This summer, I spent 5 weeks volunteering with Projects Abroad in Samoa. I volunteered with Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG). I taught a classroom of 20 children aged 4-11. Having never taught before, I was nervous, but the Projects Abroad staff and the other volunteers provided an enormous amount of support. The Projects Abroad staff provided resources and facilitated conversations with other volunteers in which they shared their experiences and offered ideas. The Projects Abroad staff organized weekly socials in which we experienced Samoa together. These socials consisted of events like preparing an umu (a traditional way of cooking in Samoa), zumba class, and going out to dinner together. My host family was amazing! My host mother also worked with SVSG, and that connection provided another level of familiarity and comfort with the organization. As a vegetarian, I was nervous about being able to eat enough food, but my host mother experimented with her favorite traditional dishes and made vegetarian versions. My host siblings were so welcoming and I enjoyed playing rugby and soccer with them in the yard. The Projects Abroad staff was there for me during my entire experience. On my first day, they showed me around Apia and pointed out the main bus station which I would be using to commute to my placement. The Projects Abroad staff hosted workshops during my time which included a cultural workshop and a goals workshop. It was great to meet other volunteers from around the world and travel with them around Samoa during the weekends. My favorite things to do included hiking Mt. Vaea, snorkeling at Pololo Deep, and exploring the island of Savai'i. I would recommend this experience to anyone looking to volunteer abroad.
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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.
This summer, I went on a 2 week volunteer trip to South Africa at the ProjectsAbroad Human Rights Office in Cape Town. I didn't know what to expect, coming in as a high school student from Indiana into a program normally reserved for college students. Of course, I couldn't take on clients or perform any of the legal work, but the work I was able to do exceeded all of my expectations. For two weeks, I performed Human Rights work that involved travelling across Cape Town to different schools, townships, and juvenile detention centers, performing recreational and educational activities with the kids. ProjectsAbroad also granted me the opportunity to design and present my own educational presentations on a variety of topics to help troubled youths between the ages of 5 and 17 dealing with very difficult situations.
The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly throughout the program. At the beginning, all of the general ProjectsAbroad staff were incredibly welcoming and informative about every aspect of the program in which we were about to participate. Before coming to Cape Town, Coordinator Flora Mbambi gave me all the advice I needed about any belongings I needed to take with me and what I should expect. On the first day, I learned immediately about my duties, was introduced to the stunning city of Cape Town, and made some new friends. After my introduction, I met the two staff members with whom I would spend the majority of my work days: Ricardo, my supervisor throughout the trip, and Shuan, the head of the social justice area of the Human Rights Office. Ricardo was incredibly helpful in helping me to settle in and in teaching me all about Cape Town; He even showed me many of the local attraction in the short time that I was in town. Shuan was hilarious and incredibly helpful in guiding me through all of the social justice programs. The ProjectsAbroad staff also did an excellent job in organizing the weekend Garden Rpute Safari Tour for me.
Finally, I would be remiss not to include my incredible host family experience. My host mother was Faye, an amazing and sweet woman who has been hosting kids for the past decade. She would cook breakfast and dinner every day for all 5 of her volunteer kids, although she has hosted up to 30 at once. She made us incredible local food of every variety each day, and refused to let us pass it up. She helped to show the new volunteers different parts of Cape Town and was very gracious every time any one of us had a request. With Faye, it was almost as if she was our real mother.
I'll never forget my experiences in South Africa. My time there has changed and shaped who I am. I would recommend ProjectsAbroad to anyone looking for a valuable volunteer experience and the chance to see beautiful places, help underprivileged people, meeting great friends, and take memories with them that will last a life time.
I recently went on Projects Abroad's 2-week High School Special Care and Community program in Jamaica to volunteer at a summer camp for children 4-17 years old at a local primary school. It was everything they described on the "project info" page on their website and much more. My volunteer advisor, travel team advisor, and other Projects Abroad administration officers were very helpful with answering my pre-departure questions and getting me ready for the trip. The Projects Abroad taxi drivers, staff, and host family were all so wonderful. The Jamaica staff did everything to make sure all the high school volunteers from all the different programs present had enough food and water, materials and supplies at our placements, and felt comfortable at our host family's home and our placement. They made us feel very safe and kept an eye on us wherever we went. The staff came up with fun and creative activities for us to do with the children every day from arts and crafts to scavenger and treasure hunts to quiz competitions to acting. We all had so much fun at the daily social events for volunteers at the Projects Abroad office after working with the children... whether it's cooking class, reggae dance class, games evening, or supervised free time. It was so great to get to learn about such a beautiful country, help unprivileged children, and meet and become close to people from all over the world. I felt very welcomed from the moment I arrived to the moment I departed. I definitely recommend Projects Abroad!!
I just completed the 4-week high school medicine special in Panadura, Sri Lanka. I got the chance to work at three different hospitals, attend multiple medical seminars, and get immersed in Sri Lankan culture. It was an amazing adventure that I would love to share about.
Before I left, the support that I got from Projects Abroad was very impressive. My parents and I had countless questions and they were always answered very quickly and very thoroughly. Part of my story volunteering with Projects Abroad was that I was actually supposed to go to Nepal until the 2015 earthquake happened there. The support I recieved in trying to make a decision between staying in Nepal or switching to Sri Lanka was very helpful and allowed me and my parents to make the decision to switch projects.
I went to my host family right after arriving in Colombo. My host family provided three meals a day, and were accomodating to whatever times we had to wake up or when we had to be out late for something. The language barrier was sometimes challenging but one of our supervisors was an amazing translation help! They were extremely generous and gave me a very good glimpse into what Sri Lankan life truly is.
Working at the three different hospitals allowed me to see a very wide range of the Sri Lankan medical scenario and allowed me to compare/contrast it to my own country. It made me even more interested in medicine than I already was. I also loved being able to work with people from all around the world and get to learn about their cultures. We became lifelong friends and we got a very deep experience together.
I would very highly recommend any project with Projects Abroad. My parents were very interested in how high school students would be handled in a foreign country, and I can honestly say that I felt safe at all times. We were supervised at all times when we weren't at home, and we were never allowed to go anywhere by ourselves. I was nervous to be so far away from home for so long, but the support that I received from the Projects Abroad staff was so helpful that it made it very easy for me to get used to life there and thrive throughout the project. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything!!
I participated in Projects Abroad High School Summer Medical Special in Bolivia. I am interested in the medical field so I thought this would be a great way to expand my knowledge, which it definitely did. We did medical workshops almost everyday along with activities to help the community. Some of the work we did included spending time with children at a burns unit and just giving them someone to talk to. Another day we went and learned traditional Bolivian dances at a retirement home for one of the resident's birthdays. Among these rewarding experiences, we got real experience in a medical environment that wouldn't be possible elsewhere! I spent one morning observing a consultation doctor's office, and the afternoon in the emergency room watching emergency procedures. We even got to watch a dental surgery. What made it even better was that the group of people I was with were all very friendly and equally as enthusiastic about all the great work we did. Plus, I got to stay with an amazing family which made my Spanish much better! I'm so happy with the time I spent in Bolivia and will never forget the great memories and experiences that I made there!
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