I volunteered in Jamaica, Mandeville with Projects Abroad for one month. I volunteered in a children's home for the first two weeks and in construction for the last two weeks of my trip. At the children's home, I assisted the staff with their daily care routines for 25-30 babies and young children. Working in construction, I assisted in a local building project by mixing cement, painting, and stacking bricks. My living accommodations were with a host family in the area and they were very nice welcoming. I learned about the Jamaican culture through the Projects Abroad office and often ate traditional Jamaican food in my home stay which was always delicious. Two other volunteers girls lived with me in the same host family and I met other volunteers at lunchtime in the town or through the Projects Abroad office. On our weekends off, the volunteers and I often went away to visit other parts of Jamaica with permission of the Projects Abroad office. Overall, my experience with Projects Abroad was positive as the staff was always helpful, I made great friendships with other volunteers and I learned valuable lessons on my work placements.
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Established in 1992, Projects Abroad is the world’s leading short-term international volunteer organization. Over 8,000 people a year join our programs in over 25 amazing countries around the world. All participants receive unparalleled in-country support from our full-time, professional staff to ensure that the experience is safe, worthwhile, and fun.
The Projects Abroad operation in the Galapagos was a waste of our money, time, and abilities. If you are a young college student with low expectations and looking for a reason to getaway from home, then this placement is perfect. If you truly care about adding value to the conservation or education programs in the Galapagos, then look elsewhere.
Our three weeks there consisted of very little value-add work; most of our time was spent standing around, doing busy work, or working only a fraction of what we were promised.
Some examples: pulling weeds ‘outside’ the greenhouse on a plot of land where they do not grow anything and where volunteers had uselessly weeded three weeks earlier. Another example: 15 volunteers on a tortoise weighing project that only needed 4-5 people; everyone else stood around for 5 days. Then, after we spent 3 weeks measuring 50 tortoises, the park ranger quietly told me that none of the measurements actually get permanently recorded. Another example: two volunteer teachers were signed-up for teaching English, but when they arrived to the Galapagos, schools were on Summer break. Another example: a volunteer English teacher was given a group of kids where the age range started at two years of age. Most students were too young to even say their name in Spanish, let alone English; so she spent her volunteer time as a babysitter. Another example: for a simple beach clean-up, they had us work on a clean beach versus a garbage laden beach just down the road. Despite everyones recommendations to maximise our efforts on another beach, our young 19 year old Projects Abroad manager decided to cut short the work day. We can go on and on with examples.
We have been in marketing and brand-building for 15 years, have multiple degrees, and in our opinion, for Projects Abroad to be marketing this program to prospective volunteers is a travesty. We spent a lot of money, and all we wanted to do was work hard and lend a hand in building a strong conservation project in one of the most ecological sensitive areas in the world. In return, we were under-utilised by Projects Abroad staff and chastised for wanting to do actual conservation and education work.
Look elsewhere. In our opinion, there are far better organisations that you can connect with and where you can add true value to this incredible part of our planet.
My experience with Projects Abroad in Mexico was great! It gave me the opportunity to met likeminded people from all over the world and make friends for life. Projects Abroad set me up with an amazing host family. They were so welcoming and taught me about Mexican Culture while improving my Spanish.
The Projects Abroad staff was very helpful during my time there. They showed me around the city, organized group activities and were there to answer all my questions.
For my project I worked with a local organization that promoted community rights. Here I was able to learn about local issues as well as use my skills to help their projects. The project was everything I was looking for!
Overall I loved my time with Projects Abroad and in Mexico!
Overall, I would recommend this program for college students looking to give back over spring break. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, explore a new country and give back to the less fortunate. The staff was very welcoming and helped me adjust very well to this new culture. I was situated in an apartment with my roommate who I requested to be with. The apartment was just what we needed, nothing luxurious. I think that that made the experience that much better. The food was amazing, it was fun to taste all the different food of Belize. We were taken to all different restaurants on the island. The work that we did there with the local preschool was very fun. We were able to interact with the kids and we were also able to paint a mural on one of the outside walls of the preschool. Another day we worked at a food bank and walked dogs from a local shelter. We also had free time, we were allowed to explore the island or just rest. it was the perfect balance between work and downtime. If you are interested in an alternative spring break, go through Projects Abroad!
Our week-long alternative spring break trip was focused on public health in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was a bit nervous to travel by myself, especially because I didn't know exactly what I would be getting myself into at first. The PA staff had been in contact with me prior to my departure, but I feel the online guide could've been more useful and pertain to my trip specifically, instead of encompassing all trips as a whole. Once I landed, I felt incredibly safe with all the staff members, as well as my host family. I never once felt that my safety was in danger, even at our different outreaches or at night. Rosa, a staff member, was with us the entire week helping us get settled in, attending every outreach, giving us a tour of Guadalajara, and so much more. At our outreaches, we interacted with local doctors to perform head to toe assessments and administer medication. I was able to be as involved as I desired and utilized my Spanish quite a bit! PA gave me a week that I will never forget through incredible programming, a wonderful staff, and a fantastic host family.
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