GeoVisions Blog

Think Traveling or Volunteering Abroad Is Too Expensive? Think Again

Posted by Alexandra LeGrant on Tue, Oct 16, 2012

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.


Traveling Fund

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. 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. Read this blog entry from a person who spent three years traveling abroad and actually saved money by doing so. It is possible! 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…  overflowing piggy bank

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!

Where to next?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!

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Conversation Corps, The Well Prepared Traveler, Make Something Happen, Volunteering Abroad

The Ripple Effect: Terri Wingham’s Incredible Journey, Part 2

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Aug 28, 2012

Posted by Anni on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at Journeys for Good.  This Blog Post is used with permission.

GeoVisions note:  Terri Wingham started her "incredible journey" with GeoVisions in Vietnam. This post is an interview done by Journeys for Good regarding Terri's "incredible journey."

Terri Wingham

Yesterday we spoke with Terri Wingham about her journey of hope. Here is the second half of that interview. Enjoy!

Terri Wingham

What has been one of your favorite destinations or projects (or both)?
I will always have a big place in my heart for CCS Cape Town because it was the experience I had there and the beautiful children I fell in love with that healed me from cancer and put my dream for the Fresh Chapter Foundation in motion.

On my recent Adventure of Hope, I grew the most personally during my time with CCS in India. Working at Mother Teresa’s home for the mentally and physically challenged pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me see humanity in a different way. My time at a Rwandan Orphanage with GVN broke my heart wide open and has inspired a dream to adopt a child one day. And, my time with ProWorld Urubamba showed me how powerful it can be when you work on projects right alongside the people who benefit from them. The clean water filter project and cleaner burning stove project inspired me beyond measure and I give the ProWorld team in Peru huge kudos for the sustainability and ethical approach to their projects.
What advice would you give to a cancer survivor going on her first volunteering trip? Do you think there are any unique challenges she may face?

I try never to speak on behalf of all cancer survivors because the disease affects all of us so differently. But, in building the Fresh Chapter Foundation, I am looking for partnerships with volunteer organizations who can inspire confidence that the survivors will be well taken care of. Cancer can shrink someone’s world and shake their confidence. This is one of the reasons I have decided a group model is best and why I’m working hard at putting together a pilot program to take 8-12 survivors to New Delhi in February 2013 for a 2 week trip that will include volunteering, cultural exchange, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Taj Mahal. My hope is that in planning and fundraising for this trip, the survivors will feel a sense of possibility and accomplishment and that their time in India will shift their perspectives and give them the opportunity to think about what they want their fresh chapter back home to look like.
What is the ripple effect of volunteer travel in your life?

Volunteering Internationally has had a tremendous ripple effect in my life. It has made me a citizen of the globe, instead of a citizen of only Canada. Having the opportunity to spend time on 5 continents and volunteer in 9 countries, I have seen how much more alike we are than we are different. I have seen people around the world share the same desire for love and belonging and the same desire to live a meaningful life. Volunteering internationally has made me passionate about raising my voice for people struggling with issues of cancer, poverty, and a lack of education in countries around the world. It has also inspired me to help other cancer survivors experience the joy that can come from volunteering internationally. My wish is for each of these survivors to come home after their trips, inspired to give back locally or support international programs. My dream is that something as horrible as cancer can result in a global ripple of hope and new possibilities.

Terri Wingham

What’s next for you?

In addition to planning and getting funding to support the upcoming trip to New Delhi, I am writing a book, and working on a social enterprise model to help sustain the foundation in the long term. I’m also passionate about the challenges facing cancer patients in developing countries. So, I plan to continue traveling globally where I will build more partnerships with volunteer organizations both inside and outside the cancer space.

My ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the challenges of survivorship and give survivors an option for transitioning into a new chapter in their lives. I want to make sure no other cancer patient walks out of the hospital on his or her final day of treatment feeling alone and like the support has ended.

Here at Journeys for Good, we are committed to growing a community of global citizens. We celebrate volunteer travel experiences, volunteer heroes, and organizations that make a difference.

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Make Something Happen

The Ripple Effect: Terri Wingham’s Incredible Journey, Part 1

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Aug 27, 2012

Posted by Anni on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at Journeys for Good.  This Blog Post is used with permission.

GeoVisions note:  Terri Wingham started her "incredible journey" with GeoVisions in Vietnam. This post is an interview done by Journeys for Good regarding Terri's "incredible journey."

Terri Wingham with two cancer survivors

Welcome back to our new interview series, The Ripple Effect. The Ripple Effect explores the emotional impact of volunteer travel and its lasting effect on people’s lives. Today we’re speaking with Terri Wingham, a truly inspirational woman. As a cancer survivor, Terri has been through one of life’s greatest challenges and has come out the other side, vibrantly alive and passionate about to helping others. She has found hope through volunteering.

In her words…

In the last year, I have become a cultivator of hope. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Hope doesn’t make the misery go away or instantly transport you into a mythical utopia where unicorns frolic and vibrant rainbows ignite the sky. But, for me, hope is like holding onto a thick rope while walking through a dark cave. You can’t yet see anything, but you know that if you keep walking and keep holding the rope, you will eventually emerge out of the cold dampness of the cave and into the warmth of the afternoon sun.

Terri Wingham with GeoVisions in Vietnam
Your Adventure of Hope is so inspiring! How did it come about?

In October of 2009, a diagnosis of breast cancer changed my life forever. Single and 30, my life had revolved around my career, my workouts, and my friends. The next 18 months of treatment challenged my physical and emotional limits, but I never anticipated the difficulty of emerging out of chemotherapy and surgeries and feeling like cancer had changed me so much that my old life didn’t fit me anymore. Thankfully, an idea to volunteer in Africa with Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) gave me a chance to heal emotionally and sparked an idea for a foundation to help other cancer survivors volunteer internationally. My recent six-month RTW Adventure of Hope gave me a chance to evaluate a variety of countries and volunteer organizations to determine which ones I want to form long term partnerships with. My selection criteria included pre-departure support, in country support, safety records, and ethical volunteer practices.
How did you decide where to go and what organizations to work with?

In selecting my target countries, I knew I wanted to volunteer on almost every continent so I could compare locations. I also selected countries I thought would appeal to other survivors and had relatively established volunteer practices.

After my incredibly positive experience volunteering with CCS in Cape Town, I knew I wanted to involve one of the their other project sites in my trip around the world. At the time, going to India made me the most nervous, so I chose to partner with CCS there because I knew they would take care of every little detail and ensure I felt completely safe.

As I started to actively plan how I could make the Adventure of Hope happen, I saw a Leave-A-Review contest on the GO Overseas website for $2500 subsidy towards a flight around the world. With luck on my side, I won the contest and built a relationship with Mitch Gordon and Tucker Hutchinson of GO Overseas. They have both been phenomenal in supporting me and they facilitated introductions to some of the best organizations in the volunteering industry. I feel very luck that GVN, GVI, IVHQ, ProWorld, and GeoVisions joined CCS in sponsoring my program fees to volunteer in 6 different countries.

Terri Wingham with a cancer survivor

Could you talk a bit about how your struggle with cancer has informed your volunteering work? In other words, do you feel like it has changed the way you relate to other people, specifically people who are suffering?

My experience with cancer changed my perspective on life and struggle. First of all, having experienced cancer, I don’t ever take for granted my health and how lucky I am to be able to travel around the world and do this kind of work. In 2010, I could barely travel from my bed to the couch, so you can only imagine how many pinch-myself moments I had on my Adventure of Hope. Secondly, my experience with cancer has given me more compassion and I feel in a better position to witness people’s suffering without pitying them. Pity creates a wall between the volunteer and the person he or she is helping. Instead, compassion allows me to see people for more than their suffering or their struggles, if that makes sense?
Do you think spending time with underprivileged people has helped you gain perspective on your own pain and fear?

Absolutely. Some of the “underprivileged” people I met actually had so much more love and optimism in their lives than some of the most “privileged” people I know in the more developed world. I met people who would offer me their last cup of chai tea or invite me to eat with them, even if it meant they went hungry. In many countries around the world, people expect life to be a struggle, but it doesn’t stop them from getting up in the morning and doing whatever they have to do to survive. In my moments of fear over the cancer coming back, I remember this resilience and it gives me strength.


You can visit Terri's website to learn more.

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Make Something Happen, Volunteering Abroad, Conversation Partner-Vietnam

Volunteer and Explore with GeoVisions

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Aug 24, 2012

Posted by Anni on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at Journeys for Good.  This Blog Post is used with permission.

African Angels
It’s been a while since I wrote about a volunteer organization on the business side of the volunteering equation. The for-profit volunteer industry is one of the main engines driving our global increase in volunteer travel. These are travel companies that provide a vital service for communities in need while they offer great travel and volunteering adventures to their customers. The links between tourism and volunteering continue to blur as itineraries increasingly include volunteering stints amidst sightseeing and outdoor adventure. Often volunteering opportunities are half-time and include room and board, permitting a much more long-term vacation than would otherwise be possible.

I hope that eventually, we will all feel responsible for the places we visit. Rather than simply visiting a place for a few weeks to enjoy its beauty, we will all feel the need to give back. We owe the world a little of our time and attention, especially when we also get to experience the luxury and majesty of a place. Going on vacation is an incredible privilege. Most people alive today will never get on a plane. They will never have two weeks off to swim, play and explore, spending money on delicious dinners and souvenirs for friends back home. These are the privileges of the global 1%. The more tourists who make the switch from vacation to volunteer, the more progress we make. I think it often starts small and grows until travelers fall firmly on the volunteering side of the tourism-volunteer spectrum. GeoVisions specializes in these travelers.

Local girl at Feynan
GeoVisions was founded in 2001 to help connect volunteer travelers with sustainable projects in a variety of countries. They work closely with their volunteers to match goals with experience. They offer a wide range of programs and many of them include opportunities for earning room and board to support longer stays overseas. For example, volunteers can work in Vietnam for 15 hours each week in exchange for room and board and can spend the rest of their time exploring and traveling. GeoVisions also offer some paid positions, including a one-year paid position teaching in Thailand.

They are focused both on the volunteer and on the work/teach abroad traveler. I think this is a particularly accessible organization for the first-time volunteer because they are so focused on the details. They’ve been around long enough to have solid connections to their overseas projects. They carefully plan volunteers’ itineraries and are available in-country to help with any problems that arise. As an organization, they are “young enough to know what’s needed in the twenty-first century, and old enough to have learned what’s not needed.” They’ve got a great blog where volunteers can learn more about real volunteer experiences.

Here at Journeys for Good, we are committed to growing a community of global citizens. We celebrate volunteer travel experiences, volunteer heroes, and organizations that make a difference.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Working For A Better World, Volunteering Abroad

Volunteer Abroad: Do You Fit In?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Jul 24, 2012

A GeoVisions volunteer abroad with her host brother and sisterYesterday I wrote a post about "How I See You." I thought I would follow up that post with actual comments from GeoVisions' volunteers in-country right now. I hope you'll read some of them to see if you think you fit in.

After about 3 days from arriving at your project or host family, we send an email asking if you arrived safely, how you're feeling, where you are located and how we can get in touch with you. About 2 weeks later, we ask you to write back in 25 words or less describing your situation.

Most people come to us realizing they have offered to volunteer abroad and that they are not on a tour. It isn't GeoVisions' responsibility to make sure you're enjoying yourself. That's all on you. What we provide at GeoVisions is a project that needs your help (no matter how little or how much) and a place to live along with food and great insurance. What you do on your own is totally up to you.

I'm amazed (only infrequently) how many people expect to be pampered and how many people expect that they are going to go change the world. If you are one of those types of people, don't volunteer abroad with GeoVisions. Please…go bother one of our competitors and make their lives miserable.

To see if you fit in, here are actual comments from our volunteers abroad right now. If you like what you see, you fit in!

All of these comments are coming from the right place. These volunteers aren't writing about themselves and what they had hoped to do or change. The are writing about the experience and what it takes to be of service abroad. They certainly do fit in.

So in 25 words or less (OK...a few don't know how to count) here are some of the "fitters-in" at GeoVisions.


I would say it is very hard, adjusting, which I am still doing. But worth it to see another part of the world. I have had my good and bad moments but am just waiting till i settle in more and feel more comfortable here. I have barely slept here which is not a good thing at all, and sometimes feel isolated by the language barrier.

My programme, working with two children, 4 and 9, is very hands on and one to one. The whole family are getting involved in helping me with Spanish and practicing sentences in English together. They are a very busy family so there are always things to write and draw about.

It's a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and learn about a different culture.

Two volunteers in PeruAn amazing experience, a great way to experience local life in Spain! Great people, fun kids and inspiring culture.

4 hours a day teaching English at the Camp. Challenging, but fun. A lot of free time for fun and travels. Provided with a safety net that feels like family.

I could have not asked for a better family to be paired with. They are all so welcoming and loving; I feel as though I am really a part in their family. This experience has been splendid in every way.

This is very challenging, but it is a challenge worth taking! Although I am spending a lot of time helping the family with their English, I have had plenty of time to explore.

It is an exciting adventure. You are truly surrounded by the culture and learn the life style and customs of the family you work with.

I love it!!! I'm having the time of my life plus I got placed with an amazing family. I can't believe it's almost one month :(

It is a life changing experience. It opens your eyes to the astonishing similarities to be found in every couture and the captivating differences that make each nation, each region and city, unique.

It's been a lot of fun. I've gotten to know a lot of the people in the town I'm staying in and the family really well. I wish I was traveling more but there is still time.

A very different experience, a cultural adventure, language immersion, lots of childcare, lots of opportunities to meet other young foreigners.

It is fun and difficult at the same time. Every day is different. It takes a lot of patience.

Very interesting exchange of culture and language. You will make a lot of new friends.

Everything has been going very well in Jordan. I've been learning a lot. Culture shock wasn't too bad. The main difference is the food, but I acclimated quickly.

Colombia is awesome, food, weather, and people are extremely friendly. The weather has been in the high 70's early 80's. I'm glad I made the switch from Bogota to Quimbaya. I'm surrounded by coffee and banana farms. Have a good day.

teaching in a classroom in ChinaMoscow is such a fascinating city! It's fast-paced, huge, with tons of people and things to see. I'll find myself wandering the city in random directions just because I'm bound to find interesting places. The language barrier can be tricky sometimes, but that is mostly just because I hate to be such a foreigner, I try and fit in as much as possible.

This has been the hardest thing I've ever done. I have grown and learned copiously and feel that I have been changed and strengthened tremendously by this experience.

No matter what part of the world you are from, good people are good people. Despite any of our differing beliefs, my host family and I have found common ground and really care about each other.

A great opportunity to connect with a different culture while giving something back.

I love my experience in Costa Rica. Words cannot even explain how much I have gained from it. I have grown in confidence so much, it has been absolutely amazing. I am forever recommending it to my friends or random people even.

Tags: Conversation Partner, Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Conversation Corps, Thank You To Our Volunteers, Volunteering Abroad

"My Big Dream"-Volunteering Abroad For Six Months

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Jan 10, 2012

A Fresh Chapter logoTerri Wingham (A Fresh Chapter) is leaving today for Vietnam with GeoVisions on an incredible 6-month journey to volunteer abroad.  I spoke with Terri a few hours ago going over the details of her program for 29 days in Ha Noi, Da Nang and Ho-Chi-Minh City.

Two years ago, Terri found out she had cancer.  I use the past tense because she is a survivor today.  And what Terri is on her way to do is "volunteer on almost every continent as a way to generate awareness of the challenges of survivorship and build partnerships with the best volunteer organizations in the industry."

We are thrilled that the first month of Terri's journey will be with GeoVisions.  We wish her safe travels today, until she lands in Ha Noi and is met by our staff on the ground there.  We have connected her with hospitals and cancer survivor centers to interact with adults and children who have cancer and to talk to survivors.  We have her taking time with Doctors and nurses in the cancer field in Vietnam.  We have her spending time at the Ho-Chi-Minh City Hospital to participate in play sessions with children there who have cancer and spending a lot of time with cancer survivors.

GeoVisions came to the party late.  We normally take about 60-days to put a program like this together for someone.  We did this one in less than a month.  So...Terri knows there are some loose ends.  Not to forget the fact that she's in Vietnam during the Lunar New Year with schools and organizations shut for over a week.  Ugh.

PLEASE watch Terri's 2 minute video below.  You will instantly see why we jumped on board to put something together at the last minute for Terri, and why we believe so strongly in what she is doing.  You will see why we are humbled to be involved in Terri's Big Dream.

I truly hope you enjoy this short video and please join me in wishing Terri a safe flight and a successful month in Vietnam to launch her six months of volunteering abroad.

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Make Something Happen, Working For A Better World, Volunteering Abroad, Conversation Partner-Vietnam

Volunteer Abroad For Credit?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Jul 07, 2011
Why do you volunteer abroad?  It isn't a poll I'm taking, and GeoVisions isn't conducting focus groups.  I'm just wondering why you go abroad and spend time volunteering?

I have all these questions I want to ask about volunteering abroad.  Why aren't you volunteering in your home country, for example?  I mean, if you're volunteering, don't you want to improve things in your own country?  Why go to the expense of volunteering abroad?

Do you know that in the last 6 months, Google hits for "volunteer abroad" have gone down?  Does that mean people are losing interest in going abroad to volunteer?  In a word, "no."  Google hits for "voluntourism" are up.  People are wanting to combine travel or a tour with some volunteering.  So do people choose voluntourism because it's a way to go abroad on the cheap?  I don't think so.  Volunteer vacations can cost $3,000, $5,000.  Many of these trips can be very expensive.  Am I right or am I wrong?

Maybe it's the cultural exchange piece.  Do you have a better chance of exchanging cultures living with the locals?  Probably.  What if you choose an organization that has their own volunteer houses?  You then spend your day volunteering on a local project, and then you head back to a bed, a kitchen, a western-style toilet and huddle up with the volunteers on the project.  Wouldn't you want a home stay if you're into cultural exchange?

Speaking for Americans, if I may for only a moment, I think we're a compassionate people.  We are more comfortable in a "community" and so we're always striving for that.  Community can be found where you live, where you visit, and online.  Can the community we find online be as real as the community where we live or work?

CompassionThe words "compassion" and "community" share the root com, which comes from the Latin word for "together."  When you think about the word "passion," you may immediately think of a favorite image of romantic passion, but surprise: "passion" comes from the Latin pati and means "to suffer."  "Compassion" literally means "suffering with."  A compassionate community would then be a group of people who come together (community) to suffer with.  Or, a group suffering together.


I feel like Andy Rooney on 60-Minutes.  He asks tons of questions, getting at the truth.  But he's funny.  I generally am not.

I'm a Boomer, and I think the future of Voluntourism is Boomers.  I know a couple of our competitors who think the future of Voluntourism is college students.  To the extent that they have people on staff to help award college credit.  We don't agree with them.  For college students, the future is Internships.  Sure, college students will always be volunteering.  But the future?  The trend for students now is Internships, and the trend for Boomers is meaningful travel.

InternshipIf you're 18-21 years of age, you have told us that you need experience and you need an Internship.  Otherwise, you're not finding a job when it's time to graduate.  If you prepare for finding a job now, you'll be in a position to volunteer when you're older.

If you're a Boomer, you've done the student thing, you've done the work thing.  You have money.  You have time.  You know exactly WHY you're volunteering abroad.  And you don't need college credit as a lure.

What do you think?  Are you ready to turn that "compassion" into college credit or do you prefer an Internship for your resume?  Are you a Boomer, ready to share your compassion through cultural exchange?  Or do you prefer an Alaskan cruise?

Let me know what you think.

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Internships, Volunteering Abroad

Volunteer In Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey Scholarships Available

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jun 15, 2011
Amman landscapeIf you have ever wanted to volunteer in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey, you can now apply for a scholarship to help out with your volunteer expenses.

America's Unofficial Ambassadors is offering scholarships to GeoVisions' volunteers in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey.  Scholarships up to $5000 can be used to cover program fees and/or travel.  Applications for the scholarship are being taken through August 31, 2011.  The funds can be used for 2011 or 2012 program dates.

In Jordan, you can use this scholarship for:

Conversation Corps-JordanLocal Bedouin girl
Conversation Partner-Jordan
Mentoring in Aqaba
Feynan Ecolodge

In Lebanon, the scholarship can be used for

Conversation Corps-Lebanon
Conversation Partner-Lebanon

In Turkey, the scholarship is available for

Conversation Corps-Turkey
Conversation Partner-Turkey

You can read about the Mosaic Scholarship and then there are links to the rules and regulations, and the application.

IstanbulThe underlying premise of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA) is that private American citizens have to do more to improve America’s relationship with the Muslim World.  Read more about AUA here.

By December of 2012, AUA plans to have 1000 Americans commit to at least 1 week of service in the Muslim World.  We are very proud to be an approved organization of AUA, and our programs in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey rank high enough to qualify for the scholarship.

Contact us if you have questions. You should work your application with GeoVisons along with the application for the scholarship.

We welcome any comments about the programs or the scholarship.

Tags: Conversation Partner, Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Jordan, Conversation Corps-Jordan, Conversation Partner-Lebanon, Lebanon, Conversation Corps

Volunteer Musicians Playing For Change

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Jun 03, 2011

Playing for change logoPlaying For Change is 150 volunteer musicians in 25 countries, putting together 47 videos.  None of them have ever met.

Since 2007, the Playing For Change Foundation has helped promote peace across borders by bringing music education programs and instruments to children in communities around the globe.

The newest in the series of videos is the one below.  Singing "Gimme Shelter", this group of musicians hails from Sierra Leone, Japan, Italy, USA, Jamaica, India, Brazil, Mali and Senegal.  And yeah, they've never met.  But with the power of editing, it sounds exactly like they all got into the studio at the same time and laid down this track.

It's easy to get involved with the Playing For Change Foundation, and we hope you will check out their website.

For now, enjoy the video.  We thought this would be a great way to usher in the weekend!  (If your system supports HD, manually change the slider to 720i and turn up those speakers!)

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Working For A Better World

When You Volunteer Abroad Set Expecations To Meet Reality

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Mar 28, 2011

getting your ducks in a rowWhen you get your ducks all in a row, good things can happen.  Last Tuesday here at GeoVisions, Alexandra (she takes care of all of our social media) wrote a post entitled Volunteering and Traveling Abroad Reality Check.  It's a great piece and has had hundreds of hits in the last 6 days.

Alex wanted to help our volunteers set the proper expectations to avoid disappointment.  "If you want to have the time of your life, don’t let your fairytale imagination set you up for failure by creating unrealistic expectations."  And so Alex provided our readers with a reality checklist to keep your expectations of volunteering abroad aligned with what GeoVisions knows is the reality of what you will find when you arrive, and what you will have to leave behind.

Add the ducks are lined upAnd then today, all the ducks got lined up when Sherry Ott's Blog Post that she wrote for Briefcase to Backpack came out about Volunteering: You Will Be Disappointed.  It was too good to be true.  Sherry's post is simply the next logical step as international volunteers go about making sure their expectations are set with the best possible outcome.


Sherry writes about defining the 3 problems:

  1. What is a "do'er"?
  2. Efficiency or "hitting the ground running" to be more productive.
  3. Impact.  How visible is it when your time abroad is over?

duck upside down in waterThe biggest lesson in Sherry's post is when Sherry writes, "The easy answer is to change your definitions of ‘Do’ and ‘Efficiency’. Soften them at least 50%; make them less American."

The denouement comes here:  "By simply showing up at your volunteer placement, you are forming their opinions and ideas of your culture deep inside their psyche – and you will never know the impact you have made; but I tell you – there is an impact."

We are all very lucky to have these two extremely important posts at our disposal.  Sherry didn't write her post for us, but it comes directly on the heels of Alexandra's, and they fit nicely.

Read them here in tandem.  If you're headed abroad or even thinking about it, you'll be glad you did.  Set your expectations for the reality you will meet.  You will then exceed your goals.

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, The Well Prepared Traveler, Make Something Happen