I had the benefit of as a stranger - the trust in our intentions even if our execution on the task at hand was often less than perfect - I knew this was something so precious that needed to be protected and preserved. I felt it became imperative to my happiness that I continue to volunteer and meet more people with the intention to serve, with humility, at their request. I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am, also, that I was able to share this experience with my daughters, who continue to talk about their experience to this day, and look forward to volunteering together more in the future. The dramatically more intimate perspective one has of a place and a people when volunteering along side of them, listening to them, answering questions they have about where you are from, learning about the struggles in their community, the pride they have in their culture, their desire to impart lessons about their people, traditions, medicine, spiritual practices, families, celebrations, communities, schools, healthcare, judicial system, and more (this based on my experience of the extraordinary Blackfeet people I spent time with), cannot ever be experienced simply as a “tourist,” who by definition is just passing through and is not vested in the health of the people and community long term. I love that with Global Volunteers there is the long-term commitment that teams are contributing towards, providing continuity - and even support from a distance when in-person support is interrupted due to a pandemic.
I could go on and on. Global Volunteers changed my life. I can see how the positive impacts can be viral - putting a twist on a word which has only negative associations at this time. It makes me feel so good to think that the interactions that are forbidden right now will return and will potentially have an even greater poignancy.
My first volunteer experience with Global Volunteers was in 1998 as part of a team of 17 people who spent two week in Puglia, Italy. We helped teach English in various schools - I was at a middle school. The community wanted to encourage English-speaking tourism and knew they had to have the infrastructure with language to help achieve that goal. Since then I've been on 15 more programs all over the world. In each case, the organization has ensured the comfort, safety, and purposefulness of the team was met. The chance to spend a couple of weeks as part of a team of like-minded individuals while helping a community reach their goals is very rewarding and powerful. I have made life long friends through these experiences. Global Volunteers truly helps bring people together to share their differences and similarities.
Fabulous! Very well organized. My safety was never a concern. Food plentiful and
Delicious. Housing wonderful. Hot showers, flush toilets, cozy comfortable bed. Our leader was absolutely responsive to any and all requests. No need went unattended.
Met the most wonderful people. Gained much more than ever expected in hospitality, friendships, meeting the needs of the community where I was invited to volunteer. I will definitely volunteer with Global Volunteers again and again. Just waiting now for Covid-19 to resolve so that I am able to go. I am looking forward to volunteering in Poland, St. Lucia, New Mexico, West Virginia, Ecuador and of course again in PERU where I left a piece of my heart. The friends I met there I am still in contact with via email and letters.
Global Volunteers is really a fantastically run organization. The country leaders are highly trained. They allow opportunities for engaging personally in the culture of the country/area of service. Volunteer assignments are rewarding beyond words. I would and have encouraged others to join a volunteer group. I went solo, met people that have gone with groups, and learned so much.....each volunteer has so many gifts that come out in expected and unexpected ways. Like Nike says- Just Do It- never a regret. One can ONLY come home changed for the better forever.
I have been on over 20 trips with Global Volunteers. Their operations in other countries are ethical and clearly put the host organization in charge. GV staff are well trained and of high quality so that programs are conducted to a high standard. There are many repeat volunteers, which is probably the highest recommendation of all.
Global Volunteers is a wonderful non-profit volunteer organization that works in the US and throughout the world. I have volunteered with them four times so far in the US as well as the Cook Islands, Romania and Peru. Each experience has been unique and uplifting. The focus is clearly on supporting the people, especially the children, in the local communities. The teams are well-received in every community. The children and community members are delightful and appreciative of the volunteers. I feel that I get so much more from these experiences than I give. I highly recommend volunteering with this wonderful organization.
I have participated in three Global Volunteer programs in two different countries. In 2013 and 2019, I went to Ecuador, where I helped in FUNDAC, a preschool in Calderon, a suburb of Quito. This involved a variety of activities such as copying work sheets by hand, (no copiers were available) washing little hands, feeding the children, helping them brush their teeth and, at the end of the school day, helping the adults with their studies to learn English.
In 2017, I joined a group of 16 other volunteers in middle/high school in the Monteverde area of Costa Rica. Here we worked with the students on many projects to improve the school grounds. A big part of this project was to speak with and help the students improve their knowledge of the English language.
While it may appear that we were in these countries only to provide them with various forms of assistance, we actually gained much ourselves in that we learned much about their different cultures, and the challenges they face. In Ecuador, it was a joy to see the children's little smiling faces every morning and in Costa Rica it was fun to work outside with the older children while chatting with them as they tried out their English. All three programs were different but equally memorable.
My daughter and I have volunteered with Global Volunteers for 2 years and we are looking forward to working again soon! It is a fabulous opportunity to help and experience new cultures. The best part is meeting the local people! Our work in Quito, Ecuador was headed by Maggie Bjorklund and she was fantastic! The program was very well organized and we always felt safe. We spent two weeks doing labor work at a pre-school and loved playing with the children and assisting the teachers. We also had some free time to explore the city and to try typical Ecuadorian foods. I highly recommend Global Volunteers! It will exceed your expectations!
Global Volunteers has the integrity of the highest order meaning they do practice their mission and philosophy. They interact with the community about what is needed, not to impose outsider beliefs on a community. The staff are very friendly and as a volunteer, you are well cared for in terms of information to make your journey safe and successful.
It is very much worthwhile for the cost, experience and contribution you will make.
Global Volunteers is a great organization that sets up its volunteers for success in whatever capacity they help. My wife and I had an amazing experience volunteering in Tanzania in August of 2018. The Global Volunteer staff were readily available to offer assistance and encouragement to volunteers, and they all clearly have a deep passion and commitment to the vision and goals of Global Volunteers. I could not recommend them enough!
I have volunteered on 4 service trips with Global Volunteers. Each service opportunity has provided an amazing experience. The staff is well trained and accommodating for diverse groups of volunteers. The overall philosophy of service is respectful of local communities and works from a strength-based perspective. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone looking for a fulfilling and contributive adventure.
I went on my first Global Volunteer trip this year to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. I have Loved Montana for as long as I can remember. This was at least my fourth time there albeit a different location each time. I chose Global Volunteers due to the recommendation of a colleague who had gone elsewhere. She had nothing but praise for the organization and now I know why.
I have no problem travelling alone and I was excited to meet new people and to provide service to others again. Our team leader was very friendly, knowledgeable and flexible. He reiterated that we would only work in capacities and areas in which we had been invited by the local community. What I found was we were welcomed with open arms due to the strong reputation of the "Globals"! The people welcomed our labor but also eagerly engaged with us as newfound friends! We readily shared information about our families and culture. We got to experience immersion into the community as no tourist could! We were invited into homes and allowed to experience Indian traditions such as a sweat lodge, ranching, and native dance.
I always felt safe and the accommodations were fine. The food was very good and we were always asked for input from our team leader regarding work projects and supper plans. I really enjoyed our team morning meetings and sharing our experiences. This team seemed like a good fit as we all were of the mind to serve others and keep an open mind to a new culture, along with learning about each other in the group. I'm not sure where I'll go next but I've already been reading about the Global Volunteers other sites. I have no hesitation about working with this organization again.
Recently I was looking at an image of a beautiful lake in the mountains and it made my heart sigh. I felt grounded again. I needed this reminder. Grounding with the earth was one of the many valuable lessons I learned spending a week in Montana with the Blackfeet Indian nation.
While we were there to help the Indians, they helped us. I think this is how Global Volunteers is such a powerful organization. They know the secret to a transformative getaway experience.
Pick one of the many places on the planet Global Volunteers has been invited to serve and you can jointhe team. Enroll, pack and travel there, then your team leader and the local community you are joining brings you into their way of life.
My husband Paul and I chose the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning Montana. I told Paul I didn't want to leave the U. S. I told him I wanted to know about the American Indians. I was a bit nervous about going. I understood the American Indian history with European Americans is filled with injustice that has never been addressed. How could the Blackfeet welcome our help throughout the summer with what I knew of our two histories?
With an open heart and mind we joined our Global team #167 in Heart Butte, Montana to begin our volunteer adventure.
Global Volunteers only goes where they have been invited to help. Global Volunteers works ONLY WITH the community. These are the keys to a successful and fulfilling experience. Not only is the volunteer work helpful, it has also been requested by the community. Because the Blackfeet invited us there, we were welcomed to learn about their lives, their land and their history. We were encouraged to share our new knowledge with our friends and family.
This answered my questions about how the Blackfeet could invite us to their home. By learning their way of life we now have a bridge to a peace and understanding that did not exist before.
I have been on 6 Global Volunteers programs: Ukraine (’05), Hungary (’10), St. Lucia (’12), Crete (’14), Cuba (’15), and Montana('19). My expectations have been exceeded each time. Each program has been carefully researched and planned and professionally conducted. The volunteers are appropriately screened. The team leaders have all been experienced, resourceful, and friendly. They are particularly skilled at managing the inevitable circumstances that require changing plans and balancing the interests of the volunteers with the needs of the local community. I prefer this kind of 'tourism' because we quickly become part of the community, albeit briefly, by virtue of having a job in it. The locals welcome and appreciate our contribution and we volunteers are always enriched. A win-win.
San Bruno, CA
Our family spent a week as volunteers with Global Volunteers at Sagrada Familia in Peru. Our week at the orphange/school was life changing. We got the chance to experience a wonderful community that welcomed us with open arms. Global volunteers did a great job of organizing our time there and their partnership with Sagrada Familia is strong and respected.
I taken 5 different volunteer trips with this outfit and I am really impressed with their philosophy and professionalism. They work hand in hand with local organizations in the countries they support helping the local people achieve their own goals. All trips include a workshop on what it means to be a volunteer and to work as a team within the local culture.
It is so rewarding to work side by side and make friendships with the people I have met all over the world; to see how we can all benefit each other.
I have been on the Global Volunteers trip (to Peru) & I was so impressed with this organization, the way the planning process was all the way to the last night in Lima, with our local team leader (Edith:). Both my husband & I found meaningful work to do, from childcare to kitchen duties, our entire time was pleasantly "busy". The food, lodging, and Peruvian hospitality was wonderful. We are now planning a 2nd trip, to St. Lucia, again with GV.
I do agree that only negative is the fees being a bit high for the average traveler. Also, we live in Canada, so flight costs can be higher for us (especially to South America in winter!). and our fees cannot be claimed as charitable expenses in our taxes- as any American traveler is allowed to do. I did ask about this but was simply told that is due to Global Volunteers being an American based organization & they do not have any agreement in place with our CRA. But after travelling for years & living abroad, I realize that you also get what you pay for.
I know several people that have taken "volunteer" trips with other groups, saying that the others were much cheaper than GV but the experiences they had were not good at all (little or poor support from local staff, inconsistent/bad food, dirty/unsafe lodging, NO actual valuable work for volunteers to do). My daughter opted to take a volunteer trip with another organization based in the UK (projects abroad) with only budget in mind, but she quickly regretted it after she was forced to share a volunteer house with a group of students that had more interest in drinking & partying all night than doing any kind of work. After she found herself pretty much left on her own every "workday" with a map & a bus schedule, wondering when the promised "lunch" was going to be served, she certainly wished she had chosen Global Volunteers!
Honestly, I feel that the fees we pay are well used; salaries for the local team leaders, quality food & housing for the volunteers, safe transport to & from airport & volunteer sites, and so forth.
I would prefer to have 1 quality trip every few years with GV (which really does make a difference to the local communities they serve) than an annual "cheaper" volunteer vacation with any of these other bargain basement deals.
I have a husband that does not like to travel so this is the way I can see the world. I just took my 10th Global Volunteers trip and traveled to Chennai, India. This is also the first time there was a husband and wife team. I enjoyed the family and 4 year old son very much. This is the way to travel to see, feel, and stand in their shoes for a culture experience.
Margaret Gabriel, Columbus, Ohio
Review from CharityNavigator
During my 23 years associated with Global Volunteers I have had the pleasure of befriending many wonderful people. I have learned and witnessed the common thread of humanity—the desire by all to provide for their families and the hope and optimism for a better life for their children.
I believe what makes GV unique is our philosophy of service. First, we only go to where we are invited. We partner with the community and work on projects of their choice. Our only requirement is that it serves the community and that they provide an equal number of community volunteers. Local people are in charge.
This allows us the opportunity to work together with our new found friends on a common goal and share our life experiences. We learn of their day to day struggles and share with them “life in America”—the good and the bad.
We depart proud of our contributions but realizing that we have received so much more than we have given.
Review from CharityNavigator
Global Volunteers will change your life. It is an organization with integrity at its core, with unassailable foundational principles of bottom-up international development, and with talented and committed staff and founders. I have been involved with Global Volunteers since 1994 as a volunteer, a team leader, and a National Board of Directors member. Every team is a unique experience, guided by the needs and direction of the community and the diverse personalities of the local people and the volunteers. Service learning often seems like an abstract ideal; with Global Volunteers it becomes a reality. You have the chance to enact the Philosophy of Service in real time with concrete results (and you should read it thoroughly as well). Life is short, get out there and volunteer!
Review from CharityNavigator
My three daughters and I have volunteered on several trips. Our first trip was working on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 2005. We have been on three subsequent trips, and we are hoping to volunteer again with Global Volunteers this summer. Initially, my husband was very concerned about our safety, but Global Volunteers is a top-knotch organization. Our Global Volunteers' experiences have truly positively impacted our lives in many, many ways.
Review from CharityNavigator
Global Volunteers has been a part of my world for over 15 years. My first experience with Global Volunteers was in Metcalfe, Mississippi, a town of 1400 African Americans. Our volunteer group consisted of 10 Caucasian women ages 17 to 84, none of whom knew one another. The community was gracious and welcoming. The volunteers were fun and anxious to serve. Most of us had never had the chance to peer into another community so closely. We learned and bonded quickly; through stories, laughter, and working alongside one another. Since then, I have had the privilege to volunteer as a team leader to various states and countries, on behalf of Global Volunteers. Global Volunteers is one of the best run organizations in which I have ever been associated. For individuals with open minds, flexible mindsets, and the desire to contribute toward a more just and peaceful world, there is no better organization. Join us! You will be rewarded beyond what you can imagine.
Review from CharityNavigator
Good programs, well planned and executed! I speak from experience - as a volunteer team leader who has led several Global Volunteers teams. (Full disclosure: I am also a former staff member, having worked there from '97 to 2007.) This is a great way to immerse yourself in another culture and meet the local people on their terms. In addition to helping others, you can also learn a lot about yourself through these programs. And you really are making a difference. Thumbs up!
I have been a Global Volunteers team leader since 2000. I have lead about 50 teams.......and I am passionally dedicated to the philosophy of the organization. Among the many goals is to build relationships and friendships between people.....one person at a time. When we go to a site....we go as "servant learners" meaning we do what the community wants us to do....and we respectfully follow their direction. I have met extraordinary people in each community I have volunteered in. The men and women on the teams I have lead are equally dedicated to the work we do.....so I see many of the same people on other teams. My husband and I went on our first team to Xian China in 1999. I have been a loyal volunteer ever since.
Review from CharityNavigator
I have been a team leader for Global Volunteers for 12 years. My husband and I went on our first team with Global Volunteers to Xian China in 1999. I volunteered at a private school teaching English and my husband worked with a group of business men and women. It was our first experience volunteering with a non profit organization. We were so impressed with the integrity of the organization. Everything they told us was as they said. We were sent valuable and useful information that shared with us the philosophy of the organziation. We found their goals and values to be exactly what we were looking for. The goal of the organiation was to build friendships and promote peace....one person and one community at a team. We had a team leader who guided us through team building meetings.....and then saw to it that we were taken care of for the three weeks we volunteered. We stayed in comfortable accomodations....were treated to decilcious meals and were assigned to interesting work sites. We have maintained email relationships with many of the people we met in the community. I was so impressed with the organization that I have since become a volunteer team leader. I went through an intensive training program in St. Paul MN.....and over the past twelve years have lead about fifty teams. I am more and more committed to the philosphy of the organization.....being servant learners....doing what the community asks of us and following directions in a respectful way. I am very proud to be a Global Volunteer.
Review from Guidestar
I became a Team Leader for Global volunteers in 1998, and lead many groups while living in China. I think An Wei and Bud Philbrook and Michell Gran should get the Nobel Peace Prize for their relationship by building the first NGO school in An Shung village. This was dedicated to An Wei's daughter, An Lin, who lost her life in America while studying English to take over the China Program. She was my translator. I thought of her as my daugher. This time in my life was the most significant experience in peace-making. I cannot express my feelings more that saying it was friendship and love. My experiences also led me to Hawaii and the project in Kauai which was helping eradicate invasive species in the tropical jungles. I have been to Mexico. The experience of Global Volunteers is awesome. It is an adventure. It takes a flexible person ready to drop their expectations of how things should be done, and following the direction of the local people. It is all around a first class operation of change. Maria Maki, Minnesota
I have completed 20 service programs with Global Volunteers, volunteering primarily in Poland. The programs are well coordinated on both ends of the volunteer experience -- before leaving and when on site. The reason these programs work is that Global Volunteers helps other accomplish their own goals. Volunteers don't come in and tell others what they need. Volunteers also work hand in hand with people in the host site. It's a great program.
My wife and I traveled with Global Volunteers to Pommern, Tanzania three times over the past four years. We were impressed with their Philosophy of Service and how it is implemented every day during the service program. Global Volunteers took care of all our basic needed throughout each service trip. We had meaningful work in the community every day. We helped teach English and other subjects in the Secondary School, we worked on various work and minor construction projects side by side with community members, we helped weigh babies during a monthly well baby clinic, and we learned a considerable amount about local and national Tanzanian culture and society. Global Volunteers' in-country staff are very well trained. They work with volunteers to fit volunteers' skills and interests with those of the community to maximize their benefits. They seek opportunities for volunteers to interact with the community to promote inter-cultural awareness. We had a wonderful experience each time we traveled with Global Volunteers and plan to do so again many times in the future.
Review from Guidestar
I have gone on trips with Global Volunteers in China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Guatemala and Jamaica, as well as in the U.S.. They have always been well organized and extremely cost-effective for what I received. I am impressed with their professionalisma nd oganization. I would happily go on another experience when time the opportunity arises.
I loved my Global Volunteers service opportunity. I chose Global Volunteers because I wanted to maximize my chances of a interacting with the people in the community I would be visiting. My Global Volunteers adventure did not disappoint in any way. The trip was well-organized, well-managed and well-received by both volunteers and host community. I enjoyed my fellow volunteers, our project and the time available to pursue personal interests. What I enjoyed most, however, was being in that small Costa Rican community -- the people, the food, the chance to both glimpse and be a part of a different way of living.
Review from Guidestar
My wife, Marilyn, and myselof have been on Global Volunteers teams in the United States, Ecuador,Portugal, and most recently St.Lucia. We have taught English, painted,built, helped children with disabilities, and done whatever the local community wanted us to do. It has been a wonderful experience in every place we have served. Also, the bonding with other volunteers has been in itself so worthwhile. We are looking foward to again going with Global Volunteers to leave our mark on the world.--Roger Yockey, Lynnwood, Washington
Review from Guidestar
I was impressed by my experience with Global Volunteers. The team leader in Xi'an was fantastic: upbeat, personable, incredibly helpful and supportive. I worked for two weeks at La La Shou, a special needs school, and it was a terrific experience. The language barrier was difficult, but I felt that our presence at the school (I volunteered there with a friend) gave a lift to the teachers. We were a novelty in their busy weeks. I'd recommend Global Volunteers to others: from our lodging to the work site, we were well supported and cared for.
Review from Guidestar
Global Volunteers gave me an opportunity to "Leave My Mark" on the world in Xi'an, China. For two weeks, Monday through Friday, I taught conversational English, pronunciation and comprehension to students with various levels of English understanding at Xi'an Biomedical Technical School. Most of the students, who ranged in age from 15 to 22, were Han Chinese from various provinces. However, one group, were Uyghurs from Xinjiang province. These Muslim students had their own language and customs, including dietary requirements. The Uyghr students are learning Mandarin, The Chinese national language, as well as English. The stundents eagerly shared their culture and were enthusiastic in learning about the United States. My volunteer experience put me face-to-face daily with typical Chinese locals in daily situations. It was a living experience of a cultural exchange. The Global Volunteer Country Manager, shared with us the language, customs, history and the daily opportunity to taste the delicious foods. I do believe that World Peace does begin through mutual international understanding, which is one of the philosophies of service with Global Volunteers. I felt that I made a "difference" and was gifted with a rewarding experience. I look forward to another opportunity in the future to "Leave My Mark" with Global Volunteers.
My husband and I have four sons, Matt, Jack, Dan, and Ryan. In 2007 Matt was invited to participate in an educational travel program designed for high school students. Having remembered seeing a piece on The Today Show a number of years previously on short-term volunteering abroad, Matt and I began to investigate Global Volunteers. Based in St. Paul, MN, since 1987 Global Volunteers has worked in partnership with local leaders in over 15 countries around the world to bring human and economic resources to children and families in remote areas such as the small village of Pommern, in the southern highlands of Tanzania. Although Tanzania is an emerging and very safe country, it continues to be one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world. While drawn by the opportunity to meet new people and experience a new culture, what quickly convinced us to go was Global Volunteers itself. Global Volunteers is guided by a unique philosophy of service, stating simply, “that to be truly successful in sustainable development assistance, volunteers must work at the invitation, and under the direction, of those they are attempting to assist. Local people are always in charge.” Global Volunteers believes that true development mobilizes empowered people: both those seeking assistance, and those who seek to serve them. Matt and I had the privilege to serve with GV in 2008. I then returned with my son Jack in 2008, and will return in July 2012 with Dan and Ryan.
In the Iringa district where the village of Pommern is located, the needs are immense and resources are few. Although Pommern is high on a mountain, there are many smaller villages further up, forcing villagers to walk 25km to come to the clinic, school, or to catch the daily bus to Iringa. Homes are made of sun-baked mud bricks, and must be re-bricked each year before the rainy season begins in December. Most roofs are thatched, but a few have corrugated metal roofs. A few of the buildings in the village receive electricity from a generator from 7-10PM each night. On each of our trips, all the members of our GV service teams took turns rotating jobs throughout the village, working on labor projects, teaching at one of the local schools, or assisting in the local clinic or remote clinic.
If one of the volunteers had a particular interest or talent to share they were always graciously received and encouraged. For example, when at the vaccination clinic we spent a morning weighing babies, recording the vaccination schedule, and administering the necessary immunizations. Working to assist the doctors and nurses, a bed functioned as our examining table and work surface, while the mothers and children waited patiently for hours on end until we could help each of them. Nervous about teaching, Matt found his niche teaching computer skills at the secondary school, while Jack had a blast teaching conversational English at the primary school. After a successful lesson in the use of with, but, and then, I’ll never forget him trying to teach a group of 40 kids how to play “Heads Up, 7-Up”! Each afternoon after our teaching assignments were done, we worked on labor projects such as painting dorms, or resurfacing the floor of the mess hall. In the past teams built the school library, and put a new roof on the school kitchen that allowed for better ventilation. Until then, kitchen workers had routinely died from prolonged exposure to smoke.
My sons loved refining their masonry skills on the labor projects, learning to take vital signs and the procedures of meat inspection with the village doctor, and most especially, laughing and playing with the children each afternoon. “Priceless” is inadequate to describe the value of these moments in the lives of my children, but I think Jack summed it up beautifully for our team journal:
“When my mother and brother came to Pommern two years ago I couldn’t relate to them about what they experienced while they were here, but now that I have been here I can look back and see the change in them. It is very hard to explain and that is what I am worried about when I am back trying to explain my trip to my friends in America, but it is there.
I didn’t have a dramatic moment when I felt this new perspective become part of my outlook but now I know it is there. It comes from seeing the kids wearing the same clothes day in and day out, from watching the patients at the clinic fight their diseases and injuries with such courage, from watching how the students work hard all day long, and from seeing how Moses sleeps on a bed he made himself with an old torn-up blanket.
I feel like a different person now, and though I miss my friends and family, I never want to leave. I have become attached to the people here and my fellow team members. From the calls of “Jackie Jackie” as I walk through the village, or the warm mandazi while sitting on a bench packed with people watching the World Cup, Pommern has given me much more than I could ever repay, and I am grateful for this. I hope to take what I have learned here back to my day-to-day life in America. I will miss all of you and I hope to see you again.”
My family of five went on the trip to Calderon, Ecuador and it remains one of the best experiences we have ever shared. Global Volunteers was organized and thoughtful throughout the entire process. By the time we left we felt that we'd gained a family among the other volunteers, and the memories we have of the amazing children we worked with are with us every day. My kids, who were ages 8, 10 and 13 at the time of the trip, worked harder than I had ever seen, and enjoyed themselves every step of the way. They still keep photographs of the children they worked with at the center and we plan on doing another trip with Global Volunteers again soon.
Review from Guidestar
I had three wonderful weeks in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. The setting was ideal and out Program Manegers were wonderful. I thought it was very well organized. I felt that we had a meaningful mission. I loved working with the 5 year olds in their school. The people were so friendly and appreciative of anything we could offer. Yes, the price is high, but it is a tax right-off. I'm headed to Ghana with GV in February. katherine
I had 2 very satisfying experiences volunteering with GV. They took good care of us. However, when I went on line to see what programs they had for this year i was surprised to fnd that GV had only a 2 star rating from Charity Navigators.
I agree that the fees GV charges are WAY too high! I also had the suspicion that the for-profit school we taught English in Hanoi used us English teachers as a marketing tool.
Review from CharityNavigator
I also volunteered with GV. Although the coordinator often called in "sick", they took excellent care of us. I will never forget the babies. HOWEVER, the price they charge is WAY TOO MUCH. They also charge an ungodly amount for a single room-there is no way the hotel gets that money. So it was an unforgetable experience, but I will donate my $$$ elsewhere.
Review from Guidestar
I enjoyed serving in Crete, and yes, I agree with the Volunteer who served in Romania, that the fees charged to the volunteers is far far far in excess of what should be charged. They must be 'lining their pockets' or having to support a huge overhead. I was greatly overcharged -- brought it to their attention, but it was never addressed.
Review from CharityNavigator
I went to Romania for two weeks over the holidays and it was heart breaking and heart warming. GV took excellent care of us. My only concern is the very large fee charged. We are told much goes to the housing, but the amount we are charged is far far far above what is needed for that part. Why else is an extra week only $200. more? But I will never forget the babies.
Review from Guidestar
It has been a great way to help others, learn about a new culture, share your talents, make new friends, and much more.. Each experience is different yet somewhat the same. It is a good way for any person who is a little fearful of traveling to a foreign country, yet wants to travel to abroad. You have a built in support group. Try it; you'll like it.
For the past twenty years, I have been spending two weeks of my vacation time volunteering with Global Volunteers in countries around the world. I have traveled with Global Volunteers because I believe in their philosophy of service, know that I will be safe and know that I am making a difference in someone's life. The feelings that I have in my heart when I return from one of these special trips sustains me throughout the rest of the year. Volunteer vacations is the perfect balance of exotic travel, intimate involvement with the communities you visit, making new friends and making the world a better place for all of us. I encourage others to consider this way of being of service. It will transform your life!