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The Ripple Effect: Terri Wingham’s Incredible Journey, Part 1

Posted by Anni on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at Journeys for Good.  This Blog Post is used with permission. GeoVisions note:  Terri Wingham started her "incredible journey" with GeoVisions in Vietnam. This post is an interview done by Journeys for Good regarding Terri's "incredible journey." Welcome back 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. Today we’re speaking with Terri Wingham, a truly inspirational woman. As a cancer survivor, Terri has been through one of life’s greatest challenges and has come out the other side, vibrantly alive and passionate about to helping others. She has found hope through volunteering.
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Teach English In Spain And Live With A Family

We're here at the end of the year and I'm going through a lot of travel journals from our volunteers in 2011. There are a lot of great journals in our Community Pages.
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Volunteer Abroad Review Site Owners: Do These Five Things

on Jun 30, 2011 9:15:00 AM By | Randy LeGrant | 5 Comments | Volunteering Abroad
I wrote this post flying from Washington, DC to Denver to attend a conference on Voluntourism.  When I landed and got to my hotel, I read what I had written and thought I might send it.  But it seemed more of a rant to me, so I didn't hit the "publish" button. Next day at the conference during my presentation, I mentioned to the group what I had written.  The subject was Program Review Sites. I originally wrote that I hate them. After the conference and listening to others in the room, I still hate them.  But I hate them as they are, and I now embrace what they could become. (And in my home, I always tell my children that "hate" is a very strong word.) I originally wrote that I would expose some program reviews as bogus.  In other words, pointing out reviews that are placed by people who never even traveled on the program they are reviewing, or reviews posted by program owners to bolster their ratings. After the conference and listening to others in the room, I am going to encourge the owners of these review sites to police their sites better, and provide a platform where consumer (volunteer) and provider can learn.  I want them to provide a space where volunteers can be educated in the realities of volunteering abroad and program providers can take constructive criticism and make their programs better. I learned, by listening to some very wise people in the room, that program reviews can be more powerful than testimonials.  That review sites can actually become a "community" of sorts. Today I read a post by a young woman who wrote, "I rely on reviews, many reviews, to make a decision to buy.  I want to know I'm joining a community of people who share my values, who paved the way before me, and give me lots of things to consider.  I know there are the raving outliers who will rant about anything, so I pay no attention to those.  I look for real reviews, written honestly, with the intent to inform and give personal opinion." I listened to an author at the conference in Denver, who struggled with a very negative review of a well-known program and took the time to do some research and found another person who had a very positive view of the same program.  The author then included both reviews to give balance. So here I am on an airplane the next day, rewriting my original post.  I have tossed 99% of what I originally wrote.  I owe that decision to some great comments from a great group in Denver. I now understand review sites are important.  I understand they have the power to form a community.  And I realize they are not going away. The Top Five Things Review Site Owners Can Do To Be Responsible 1.  Please remind reviewers before they start writing that what happens on the Internet, STAYS on the Internet. At the very minimum, you owe these people that much.  Their comments will stay there FOREVER. 2.  Make people come forward, not hide behind a fake name.  Over on a leading abroad review site, anyone can sign in and use a made up name.  SallyLampShade207.  Why?  Why would ANYONE take a review on that site seriously?  All you need is a unique IP Address, an email address to get a verifying link from them (and this can be a one-time email address that is never used again), you set up a user name you can hide behind, and you can write a review and post it. 3.  Share the responsibility.  Provider, reviewer, review site owner.  If program providers are held responsible for their programs, hold reviewers responsible for proving they were really a participant on the program they review.  Let them know if something looks odd, you're going to come back to them.  Let them know you are going to share their email address and name with the provider, so they can make things right.  It will make the reviews more helpful to consumers.  A reputation can go south overnight on the Internet.  If you shirk your responsibility, you share in pushing that reputation over the edge. 4.  REMOVE bogus reviews.  REMOVE THEM.  This idea of, "You may not remove your review, but you may add to it."  That's cowardly.  Get rid of them. 5.  Post your motivation for providing reviews to the public:
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Volunteering In France? How Not To Look Like A Tourist

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3 Things Not To Pack When Volunteering Abroad

on Jun 6, 2011 12:44:00 PM By | Randy LeGrant | 0 Comments | The Well Prepared Traveler Volunteering Abroad
Months ago, I wrote a Blog post about the 5 things you should never put in a host family letter.  That post has received 4000 views so far and it is still the number 1 post on the GeoVisions Blog.  I went back to that post and what I wrote still rings true today, so I haven't changed it. Recently we learned about some of our volunteers and teachers packing the oddest stuff.  We all have our personal lists of items to take with us on a trip, but some of these have set the bar to a new level. Here are three items you don't want to pack, when traveling abroad.  Never.  Ever.
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