I was a part of a two week medical project in Chitwan Nepal. Projects Abroad was a perfect fit for me, because I had never flown international before. Their travel team booked and confirmed my flights for me. The price for my flight was not exceedingly expensive but they got me an average rate. When I arrived in Nepal, Projects Abroad had people waiting at the airport for me and were there with me every step of the way. The advisors walked me around the area where I was staying, showed me the hospital, and introduced me to my host family. The teams that Projects Abroad has are extremely helpful in that they plan everything out for you so that before, and upon arrival, you feel well informed, safe, and content.
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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.
Summer 2016 I had the opportunity to go on the shark conservation project based in Fiji. From the beginning, I felt welcomed and adapted to being out of the states with ease because all of the volunteers were so welcoming including the staff. The staff members were especially great and very supportive if a volunteer encountered a problem or needed help. In addition, if a volunteer ever felt as though they didn't have a sufficient amount of workload the staff would always be willing to allow the volunteers to become more involved with extra work and more responsibility. The project enabled me to step out of my comfort zone and meet many new people from all around the world and even from places near my home. For the volunteers that live near me, I am still friends with them and plan to continue my PADI certifications with them. To be completely honest, this project was my first time traveling independently overseas which can be daunting but there was never a time where I was unhappy with the project. What's not to love about diving every week, fascinating workshops, AWARE shark course, and local village visits? I forgot to mention the incredible shark dives with sometimes fifty or more bull sharks. I recommend this project because it has been an amazing experience for me personally in respect to making new friends, going on survey dives, learning new information from the workshops, and much more.
Over summer vacation I had the chance to spend three weeks in Cape Town, South Africa. Projects Abroad provided me with the unique opportunity to volunteer in the field of Physical Therapy while being immersed in a different country and culture. I volunteered at the Friend's Day Centre on the Alexandra Hospital Grounds in Maitland. I worked with staff on improving the strength and flexibility of individuals with severe disabilities. The facility had a jacuzzi which allowed me to gain experience with hydrotherapy. The project allowed me to be very hands on which was great. The projects abroad staff was great with supporting me before and during the trip. They provide you with your own webpage on everything you will need to know for your trip and what you will need to bring. Upon arrival a Projects Abroad staff member picked me up from the airport and brought me to my host family who was incredible. Within the first few days a staff member brought me around the city to get anything I needed and show me how to use public transportation to get around. They called and met with me multiple times to make sure I was comfortable!
I had the most fabulous time volunteering in Mongolia and immersing myself in a different culture. The three aspects of my trip, home stay, volunteering, and support from the Projects Abroad staff, were phenomenal and better than I could ever ask for. I had never gone abroad without my family before and was nervous about being in a foreign country alone. The staff working at projects abroad made sure I felt adjusted and comfortable in my new situation. Zulaa picked me up from the airport and drove me to my home stay. The next day she took me all around Ulaanbaatar, showing me where and which buses to take to get to work and downtown. She bought me a bus pass and SIM card as well as giving me a cultural introduction so I wouldn't accidentally offend someone. Her support didn't end with that first day. Throughout my trip she continued to check in with me and offer assistance whenever I needed it. She also organized events to bring all the volunteers together, whether it be volunteering adventures or cultural presentations. My home stay experience was one of the best parts of the trip. My family was welcoming and funny. The children spoke English and were able to bridge the gap between myself and their parents. I had my own room and lots of privacy while at the same time playing traditional Mongolian games and eating the delicious dinners they prepared for me. Whatever food I said I enjoyed they would put in their kitchen the next day and their generosity was unending. On my first weekend my host family took me on an amazing excursion to the Terelj National Park. I rode a camel and had a picnic in a meadow surrounded by cows. It was one of the best days of my life. The volunteering part of my trip was definitely the best part. I worked at an orphanage with infants and helped the nurses feed the children and bring them outside for a daily dose of sunshine. The orphanage didn't always have enough nurses so I would help out in various ways and sometimes take babies to the hospitals for check ups. The babies were all so cheerful even though their lives weren't privileged or what most would consider pleasant. Orphanage work was extremely hard but at the same time so fulfilling and life altering. I will never forget my experience with Projects Abroad and will always suggest it to people wanting to work abroad.
Over winter break, I participated in a 3-week public health internship in Dodowa, Ghana assisting the nurses of the Shai-Osodoku District Hospital by weighing and vaccinating children 0-24 months at child welfare clinics and administering first-aid (treating malaria, ring worm, cuts/sores, etc.) to school-aged children during school and orphanage visits. I really enjoyed this project because it was very hands-on. I really felt like I was learning a lot about public health outreach in a developing country, all the while giving back to the community that was helping me learn these lessons. The experience has motivated me to pursue a nursing degree upon college graduation.
I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Armah and their four children. The family took very good care of me. Despite frequent community-wide power outages, the accommodations were adequate and comfortable. I also very much enjoyed meeting and spending time with fellow volunteers from across the world, and traveling independently across southern Ghana on the weekends.
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