Latest Program Reviews

Over 300 Programs and more than 3,000 Reviews

AFS

My family hosted through AFS twice. AFS was hosting a booth at the High school my son was going to start at in the Fall. As someone who spent summers abroad, I saw the value in having students come and understand our culture and school system.

The first year I participated in AFS, I did a double placement. My one student did really well with us. The other student not so much. Counting the students with us we have become a family of 7. The student articulated that she did not want to be in such a large family or being a part of a double placement. That bothers me since she was aware of our family size and hosting situation before she left her country. I had a few concerns about the students mental health and expectations. My husband and I tried multiple times with AFS to understand the core of what students are told and to make the best compromises with the students expectations. Even though she was not an only child at home, we felt that she was not understanding the dynamic of time and money.

The issue with AFS was how they deal with compromising. I did not feel that there was a lot of support for a student that was struggling like she was. They would talk to her separately, but never follow up with us in regards to what was discussed. Every couple of months we would have the same issues with that student. I received an email from that student a few months after her stay with us stating how we were the worst experience of her life. That was hurtful given how much energy and money was put into the relationship. I reached out to AFS in regards to this note, but never received a follow up from them.

Regardless, we hosted again and changed the variables. We decided to host only 1 student and I read with a fine toothed comb the letter the student wrote to the family. All the family has to go on is this letter. In hindsight I would have liked to have seen more including social media. That could go for both sides. I'm accepting a person in my home for a year, I want to make sure that we are the right fit.

The student arrives to our country and already during the orientation she is very distracted. The liaisons pulled her out and found out she is in love with a boy she met and how she hates that she left him... They did call and warn me.

I pick her up and the first few weeks are ok. The student was always tired so she really did not get acclimated with us too much. I wrote a lot of it off as jet lag. I felt I was trying hard to acclimate her and not put pressure on the student.

So my student decides to go to a concert with some of her friends, but DRINK while she is there. She became so sick that the paramedics were called and she was taken to the hospital. She did not call us or the liason. After the hospital released the minor, she called us to pick her up. I was pretty upset. I called AFS for guidance and reiterated the displeasure of how neither us or the program was contacted. Under AFS rules she should have been sent home. After many weeks AFS finally sends her a warning letter to sign and that she could stay if she follows the rules. The letter also stated that if they get her medical records that they will send her home if the levels of alcohol were too high.

At this she starts freaking out telling me how she did a lot of weed in her home country. I'm upset at this because I'm not ok with a teen who does this in my home. I submitted feedback to AFS regarding better vetting students and there was no follow up.

At some point this student did not like living us, but never expressed any issues. She complained how for 15K she is not getting anything in return from AFS. She complained about our family to her school peers and found herself a new host family. AFS came and removed her. Never told us of any issues. We were completely blindsided, but my liason kept emphasizing how I did nothing wrong. She continues to attend the same school as my son.

By AFS guidelines this student continued to break rules, but also got to call the shots.

I will not host with AFS because of the lack communication and support when dealing with difficult situations. I love my one student but it was not because of AFS, it was because she was an appropriate student for the type of program. That is not true with the majority of students. I'm constantly filling out surveys, but I have never been talked to about the feedback. In the end, you feel disposable. There is a lot of responsibility involved in being a parent to a teen, given how AFS handles the situations I'm not interested in taking on the liability.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Jan 9, 2018
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Projects Abroad

Visiting Nepal under the Projects Abroad's High School Special's Medicine Project has proven to be one of the best experiences I have had. The accomodation at Hotel Global in Chitwan, and Hotel Prince in Kathmandu were all very comfortable, with easy access to bottled water. The staff at both hotels were incredibly helpful and friendly, and were all receptive to feedback. The food at Hotel Prince and Global catered for the dietary requirements of volunteers and always ensured a variety of both Nepalese and Western Food. Hot water when showering made my stay at Global and at the Prince more enjoyable.

Projects Abroad ensured that the volunteers got to experience Nepalese culture by attending a dance class, and they organised for a staff teach us basic Nepalese phrases to ensured we had better communication with the locals and during placements. The staff members at Project Abroad implemented many team building exercises and icebreaker games to allow for all volunteers to interact with one another, and they always ensured to take our feedback on board by doing daily breakdowns and reflections.

The staff at Projects Abroad also ensured that we had the freedom and choice to tour around the markets and side streets in Chitwan and in the tourist area near the Hotel Prince, and were helpful in allowing us to exchange our foreign currencies into Nepalese Rupees at the best local rate. The Project was a good balance of working in local hospitals to exploring the local areas as well as ensuring sufficient time to relax and bond in the evenings.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Nepal
Posted: Jan 9, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I chose to go on a trail as I wanted to be able to visit several countries in South East Asia with the guidance of someone who had been there before and could give me advice etc. Not having to worry about where I was staying each night and how I’d get to the next town etc. was a massive draw as well, it saved a lot of stress! It appealed to me to be able to meet new people from different places, and being put in a group definitely met this criteria. The trail also appealed to me as it listed teaching and gaining a TEFL certificate as part of the trip, and this was a massive influence when booking the trip with Frontier. HOWEVER, since coming back from the trip, I have just found out this is not an actual TEFL certificate and no relation to the official TEFL organisation itself, so I am hugely angry and disappointed in this and will be pursuing the issue further..

We spent a fair amount of time preparing for the lessons at the school in Cambodia, so this definitely took up some activity time! However there were definitely a fair amount of restrictions on the activities we could do due to what was deemed ‘unsafe’, sometimes unfairly so, and whether everyone in the group wanted to participate. There was however, no clear definitive list as to what activities were covered by Frontier, and this cause a lot of stress and friction in our group. There was a huge amount of miscommunication.

The accommodation was really great, thanks to the efforts of our group leader. 90% of the time we had a great choice of rooms which weren’t too cramped and were clean and comfortable. They were usually very close to the main areas we wanted to be in, and the staff at all the hostels really made it a memorable stay – they were so kind. Our group leader was so helpful and always happy to find out more info and source activities for us. She was eager to explore and experience the culture of the places we visited, so this matched my interests and rubbed off on the group in general! The other volunteers were all lovely, mostly younger than me but we all got on very well. It was great to meet people from all difference places and even countries.

The teaching we took part in was very poorly organised, we weren’t allowed to go to the planned school for the first week, so we worked at a night school further away. This was rewarding work, however there was a miscommunication with them that meant they thought we’d be there for the next three weeks. This meant that even when the planned/normal teaching resumed, we had committed to teaching at the other school as well. This made it a very long, tiring day and we had to cycle in the dark, quite far to the other school to teach there in the evening. It was also extremely disappointing to hear that Frontier made no monetary donations to the school, and for the teacher to bring this to our attention was highly embarrassing. After each of us spending so much money to be on the trip, we all expected some of this to go to the school we were teaching at.

I wanted to feel like I’d made the right decision coming on this trip, and feel like it was worth the money – sadly this did not happen. I was generally hugely disappointed with the trip and felt like there was so much miscommunication with Frontier, rules they didn’t tell us, restrictions, and misleading information. The budgets for everything on the trip were so small, and really, I didn’t see much evidence of where all the money we’d spent on the trip was going.

For any future applicants who are considering going on a Frontier trip, ask lots of questions before you book your trip, and make sure you know what is and isn’t covered by Frontier. I would do as much digging for other reviews on 3rd party sights, and just seriously consider whether you use Frontier or choose a different company. I had a bad experience travelling with them, and if I could go back I would not use them. I have also been made aware that the same problems we incurred had happened many times before on previous trips, and no changes had been made to prevent these issues arising again.

I think Frontier really needs to ensure that all the information they provide to everyone is more up-to-date and correct. Much more research needs to be done, for example the entrance fee for Angkor Wat had increased (a year before we went, consequently several groups had been before us since this change) which meant that our budget was smaller for other areas, however this should have been considered and dealt with before. Rules, regulations, and restrictions should all be translated correctly to any group members and they should be made aware of this BEFORE payment. And I strongly believe a more detailed analysis of specifically where the individual’s money is being spent, should be provided. Considering the offer was made to a member of our group that if he invited a certain number of friends, he could be a trail leader (with no experience, training or capabilities for this) I strongly get the impression that as a company, Frontier are simply out to receive as much money as possible, and are not focused on the welfare and satisfaction of those who take part in their trips.

Program: TEFL
Location: Asia
Posted: Jan 7, 2018
Overall:
3
Support:
1
Value:
3

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

Last summer, I spent 10 days in Costa Rica on Global Leadership Adventure’s “Beachside Service Adventure”. I can honestly say that those ten days were some of the most exciting, transformative, and meaningful ten days of my life. The service we performed was touching and I loved every second of it. The “adventure” excursions were beyond fun and let us explore different parts of Costa Rica. The environment GLA created for us (as students abroad) fostered life-long friendships. I am so happy I got to go to Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventures!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Jan 5, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

I had the best time traveling to Guatemala with Global Leadership Adventures! I went to Guatemala for 14 days on the Children of the Maya trip. I learned so many new things about their culture while making an impact on local communities. I would go back in a heartbeat! I loved all the people I met from the others teens on the trip to the staff members! The staff members were so awesome and welcoming and I love the home base, not only that I am still in contact with some of the other girls who went on the trip! I am so glad I was able to go on the trip and I would highly recommend others to travel with Global Leadership Adventures too!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Jan 5, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Pages