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Frontier

I've been on Frontier's teaching project in Cambodia for the last 4 weeks and it's been absolutely incredible.

We are based in Siem Reap, and we teach at a local school for children who would not normally be able to receive English classes.

Siem Reap is an amazing town with the perfect mix of old and modern, chilled and hectic, with amazing culture, friendly people and fantastic bars and restaurants. There's never been a dull moment- there's always more food to try (the bug cafe, with tarantulas, scorpions and crickets was a particular highlight of mine), more bars to have an ice cold beer (Cambodia beer is my favourite), more markets to get lost in, more temples, ruins and museums to explore.

The teaching itself is incredibly rewarding. The children are so eager to learn and are always full of energy and enthusiasm. You quickly get to learn all of the personalities of the children and some of them can be very witty, even when they aren't speaking their native tongue. The younger grades love to play games and write on the board, which makes teaching them very entertaining!

At the weekends we have been able to explore the surrounding area. Angkor Wat was an obvious highlight- nothing can prepare you for the scale and sheer impressiveness of the place. We also visited floating villages, a butterfly sanctuary and the War Museum (our guide was a child soldier in the Khmer Rouge and his account of the civil war was harrowing and tragic).

All in all, the project has been a fantastic mix of rewarding work at the school, and an amazing opportunity to explore and get under the skin of this awesome town!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Jan 29, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

AFS

My husband and I hosted a student for the first time in 1994. I saw an ad in the paper and thought I'd moonlight for the exchange program that had posted the ad. We loved our student from the very first and it was the best idea we ever had. While we had her, we found out about AFS. We happened to live in a small city where AFS was and is very active. The local volunteers and the school advisor included our student in all the AFS activities and enhanced her exchange in a way my husband and I could not. I decided to become a volunteer for AFS because I was the only rep for the other exchange program, and if I joined AFS, I was part of an organized group. We have hosted 4 other AFS students since 1995 and we are currently acting as an emergency family for a student until AFS oks a new family for him. Yes, that happens, in spite of the volunteer training, in spite of the family and student orientations, in spite of taking care to match students with families so everyone has a good experience. We volunteers do all we can to support the student, and the families, work with the schools, the other countries and the U.S. Government. As an AFS volunteer, I am required to take training every year. One part is for AFS, the other part is for The Department of State. I submit to a background check. If I am a liaison, which is a volunteer who checks with the student and family every month to be sure the exchange is working, I take training for that each year. If we host, there is a special application for that. Each country has requirements for its AFS program, so if you use AFS, get as much information as you can before you make your decision to send your child, or host. AFS and the exchange experience has changed very much over the last 20 years. Some of the changes I agree with and some I don't. In the meantime, my husband and I think that we are getting too old to host. When we hosted in 2010, he was the same age as the student's grandfather, lol. We are in the middle of moving and have other things going on, or we'd let our current student stay for the rest of his exchange. I know the family he was with, and we are getting to know him. I don't think it is anyone's fault the exchange didn't work out, sometimes the expectations are too high on both sides. I will say that AFS doesn't just let a student go to another family. Unless there is abuse, volunteers and staff work as hard as we can to keep the original exchange on track, but we hope the family and student can work it out between themselves--it is a learning experience after all. Even if we don't host him, we'll stay in touch with him the rest of his exchange and longer if it happens that way. Speaking of staying in touch, we have stayed in touch with all of the other students we hosted, except one. I stay in touch with local teens I meet, who are friends with the exchange students. I'm in touch with some of the exchange students I was a liaison for, and some of the families as well. I'm in touch with kids I mentored for the YES program, kids I met at orientations. After the first 10 years with AFS, my husband and I realized we had met people from over 50 countries. And we met so many people from our own community at the same time. Saying goodbye is hard to do, but we've come to realize that the idea of exchange is actually a door that doesn't have to shut. We've seen 3 of the students we hosted after the exchange ended. We love the Internet because it makes it easier to stay in touch. You wouldn't believe how many letters we wrote before 1998! Every exchange program has positives and negatives. AFS is the oldest and there are AFSers all over the world. I have a lot in common with many of the volunteers and staff and others, not so much. I've had hands-on experience with 2 other programs, and I'll give the rest of my volunteering years to AFS. I won't say it is easy to volunteer for AFS, but I wouldn't trade the last 20 years for anything.

Program:
Location:
Posted: Jan 27, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
8

Frontier

I'm a 26 year old Aussie with a fair share of travel notches in my belt and too be honest I didn't quite know what to expect when volunteering in a developing country. Frontier created an experience that I'll never forget, the perfect balance between fun and learning about such a beautiful country and it's inhabitants with a program that ran like clockwork. With the beach and coral reefs at the front door and the dense lush forest at the back this place makes paradise jealous! with out sounding cliché and cheesy my only regret is that I didn't stay longer. I have no doubt in my mind I'll be back!!!!!!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Madagascar
Posted: Jan 27, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Global Crossroad

I'm volunteering in Kenya for the Global Crossroad's health program in the Kibera slums, I've been here for 3 weeks and there are 2 weeks remaining. I've been helping a doctor in a clinic since I'm about to finish my career. My tasks here are attending patients with the doctor in charge, I take their vital signs, do the examination and discuss with him the plan to follow. I've also been helping in a school, playing with the kids, helping with their lessons and cooking the first week. I think that this is a country with a lots of needs, and volunteering is a good way to see the reality, to know the people, who are really grateful by the way, and to make a little change in their life. I don't think that by volunteering I'm doing a great change neither that is no worth in doing it, but at least I'm seeing the country with my owns eyes and now I can tell everybody how is living in Kenya and how much do they need a help. I've know lots of people so as to keep helping and making projects in the future. At overall until now I think this is a life changing experience, although you have to be strong enough so as to live the cultural shock of the first week, and get over it. I think that working here and with this company worth it, but be in mind that kenyan are not well known by their planification neither their organization. So don't be worry if they don't pick up from the airport on time, neither if your working place is not totally aware about how many weeks are you staying or what are your skill, or in what you can help. I feel that with a best planification, having especific tasks where there is need of a volunteer, and making it clear since the very begining it could be much better, but that also a cultural issue. I would reccomend it if you are a person who can handle with this kind of issue and can get over the cultural shock, if you are so and you are seeking for adventure you should come.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Kenya
Posted: Jan 26, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

Frontier

I would say the best thing about working with Frontier is that they give you a push forward in life. A big push. Already in my first two weeks of working here have been exposed to things which I have never seen before in my life! That is why you have to keep an open mind and be very flexible. I got shocked and breath taken all in the same day. It is indeed an adventurous and intensive experience in every way that broadens your horizon. Here you develop all sorts of skills. And a skill presents a virtue only when it is challenged by the environment and people around it. And trust me, there is no better way to challenge yourself than working in a developing country. Staff at Frontier is one really cool bunch of people that you can learn so much from. All in all, adventure in every way!

Program: Gap Year
Location: Madagascar
Posted: Jan 26, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

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