Projects Abroad

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8.9 / 10 after 121 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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.

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My name is Hannah Elliott-Higgins and I am currently a junior studying psychology and art/art history at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. During my senior year of high school, I spent some time debating the idea of taking a gap year and volunteering before heading off to college but eventually decided against this idea as the excitement of starting college set in. However, half way through my sophomore year of college I began to think again about how wonderful it would be to be able to take some time to simple volunteer and experience the world through my own eyes and not through a strictly scholarly lens.

I worked with a gap year/semester coordinator to decided what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with children and if possible work with those with developmental disabilities. I was put in contact with Projects Abroad South Africa (Cape Town) and I could not be happier with the way everything went. From my first email contact with Projects Abroad I could tell it would be a wonderful experience. They were prompt to respond, answered every question I had, and provided me with all the information regarding my placement and living situation in a very timely manner.

During my time in Cape Town, I volunteered at the Sunrise Special Care Centre 5 days a week and had the weekends to myself. I absolutely loved the work, which consisted of basic occupational therapy and physical therapy as well as care taking. There was a bit of an age range with the majority of the children being between the ages of 6 and 14 and then a few young adults (early 20s). Everyone I worked with was kind and welcoming and spoke very highly of being there past Projects Abroad volunteers. Every week, I would meet with volunteers from other projects to talk with one of the volunteer coordinators from Projects Abroad. If there were any issues, they were always available to help out.

I lived with a host family who lived one street over from the Sunrise Special Care Centre and I cannot speak highly enough of them. They were wonderful and made me feel completely at home.They gave me and the two other volunteers I lived with breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the mother was a wonderful cook. I have certain dietary restrictions and they were wonderful about making accommodations for me.

Overall, this was an incredible experience for me and I would strongly recommend Projects Abroad for anyone who is looking to take a gap year, semester, or even just a few weeks off doing service work. It is an unforgettable time and I would do it over again in a heartbeat.

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Location:
Posted: February 9, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
21

Almost two years ago, I decided that I wanted to do some sort of volunteer work in a foreign country. At the time, I was a pre-med student, so I settled on a medical internship. That was the easy part. After I decided what I wanted to do, I had to choose a program and a country. I googled something like "volunteering abroad," and one of the first sites to pop up was Projects Abroad. After exploring the site and reading reviews, I decided that the program was perfect for me! At this point, I had the two of the three parts needed to start my trip. I looked at the Projects Abroad map, and looked for the country that was farthest away from my home. That's how I settled on Nepal as my temporary home for a month.

I landed in Kathmandu, Nepal with an information packet and a list of contact numbers. My airport pick-up was arranged by Projects Abroad through the hotel that I would be staying at for the next couple of days. The next morning, I was met by one of the Projects Abroad coordinators, who went over my information packet with me and answered my questions. The coordinator was incredibly helpful and made me feel very comfortable.

The next morning, I boarded a bus to Chitwan, a small, rural town four hours away from Kathmandu. I was escorted by a Nepalese man employed by Projects Abroad. I was shocked when the bus finally stopped in the middle of nowhere--which turned out to be my final destination. I have to say I absolutely LOVED Chitwan, which was largely due to the amazing host family I stayed with. My host family consisted of a husband, wife, and their two sons. They were all so welcoming and helped me get used to my new surroundings.

Every morning, I walked about 8 minutes to a tuk tuk (rickshaw) stop, and rode it to the equivalent of main street in Chitwan. I then walked a short distance to the hospital where I had to opportunity to be assigned to a variety of departments. I learned a lot about how medicine is performed in Nepal and I even got to observe a few surgeries. I had an absolutely priceless and life-changing experience and I never once felt unsafe while in Nepal. Projects Abroad provided some amazing coordinators and staff who were on site to help guide me and the other amazing volunteers.

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 1, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
8
Age:
21

Volunteering abroad through Projects Abroad was one of the best decisions that I have made. This program was very helpful during my initial process of finding a program. They assisted me with all of my questions, helped me to navigate their website, and even held Skype informational meetings to answer all of my questions. I was able to have a contact through the organization who helped me with the registration process, and he even helped me with formulating ideas for raising funds, through sending me a packet of ideas. I was quite apprehensive at first, but the money that I spent on travelling and volunteering abroad was well utilized. I was shown and explained where all the money was going, and my room and board were covered within the expenses. I even had the option of having my flights arranged and the tickets purchased by Projects Abroad. Letting them take care of this detail of my travels took a lot of stress out of the planning process, and I was quite thankful that I left this detail in their handling. The paperwork process that needed to be completed before travelling and serving with children in an orphanage, was a bit complicated. It required much patience and a large amount of communication between myself and the representatives, but eventually, we figured out all that had to be accomplished before my arrival. Upon my arrival, I had three square meals a day, a great orientation process, and was picked up from the airport when I arrived. I was also dropped off at the airport when I departed, and this was wonderful because I did not have to worry about arranging a taxi for the three hour road trip from Bucharest to Brasov. My driver even assisted me with obtaining all of my luggage and helped me recover from the culture shock that I experienced upon my first international trip. During my time in Brasov, Romania, I was able to learn much about the people and my service site through my experiences. The memories that I made during my experience were formed significantly by the assistance and involvement by the employees of Projects Abroad. They even helped me to communicate with the other volunteers in the area and themselves by providing me with a cell phone and minutes during my time abroad. They also arranged group projects for us to do service together, as well as other social outings and gatherings. I could really feel their care for all of the volunteers during the four weeks that I spent in Romania, as they were always interested in our safety and comfort. They regularly checked in with all of the volunteers, and even assisted us in planning our outings around the country during the weekends. We were able to live independently, explore the area, and interact with the culture, but always had the support and encouragement of the Projects Abroad staff. I loved the time I spent in service and truly appreciated all of the structure that was available within that setting. There was plenty of room for myself to make my experience my own, and to invest in the lives of those that I served with and lived with. I have made lifelong friends through my time with the other volunteers also, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have traveled through Projects Abroad.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 9, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
Age:
20

Projects Abroad was a great program, and I would highly recommend it especially for first time travelers and those that want to get credit at their university.

I had never traveled internationally, and Mongolia was a huge leap for me. Projects Abroad got me in their system quickly. After my first advisor was replaced (she was not that great), I had fantastic communication with them. My new advisor answered all my questions, no matter how ridiculous, and made sure that the in-country office was aware of my school forms that I needed to receive credit for my time abroad. My advisor even checked in with my by phone before my trip to make sure I had everything I needed.

Once I got to Mongolia, the in-country office made me feel welcomed and prepared for all that I was to experience, and their check-ins throughout my trip were really helpful. They made sure my placement organization and my host family were taking care of me, and that I was satisfied with how things were going.

One of my favorite parts of Projects Abroad is how well they connect volunteers with volunteers while in abroad. I quickly because a part of the community of volunteers living and working there, and this helped me immensely with my transition. It was great to have fellow English speakers to talk to and spend time with.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 5, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
8
By: chapmann
Age:

Last year, I spent two months volunteering at Mwanayamala Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. There, I rotated through the different departments of the hospital, bandaging wounds, growing lab samples, observing surgeries, and conversing with doctors. The doctors at Mwanayamala Hospital were incredibly friendly and taught me a lot about medicine, infectious disease, and Tanzania. Several of them even took the volunteers out for lunch a couple times. Outside of my time at the hospital, I was also able to visit breathtaking beaches and waterfalls, and go on a safari with other volunteers. Although I didn't always feel safe in Dar es Salaam, because it is a large city with a certain amount of crime, the support provided by Projects Abroad was amazing. They gave me a tour of the city on my first day, made sure I knew how to make my way around town, and they were very easily accessible for any sort of assistance throughout my stay. Volunteering with Projects Abroad also helped me become comfortable with travel abroad and helped me discover my passion for service and for public health. Although Projects Abroad is quite pricy, the memories I gained and the friendships I've formed are priceless.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 25, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
7
By: kashinia
Age:
21

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