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GeoVisions Blog

Participant Stories

Volunteer Abroad: Do You Fit In?

Yesterday I wrote a post about "How I See You." I thought I would follow up that post with actual comments from GeoVisions' volunteers in-country right now. I hope you'll read some of them to see if you think you fit in.
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"My Big Dream"-Volunteering Abroad For Six Months

Terri Wingham (A Fresh Chapter) is leaving today for Vietnam with GeoVisions on an incredible 6-month journey to volunteer abroad.  I spoke with Terri a few hours ago going over the details of her program for 29 days in Ha Noi, Da Nang and Ho-Chi-Minh City.
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Volunteer Abroad For Credit?

on Jul 7, 2011 9:40:00 AM By | Randy LeGrant | 0 Comments | Reasons To Volunteer Abroad Internships Volunteering Abroad
Why do you volunteer abroad?  It isn't a poll I'm taking, and GeoVisions isn't conducting focus groups.  I'm just wondering why you go abroad and spend time volunteering? I have all these questions I want to ask about volunteering abroad.  Why aren't you volunteering in your home country, for example?  I mean, if you're volunteering, don't you want to improve things in your own country?  Why go to the expense of volunteering abroad? Do you know that in the last 6 months, Google hits for "volunteer abroad" have gone down?  Does that mean people are losing interest in going abroad to volunteer?  In a word, "no."  Google hits for "voluntourism" are up.  People are wanting to combine travel or a tour with some volunteering.  So do people choose voluntourism because it's a way to go abroad on the cheap?  I don't think so.  Volunteer vacations can cost $3,000, $5,000.  Many of these trips can be very expensive.  Am I right or am I wrong? Maybe it's the cultural exchange piece.  Do you have a better chance of exchanging cultures living with the locals?  Probably.  What if you choose an organization that has their own volunteer houses?  You then spend your day volunteering on a local project, and then you head back to a bed, a kitchen, a western-style toilet and huddle up with the volunteers on the project.  Wouldn't you want a home stay if you're into cultural exchange? Speaking for Americans, if I may for only a moment, I think we're a compassionate people.  We are more comfortable in a "community" and so we're always striving for that.  Community can be found where you live, where you visit, and online.  Can the community we find online be as real as the community where we live or work? The words "compassion" and "community" share the root com, which comes from the Latin word for "together."  When you think about the word "passion," you may immediately think of a favorite image of romantic passion, but surprise: "passion" comes from the Latin pati and means "to suffer."  "Compassion" literally means "suffering with."  A compassionate community would then be a group of people who come together (community) to suffer with.  Or, a group suffering together. Really? I feel like Andy Rooney on 60-Minutes.  He asks tons of questions, getting at the truth.  But he's funny.  I generally am not. I'm a Boomer, and I think the future of Voluntourism is Boomers.  I know a couple of our competitors who think the future of Voluntourism is college students.  To the extent that they have people on staff to help award college credit.  We don't agree with them.  For college students, the future is Internships.  Sure, college students will always be volunteering.  But the future?  The trend for students now is Internships, and the trend for Boomers is meaningful travel. If you're 18-21 years of age, you have told us that you need experience and you need an Internship.  Otherwise, you're not finding a job when it's time to graduate.  If you prepare for finding a job now, you'll be in a position to volunteer when you're older. If you're a Boomer, you've done the student thing, you've done the work thing.  You have money.  You have time.  You know exactly WHY you're volunteering abroad.  And you don't need college credit as a lure. What do you think?  Are you ready to turn that "compassion" into college credit or do you prefer an Internship for your resume?  Are you a Boomer, ready to share your compassion through cultural exchange?  Or do you prefer an Alaskan cruise? Let me know what you think.
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Volunteer In Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey Scholarships Available

If you have ever wanted to volunteer in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey, you can now apply for a scholarship to help out with your volunteer expenses. America's Unofficial Ambassadors is offering scholarships to GeoVisions' volunteers in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey.  Scholarships up to $5000 can be used to cover program fees and/or travel.  Applications for the scholarship are being taken through August 31, 2011.  The funds can be used for 2011 or 2012 program dates. In teaching English in Jordan, you can use this scholarship for: Conversation Corps-Jordan Conversation Partner-Jordan Mentoring in Aqaba Feynan Ecolodge In Lebanon, the scholarship can be used for Conversation Corps-Lebanon Conversation Partner-Lebanon In Turkey, the scholarship is available for Conversation Corps-Turkey Conversation Partner-Turkey You can read about the Mosaic Scholarship and then there are links to the rules and regulations, and the application. The underlying premise of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA) is that private American citizens have to do more to improve America’s relationship with the Muslim World.  Read more about AUA here. By December of 2012, AUA plans to have 1000 Americans commit to at least 1 week of service in the Muslim World.  We are very proud to be an approved organization of AUA, and our programs in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey rank high enough to qualify for the scholarship. Contact us if you have questions. You should work your application with GeoVisons along with the application for the scholarship. We welcome any comments about the programs or the scholarship.
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Volunteer Musicians Playing For Change

on Jun 3, 2011 8:41:00 AM By | Randy LeGrant | 0 Comments | Reasons To Volunteer Abroad Working For A Better World
Playing For Change is 150 volunteer musicians in 25 countries, putting together 47 videos.  None of them have ever met. Since 2007, the Playing For Change Foundation has helped promote peace across borders by bringing music education programs and instruments to children in communities around the globe.
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