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AFS

Well, I think AFS is a good organization. We have received good support as a US host family. The orientations and follow up group meetings were a bit disorganized, but still helpful.

AFS totally needs to revamp their standards on hand held devices. Either the kids agree that they will not bring one or that they will give it up immediately when the arrive to the host family. Then it can be given only when the host family sees appropriate. These kids are coming with these pacifiers and failing to integrate with the host families. Taking no interest in our children is not acceptable. Taking them or trying to restrict their use is like dealing with a crack baby or heroine withdrawal. Seriously. This has been a real and serious issue for us.

We picked a kid from a city in a country we are intimately familiar with. The city was not as large as some from his home country. What we were hoping for was that we would be giving a kid a real opportunity. A kid who maybe didn't have the opportunities that some have from the 10 million large city. We had lived there and were very familiar with his culture and speak the language decently. We have similar interests that we had hoped would be a nice bridge and connection. No way. I am pretty sure this child is not interested in us and is only here for the hotel that we provide. Yes, we have assigned chores. Yes there are limits. All are an issue. My view is that I will probably never open my home again to an over privileged kid with only a sense of entitlement. He has very little curiosity, asks no question, gives little to no feed back. He avoids even simple things if they are going to involve research or work. (Like filling out a library card). He seems to not appreciate anything we have done for or with him. There is no motivation to be self motivating even when encouraged to. There is always some issue, something we are not allowing that will be held against us.

I think exchange programs are no largely relevant in this day and age. Prove me wrong kids. Prove me wrong. I have read and talked to so many people about this issue. If you can get everything you want and only what you want on you i-phone, why would you want to be challenged to explore anything else? Too bad, but really this kid is just wasting his parents money. But of course that is to be expected. He is a child of privilege and it is being proved even after 5 months in. I had hoped for an exchange. An exchange of ideas, conversations, interests and smiles. Too bad. I wish AFS could reach out to people who really would appreciate this kind of experience. Getting less well to do families is not an options, because the costs involved.

I am not only open and love other cultures, but this has pretty much been a waste of time. Sad to say, but true.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Jan 21, 2015
Overall:
5
Support:
8
Value:
3

The Intern Group

The quality of internships that The Intern Group finds for interns is outstanding. They take the time give you the best internship that suits you!

In addition, the overall experience between housing, events, and assistance throughout your stay is wonderful. The staff is very friendly and willing to assist you with anything you need.

My advice to future interns: This is your experience - make it what you want! Don't be afraid to wander alone and meet locals. You are there to make connections and advance in your career so you need to take advantage of that!

A little more information prior to boarding the plane would improve the program. Everything felt a little up in the air. For me, it wasn't much of an issue...but to others who are a little younger and haven't been abroad before - this can make them a little anxious!

Program: Gap Year
Location: United Kingdom
Posted: Jan 19, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I recently spent 3 months Volunteering in Ghana at the Amber program with IVHQ. Simply put my time there was amazing. When I first decided to take the leap to volunteer in Africa I was really nervous as It was going to be my first time traveling alone. But I soon realized the amount of support that you receive from not only IVHQ staff but past, current and future volunteers you are never alone. The staff become some of your best friends and the vomunteers become like family to you... It sounds cliche but I really did make life long friends that I am so happy to have had the chance to experience this with. Evans, the project coordinator for the green and Amber program is amazing, he is such a genuine guy and will remain a friend of mine for ever. If you ever needed anything at all he was there.. just a phone call away... Even if it was something as silly as "what tro do I take to get to accra" hahaha. As for your placements... what you get out of the experience is what you are willing to give. If you walk in with no expectations and a complete open heart What ever program you will be placed in I can guarantee you will have an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to volunteer at both the green and Amber program and can not express how much I loved every second of it. Falling in love with those kids take all of five minutes and leaving them will be the hardest thing you'll ever have to do... Well at least for me if was. The only thing I would encourage IVHQ to do would be to send more volunteers to the programs that don't get as many long term volunteers... Like the Amber program. It's frustrating knowing that other programs could have 8 volunteers while you only have 2. Although it gave you more time to spend with the kids one on one it makes it very difficult to start up long term projects like other programs do because there is not a constant flow of volunteers to keep the projects up. Even sometching as simple as taking time to help one kid with his reading proved to be nearly impossible with only two volunteers because you have 40 other kids wanting your help just as much and with just two of us it could be overwhelming. But that said I would not chnage anything about my experience for the world. There wasn't a single day I was in Ghana that I didn't feel at home. I never felt unhappy or unsafe or unsettled. Ghana truly is an amazing country that will grab ahold of your heart forever. Yes you live simple, and basic and won't have the luxuries that you would elsewhere but honestly it's worth it and you start to realize that you don't need those luxuries to be happy. The locals there live with next to nothing yet they are some of the happiest people I have ever met in my life. Anyways, overall I would say without a doubt that if you are considering volunteering in Ghana with IVHQ... DO IT. It is a great way to travel to a country like Ghana for the first time. IVHQ looks after you very well, the accommodations are comfortable, the food is fine, the placements are amazing, and you are given plenty of time to yourself to travel and see the country. The program is affordable and the staff go the extra mile to make sure you are comfortable. So do it... Take the leap!! The experimeve is amazing and you will come out a completly different person.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jan 19, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
7

AFS

My daughter was supposed to study abroad in Northern Italy for her senior year and had to return early because when she told the coordinator of her region that she felt like she wasn't welcomed by her host family and that her host mom was not making her feel like part of the family, the coordinator gave her a contract to sign and said to her "you don't want to go home, do you?"hmmm. My daughter tried to make things work and followed the guidlines of the program and wenr to her volunteers when she had problems,when she couldn't take it anymore living with this host family(even wanting to go to a hotel) AFS did nothing to help my daughter but just made her more miserable.
Anything your son or daughter might say to some of the volunteers will be used against them if the want to swich host families. My daughter was doing well in school, in spite of it all ,and made wonderful friends (her only support system) and had to return home early because they took a deaf ear to her and she could not take being mistreated by her host family any longer.

Program: Gap Year
Location: USA
Posted: Jan 19, 2015
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Nakuru Hope

I first met Susan in 2010 when she was taking groups to Nakuru Hope to volunteer. My timetable that year did not allow me to go but I kept it in mind as I was impressed by Susan's passion and commitment. I visited Nakuru Hope in August 2014 for 3 weeks and was surprised by my experience.
The school had opened at the beginning of the year and Susan, her son and daughter had an official opening mid year. I arrived for the last week of Susan's visit and was made to feel very welcome by all. The children's assembly the first morning bought tears to my eyes. I was overcome by there happiness and willingness to learn.
The home stay facilities are excellent and welcome surprise. There were a number of other volunteers who came and went while I was there and meeting and learning from them was amazing.
I helped with classes, as my background is teaching, marked exams, read to and with the students. I was impressed by the English of the 8 year old students. Helping with food twice a day and playing at break times.
Sounds like fun, there were also home visits to see where these children live. It was in a slum area after all. They manage or not on so little. Walking around the slum was no problem. An old man came and shook my hand to thank me for visiting.
I highly recommend this experience to everyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jan 18, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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