Inspire…Inform…Connect…Celebrating volunteer travel experiences around the world.

Author Archives: Anni M.

2012 Official Volunteer Abroad Report from Go Overseas

Post Katrina Volunteers with AmeriCorps

Image source: City-data.com

The volunteer industry is growing at an astounding rate. More students are choosing to spend gap years overseas. More adults are taking career breaks to volunteer. Honeymooning couples are choosing to spend their time giving back together, cementing their love by sharing their time and happiness. Empty nesters are finding new purpose and energy by sharing their experience, skills, and wisdom. It is a wonderful thing to see, especially in a world where economic crises seem to crop up everywhere you look, where poverty has reached record levels, and where the Internet joins us virtually, something that I think could keep people physically apart, if people let it. Instead, people are coming together across vast distances, bridging racial and socioeconomic divides, laughing in the face of ageism and sexism, and standing up to inequality and injustice.

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The Ripple Effect: Paul and Anne Jeschke with Habitat for Humanity

Paul and Anne with homeowner, Lydia.

Image source: Paul and Anne Jeschke

Welcome to our new interview series, The Ripple Effect. The Ripple Effect explores the emotional impact of volunteer travel and its lasting effect on people’s lives. Over the coming weeks, we will be interviewing adventurous volunteers who have given their time, compassion, and sweat equity to make a difference. Today, we’re speaking with Paul and Anne Jeschke. They traveled to Kenya with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for local families. In the process they learned how important it is to give back. Paul and Anne are an inspiration for volunteers of any age.

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Understanding New Cultures with Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad Volunteer

Image source: Projects-abroad.org

The famous “gap year” volunteer—the student who wants to experience the world either before or during college—is a relatively new concept. The benefits of the gap year for young people are enormous. Many of them simply need time to grow. They need life experience and are excited for something challenging and bold, something different, beyond the scope of the familiar. Back in the early 1990s there weren’t a lot of formal opportunities for students wanting to further their experience and education overseas. Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor with some adventurous students, took it upon himself to find an international placement for them. Back then, there wasn’t an Internet full of volunteer organizations vying for volunteers. There weren’t thousands of great, sustainable volunteering non-profits out there for the average student. Instead, Slowe set up his students with some academics he knew in Romania. They took off to teach English and Projects Abroad was born.

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Vajrayana School: Educating the Public in Boudha, Nepal

Volunteer Teacher with Students at Vajrayana School

Image source: Vajrayanaschool.org

Boudha, Nepal is a special place. It’s considered one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. The ancient Buddhist stupa of Bouda (also called Boudhnath) is one of the largest in the world. The region is also home to a growing population of Tibetan refugees who have built over 50 monasteries throughout the region. Boudha is a center of enlightenment, pilgrimage, and prayer, made all the more mystical by its proximity to the mighty Himalayas. According to The Lonely Planet, “this is one of the few places in the world where Tibetan culture is accessible, vibrant, and unfettered.” Interestingly, Boudha and Lhasa have always been linked by trade routes, so today’s intercultural community is no surprise. Boudha is a vibrant and culturally rich city but many of its residents have never had access to formal schooling. Enter: Vajrayana School.

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Explore and Inspire with African Impact

African Sunset

Image source: Flickr.com

I lived in Kenya when I was a child so Africa has always held a special place in my heart. The sunsets were spectacular, like nothing I’ve ever seen anywhere else in the world. They’re orange and pink, expansive, like a painting on velvet. I was only seven when I lived there but I made three lifelong friends—each of them uniquely bright, energized, curious, and kind. I fed giraffes and walked with elephants. I tended a carnivorous pitcher plant in my own backyard. Africa is magical. It’s full of incredible creatures, each more fascinating than the last—the stark stripes of the zebra, the proboscis of the anteater, the mischievous cunning of the spider monkey. And it’s full of incredible people, many of whom face unimaginable challenges and hardships. Organizations that serve Africa help to protect this magical place while they help to improve the lives of her people. If you have never been to Africa, go! It will change your life forever.

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