GeoVisions Blog

Should Something Ever Go Wrong At GeoVisions

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, May 28, 2014

GeoVisions Travel SafetyNothing is as important as our participant's safety.  Absolutely nothing.

So, when the troubles in Thailand started about two-weeks ago, we huddled up to evaluate safety and risk.  After 39 years of doing this day-in-and-day-out, we're good at it.  We know how to evaluate the risk of sending someone to an area with participant safety at the crux of the matter.

In fact, GeoVisions utilizes a customized "Crisis Management" manual that we have written and updated over the years that is used when we do face a crisis and each project is visited and a six-page Site Inspection Check-list must be filled out and approved before even one participant puts boots on the ground.

GeoVisions is uniquely positioned to know what's going on in Thailand because we have an office in Bangkok.  We have a strong partner in Hua Hin.  And we're a designated sponsor for the J-1 Summer Work and Travel program where we receive hundreds of Thai college students here in the US each year.  That means even more boots on the ground and a very close relationship to the U.S. Department of State.

Since everything is still quiet in Thailand and everyone is going about their business, we talked to our teachers there now.  No one, from the North to the South, city or rural indicated any issue at all.  Our partners and our office in Bangkok reported complete calm.  We were satisfied that we would contact our teachers each week for an "on-the-ground-check-up" and use that measure as 50% of our decision on how to move forward.  If our teachers, who are all over Thailand, reported calm and if our multiple partners and our office in Thailand reported calm ... we were fine.

But since safety is "job-one" at GeoVisions, we decided to change the hotel we normally use for the first night in Bangkok to a hotel at the airport for now.  You can have a look at it using this link.

And keep in mind GeoVisions does not just send teachers to Thailand and bring Thai college students to the US.  We also send language camp counselor groups, home-tutors by way of the Conversation Corps, and interns.  Thailand is a substantial destination for GeoVisions participants.  Making sure everyone is well rested and healthy to begin their project falls into the "safety" aspect of our decisions.  Rather than pick everyone up and transfer them 3 hours to Hua Hin ... we like to let people catch their breath and get some reset.  Then we make our way to the coast.

So we're using a hotel at the airport for now ... participants will get their rest and will then go out to Hua Hin the next day never even entering or being that close to Bangkok.  The airport is 45 minutes outside the city and the road to Hua Hin skirts the city.  That one decision created safety, distance and rest.  It was a good one.

Once in Hua Hin (the summer home of the King of Thailand) we're home free.  Hua Hin is 3 hours away from Bangkok and our language counselors, interns, teachers and tutors are all performing their daily tasks well outside Bangkok ... and they are all safe and happy right where they are.

GeoVisions has it's ducks in a row.We will continue to check in each week with everyone, which we think is an excellent barometer on safety, and of course utilize our many partners and staff in Thailand for more support and information to make good decisions ... keeping safety as job-one.

I'm proud of how we calculate risk and safety for our participants who have given a big portion of their daily routine and their money to better themselves and their host community in Thailand.  Those participants deserve our full attention to events all over Southeast Asia.  I'm proud that we have the infrastructure so that if anything ever goes wrong ... our first priority is our participants.

Should anything ever go wrong at GeoVisions ... our ducks are in a row.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Teach in Thailand, Travel Safety, Thailand

Travel Abroad Safely For Women

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Nov 25, 2013

female solo backpackerRecently, Michael Huxley, founder of Bemused Backpacker, wrote an article entitled Why I Hate The Term Solo Female Backpacker.  It reminded me of the posts we published here by GeoVisions teacher in Thailand, Carla Gott.  Carla pinned 3 posts for us on teaching in Thailand as a woman ... the safety, health, packing and living solo aspects.

You can read Part I, Part II and Part III of Carla's posts here.  We also have 8 posts tagged with Travel Safety, that you may find interesting.

As Mr. Huxley points out in his post, "...it is just as safe for women to travel independently as it is for any man, and any stereotype or assumption that states that isn't true, is in my opinion, wrong."  We found that in Ms. Gott's posts for us on women teaching in Thailand and living alone.  With a few mindful precautions, it is very safe for women traveling independently.

I chose Mr. Huxley's post to share with our subscribers because of this quote: "The prevailing wisdom is that somehow just because they happen to be female the fact that they have dared to go it alone and travel the world somehow elevates them above the norm, somehow makes them braver and stronger than everyone else. Of course it is much more difficult for women to travel isn't it? So of course women have to be braver and stronger than men to conquer that mountain.

That is absolute rubbish."

It is exactly what Ms. Gott had to say in her posts.

Did you know that although 50% of the jobs in the United States are held by women, at GeoVisions 75% of our participants are women?  It says a great deal about women, travel, going abroad.  90% of our programs are solo programs.  In other words, everyday we see women of all ages and walks of life come in, take on a program they really want to do, go abroad and make it highly successful, and return to encourage others to do the same.

Mr. Huxley obviously see's the same thing:  "Perpetuating the ideology that it is dangerous for women to travel independently and alone does absolutely nothing to normalize the fact that women are perfectly capable of traveling independently and safely."

What do you think?  If you're a female traveler, what are your experiences?

Read more of Mr. Huxley's article here.

Tags: The Well Prepared Traveler, Travel Safety

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part III

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jul 17, 2013

This is installment 3 of 3 of Carla's Blog post on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand. Feel free to email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

Carla Gott teaching English in ThailandWe come from far-off countries with different ways of doing things. So it helps to recognize local culture and norms. These can read like a regime of do's and don'ts, but recognizing basic courtesies will help bring you quiet acknowledgment from folk you pass by, and easily offered help on the smallest matter when you want it.

So:

Cover up - please wear a bra at all times. Thailand isn't California, and it makes sense to recognize different attitudes to what is good and bad taste.

Being topless on the beach is a no-no. Do not wear tank tops or shorts when visiting temples. 

You will be teaching young boys and girls, so be sure you don't reveal cleavage and thighs in the classroom. It might seem conservative to you, but you are bringing to your classroom the best of the West - not what the kids' parents might think is the worst.

It is recommended that you buy teachers' skirts and a plain white blouse. They are very cheap and will never get you into trouble with or offend your co-workers. You can find them in any street market for less than $5 dollars. 

More generally, don't do things you wouldn't do back home.

That can be tough, given your new-found freedom. You will want to experiment a little bit, let your hair down. However, public intoxication, for example, is never ok. You have to remember that you are in a different country; foreigners already have a reputation for being potentially disturbing.

And the locals are not always angels - so don't walk around with that $1,000 in your pocket. Pick pocketing does happen quite often especially in areas flooded with tourists so leave your passport at home and carry a copy instead.

If you accept a drink from a stranger, make sure it's a bottled or canned beer that you see opened.

Thais have a well-earned reputation for being endearingly and genuinely friendly. If someone touches your arm, it’s not sexual harassment.

However, Thai men tend to be shy comparatively and certainly respectful. And it’s ok to have dinner with strangers - I do it all the time! It is often unavoidable. Street food is cheap, tables are often crowded. And when eating among friends, it is the norm for everyone to help themselves from common bowls of soup or plates of chicken. So you will quickly learn to share food, and in the process pick up a few words in Thai and make new friends.

Getting around: transport can be remarkably cheap, particularly buses and communal taxis. Tuk-tuks are fun, can be scary, and can be expensive. Make sure you ask the price for your destination before you get on.  Motorbikes are cheaper, but can take some getting used to. If you reckon yours is going too fast, tap on the driver's shoulder and wave him to stop or slow down. Prices are generally negotiated before you get on the bike. After a few days, you will have a fair idea of the general going rates.

Taxis are generally safe. In Bangkok, they are metered, and are not unduly expensive - but make sure the meter is always on.

If you are taking a cab after midnight, you can negotiate prices with cabdrivers. If you encounter a moody driver (it can happen at the end of their shifts, when they have to change with another driver at a predesignated time and place), you can always take the next one. Still, as in any city, it always makes sense to play safe. So it is recommended that you sit in the back. Play with your phone, text a friend. Pretend to be talking to someone or better yet, talk to someone! Have your address in hand.

And last but not least - shopping. Bangkok has phenomenal shopping malls. Some are more glitzy than others, but they all have bargains, and many have top-end international brand-name outlets. If you want to spend $100 in Zara, you can. If you want to spend $10 on an entire outfit at a street market, you can - and can often haggle the price even lower.

However, it is difficult to find good bras and underwear in street markets, so pack light - but pack wisely.

You will have a one-month break in October. Your long break will be in March – May. There are plenty of activities to do during break.  They include volunteering across Southeast Asia, English camps, acting gigs or relaxing in the islands. This might be the first time you will be traveling solo since you arrived in Thailand - it doesn't mean you will be traveling alone. You will meet plenty of people along your way who will become friends and traveling companions. And you will already have plenty of experiences to share with them.

You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded three videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.  Two of those videos are by Carla Gott.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Responsible Travel, Travel Safety, Thailand

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part II

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jul 15, 2013

Carla Gott has been teaching in Thailand with GeoVisions for more than five months. For more information on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand, please email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

Carla Gott in Thailand with her students

Fears sensibly put in their place, let's get down to the packing. I graduated, packed three suitcases and I was gone. With one terrible mistake and that was the three suitcases. Within a week or two, I had given away half of my clothes.

Thailand is in the tropics which means sunshine, lots of it and often humid, sticky weather. And sometimes gorgeous cool breezes. 

That means you need a few T-shirts or other light tops, and two or three easy-to-wash trousers, dresses, or skirts - they will dry overnight. Don't bring dress suits and three pairs of high heels. Do bring comfortable shoes for walking. 

When you need more clothes, you can have fun buying stuff as you need it at unbelievably cheap markets and road-side stalls.  

Personal accessories - obviously take what you need from day one. But don't overdo it - Thailand has most everything you will want, unless you are in one of the smaller villages. Even in the smallest town, you will see the same brand names that you use at home. One exception and one useful tip: If you use tampons, pack a few boxes of them. They can be difficult to find in Thailand.  

But above all, remember - if you pack it, you carry it. And in the tropics, that can be hot work, especially by the time you add some souvenirs to bring home. So pack light, travel light, and enjoy the experience.

Once you've arrived, is it all plain sailing? If only… I've had good times; I've had bad times, but overall I have loved my experience. 

So what's not to love? 

We all react differently to tropical weather. Your skin can glow - or break out in spots; your hair can decide to shed itself more than is usual - or not. If it does, don't panic - it is called acclimatization. The climate forces some changes, eating exciting new foods brings others. 

One common change - new eating habits mean many of us lose excess weight.   Another plus - except for special occasions, I no longer wear makeup because I soon sweat it off, sometimes almost as soon as it goes on. Who said with travel comes freedom?

Then there are the basics: toilets. Standard Western-style toilets are now common, but squat toilets are still the default type, particularly in trains and public conveniences. Your hotel might have either - or both. Squat toilets can call for a bit of unfamiliar balancing at first - but you soon get used to them. It's good idea to keep a bit of toilet paper and hand sanitizer handy. 

When you have found wherever you are staying, and before you head out into the great unknown, ask your landlord to provide you with your address in Thai. It will be handy when you are taking a cab back to your place. (Yes - I've seen more than one person telling a cab driver - try this road, try that, I'll recognize it soon…) For this reason, keep your landlord's phone number on speed dial.

Now you can get to know your surroundings. Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood. Walk around your apartment building, guesthouse, or hotel and take mental notes. How many blocks to the nearest 7/11? Are there any traffic lights or other easy-to-remember signs that will guide you back to your hotel? Plenty of folks can speak rudimentary English, but helping yourself first makes sense.

An early purchase is likely to be a sim card for your phone - or buying a new phone if you left yours at home. Getting one in Thailand is the easiest thing on the planet - and cheap. You can either buy a dumb phone or use your smart phone. Simcards (and top-ups) are available at 7/11s (you will have no trouble finding one), or from numerous other street outlets. If you want internet on your phone, pay a fee of 300 Baht (10 US dollars) and have unlimited access for a month. If you don't want to unlock your smart phone, you can buy a dumb phone and use your smart phone just for WiFi. 

Yes, there is WiFi! You don't have to try to rely on WiFi cards from back home. You will have Internet at school, there are plenty of internet cafés, and numerous venues and hotels, restaurants and bars have WiFi.

Part III of Carla's adventure Teaching English Abroad in Thailand will be published next.  You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded three videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.  Two of those videos are by Carla Gott.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Travel Ideas, Travel Safety, Thailand

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part I

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Jul 12, 2013
Carla Gott

Carla Gott has been teaching in Thailand with GeoVisions for more than five months. For more information on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand, please email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

The idea of living and working overseas can be daunting. The rewards can be self-discovery, lifelong memoriesand friends. 

While preparing for my trip to Thailand, everyone in my family and in my small group of friends had something negative to say.  I understand and appreciate their concern, but what was my alternative? Stay home my whole life? No thanks.

My mom, who has never been to Asia, came up with a handful of questions no one could answer.  Friends told her different stories, and her worries only seemed to grow. ‘What if they kidnap you and take you to the Philippines?’ She asked, and, ‘Can you really trust people?’ Perhaps at the core of their worries, they pointed out: "You are a girl. You can't do things boys do.'' 

TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and Yahoo! Answers do a fair job giving general advice to travelers, but as was the case with my mother she wanted more direct reassurance. I am a real person who took the big jump and now have real experience of Thailand. I can answer your inquiries and those your own parents might have. I am here for you.  Consider me your friend, your pen pal and your advisor to help you navigate Thailand - and hopefully to ease your mother's concerns as well.

So what's to be worried about?

Safety? As a 20-something woman who moved to Thailand alone and has traveled in other foreign destinations, I can say that that this is a remarkably safe country. Even in my home state, Maryland, I don't feel as safe as I do in Thailand. However, common sense helps here just like at home.  Don't walk around with $1,000 in your pocket when you don't have to. But we will get to the things to avoid in a bit.

Creepy crawlies used to top my list of things to be scared of, way ahead of meeting new people or having to stand in front of new students and grab their attention from the start of a lesson. Bugs? Uggh!  I was afraid I would see a snake in my room and I also feared spiders. And all those mosquitoes… 

Well, after several months in Thailand I haven't seen a snake so far - and I hope not to see one any time soon (if you do see one, just steer clear - they don't like the sight of you anymore than you like the sight of them. It will head off quickly enough). I have seen bugs the size of my pinky - but these have been slow-moving things and are easily avoided. And any spiders keep to where they belong - bushes and corners well out of most folks' sight. However when it comes to mosquitoes this is the one bug to give decent amount of consideration to and prepare for. Most of the day, they are not around. Come dusk on a still night, and they can be a nuisance if you are not prepared.

I have learned to carry mosquito repellent - everywhere. I recommend you buy repellant as soon as you land. It comes in all sizes of containers at any drug store, most corner shops and general goods shops such as 7/11s - from mega-sized cans for your bedroom to scented, pocket-friendly mini-sprays and sachets of cotton wipes that are great for use on legs and arms as the sun goes down. They're easy to spot - most carry a picture of a mosquito.  

The other big worry is who do you know? You are out there, all by yourself, and your family advice will almost invariably be:  Don't travel alone!

The fact is - sometimes you have to. But unless you are determined, it is almost impossible to travel solo. Wherever you go, there will always seem to be someone looking just as lost as you might feel and keen to meet up with a friendly face, share a bus or train ride, or test out a street stall loaded with unfamiliar goodies that are going to be your dinner. 

So don't be scared to come to this side of the world all on your own. Surprise! You'll soon have more friends than you had at home.  After a few months in Thailand, my circle of friends has widened hugely. My closest friends are from different parts of the world. Making friends here is easy - unless you decide to stay in your room the whole day.

Part II of Carla's adventure Teaching English Abroad in Thailand will be published next.  You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded one of Carla's videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.


Tags: Teach Abroad, Travel Ideas, Travel Safety, Thailand

They Stole My iPhone...Again!

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Feb 18, 2013


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.

Brielle Sydor

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:

You might take this iPhone to volunteer abroad

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.

Tags: The Well Prepared Traveler, Travel Safety

"The Path Less Traveled" Is Less Painful Today

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Apr 06, 2012

Here we are on the evening of Passover, and it is also Good Friday.  It's Easter Weekend here in the U.S. as well.  Reflecting on these events happening this weekend, I wanted to update you on our teacher in Italy, whom I asked you to support last week in her deepest time of need.

a thank you message drawn on the beachFirst of all, thank you to all of you who took a moment to send her some positive thoughts.  Even if, when you read the post you thought, "that's awful," I want to thank you.  My wife was once asked if I am a religious person.  She quickly answered "no, but he is spiritual."  And I suspect that came out in my last blog post...I do think positive thoughts make a huge difference in life.

We received comments from around the world.  We received emails and phone calls of support.  Some from places I could not have imagined when I wrote the piece.

I have to share with you that our teacher was in Intensive Care (a term we use in America for a hospital ward with the most gravely ill patients) and she and her family had to take it a day at a time.

I remember talking to Lisa, who handles insurance matters in our office, and I simply could not hold back the tears.  Obviously I felt horrible for our teacher.  And I kept thinking about how devastated her host family was feeling, and about how the children in the family simply could not comprehend was was happening or how they would deal with all of this.  I felt all of this emotion for the host school and all of the students, who's world one-day was beautiful and exciting, and then next was uncertainty and not understanding how good things can go quickly wrong.  I felt horrible for her family here in the U.S. who would simply never think about Italy the same way again.

Today, as we start this amazing holiday weekend, I wanted to write and tell you that our teacher, after 10+ days of Intensive Care, has been moved into a regular hospital room.  The virus is responding to the medication and slowly leaving her body.  She still has a very serious bout of pneumonia.  So she is not totally out of the woods.  But each day there is small improvement.  Her host family has been to see her and have been able to touch her and speak with her, giving new meaning right now to Conversation Corps!

Thank you, each one of you, for your thoughts.  Your kind words.  Your support.  For your help, no matter how slight or far away. In banding together to mentally support this incredible woman and her family...immediate and hosting.

Have a wonderful weekend, no matter how you celebrate it.

Tags: Randy LeGrant, Travel Safety, Travel Insurance

Our Volunteer Abroad Insurance Policy Will Not Cover This

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Jan 31, 2012

At GeoVisions we pride ourselves in the insurance that comes standard on any program we offer.  $0 deductible.  $500,000 in coverages.  Political and natural disaster included.  You name it, our policy includes it and every programs from 2 weeks to 1 year has it included.

There are times, however, that we get questions about what is not covered.  This 4 minute video shows a few items that our policy will not cover.  But if you can do any one of them and live through it, our entire staff would like to meet you.

In all seriousness, if you have 4 minutes to spare, this video will leave you breathless.  And if you do any of this stuff, send us your video.  We will feature it here.  

Tags: Make Something Happen, Travel Safety

Volunteering and Traveling Abroad Reality Check

Posted by Alexandra LeGrant on Tue, Mar 22, 2011
Most of us can be guilty of it.

Coming up with a fantasy in our head spawned from the excitement of embarking on a new worldly adventure, nurturing magnificent thoughts of exciting experiences and perfect encounters. We envision our host family to be everything we wished for from the best of our own families.  Whatever awkwardness is experienced in first meeting them is all very quickly overshadowed by their excellent cooking, perfect location, or their proficiency in our native language. We envision a happy, healthy family, a comfortable bed in a private room with a high level of cleanliness, we don’t think about missing our friends and family and we certainly don’t envision ourselves getting sick. In a perfect world, all those things would come true, but in reality our runaway imaginations can get the best of us and even set us up for a miserable experience abroad.

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.  Perhaps this is the first time you are even traveling outside your home country, or maybe this isn’t your first rodeo, either way expecting too much out of the gates or going into your project with the notion that you can change the world in four weeks will ruin your experience all together.

Think of this as a friendly reality check before you embark on your journey with GeoVisions.

Hope your host family doesn't look like this.First, realize that meeting your host family for the first time might be a less than perfect experience.  Your new family may also be a little stressed anticipating your arrival, having prepared your room, cleaning up their home, trying to get their children to be on their best behavior, etc. Not to mention the stressors of cultural differences and taking in a near complete stranger into their home. Just remember, it is not all about you in this scenario, and it could take a week or so before you and your host family really start to hit it off. Just be patient, don’t be selfish and remember the reasons why you are there in the first place.

No one thinks about getting sick (physically or emotionally) when they are preparing for a trip abroad, and thoughts of the possibility are usually masked by excitement.  I’ve never heard anyone say ‘oh yes, I love it when I feel like I could just roll over and die’ but it is good to be prepared for the possibility of coming down with something. Being in a new country with new food, cooking styles, bacteria and so on can all make for a nasty storm in your digestive system.  Usually, this will pass once your body becomes accustomed to it’s new diet and regimen, but to be on the safe side make sure you have comprehensive medical and accidental insurance. With GeoVisions, this comes standard in your program fee, so it is one less thing you have to worry about if something really terrible happens. He must feel terrible!

Culture shock and homesickness can also be likely to affect you, especially if this is your first time abroad. Don’t worry, this is normal for a lot of people and will also pass in time once you start to feel more comfortable in your surroundings. The best way to get over culture shock and homesickness is to explore your new environment, not hide from it. Get out there and meet new people, have your host family show you a few of their favorite local spots and don’t spend hours on Skype with your family. Having them in the forefront of your mind will only make you miss them more and your comfortable safety zone back home.  Explore, explore, explore! That is what you are there for. Just a little 'finger' food.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t expect to change the world through your volunteering experience. You want to head into your project full of enthusiasm and excitement, and the idea that what you are there to do is helping and contributing in some way, but you don’t want to have the unrealistic expectation that you can completely save an orphanage or an entire coastal beach’s endangered wildlife in a matter of weeks or even months. Feel confident that your presence and assistance is greatly appreciated even if you envision it as minimal. It is true that every helping hand makes a difference, even if you can’t see that difference right away. Know why GeoVisions uses the word “sustainable”?  Ongoing.  Get the connection?

Change takes time, and remember; "Travel guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion - of seeing the world clearly, and yet feeling it truly. For seeing without feeling can obviously be uncaring; while feeling without seeing can be blind." ~PICO IYER

Tags: Teach Abroad, Responsible Travel, Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, The Well Prepared Traveler, Make Something Happen, Working For A Better World, Volunteering Abroad, Travel Safety

Safety First When You Volunteer Abroad

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Apr 23, 2010

For those of us involved in sending people abroad for many years, it is impossible to escape the dreaded call about an accident involving one or more of your volunteers or teachers.  In my 35 years of doing this work, I've been on the receiving end of such calls three times.  When I mention these calls in meetings, someone always suggests that one every ten years isn't so bad.  And if you've been the one picking up the telephone in the middle of the night to hear the news that someone is injured, or worse, even one in your lifetime is one too many.

At GeoVisions, we try hard to provide safety tools for all of our participants and traveling staff.  We provide safety information in advance of our volunteers and teachers traveling abroad.  We include the most amazing travel, accident and health insurance you can get when you go abroad with 24/7 telephone support...answered always by a person, not a machine.

Sara's Wish Foundation is an organization dedicated to keeping people safe when they travel abroad.  Primarily interested in students who study abroad, Sara's Wish Foundation put out a video, Know Before You Go.  The video, which we include here, is really for anyone who is traveling abroad.  It is very powerful.

Please watch this short video.  You can also use this link to get to the Sara's Wish Foundation website where you will find so many useful safety tips and helpful information.

Have the time of your life.  Have fun.  Experience life in another culture, incredible food, make new life-long friends.  And put safety first.

 

 

If you can take away something useful from this post, please consider leaving a comment (below) or subscribing to the feed (above) to have future posts delivered to your feed reader. You can also subscribe via email (in the upper right corner).  Over on the right we have made it easy for you to become a Fan of GeoVisions on Facebook and to Follow Us on Twitter.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Responsible Travel, Volunteering Abroad, Travel Safety