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Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

Although the house is the only place I experience in Africa and Ghana, but I can say it was so good. The house is pretty beautiful, having a spacious yard, living and dining room areas and a couple of rooms for volunteers. A room includes beds with mosquito net and a fan. At the first time I came here, I didn’t recognize this place was great because of a strange environment. After a few days however I came to feel so comfortable like home and everything was fine and peaceful in the house. I was able to be more convinced of how convenient the house was when I met some volunteers staying in other places and saw the places. The house was always clean and the toilet and shower had nothing uncomfortable. While I was staying, there was not a water problem at all but electricity went out more often than not. Now that I think of it, it’s not really an issue. I felt that the house and neighborhood were definitely safe. The accommodation would be perfect if you are not “fussy”.
First of all, I have to say that the people staying in the house are not staff but family (Franklin,Cynthia,Mary Ann, Josephine, Mary Elizabeth). Little did I know about Ghana in Africa and people in it which were totally new to me before this trip but I was able to learn and feel a lot by staying with the family. Franklin was always so kind, serviceable in the best possible way, smart and talented, that was a great help to me. So were the others. The family was joyful and every single person in the family was so special. A reason that I can extensively recommend this program in Ghana is the family. You would be happy and inspired by them. Actually, I can’t explain well about the experiences with the family because it’s beyond description. I can just say I was so-so happy with them.
I went to some orphanages in spite of the brief period because I wanted to look around and cultivate and understanding of situations in this kind of arena and I thought I didn’t have enough time to fully devote to an orphanage. It was personally very good experiences to get to know circumstances in orphanages in Ghana. Christ Outreach Care for children is a small orphanage that has a financial difficulty to run; the kids in it nevertheless, were remarkably amazing. I remember the first day in the orphanage, that is one of the happiest days in my life. Country-side children’s welfare home is a big orphanage. Thanks to well-stabled system and some sponsors, they looked good but still have some problems, one of which I think is about education. On a closer view, you can find some problems. I would like to visit here again to be immersed in a part of education. If you want to give a real help to them, I would say you should stay longer as possible as you can so that you can share your advanced education and inspire the children.
If I am going to go for volunteering abroad again, I would definitely take the IFRE. I searched several organizations before this trip and I chose it with several reasons; in comparison with others, the price was reasonable, the information was detailed and it was a non-profit organization while many of others were not. From the vantage point of view, the IFRE is more reliable and I can say if your destination and purpose are on IFRE, stop thinking and choose it.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Apr 3, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

SPI Study Abroad

My son went to Santander with SPI last summer, and my daughter attended in Biarritz the summer before last. Both had truly wonderful experiences. Here is what I thought of SPI, overall:

4 week program: I would definitely recommend the 4 week program. I say this because, as in my son's case, it took him a few days to feel comfortable and get over any "culture shock" that he had. After this adjustment period, he was able to relax into his time there and really soak up the experience. He said there were some kids who had done the 2 week and were disappointed that they couldn't stay for longer.

Homestay: Both my children adored their homestays! Their "parents" were wonderful people, constantly cooking big meals for everyone and checking in to make sure they had everything they needed. SPI clearly does an admirable job of selecting families.

Supervision: It is made very clear by SPI that students are expected to abide by their code of conduct - this means making curfew and not taking advantage of any free time they have by staying out late. The staff is attentive and helpful and genuinely care about their students.

Activities: SPI has mandatory activities for a few days out of the week, and a couple days are reserved for electives and optional activities. This was definitely a great structure.

Classes: The classes are wonderful and stimulating. I liked that there seemed to be just as much of an emphasis placed on cultural discussion as there was on grammatical structure.

Overall experience: I have nothing but positive things to say about SPI. The staff, classes, activities and structure are just excellent. Most importantly, the immersion aspect of the programs is so well-designed. Both my children's language levels increased dramatically throughout the duration of their programs. My son is now continuing his studies in college and is planning on a double major in Spanish - thanks to his experience with SPI!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Spain
Posted: Apr 2, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

RCDP International Volunteer Abroad

I spent two weeks in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, staying with a local family, volunteering at the nearby orphanage, and taking Spanish lessons. I could not imagine a better host family. They made me feel at home from the start and were patient and helpful with my fumbling Spanish. Wonderful home cooking, a bustling household with friends and family stopping by, cool and comfortable inside even when the outdoor temps pushed 100 degrees! The neighborhood felt safe and friendly. My Spanish lessons were a short walk away, and the teacher was excellent at tailoring her instruction to each student. The local coordinator lived at the end of our block. She drove me to the orphanage each day and helped with questions or needs. Working at the orphanage was enjoyable, but also challenging. The Tias are busy with laundry, cleaning, bathing kids, changing diapers, serving meals. Volunteers help with playing, outdoor time, hugs. My first week, I was the only volunteer with about 8-10 children ages 5 and under. The second week, there were more volunteers and I was able to be with one or two children at a time. A highlight of each day was the children’s shouts of delight when I arrived and their eagerness to spend time with me. Each of the children became special to me in his or her own way. When I wasn’t at the orphanage or Spanish lessons, my host family took the trouble to include me in family time, outings to church, shopping, and the Poas Volcano. I was glad I had not pre-scheduled weekend outings, because this time with the family was very special and enjoyable.

After looking at several programs online, I chose RCDP International because they claimed that most of the fees paid go into the local community, and I do feel that is true. RCDP was less expensive than other programs, yet I was very satisfied with the support provided.

Program:
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Apr 2, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

It was over five weeks ago now that I arrived on Mafia Island to start the volunteering programme in Marine conservation, and I have had the time of my life. It feels like I’ve only been here days but at the same time I have enough memories to fill a lifetime.

The work is hard but satisfying and everything is an adventure, whether it’s teaching English to the primary school kids on Chole Island which lays the basis for them to go to secondary school and study further, or diving and surveying on the gorgeous coral reefs to collect data which will help to preserve and protect them. And that work is in an incredibly diverse environment which is like nowhere else in the world. I’ve seen dolphins, turtles, and huge reef rays – and a shark! I’ve been caught in a tropical thunderstorm out on the boat, and fallen asleep to the sounds of bush babies in the trees

The locals are friendly and accepting, this is the first time abroad I’ve felt completely free of the tourist bubble and integrated into the community. And if the volunteer lifestyle of living it rough and attempting to break through the language barrier ever gets too much, there’s a picture perfect beach lined with luxurious tourist lodges a couple of minutes walk from camp.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Mar 26, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Treetop Country

I spent three weeks in Thailand in February this year and my only regret is not giving myself longer.

The time at treetops was time well spent. I was well supported and it was nice for me to be able contribute in the making of a grassroots project in such a lovely area with such beautiful people.

The food was amazing. The people welcoming, humble, hardworking and generous.

I stayed in my very own house amongst the trees. It kind of reminded me of being in never never land where the lost boys live. The other volunteers living there became good friends and riding our bikes around the little province up there in Thailand's north country will make up some of my greatest life memories.

I highly recommend treetop country.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Mar 26, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
10

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