"I went to was a small hospital - Sam Roang Hospital, at the rural area of Siem Riep. This hospital is nothing like what you will ever see in Melbourne or Malaysia and I was utterly shocked by the condition of the hospital. The very limited facilities and resources, running low on/out of medical supplies, fan-less maternity ward, supposedly sterile operating theatre with flies in it and only three out of five bulbs of the operating lamp are working. You can't possibly imagine what the condition is like until you see it for yourself. It is primitive."
Phey Yee is from Melbourne, Australia. She wants to be a Doctor. So quite naturally, Phey looked to the GeoVisions Medical program in Cambodia for a unique medical experience. She found it!
Phey volunteered at the Samrong Hospital in the rural area of Siem Riep in Cambodia. Phey wrote a Blog about her experiences and was kind enough to grant us permission to feature her Blog and her photos. Some of her posts include:
A Typical Day in Sam Rong
Of Fund Raising and Fun Raising
Of Dust and Sweat and Cambodia
Phey Yee had such a great experience, she is now fund raising for the community and hospital. Please click the links above to particular posts, or just click this link to see the entire Blog. And be sure to look at all the photos. They're so good.
If you have an interest in GeoVisions' Medical programs, there are 10 to choose from:
Cape Town Medical & Clinic Assistance
Children's Hospital in Costa Rica
Cusco Rehabilitation Center
Ecuador Children's Hospital
Ecuadorian Red Corss and Mobile Clinic
Galapagos Islands Hospital
Medical Center in Lima
Medical Help in Cambodia
Medical Project in Sri Lanka
Paramedic Service in Costa Rica
"We got to do a lot of clinical stuff. We attended the hospital handover meeting everyday at 7.30 a.m. and went to the ward rounds. We have covered the maternity ward, pediatrics ward, general medicine ward, emergency medicine and surgical ward. Most of the doctors here are extremely friendly. Not all of them know English but they sure tried their very best to teach us a much as they could. I heard my first heart murmur on Thursday! It was indeed a very special moment for me."
We would love to talk to you about any of the medical volunteer projects available and to put you in touch with former volunteers.
Have you volunteered at a rural medical project? Where were you and how did it compare to Phey's experience?
I’m Kevin Morgan, GeoVisions CEO. I’m travelling now through Asia ... meeting with our English language tutors, future Work and Travel students, and leaders in education and exchange. I’m also reading the region’s newspapers and websites. There are so many stories I read, and conversations I have that stress the importance of people in Asia learning to speak better English … and there is a role for you.
“If you speak English, you can teach English.” Okay, maybe not the intricacies and nuances of dangling participles and conjugation of verbs. You see, our tutors teach people how to speak better, by talking with them, making them more comfortable with day-to-day conversation. We give you tools to help you coach others along, and as much support as you need, but, if you like to talk with people, and have a bit of self-confidence, you can help people learn to be better English speakers.
Why is this important in Asia? Here are some things I learned in just the past week:
- Reuter’s News Service reported that in Japan, some of the biggest retailers announced they would start testing employees for English proficiency. Even Toyota and Nissan have announced moves to make English more common in the workplace.
- In Beijing, where it was recently announced that English will be taught in China starting in kindergarten, the government announced plans to have every public employee to know more than 100 basic English sentences. 80% of police officers will be required to pass English tests starting in 2015.
- In Bangkok, a survey of business people uncovered trends in English training that call for more practical and specialized language training in Thailand. Language coaching and conversation specific to a person’s needs are becoming as important as the basics learned in formal classroom teaching.
- In Singapore, there is a growing need for English teachers and Conversation assistants. Why, you ask? Don’t Singaporeans speak English already? Yes, but thousands of mainland China students are flocking to Singapore to learn English and still be comfortable in this city/state with a rich Chinese heritage (and maybe some relatives with whom they can live!)
All the above reinforces the need for English speakers to come to Asia (or anywhere in the world for that matter). On our Conversation Corps and Conversation Partner program you can come to exciting world capitals or provincial villages, spend 15-25 hours a week “talking (as a tutor/coach)” and travel and get to know people in your free time. As Asia develops its global leadership skills, you can see what drives these economies and these people … and you’ll have a great time.
Do you speak English? Think about becoming a conversation tutor! GeoVisions offers Conversation Corps and Conversation Partner programs in over 15 countries, with more new countries like Korea, Japan and Singapore coming on board every week.
A couple of weeks ago we used our Blog to announce three new programs. Today we are announcing the arrival of two new projects. One in Ecuador
in the Galapagos, on San Cristobal Island and another in Kandy, Sri Lanka
. Both of these new projects need medical volunteers.Medical Clinic on San Cristobal Island, GalapagosThis medical project
is very hands-on. On this project you are going to have the opportunity to work one on one with doctors; prepare charts for patients; hand out medication; and assist in medical exams. If you have medical experience, there may be even more you can do at the hospital.
GeoVisions includes your roundtrip flight from Quito as part of the program fee as well as orientation and a tour of Quito before flying to San Cristobal Island.
Of course, when you're not working at the hospital, you can be swimming, scuba diving, surfing, basking on the beach, learning about marine life, exotic birds, and even tortoises.Hospital Project in Kandy, Sri Lanka
ot only will volunteers have the opportunity
to assist Doctors, but this project has two unique components:
This project begins
- After you have been observed and cleared (depending on your abilities and medical background) there is an opportunity to assist with Pediatrics.
- Because Ayurveda, one of the world's oldest medical systems, starting around 1500 BC. Ayurveda was developed in and around India and Sri Lanka. Volunteers at this project have the opportunity to learn more about Ayurveda directly from the area where it was developed. If you are unfamiliar with Ayurveda, think "alternative medicine" if you are from the U.S. for example.
with a full week of orientation in Kandy where volunteers meet each other, learn more about Sri Lanka and its traditions, meet local people, taste the food, take some time for a little sightseeing and learn a lot more about the project.
So there you are. Do you have program ideas we should consider? Places we don't currently serve? Please use the Comments section and let us know. We are always interested in where you want to go and what you want to do when you get there.
It's always great to see positive results, especially when you're involved in projects that can really help people. This weekend I returned to Asia and attended an event with some of our teachers and volunteers, and ... even better ... some of the students we work with from the "Children's Village" orphanage in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. A vanload of children from this unique educational community, complete with their Thai traditional instruments, came to Bangkok and entertained us ... actually wowed us with their self-confidence, their charm, and their English skills.
are children of poverty, children of neglect, and children of abuse. They learn from volunteers on our programs. It is great to have engaging conversations (in English) with 11-14 year olds that many people would have given little chance to develop skills to succeed ... but these students are making giant strides.
Moo Baan Dek ("Children's Village") is a very special place. The children are active members of the community. They participate in decision-making, rule-making, even discipline when necessary. It's self-described as "experimental", and "alternative". I describe it as "wonderful"!
You don't need to be a specialist, an educator, have teaching credentials to be a successful volunteer on a GeoVisions program like this. You just need to care, and be ready to give of yourself. One thing that was all our volunteers agreed on -- you get back a lot more than you give!
GeoVisions has many opportunities in Thailand for you to give of yourself. You may want to work on one of our Volunteer Projects or teach conversational English to a family or a business or community group on our Conversation Corps and Conversation Partner Programs.
The photos on this page were taken by Phillip Chappell, who coordinates our programs in Thailand. We thank him for his photos and the help he gives to all of our volunteers and teachers in Thailand. More pictures can be found on the Moo Baan Dek Facebook group page.
Where can I go to volunteer abroad?
Who offers voluntourism programs?
What projects are available?
What will it cost?
Are there any pitfalls?
To: Travel Blog Writers, CNN reporters, Wall Street Journal reporters and anyone else covering all-things Voluntourism.
If anyone who types can go to their favorite search engine and type in "voluntourism" and get 182,000 results or "volunteer abroad" and instantly get 1,220,000 results, (read this slowly):
y o u
a r e
l a t e
t h e
p a r t y.
Everyday an article comes out about volunteering abroad. Last week The Wall Street Journal ran one. You can read the whole thing here.
The sections in that article are:
Where To Go
Paying For It
Plan for the Worst
And then the usual suspects in a box called "Helping Hands." A sample of service travel organizations.
CNN.com ran an entire series of articles on Humanitarian Travel. Just click on that link and you can see everything they posted on the subject. The theme of the series was posted like this:
"The idea of volunteering away from home seems like a win-win to many travelers: a way to experience and help another community at the same time. But without a solid, well-designed program and reasonable expectations, volunteer travel can do more harm than good."
CNN even ran a section for iReporters to submit tales about their experiences, photos and videos. And some did. Click on My Volunteer Vacation and you can go straight there and read about trips people took.
But no one seems to be focusing on what happens when the voluntourists return home, the topic of my rant today, if you hadn't figured that out by now.
Searching for a program on a search engine, like going on a program, is the easy bit. We simply do not need another article or Blog post to tell us where we can go, with whom we can go, when we can go and what we can do once we get there. That subject has been covered. Nice job everyone!
Why isn't anyone out there writing about what voluntourists do when they come home? After the experience? I'm really interested in "what they do with what they did."
I'm drawing a line in the virtual sand with this post. To any Travel Blogger out there, and to any reporter thinking about an article or series of articles (makes me ill to think about it) on voluntourism--please reconsider. I think I'd rather stick a thousand needles in my eyes than read another "where you can go", "what you can do," "what you have to look out for" article. And the usual suspects listed out, as if these golden nuggets were just discovered in a vast wasteland for the very first time.
Get a clue: Voluntourism has been around for a long time. If I can type in voluntourism and get over a million results on Google…you are not reporting the news or anything newsworthy.
What I don't see is people and writers focused on what happens when a volunteer comes home.
Can you PLEASE report on these burning questions? When a voluntourist returns from his or her experience abroad:
- Does he start up his own non-profit?
- Does she start up a volunteer project locally?
- Does the family join a community project and help out each week or each month?
- Does the returnee tell others?
- How involved in humanity is the experienced voluntourist, when she is now going about her normal everyday life, safely back at home?
- Can you provide examples that will move me to volunteer abroad too?
- Do you have a place these people can tell about what they are doing now? (What a great iReport.)
- How many had such a moving experience, they have gone again? And again...
Isn't that the story? No one wants to look at vacation travel slides. No one needs to read your article about how to do it and who to do it with. The real story, for me, is what a voluntourist does after that experience and I really would sit down and watch those slides and video.
How do I know? Because GeoVisions has this amazing group of returnees and we follow them and realize the overseas experience was just the start of the real journey many can take. We see everyday that the journey continues and becomes so much more exciting after the trip ends.
How about the rest of you? Am I alone here? Please use our Comments section and let me know. And while you're at it, if you volunteered abroad and you're reading this post, please tell us what you've done since you've returned. What have you done with what you did?
This is the time of year we see new programs hit our site. Within the next 4 weeks you will see GeoVisions add 20+ new programs, and we'll announce each one via this Blog. As you can see below, we're "switching it up" a little.
I am highlighting our three newest programs: one volunteer program, one Work and Travel Internship and one Au Pair. We like a wide variety of programs to offer people. We don't want to be "type-cast" so we stretch out a little.
But also, GeoVisions is a U.S. State Department designated Work/Travel organization. We have partner sites in 30 different countries. That translates into a great network of interesting program content.
I know...we already have Conversation Partner-Mexico. But wait...we have an entirely new and very unique way of seeing Mexico: Through the eyes and ears of local tourist officials!
That's right! Expanding on our current Conversation Partner program in Mexico tutoring staff and students in select language schools, there is now a unique opportunity to kick it up a notch by working directly with local tourism officials and speaking conversational English with the tourism staff.
Where would you be tutoring? Mainly in local tourism kiosks in resort and high tourist areas of Mexico. The kiosks can be on the street (handy for tourists) or at airports as tourists arrive into Mexico. Local tourism officials are there to provide local information to tourists and they are eager to learn conversational English to make it easier to communicate with the tourists entering Mexico.
Can you imagine? Be a Conversation Partner with a tourist official. They learn conversational English and you find out the really great places to visit and enhance your stay in Mexico.
This new project is really a very unique way to learn about Mexican culture, how tourists are viewed by the locals, and to assist the tourism officials in becoming better conversationalists with tourists.
Work and Travel Internship
Internships in a Work and Travel office abroad are nothing but fun. Our newest is in Lima, Peru. Earn $300 per month plus receive free accommodation by interviewing college students headed to the U.S. on the J-1 Work and Travel program.
The Work and Travel program in the U.S. allows college students from other countries to travel to the U.S., work legally during their summer break, and then travel for a month before returning to their home country. Those students need to be interviewed about what it is like to live and work in the U.S. and also for their English language ability and skills.
The minimum stay for this Internship in Lima, Peru is 3 months and the maximum stay is 10 months. There is an interview process after you make your application.
Focused on fun and interviewing Peruvian college students, the benefits include $300/month and free accommodation. There are Internships and then there are Work and Travel Internships. Availability now in Argentina, China, Turkey, Chile and Peru.
Au Pair Spain
If you are a female, U.S. citizen, and between the age of 18 and 30 with at least a high school diploma, (I already know what you're thinking...) you can become an Au Pair in Spain.
If you want to stay more than 3 months, a student visa will be issued to you. All you then have to do is take 15 hours of Spanish language classes each week.
What makes this Au Pair program unique is you can choose how many hours a week you work. Depending on the hours you choose to Au Pair, you can earn more or you can earn less. Earn €70/week if you work 25 hours each week plus 2 evenings. Earn €95/week if you work 35 hours per week plus 3 evenings. And for every six months you work, you receive a week's paid vacation.
The minimum stay is 2 months, maximum 10 months.
So there you are. Do you have program ideas we should consider? Places we don't currently serve? Please use the Comments section and let us know. We are always interested in what our readers have to say.