For two weeks through the month of January I spent volunteering in a day care facility. While in the daycare facility I did not spend much time teaching but more taking care of the children because the ages of my kids were 3 months to 1 year old. I played with them both inside and outside, fed them, and put them to sleep. Other than taking care of the children and working in the daycare facility, I took lots of adventures. We went zip lining, to the beach, to a coffee plantation, visited a volcano and even took dance lessons. This was a trip of a lifetime and I recommend it to anyone and everyone!
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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.
While with ProjectsAbroad, I traveled with other volunteers to other cities in Argentina like Salta, San Marcos, Buenos Aires, Iguazu, and even Santiago, Chile! There are so many amazing memories to choose from, it’s difficult to pick a favorite, but if I had to, I’d pick Iguazu. The bus ride was 22-hours, and armed with snacks, portable chargers, and earplugs, five other volunteers and I made the trip to see the falls. The falls were incredible and for the first time in a long time, I was absolutely awestruck. They were amazing! We even took a boat ride that brought us close enough to the falls to get sprayed, which felt great because it was starting to get hot. While we were there we saw monkeys, toucans, and little animals called coatis.
There is nothing I would have changed about my experience, except for maybe staying longer! My host mom was amazing, and the ProjectsAbroad staff was incredible as well! They gave me all of their information, and were always happy to help! I really loved how accessible the staff was, and getting to the office was a breeze as well. They really understand the needs of volunteers and really do everything they can to make sure you’re settled and taken care of if you need anything. One thing I really appreciated was how a staff member would teach you how to get to the office, to your job placement, and back. It’s remarkable how, thanks to their support, I never felt alone in a city of over a million people. As I look back, I think it’s incredible how the memories I made over 3 and a half months will last me a lifetime.
Projects Abroad provided me the perfect opportunity to live and work in an entirely new environment - one in which I didn't know the language or culture.
I can't speak to the other programs, but the staff in Morocco was absolutely amazing. From day one, I felt both welcomed and appreciated. The first day I had a comprehensive tour and some basic language info, and each week at our group meetings, I developed a better relationship with the staff (who, I might add, were great friends themselves - and it showed! Everyone had so much fun together). We even met up with the staff on our own, in the evenings for dinner or at concerts in the city. It can be hard to be in a new place without friends and family (particularly with a language barrier) so to have the staff be so welcoming from day one really made Morocco feel like home.
And it wasn't just the staff that made Morocco home. My homestay was by far the best and most influential part of my experience: whether they were teaching me Moroccan Arabic phrases, guiding me through cooking dinner, bringing me along for dances and concerts, or covering my arms in beautiful henna, there was never a moment that I didn't feel right at home with my host sisters.
I truly can't recommend studying or volunteering abroad enough - it really changes your perspective on both yourself, and the world around you. Projects Abroad made my dream to go abroad a reality, and I couldn't have done it without them. Would definitely recommend if people are looking for an organization to help organize the logistics for them - it's expensive, so funding options through school or the community can make this really worthwhile!
I spent my winter break in Chengdu, China interning for a food promoting social media company. It was such an amazing experience. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a member of the Projects abroad staff who showed me to my apartment, workplace, language school, and the surrounding "hangout areas". My apartment was in a very central location about a 10 minute walk from my placement and my roommates were from all over the world! At my placement I made lifelong friends who showed me the "real China". They encouraged me to try the local food and experience life as a local. They were locals who were not much older than I was. Having the opportunity to become friends with my coworkers really allowed me to experience China in an in depth way. I even got to experience a family meal at one of my coworker's homes. In addition, Projects abroad offers language classes which made getting around Chengdu a bit easier (it is not a very westernized city so not very many people speak English). I learned more interning in China than any class or book could have ever taught me. It is an experience that I would recommend to any one. Stay open minded, try all of the food even if it sounds gross, make friends with the locals, and most of all soak in every moment. (If you're in Chengdu, go see the pandas! They are so cute!)
The summer after graduating from college, I volunteered for three weeks with Projects Abroad--Medical Project in Jamaica. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working in the medical clinic, where I was able to observe nurses, midwives, doctors, and even a nutritionist work with the local people. "Hands-on" work is generally limited and depends on the location of placement, but I was able to have more direct patient contact experience the last week/week and a half I was there, due to becoming more familiar with the system and the medical staff being confident in my abilities. I really enjoyed observing the various doctor-patient interactions and going on house-call visits with the midwife. I feel like this was definitely a worth-while experience, but those planning to eventually pursue a career in medicine and are hoping to gain a substantial amount of "hands-on work" should really talk through with their trip advisors and make sure they are being placed in a setting that best fits their requirements.
As for living situation, I had the best host family. They made me feel at home and did everything they could to be as accommodating as possible. I was also living with one other volunteer for most of the time (which I highly recommend). I also recommend staying for a minimum of four weeks, not only to be able to explore the country adequately, but mainly so that a sense of routine can really be fostered at the placement site and you can maximize your time volunteering. I really hope to return some day!
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