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Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

I've been to Nepal for 4 weeks working in Shahid Memorial Hospital.
The experience was very formative. I was unlucky because I've been there during the longest local festival so in the hospital there were less patients than usual, but still I found something to do. This experience gave me the opportunity to assist some operations I would never be able to assist in my counttry untill the last years of my studies.
I have learnt that if you want to do something it 's just up to you: be openmind, kind and available to do every kind of things and you'll be sutisfied.
I've also learnt that sometimes just talking with local people can give you and teach you more than actually doing.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Nepal
Posted: Oct 6, 2017

Projects Abroad

My experience in Kenya is one I will certainly never forget. From the outstanding staff, to making friends from all over the world; seeing elephants and giraffes, to helping improve the living conditions for less fortunate people, this experience opened my eyes to a whole new world. During my four weeks in Kenya, I stayed at a beautiful home with a welcoming family. The kids in the house kept me on my toes, and the adults provided authentic Kenyan meals.

When I wasn't at home, I was spending an average of 6 hours a day at a school called The Fountains. There, I was working alongside a teacher to help 2-4 year olds learn English. This, being my first real experience as a teacher, helped me to build up my confidence being in front of a class. I learned how different schools work in Africa, and was able to give suggestions based on what I have learned in college as an Education major.

To be honest, I was quite nervous going into this experience. I have never really left the country before, so this was a big step for me. My mother was even more worried, but those nerves got put to rest when I told her how outstanding the staff was. There are four main coordinators in Nanyuki, Kenya, and they all exceeded my expectations. This experience wouldn't have been nearly as great without their hard work, dedication, kindness, and perseverance. They were constantly catering to our needs, and making sure we had the best experience possible. They organized medical outreaches, a day to teach a kindergarden in the slums how to properly wash their hands and brush their teeth, a soccer day with an orphanage, a renovation day, and much more. We even ended up getting so close that all of the volunteers and volunteer coordinators went to dinner before we all had to leave. Overall, I would highly reccommend this experience, and push for you to choose Kenya as your destination!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Kenya
Posted: Oct 3, 2017

Working Abroad


I would like to share my personal experience in China as an ESL female teacher.  China hasn't been that great for me, first as a "non-native" foreigner and as a woman. Maybe, that is only me, so, I am not really trying to offend anybody with my story but again, this has been my experience. Please take a note, so you don’t have to live what I had lived through.

By pure luck, I ended up working for one of the worst agencies in China. I believed their lies and came here virtually broke which is never a good thing when you venture in a country so far away from home. Without knowing the laws and the few rights we have as foreigners, I ended up working for what it seemed centuries for these people. I tried to get out and find "loopholes" in the system, but I didn't find any help. The few Chinese who wanted to help me, didn't know how, the rest of the Chinese didn't care because evidently it wasn't it their benefit to do so, and the foreigners I knew, just didn't help me in any way. Later, I found out that they actually knew what sort of an agency it was but they were not interested in giving any sort of warning. Others knew how to "get out" but wouldn't share these "loopholes" because they were too busy to help others. Everything was a "secret."

I regretted so many times going to China and working for these people. However, now I can tell you that unintentionally, they had given me a doctoral degree on how to survive China. So, I am happy to help other foreigners in China in any way I can.

Here it is a long review of the agency I used to work in Changchun. Sorry if that is too long, but this is how they work this agency and other ones in China. At the end, you will see a YouTube link from the owner from this agency. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, share this video to help me warn others. 

Changchun, Jilin Province, China.

NOTE: The owner posted a promotional video in Youtube a week ago, and it had such a backlash from all the teachers who used to work for them that she disabled the comments, still the video went viral in Facebook among teachers warning others about her agency. In less than a week, she had to removed her video and closed her Youtube account. If that agency were as reputable as they claim, they wouldn’t have a problem putting themselves out there to be reviewed.

1. This agency has so many pseudonyms that is actually hard to keep up with them. Just remember, Mamma Wang is the owner, Maggie is the daughter, Kara and Chloe are their main minions who recruit teachers, and Jali, aka Lailah is the one in charge of housing and jobs. The other recruiters don’t really count, they just work there for a while, then they move on or get fired. Every 8 months or so, there is a new staff, except the untouchables who were mentioned before. 

2. There is no welcoming to begin with. They will rush you into the office (Jilin Younovo Education/Tian Shuo Education, Room 398, Floor 3, 3766 Yatai Grand Street, Changchun, China 130041) to sign a contract, take your passport, and take you to your next destination. 

3. Do not be deceived by their fake smiles and sweet voice. Whenever they see you, you are just money and western slaves they can boss around and abuse. 

4. The second thing they will require you to do is to hand in your passport and school documents. They will keep your original documents and delay returning of your passport. They will keep your FEC (red booklet), though it belongs to you, you will never see it. There have been cases where they had kept the passports from certain teachers. Their reason is to keep it “safe.” The real reason, they will need your passport to cancel your residency permit. WITHOUT your passport, your residency permit cannot be canceled. 

5. They will give the worst accommodation you have ever seen in your entire life, even if you come from a 3rd. world country which it was my case, I had never seen apartments in such pitiful conditions. 

6. They will deduct 2,000RMB for that luxurious accommodation which you will have to share with everyone who works for this agency. NOTE: depending on your nationality, you will have to share your own bed, YES, your bed with another teacher, regardless of your sex). 

7. Under no circumstances, they will give you any sort of cleaning products, even though, their apartments are filled with dirt, grease, and roaches.

8. During the first week after your arrival, someone from the agency will take you to open a bank account but they will keep the contract and that person will give his/her phone number. They will be able to get notifications about your transactions unless you change the phone number. Conveniently they neglect to mention this information. 

9. In the contract, it is mentioned that you will have to teach certain number of HOURS to reach the amount of money it was promised. HOWEVER, what they avoid to mention is that they will LITERALLY COUNT the minutes you had taught. For example, if you taught 22 classes of 40 minutes each, in one week, you will only get 14.6 hours of pay. And they will pay one week of payment for the first week. Even if you change schools, the drill will be the same. So, expect to be deducted for that week. 

10. Maggie (the owner’s daughter) has a policy that new teachers have to work in Changchun for the first 6 months of their contracts. So basically, it would be impossible to reach your full payment unless you work 7 days a week, teaching in several schools all over Changchun. The other option is to teach in a kindergarten. 

11. If you decide to leave Changchun because who wouldn’t like to experience a -40°C winter, you just have to remember that your original contract will be voided because the “school” wants a full year contract. Therefore, your contract will be extended for one more year to that date. If for any reason, you get fired or move to another city, then another contract must be signed, extending it for another year to that date. You could easily end up working for at least 3 years. But lately newbies have to sign initially 2-year contracts, they will tell you that is a Chinese requirement (another lie.)

12. Regarding salaries: The agency fee for finding you a job, will be 60% of your salary. YES, 60% or 70% of your SALARY (depending on your nationality) as the owners of this company think teachers DO NOTHING. There is no way around it. This is how they work. 

13. Your salary will be paid every 15 of each month. If the 15 falls under a national holiday, expect to be paid 2 weeks later. Why 2 weeks? No one knows. If the 15 falls on a weekend, your salary will be paid the following working day. And under no circumstance, your salary will be given in advance. 

14. If you happen to be a “non-native” teacher, expect your salary to be cut in half of what other teachers make. They will constantly tell you that your dark skin is a problem and how schools don’t want you because of your complexion, your nationality, your accent, and so on. They will find plenty of reasons why you are not good enough, so please thank them for their generosity as they are the ones doing you a favor by hiring you. By the way, you will never see a black person working for Mamma Wang and Maggie. If you are black, don’t even bother applying for a job with this agency.

15. 90% of the schools pay at least winter vacation but obviously you will never get one RMB from this money, unless, you have the best relationship with the school managers. Then they usually demand the agency to pay the teachers for the winter vacation.

16. The agency claims that it is ILLEGAL to give insurance to teachers. This is a lie. 

17. You will be FORCED (YES, you read it correctly) to sign a letter giving up your right to get a release and a recommendation letter, even if you finish your contract. Obviously, the release and the recommendation letter can be given to you if you pay around 10,000 RMB or up to 50,000 RMB (again, it depends on your nationality.)

18. If you are a woman, expect to be treated different. Do not expect equal rights and if you ever raise your voice, the main owner (Mamma Wang) might kick you or hit you and put you in your place. You have to understand that you are not or will not ever be their equal. 

19. If you find yourself in any sort of distress, do not count on anybody at the office to help you out. You are on your own. If you don’t find the school they appointed you, that is your problem. If you are sick, suck it up, you will have to teach or expect your salary to be deducted. 

20. For the first week, you will have to figure out by yourself the transport system, how to buy food and water, how to find the nearest supermarket, etc., you name it. Whatever you need to transition into this new culture, don’t expect them to help you. 

21. Teachers are expected to pay for all housing bills. Maggie and family own all the apartments in Changchun given by this agency. Though, from time to time, they move teachers from one apartment to the other to either upgrade you or downgrade you depending on your behavior. That means if you are fighting back, demanding to get your own money, a better accommodation, etc., you will be place in the worst apartment which believe me, they have from bad to worst. Their version is that the owner is “selling” the apartment. 

22. You will also HAVE TO PAY for your own visa fees, courier services, photos, medical tests, EVERYTHING. This agency doesn’t pay for ANYTHING.

23. Please note that they are some very LOYAL employees from this agency as they get money to recruit teachers or they could also get their own release letters if they bring someone they know to work for this agency. NICE, uhh?

24. Most of these foreigners working for these people WILL NOT tell you the truth about this agency. Other foreign teachers will tell you not to mess around with the owners. The reason is that they are pretty well connected to the local authorities (PSB and SAFEA.) At one point, during my forever contract, I reached for help to both government offices and their officials called Maggie to tell her I was there trying to get out. 

25. They send teachers to work all over China, though it is required by Chinese law to transfer the documents to the new school, so the teacher will work there legally. Well, don’t count on it, they will never do that as that would mean losing the control over the teacher. 

26. The company creates a sense of paranoia where you feel you cannot trust anybody, either for real reasons or not, working for this agency, you will not find any peace of mind. 

27. The owners constantly threaten people to blacklist them, deport them, or put them in jail if they do not BEHAVE or COMPLY to their demands.

28. Maggie and her mother want you to be completely dependent to the agency. They will prevent you to know anything that will actually be useful to your life in China. They will not share any extra information, you don’t need to know. 

29. If you finish your contract successfully, they will find ANY NUMBER OF REASONS to be deducted from your housing deposit (2,000 RMB.) I wouldn’t count on it. In my case, they kept 4,000 RMB.

30. Both Mamma Wang and her daughter, Maggie, seemed to be very well connected with the local authorities; and going to them will be pretty useless as they won’t help you, but they will call Maggie to inform them about your situation. So, if at one point of your contract, you want to leave, it will be virtually impossible to get another job without their “release letter.” Many teachers in the past had just gone back to their home countries. 

31. Reading and knowing all of these, if you still want to go ahead and sign with these people, mark my word: YOU WILL REGRET IT!!! 

32. If you still decide to go ahead, just don’t choose the 21st. Century building as your accommodation in Changchun. They have two of the worst apartments in that building, don’t be fooled by the outside appearance. The bills are ridiculously high and both apartments look dreadful. To be honest, every apartment in Changchun is shocking.

Location: China
Posted: Oct 3, 2017

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

In August 2016 I fulfilled my lifelong passion to volunteer with children who needed it the most.

I now go back in 6 weeks time, same program and same location :)

I spent 3 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; I was based at a local hospital where I cared for children with disabilities from unprivileged families living close to destitution but had the support of this vital volunteer program and hospital day care. I gave my time, my love and my gentle hand to children who just wanted to be accepted. I assisted local staff in providing therapeutic treatments, feeding, play time, entertaining and educating.

In my spare time I visited an orphanage where my heart was broken; 3 floors and 75 children with no mummy & daddy and a safe place to call a home. There were no bedrooms for these children - they shared communal floor space and simply was provided with a pillow, they were fed twice a day and relied on donations from volunteers - donation of time and donation of basic supplies for everyday living.

The orphanage was over an hour on the bus out of district 4 and I was struck by the vision of poverty on the streets, no documentary can prepare you for that. I fell in love at the orphanage with every child I met – I spent most of my time in the baby room as my heart lay there, with around 10 babies under 2 including ‘tiny toes’ a 10 day old baby abandoned by his mother and born at 7 months premature. This sweet innocent child was perfect but with a long road ahead of him and no name at the time.

It’s also hard to forget Quin – a 12 year old girl with severe mental and physical disabilities who also resided in the baby room at the orphanage as the staff where not quite sure what to do with her due to her inability to walk or feed herself, she was playful and sweet and just wanted to play.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easier but I had no idea how hard it was going to be. 35 degrees of heat with no air con at the hospital or orphanage, in an area struck with poverty and a nation of people with no healthcare support. There is no public health cafe in Vietnam!

We have all had ups and downs in life some harder than the other (loss, illness and hardhsip) but we are truly blessed to have access to clean water, health care and a roof over our heads and food in our tummy’s. To give your time is to give happiness.

Last a note from the words of a true inspiration - Christina Noble.

“I will work with the ill and unwanted, with the lonely and the misbegotten, with the throw-away children of this war torn country.
The future of our world is the future of our children, our beautiful children. For many of them, it is a matter of giving them back their future, giving them a life, giving them hope and giving them the childhood they deserve.”


Location: Vietnam
Posted: Oct 2, 2017

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

I did really enjoyed my time volunteering in Peru, Cusco is a beautiful city with many activities. The girls and workers in the orphanage are very friendly. The most important things they need from volunteers are donations and helping hands. The donations can range from clothing to school supplies to personal hygiene items as they are teenagers. I really enjoyed communicating with the girls. I remember my first successful conversation with them in Spanish. It felt very rewarding.
I didn't expect to negotiate so much in Cusco. From taxis to local markets, there is often not a set price. For example, a taxi driver may say the taxi ride costs 6 soles, but you can and should argue for a fairer price when the drivers try to overcharge, ask your host family what are the typical fares.
It was shocking to see how quickly the weather conditions can change. It can be warm and sunny one moment and then cold and rainy the next go out with layers, sunscreen and sunglasses.
I really enjoyed traveling on the weekends and would highly recommend this. Travel was surprisingly inexpensive. Visit the Rainbow Mountains, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Once in a time life experience. Hopefully more!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Oct 2, 2017