After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education, Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master's degree.
A few weeks ago I was at a work dinner and had the opportunity to speak with a colleagues friend about our jobs and how we got to where we are today. We spent a good amount of time on college and what we majored in and some of the same professors that we both had at the University we both attended. This inevitably paved the way to bring up what we did after graduation. She admitted that she is still working in the same job that she had throughout college while I went in to some detail about my ESL teaching gig overseas. Several times throughout our conversation she made statements about how she always had wanted to do something like that but her fears of living in a foreign country, cut off from her life back home, always dissuaded her in the end.
After talking to a few more people since being back in the United States, I have seen that her fears were not entirely unique, in fact, most people that I caught up with or have met since have stated things along the same line. But what about if you can get past all that? What does a job overseas offer you once you make the decision to jump past all the scary unknowing? The answer is a lot. The skills, experiences and changes I underwent during my time teaching abroad is are some of the best moments of my life. Below are five of the most beneficial things my three years overseas taught me.
See the World
I think it goes without saying that getting this chance to see and experience a part of the world that would have previously been unattainable is one of the biggest draws of choosing to teach in an ESL environment overseas. Depending on your area of choice and your recruiter, you may be given the opportunity to teach in a rural environment. All I can say to this is, DO IT! Exclamation aside, teaching in a rural area will give you experiences and the opportunity to see and do things you never thought imaginable. While teaching in a large city definitely has its perks and ease of access to a similar lifestyle stateside, teaching in a rural area has the potential to change your life in ways you never thought possible. As an added benefit, you may be eligible for a pay incentive for teaching in a rural location.
It’s no secret that the cost of living while abroad is significantly cheaper than it is in the United States. While this can be skewed either way depending on where you end up teaching, for the most part, school and teaching institutions will pay for your monthly rent, and perhaps also your health insurance, utilities and even a cell phone. Because of this, it is not uncommon for expats to send as much as 70-80% of their salary home each month to take care of bills and financial obligations back home. In countries like South Korea and Japan, expats also pay into a national pension which becomes available to them at the completion of their contract. This amount ends up being about 9% of the first year’s wages and about 6.7% of each subsequent year. For one year, the average expat can save about $15,000 if they are smart about their money.
Your Own Growth
I know I can speak from personal experiences that the person I was when I graduated college and the person I was when I returned home some three years later look nothing alike. Moving overseas saw me separated from a life, friends and a family that made up a huge portion of who I was as a person. Initially, the shock of losing these things was great. Everything that I grown accustomed to was ripped out from under me (albeit by choice). But what is interesting about all of this, is what happens to you when these things are gone. Redefining your life once these things are removed is a pretty spectacular thing.
Bolster Your Future
Getting a great paying job that is in line with your passions and expertise is no easy feat. With hundreds of people sometimes vying for the same position, it’s easy to feel like you are just one of the many who hold a degree in Journalism and also wrote on their school newspaper. Extra-curricular activities that you poured your soul into because you believed they would play a vital role in landing a job outside of college are often the same things that everyone else did. So how do you get ahead and stand out? Teaching abroad can certainly help. In every interview I landed since I returned from teaching overseas my experiences living abroad came up. Employers liked that I was capable of putting myself outside of my comfort zone. They like the leadership skills I developed and the organizational methods I used to keep my class organized. I went in to each one of these interviews ready to explain and detail why my time overseas makes me the best possible candidate for this job. Only two weeks of applying and a few interviews later, it worked.
Change Someone’s Life
Bring on the cheese. It may sound tacky. Completely cliché and trite, but teaching overseas really does give you the chance to change and impact someone’s life for forever. Many of the students that I taught came from affluent families who were involved in trade, business or medicine on the global level. In order for their children to reach the same amount of success as the parents, learning English becomes of the utmost importance. The person you choose to be each time you enter the classroom can make or break these student’s passions to learn a new language and enjoy the same accomplishments as their parents.
As mentioned above, each ESL teaching destination offers different salaries, housing packages and demographics of students you will be teaching. It’s important to ask your recruiter or school every question imaginable in order to make sure you are going to wind up in the best possible situation.
Ready for the next step? There are a variety of starting points, take a look at the job forums on Dave’s ESL Café or if you’re looking into teaching in Europe head over to Oxford Seminars to look into getting the necessary TEFL credentials for your work visa. If you're interested in Teaching English Abroad in Asia, check out all the schools where you can work and get paid on the GeoVisions website.
EURO CUP 2012
This is Briells Sydor's second guest post. Brie was one of our counselors in 2012 on the Italy Summer Camp program. She got caught up in Euro Cup 2012 and explains that "getting involved" in local sports or actvities can increase your enjoyment of the cultural exchange.
For all of you sports fanatics out there: don’t worry about losing that sense of athletic unity and pride when you go abroad—most Europeans are even more spirited than you!
While I was participating as a summer camp counselor in GeoVision’s Italian Summer Camp program this past summer, I was fortunate enough to watch several of the Euro Cup games with the locals. Since I’ve grown up watching my brother play soccer, I thought I knew enough about the rules and intensity of the sport that I would fit right in with the Italians — I was wrong. Soccer—or rather, futbol—is more of a religion than a sport in Europe; everyone watches the games, has at least one jersey, and gets emotionally invested in the outcomes of the matches. The Euro Cup was no exception.
As a volunteer abroad in Macerata, our group of counselors went to a fun restaurant/bar in the center of the city to watch one of the playoff games. A huge projection screen was set up to air the game and all of the tables and seats were occupied well over an hour before kick-off. At the start of the match, everyone in the bar stood to sing the Italian national anthem; it was a beautiful moment of patriotism followed by booming cheers and chants for the team. Over the next few hours, Italy battled Spain through two intense and competitive halves, with the final score resulting in a 1-1 tie. Little did we know, these two teams would meet again in the finals of the 2012 Euro Cup.
Fast-forward about a month to me living in Rome, with Italy and Spain facing off in the Euro Cup Final that evening. My roommates and I spent the day buying our first Italy jerseys and stocking up on Peroni—an Italian beer—for the game. I also took some time to peruse the homepage for European futbol and a great guide if you want some quick facts on the league.
About an hour before the start of the match, the three of us ventured down to Circo Massimo, a huge open venue near the Colosseum. IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE. Thousands of Italians were waving huge flags and setting off red and green fireworks; 4 Jumbotron screens aired the game high above the crowd; horns, cheers, and the Italian sports announcer’s voices filled the air. Despite attending an array of college and national sporting events in America, I had never seen anything like this. The enthusiasm and national pride that emulated from the crowd was truly a life-changing experience, and I felt so fortunate and honored that I could be a part of a moment that exhibited this part of the Italian culture.
Unfortunately, that level of excitement and optimism was crushed by a 4-0 loss to Spain. As we filed out of Circo Massimo, it was difficult to comprehend how a stadium that had been overflowing with energy just a few hours before now fell silent and desolate. Even as a bandwagon fan, I felt defeated and could easily detect the new aura of dejection throughout the city.
So, for all of you other traveling sports-lovers out there: get involved. Go see a game or watch one at the local sports bar. Grab a jersey and a beer and (attempt) to sing the national anthem with the rest of the locals. Even if your team suffers a heartbreaking loss like Italy did this summer, the unparalleled experience of being a part of that athletic spirit just might be one of the best things you will do when you volunteer abroad.
This is a guest post by travel blog writer, Kara Drake. Some of our volunteers and teachers participate on programs with us multiple times. If you teach English abroad or work or volunteer abroad with GeoVisions multiple times, there are substantial discounts given to the program fees. So we thought Kara's post was a good one to remind travelers of the many reasons to go back and revisit some of those destinations multiple times.
Tbilisi, Two Year Time Lapse
My family is planning on going to Belgium for my husband’s next sabbatical and people keep asking us why. We were there on sabbatical in 2007, back for a visit in 2010, why would we want to go back? To try to answer them I tell them a story about, Georgia.
When I was in graduate school I had the amazing opportunity to travel on a grant to The Republic of Georgia. I was studying history and archival methods and a group of us were going to help the Georgian National Archives attempt to set up an electronic catalog so that researchers could have easier access. I had no idea what I was getting involved with. My friend Peter had mentioned he was going with a few historians and I just jumped in. I didn’t even know WHERE Georgia was. I assumed it was going to be all about borscht. All I knew was that I was going someplace raw and it was all new to me.
From the beginning it was a giant adventure. I flew Turkish Air where I was pleasantly surprised with the incredible food and disappointed that there was smoking in the back of the plane (cough, cough!). We were greeted by our new Georgian colleagues, set up in an apartment in a run down Soviet era building, walls crumbling all around. Completely jet lagged we set out to work at the archives, where we were warned we should NEVER use the facilities.
Every day we had three meals prepared for us by this sweet woman who knew no English. We knew no Georgian. But quickly I learned how to count to five (because nothing cost more than five Georgian lari), and I learned how to pronounce Vazha-Pshavela to taxi drivers taking us to the archives. One of the Georgian archivists spoke German so that is how we attempted to communicate. The biggest surprise was the food. It was a heavenly mix of spices and fresh flavors. I was in love. A big shock for me was that there was no blending in Tbilisi. I was used to European travel, getting mistaken for being Dutch or German. From my clothes to my hair I stuck out like a sore thumb and attracted all sorts of attention.
Fast forward two years. We were heading back to do some follow up work with the archives, to check on their progress and reunite with our friends. While the food remained heavenly, the city was completely upside down from the memories in my head. Instead of everyone driving run down Trabants there were Range Rovers barreling through the city center. There were actual restaurants and an Internet café! And there were tourists. It was clear that someone had let the cat out of the bag at how amazing this little country was. Oil money had invaded and on more than one occasion I saw people carrying handguns in their belt buckles. A new sort of energy surged through the city.
The changes that occurred in the two year time lapse between my visits to Tbilisi were dramatic. But it wasn’t just the city that had changed.
After two years I was going to Tbilisi a very different person. I was married, had started a career, had visions of a future. I don’t expect there to be dramatic changes in Leuven, Belgium when we return there for our sabbatical, but I expect that we will be bringing a lot of changes of our own.
Returning to a place you have already been can be shocking and familiar at the same time. So, just because you have been somewhere once before don’t turn down the opportunity to return. You may find yourself very surprised.
This post was written for GeoVisions by Brielle Sydor of Elon College. Brie was one of our counselors in 2012 on the Italy Summer Camp program and will be returning to Italy this summer to live and work.
While I was happy to find that many of the Italian stereotypes were true—amazing food, beautiful architecture, cute boys—there was one that was definitely less amusing: theft. Every guidebook and travel website out there will tell you to “guard your possessions with your life” while traveling through Rome or Naples, and I certainly wish I had listened to them. On not one, but TWO occasions, I had my iPhone 4 stolen from me and didn’t even realize at the time that it had happened. Those thieves are tricky; so if you are unlucky enough to have your smartphone swiped while living abroad, simply follow my (unfortunately tried-and-true) recovery plan to get yourself back to the cellular world.
Before You Leave:
If you’re the prepared type and are reading this post before you go abroad, I would definitely recommend downloading a locater app on your smartphone. “Find My iPhone” and “Life360” are great choices for the iPhone, while “Where’s My Droid” is designed for Androids and “Find My Phone” is a highly-rated choice for Blackberry. When set up properly, you can use a computer to access the app and find the location of your stolen phone.
When It Happens:
Chances are, you’re consulting this article because your phone was taken and you never downloaded a location app/it isn’t working. In this situation, it’s best to contact your cellular provider and block your phone so that the thief can’t access your information or run up a huge phone bill.
Your next step is to go to the police station (“La Stazione di Polizia” in Italian) and file a report. While the odds are slim that your phone will be turned in to the police, this will give them a way of contacting you and returning it if the thief does have a change of heart. A police report also provides you with documentation you may need if you plan to file an insurance claim on your phone.
In the Mean Time:
Assuming you don’t want to buy another iPhone while you are abroad, a pay-as-you-go cell phone can be a good alternative. Italian phone stores like TIM, Vodaphone, and Wind have basic cell phones that you can buy or rent to get you through the remainder of your trip. To add “credit” (minutes and text allowance) to your phone, simply go into any Tabacchi and tell the cashier you want €__ euros worth of credit on your phone. They will then ask for the service provider (name is typically next to service bars in upper left-hand corner of screen) and your phone number. Once the transaction is complete, you will get an Italian text saying that €__ euros have been credited to your phone. The service provider should also send you free credit-update texts after every phone call and when your credit is almost out so that you will know when to reload your phone.
While you're enjoying all that Italian food and sights, be sure to carry your bag opposite the street-side, and keep your belongings close to you and out of sight. Best of luck to you and enjoy Italy!
If you have other ideas to stay safe and to keep your personal belongings safe, please share your ideas in our Comments section below.
Yesterday I wrote a post about The Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad. In all honesty, the post was "The Ten Things..." but I typed so much, no one was going to read such a long Blog post. So I cut it in half. Here are the other five:
6. It's Impossible To Travel Alone
I'm not good around a lot of people. I'm very shy and I have to work hard to be chatty with strangers. But what I discovered quickly is that whether or not the person you sit next to on the plane chats you up or someone in a bar in Madrid sits down next to you and starts talking…you're meeting people. Taxi drivers love to practice their English and someone in the hotel bar has always missed their flight. The police officer giving you directions will usually ask where in the States you're from. You cannot travel alone, even if you try. Don't fight it. Listen and learn. Enjoy the random acts of good directions or the discussion of politics. Some of my fondest travel memories involve total strangers.
7. It's Impossible To Make People At Home Understand
In my early days of travel, I took hundreds of photos. Back in those days they were "slides" and basically they consisted of film set between a small frame of cardboard. You put them in Kodak slide trays of 80 to 120 and started showing them in a darkened room. My family really could have cared less…they had never traveled anywhere to speak of. And people who had traveled somewhere had not traveled where I had been and they just didn't get all the little innuendos in my photos. When I tried to talk to them about people I met, meals I had eaten and artifacts in museums…all of that fell on well-meaning, but disinterested ears and minds.
Entire chapters are written for returning students…a basic cause of reentry culture shock or reverse culture shock as we call it in our profession. The University of Iowa has a great article about Reverse Culture Shock.
How can you cope if you are back from doing something that changed and shaped your life and the feeling is that no one really gets it?
What works for me is that I take photos and videos and document my travels really well. You will find a few of my travel journals on our Community Pages. A couple over on Everlater. Some here at my home.
Then I turn them into a book at the Apple Store or some other place and use travel quotes to set off the photos from my daily journal. Someone is going to pick up that book at your house or read online and start enjoying all those interesting travel quotes and then start asking some questions. because using quotes draws people in, and once you hook them and they become vested...you will attract a lot more interest in your travels.
8. Knowing The Purpose Of Your Journey Brings Great Results
When the intentions of your trip are supported by a "why" that has meaning, you will find a way to bring them to life on your travels. Making the most of our journey is a matter of continuing to remember why you have chose to do this trip in the first place.
One of the best things about working at GeoVisions is listening to everything people want to accomplish on their GeoVisions program.
In the end focused and persistent effort along the way will help you enjoy a successful trip. When your travel efforts are driven by your purpose, you can keep enjoying exciting trips for a lifetime.
9. A Positive Vision Makes A Big Difference
One of our most read posts is "Think Traveling Or Volunteering Abroad Is Too Expensive? Think Again." Our Social Media Manager, Alexandra, wrote that post.
If you envision a trip as achievable, it will be. Envision yourself packing, buying your plane ticket and arriving at your destination. Hold that image firmly in your mind and each step will be in this direction. If I want something badly enough, I tack a picture of it above my desk so I see it everyday, all day.
If you choose crowd funding, this positive vision makes your online profile believable, and you'll attract bigger donations. Knowing you are going to do this project gets you half way there.
10. Your Journey Is Ultimately What You Make Of It
There is no such thing as a perfect trip. What does exist is a continuous series of imperfect travel moments filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities for you to interpret them and do with them as you please. What you don't accomplish on this trip can be accomplished on the next one.
You can pave the road you travel with frustration that you "didn't do it all" or "I am not finished." Either way you are going to arrive at the same destination. The only question is, do you want to arrive there with a frown or a smile?
So here, then, are the Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad. I hope breaking the post into two didn't confuse anyone.
Last week I showed some of our staff my scrapbook of my first trip abroad. 1976. They were amazed that I had kept the itinerary, photos, and even currency in that old scrapbook these past almost 37 years. I keep it because it reminds me of what got me to today, and why today is so important and why each trip is something to share.
I'd love to read your comments and ideas about things you wish you knew before you made your first trip abroad. We have space below if you feel up to sharing.
I took my first trip abroad in 1976. As an American, that was our Bicentennial year and so my passport was in celebration of that fact. I still have it.
Since then, I've traveled abroad almost every year and multiple times in a year. Even as I grow older, I look forward to traveling as a renewal. I'm eager to go, I'm eager to return.
When my father was alive and he would travel to visit me, the first thing he would do was put his small travel bag by the back door. "This way I won't forget it when I leave." That was almost before he hugged me "hello." He was preparing for his departure the moment of his arrival. Now I get it. We all want to enjoy our trip, of course. We all look forward to our "stuff" and getting back into some kind of routine at the end.
All of this made me want to come up with a list of 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad. For brevity, I am sharing my top five things in this post, and tomorrow I'll share the next five things.
1. Uncertainty About The Trip Is Certain
Will I make it to the airport on time? Did I pack everything? Will there be a delay, which will cause me to miss a connecting flight? When I land, will anyone speak my language? How much time, really, do I have to make my connection and is it easy? What kind of transport will I use when I get to my final destination? Can I trust the taxis? Do I have enough cash in the local currency? Will I know how to buy a ticket on the train? What do I do with this luggage while I wait 6 hours to check into my hotel? Will it be safe? If I'm staying with a host family (most GeoVisions' programs) will they like me? Will I like them? Is the house noisy? Will I like the food? Is there ANY privacy? The Internet: Do they have access?
Do you know 100% of our participants go over these questions, and more? It's normal. Nothing about travel and cultural exchange is certain. And, isn't that ONE reason you're traveling? What other uncertainties do you think about? You can write them in the Comments section below.
2. Your Itinerary Is A Circle
Even if you start in one place and end up in quite another…you will come home eventually. But your itinerary is far more than a list of places you will you see and a list of places you will go.
This is how all of my itineraries begin: If you want to be rich, be generous. If you want to make friends, be friendly. If you want to be understood by others, take the time to truly understand them. If you want to be heard, listen.
If you want to have an interesting life, be interested the happenings around you, no matter where you are.
If you want the world to change, start with the one in the mirror.
I have learned that if I begin any trip with these words written down, it really doesn't matter if my plane is late, my taxi gets lost or if I miss a meal.
3. Discipline Is The Mother Of All Virtues When You Travel
I am preparing to test for my 3rd Degree Black Belt in TaeKwon-Do. I have five Gold medals in International competition. (And, I get to train with 3 of my children...) I lead my entire life by the Five Tenets of TaeKwon-Do. I manage GeoVisions by those same Five Tenets:
You don't have to kick high and break boards to live your life by these five tenets. You just have to live them. They bring discipline into your life and the space needed to take a breath and "persevere" on.
4. You Have Full Control Of Your Fears
Your fear is 100% dependent on YOU for its survival, and it is the only thing standing between you and your travel goals. Deal with your fears; don’t let them deal with you. And know that 100% of the people who put their butts in an airplane seat are in the midst of controlling their fears about their trip. We're all in various stages, that's all.
In October 2012, I started my 39th year of professional travel. And still, I have fears to deal with when I travel.
5. Good Travel Buddies Are Priceless
Finding someone to travel with is easy. When I announce I'm headed to [blank] for a week to 10-days, I have a line out my office door of people who want to tag along. Especially my kids.
I love to travel with my wife, Rebecca. Other than her disdain for museums (and I love them…) she makes a fantastic travel partner. She doesn't look it, but she is very adventurous when she travels and will hike mountains and volcanoes like a pro.
My 2nd favorite travel buddy is someone I work with and don't see enough. Ray is our station chief in Paris. He travels easy and light. He loves good food and good wine and when he travels he is jolly all the time. I never pass on an opportunity to travel with Ray.
Even if you depart by yourself...keep any eye out for someone to travel with. Your trip will bloom.
Do you have comments about these five things I wish I'd known when I started traveling? If so, please use the Comments section right below.
Tomorrow I'm going over the next five:
It's Impossible To Travel Alone
It's Impossible To Make People At Home Understand
Knowing The Purpose Of Your Journey Brings Great Results
A Positive Vision Makes A Big Difference
Your Journey Is Ultimately What You Make Of It
See you back here tomorrow!
I'm a new teacher in china and I'm looking for any materials you have available to help me better prepare lessons! I teach beginner english to elementary in preschool students.
My name is Betsy Bruneau and I am an ESL teacher here at GeoVisions. I have worked with children of every age and even taught adult education. It sounds like quite an exciting adventure that you've taken on. My high school has done exchanges with Chinese high schools. I'll have to find out where they are and let you know.
Anyway, it sounds like the children you teach are pretty young. They are probably very sponge like and ready to absorb everything around them. You are probably a real novelty. I would begin by introducing yourself completely. Show them pictures of you, your family, friends, your home town. Pick up postcards of your home state. Show them what children their age from your home area do for fun. Show them an elementary school. Do a really simple comparison chart of the two places.
I would pursue lessons in literature. Children that young are not as inhibited as older children and handle it better when they don't pronounce something correctly. Introduce some of your favorite children's literature. Create story maps, new endings, prequels, etc. You can go anywhere with children's literature.
The other thing I would do with them would be to play games. This makes the learning fun and anytime you are engaging them and giving directions, you are using and reinforcing good English. Teach them games like Concentration, Hang Man, Duck Duck Goose, tag, whatever. Teach them games that you played as a child and have them teach you games. Have them teach you in English.
Write me back, Anthony, and tell me what your supervisors are expecting of you. This can help me direct you with ideas. Also, can you please be more specific about the ages of the children you are charged with teaching. These little bits of information will help me to help you a great deal.
I hope I helped a little bit and I look forward to hearing from you. Have a good couple of days.
Hi, Betsy. I teach in several different schools. The school I spend most of my time at has me teach a variety of different classes in half hour segments. The students in the school are generally between the ages of 3 and 6. There are a few classes where the students are around 8 to 11 years old. There's no good way to prepare for this style of teaching. My materials are a set a flash cards that I'm given by the other teacher. They inform me what the class is learning today, and I try to engage the students with the new words and new sentences, or new concepts as is the case with the older students. What I'm looking for is a toolbox that I can use on a moment's notice. Games and activities that are fun for children, and can be used with a wide variety of concepts and vocabulary.
You have a perfect opportunity to play games and teach your students without them every knowing that they are learning. Anytime you interact with them you are modeling good English. So with your littles, play Duck, Duck, Goose and tag and four square. Sing silly songs and read to them. I don't know what type of resources you have available, but any children's literature can be helpful, even if it isn't your first choice. Let me know what you have so that we can plan accordingly.
Are you able to access the flash cards before class or even the day before? This would allow you a little time to prepare. YOu can also focus on games with the older kids. Try to remember songs and games from your childhood and share them with the kids.
The ESL lounge has this great template that allows you to download games. The games are not yet created, it is simply a template. You can go crazy with this. Either create your own games or have the kids create games in English for each other. No matter the age, I have found that my students learn the most when they have to create the game or quiz themselves. Have you checked out the ESL lounge for other resources? There are some really good ones.
Show the kids pictures and photographs of what children their age are doing from your hometown. Despite the age, they are interested. Show them schools, playgrounds, geographic features, your family, etc. Your older kids can make a t-chart comparing the two areas of the world.
Let me know if any of this helps, Anthony. Have fun.
Guest post by Billy Beltz
Co-Founder & CMO
For many people traveling abroad and participating in a meaningful activity such as volunteering, studying, teaching, or interning can be a life-changing experience. But the costs associated with these trips can be overwhelming, especially for young people. A recent graduate may have the time, passion and dedication to serve or learn overseas but not the funds. They might be surprised, however, how willing their personal network is to help them make the trip a reality. At Volunteer Forever we’ve created a solution to help harness that collective support and allow travelers to raise funds for their trip abroad.
The Volunteer Forever fundraising solution is built off the concept of allow users to create a campaign page that conveys their story and fundraising needs in a simple yet powerful way, and provides them with the tools to promote the campaign to their extended network. This is basically what many people refer to as ‘crowdfunding.’ If done correctly it can allow people to reach exponentially more donors than they ever would have through traditional fundraising methods.
Interested? The first step is to create a campaign page on Volunteer Forever. But setting up your page is the easy part- the success of your fundraising campaign is determined by what you do afterwards! So here are 7 tips to ensure you optimize your fundraising campaign:
- Give a Good First Impression. Because you may not be speaking to some of your donors directly, your profile page must present a strong first impression for your fundraising project and goals. Include all of the information on your profile that potential donors will want - your itinerary, a purposeful budget and most importantly, the details of the organization and project you plan to work with.
- Tell Your Story. Your campaign page should be much more than the basic facts of where you’re going and how much money you need to raise. People respond to stories, so make sure your page explains yours. If you’re volunteering, why are you choosing to serve and what do you hope to achieve? If you’re studying abroad, how do you foresee this trip impacting your life now and in the future? Don’t hold anything back- this is a life-changing experience, and the more enthusiastic you are about your trip the more likely it is they’ll get excited too.
- Share Your Page. Spread the word among everyone you can! This may include family, friends, past teachers, co-workers, community members, or even just people that you know on a Christmas-card basis. A good first step is to use the “Share” widget on your campaign page to promote the page through email, Facebook and Twitter.
- Ask Your Contacts to Share Your Page. Don’t limit your outreach to just people you think have the money to donate. One of the most powerful benefits of our crowdfunding platform is that it makes it easy for others to share your page and reach an exponentially larger network. So when you share your page, ask people to share it with their contacts as well! If you don’t ask they may not even realize how they can help.
- Take Advantage of Holidays & Special Events. No matter what time of the year you’re running your campaign, there’s usually some kind of holiday or special event you can integrate into your campaign. If you’re in the U.S., take advantage of having everyone around for Thanksgiving. Make donations to your campaign the first thing you ask for as a Christmas, birthday, or graduation gift. And use other holidays or family get-togethers as an opportunity to show everyone your campaign page in person all at once.
- Thank Donors Publicly. People love recognition and this is your chance to give them well-deserved praise! Make it public so that everyone can see that someone has contributed to your campaign- this will help get additional donations from others. Also, when you thank your donors make sure to ask them to help you spread the word among their contacts as well.
- Share Your Page Again. And Again. You will be much more successful in raising funds if you continue to share your campaign multiple times. People may need several reminders before they take action. And use your campaign timeline to create a sense of urgency, especially towards the end.
Remember- the wider audience you reach, the more likely it is that you’ll catch the attention of people who will donate to your cause. If your story is engaging and persuasive enough, you may find that you exceed your fundraising goal, as some users have already done on Volunteer Forever! And then suddenly your dream of travelling abroad in a meaningful way becomes a reality.
Volunteer Forever makes it easier for people to find and fund their volunteer abroad trips. The website features program reviews to help volunteers discover and select the right overseas placement, as well as a unique crowdfunding platform that allows users to tap into the power of their extended networks and raise funds for their trip more effectively. To learn more visit www.volunteerforever.com.
It's great to be back.
We were closed Monday through Friday last week because of Sandy. We had no power, water, Internet, phones, heat. What was interesting though is the staff considered Internet a necessity…and of course that drives our phones. So we couldn't even hook up a generator for power. Xfinity was down.
So we went hunting again. Because this marks 14 days GeoVisions has been closed for weather in the last 13 months. Some of us moved our computers into the Guilford and North Branford libraries where they had power and Internet. Others sat in McDonalds and Starbucks and gained some weight in the process. Our town green, right across from our office, looked like a battle zone. Trees uprooted, limbs everywhere.
Guilford is odd with hurricanes. We are a shoreline community with a working harbor. So we get flooding from the sea. We are also an agricultural community, and so we have a lot of trees that go flying across roads during high wind. And the occasional flying cow.
I have to tell you, though, that our spirit is undaunted. After two hurricanes in one year, we feel knocked down, but we're back up and preparing for the next one that decides to turn toward us. Maybe 10 or 11 months from now. Our website never went down, since it is hosted on servers in Massachusetts and Arizona. Our email never went down, since Google hosts that. Our emergency phone service never went down since we forwarded all calls there in advance of the storm and that facility is more bunker than office.
The notes and emails sent to us last week from our offices and partners abroad, and our volunteers and teachers were more than we could have expected. Your patience as we dealt with this problem and your concerns and prayers were very much appreciated.
Through it all, we still have families desperate for au pairs. We have schools desperate for teachers. We have projects desperate for volunteers. The upside of being an Internet business is that the site is still live even when your office is getting pounded.
Thank you again for your patience. We are getting back to cleaning up the office, setting up our new telephone system, figuring out even more ways to be of better service to you all. If there is anything we can help you with, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call us on 203-453-5838. Both work just fine!
More important than what happened to us is what is happening to our friends to the south. Places that are now gone from us forever. People suffering today, families and children freezing cold from the low temperatures this week. Everyday we think about them.
Every now and then we like to trot out a post that has done really well over the course of the last few months. And this is one of them. This particular post has been read 2,220 times since March. That's 10 reads a day, 7 days a week for the last 228 days. So, we thought we'd offer it up to those of you who are new or failed to see it before. One of the best we have ever written. Thanks to Alexandra, our Social Media Manager here at GeoVisions for writing it.
How many times have you told yourself or others that you’ll travel abroad once you have saved enough money? Now, be honest with yourself, how much money have you really saved?
If you are like most people who are scraping by to pay their bills and are thankful even for a boss from hell just to get a paycheck every two weeks, you probably haven’t saved a penny for your travel the world dream fund.
Take a look at these links to see how some other people made their traveling dreams a reality and how to move past your "it’s too expensive" thoughts that might be holding you back.
Volunteer Forever. This website is amazing and allows you to fund your dreams and bring them to reality. Crowd funding for traveling abroad made easy and straight forward.
http://bit.ly/f0Q5D5. This article tells you why now is the best to time volunteer abroad and take advantage of the financial crisis. There are 5 specific reasons you could probably relate to.
http://bit.ly/gtAoBo. Read this blog entry from a person who spent three years traveling abroad and actually saved money by doing so. It is possible!
http://bit.ly/eJXVTA. Why you should quit your job and travel around the world… Don’t let your excuses hold you back from what you want out of YOUR life.
The truth is, you could actually save yourself money by traveling abroad without much financial preparation. It sounds like a crazy idea, but when you think about how much you spend every week (gas, coffee, lunch with a co-worker, dry cleaning, take-out dinners, entertainment, etc) it really adds up, and you could end up spending $200-$300 a week indulging in your day-to-day expenses and hardly blink an eye.
Add this on top of rent or a mortgage, utilities, car loan, gym fee, phone bill, and cable you are probably spending at least $2,000 a month if not more just to live. Now, maybe you have roommates and live frugally, and actually get by on a lot less than that amount, but I’m going to tell you just how much it would cost you to travel or volunteer abroad and I guarantee the numbers will surprise you…
1. Sell your car or have a friend or family member drive it and help you out with car payments while you are abroad, it’s a win/win! Cha-ching! Save yourself on rent by subletting your place while you travel. It is considerably less to live with a host family abroad, and with GeoVisions it is included in your program fee along with most of your meals. Entertainment while abroad can be as simple as visiting and touring local sites (often times free), and depending on where you are traveling you can get a meal for just a few dollars (that’s less than what you would pay for your daily latte at Starbucks). Be sure to steer clear of touristy traps for day trips and rentals, and if you are staying with a host family you should have no problem getting the ‘local’ going rate and finding out where the best deals are.
2. If you’re looking for some extra cash before you travel, have a yard/garage sale and get rid of your clutter at the same time. If you have a lot of ‘stuff’ not only will this result in some extra cash (possibly a few weeks worth of spending money while abroad) but when you come back home you’ll already have your spring cleaning done!
3. Traveling the world can be great, but why not enhance your resume by volunteering or working abroad? With GeoVisions, you have the option to participate in Au Pair programs (the placement fee for most is only $850), apply for a PAID internship, or live with a family and teach them conversational English, no teaching experience required. The time you spend on these projects will give you unique experience that you can use when you come home to get a better job than the one you have now! If you don’t want to make a long- term commitment, GeoVisions offers a two-week conversation corps program in Italy for $755 and Spain for only $715. The program fees usually include your room and board along with extensive health insurance.
So, with just a bit of preparation and getting in the right frame of mind (getting past your hesitations), traveling abroad can be a lot simpler than you probably have thought. Of course, don’t just take my word for it, do some research and ask around and be sure to check out those helpful links at the top of this page. Happy traveling!