ISV (International Student Volunteers)

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ISV's mission is to support sustainable development programs around the world through life changing student volunteer programs designed to positively impact our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

Destinations include South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic. ISV has won multiple awards and over 30,000 participants from around the world have experienced their educational, cultural and adventure programs. Volunteers can join small teams for two-week projects in the field of conservation or community development, followed by a two week adventure tour. Many students earn academic credit for their involvement and highly qualified local staff carefully oversee programs in each country. ISV is recognized as one of the highest rated volunteer and travel organizations in the world and is a non-profit organization in California, USA. Its Australian operations are based in Sydney. Begin your ISV adventure today!

Programs from ISV

  • Costa Rica
    Costa Rica is filled with a colourful array of animals, white beaches, lush rainforests, rivers, volcanoes and smiling...
    116 reviews
    Alumni Interviews
    Staff Interviews
    Community Photos
  • South Africa ISV
    South Africa
    South Africa is renowned for its vigorous culture, sweeping landscapes and remarkable wildlife - but communities, children's...
    114 reviews
    Alumni Interviews
    Community Photos
    This program has been rated exceedingly fun by 5+ reviewers.
    This program has been rated exceedingly supportive by 5+ reviewers.
  • Australia
    Despite its spectacular rugged beauty, Australia has lost many of its iconic species over the past 200 years and has one of...
    93 reviews
    Alumni Interviews
    Community Photos
    This program has been rated exceedingly fun by 5+ reviewers.
    This program has been rated exceedingly supportive by 5+ reviewers.
  • Thailand
    Sun-swept beaches, spiritual temples, smiling faces, lush tropical rainforests and tasty cooking are just a few of the...
    77 reviews
    Alumni Interviews
    Community Photos
  • New Zealand
    As a volunteer in New Zealand with International Student Volunteers (ISV), you have the opportunity to protect and...
    51 reviews
    Alumni Interviews
    Community Photos
    This program has been rated exceedingly fun by 5+ reviewers.
    This program has been rated exceedingly supportive by 5+ reviewers.
  • Dominican Republic
    The Dominican Republic is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, vibrant culture and warm, friendly people - but as a...
    39 reviews
    Alumni Interviews
    Community Photos
    This program has been rated exceedingly fun by 5+ reviewers.
    This program has been rated exceedingly supportive by 5+ reviewers.

Program Reviews

  • Alexis
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Mesa, Arizona
    Northern Arizona University
    10/10
    Summer well spent
    12/21/2015

    This is actually my second ISV program! I went to South Africa in 2013 and now to Costa Rica in 2015. I am in love with this organization and what ISV does. I got to stay with a host family on the beach and help in rainforest ecology research. My host family was fantastic, even if they did not speak too much english the charades were fun! I got very close to everyone and we got to learn a lot about the environment and what we were doing there. The work was hard! But I love using my hands and getting dirty so it was the best experience I could ask for. I would go back to Costa Rica in a heartbeat and actually fueled my desire to travel central and south America. I just got back from Belize a week ago and the ISV trip definitely had a hand in my travel decisions.

    Photos:
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  • Erika
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Farmington, NM
    Utah Valley University
    10/10
    Best experience. So worth it!
    12/21/2015

    The whole experience was amazing!! The service project, the people we served, the volunteers I worked with, the food, and the adventure tour!

    Its hard to pick a favorite memory but one thing that stands out is when we road horses through the jungle up to a waterfall. I picked a horse that liked being the leader and was competitive with the other horses and liked to go fast. The hike up to the waterfall was so beautiful and exciting. But on the way down my horse started racing to be the first one down the hike, through the village, and back to the horse corral. I've always wanted to ride a horse galloping all out, so I hung on tight and we flew. The people outside their houses started shouting and cheering as I flew past on my horse with my friends horses racing along with me. It was so fun, and a dream come true. Loved it!

    How could this program be improved?

    During the first 2 weeks, the service part, all the volunteers stayed in the same big house together and mingled with the villagers in the evening. We ate together and spent the evening together. It was so fun and had such a good feeling of togetherness. After that first 2 weeks, we hit the road for the adventure tour and stayed in hotels. It was really fun and we stayed in beautiful hotels, but we were more spread out in separate rooms and though we did still gather for activities it felt a bit lonelier. I would have preferred some situation where we all stayed together more.

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  • Lyndsay
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Hiroshima, Japan
    Other
    8/10
    Broadening Horizons
    12/19/2015

    I was only eighteen when I decided to travel with ISV. I was fresh out of high school, unsure of what to do with myself.I wanted to see the world,but was too scared to do it alone.
    I started working full time, and fundraising, to save for my trip to New Zealand. I convinced one of my friends to go with me, and together we encouraged each other to reach our fundraising goals.
    In a flash our trip began, and ended. I was able to spend the first two weeks on an isolated island off the coast of Auckland. I got very close with the other participants(and even the park ranger!), and it reminded me of all the camping trips my family use to take when I was kid. I had no internet, no cellphone; we washed our clothes and dishes by hand, and chopped wood for the fireplace. At night we would play checkers, make hot chocolate, eat tim tams, and joke about the days events.
    The last two weeks were spent quickly touring the rest of the island. We had a jam packed agenda.
    I skydived, kayaked, hiked glaciers, white water rafted, and got to try spelunking with glow worms! I did things I only dreamed of, that when I came home it didn't even feel real.
    I came home incredibly full, but somehow empty.The month in New Zealand, had given me confidence I had been looking for the whole time, but I was ready to take on the rest of the world. Staying too long in one place gave me the jitters, and I quickly started planning my next adventure
    Fast-forward three years later, and I am now living in Hiroshima, Japan, teaching children English. The most important thing that ISV taught me, was the importance of not being a tourist. I carry that motto with me now, and continue to try and be a self reliant resident, here in Hiroshima Japan, giving back to the community when I can.

    I don't regret for a minute the decisions I've made, and know I wouldn't be where I am today, if I hadn't allowed myself the time to travel with ISV.

    Lyndsay

    How could this program be improved?

    Unfortunately the worst thing about my trip were the people, and that's something you can't really control.
    I had a fantastic first two weeks, but when all the groups meshed, it became overwhelming. People changed around the wrong kind of influences, and some of the friends I thought I knew from the first two weeks, completely changed. I know if I had gone on the trip now as a 22 year old I would be able to handle my ground, and have enough confidence in myself as a person to not take so many things personally. I found there was a major difference between the 18 to 24 year olds, and there seemed to be an elite crowd, that only the older ones were in, and that everyone wanted to be in. Many of the participants who had just got there mommy and daddys to pay for their trip, showed zero respect for themselves, other participants, and New Zealand. By the time I got to Fiji, myself and my friend were the only two who stayed at the resort, because the rest of our group decided to find their own resort, because it wasn't to their"standards". They came rushing in late at night, saying they had a cab driver waiting outside, and anyone who wanted to come with them better hustle.
    Although these events were negative I was able to take a lot from them, learned about myself, and still had a great time. I just think its important to be honest with these kinds of things. I don't necessarily have a resolution to these problems. Ive wanted to go on another ISV trip, but am hesitant of what kind of participants I would encounter. People can really make or break an experience, and I know how difficult it is, because you never know what kind of people are applying to these things, or if their parents are just making them.

    Photos:
    Queenstown, New Zealand
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  • Michelle
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    University of Aberdeen
    10/10
    Fantastic
    12/19/2015

    I always had a thought and image of how Thailand would be, but after arriving it completely surpassed my expectations.
    Fantastic place, and great people, cannot wait to get back over there!
    The staff with ISV were great and very helpful, and made me feel at ease when in a new country. Would definitely recommend.
    Also, traveling with people who knew the areas made the whole experience a lot more comfortable too, no worries or stresses.

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  • Amanda
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Berlin, Germany
    Other
    9/10
    Exploring New Zealand
    12/19/2015

    Volunteering with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand was not only a great resume-booster for me but also the adventure of a lifetime. I also made lifelong friends from across the globe on this program who I still go to visit, even five years later! I got to see and learn and experience so many things on this trip, from floating through glow worm caves to riding horseback through scenes from Lord of the Rings. I highly recommend this program for anyone who loves the outdoors and is searching for some adventure. :)

    How could this program be improved?

    The food costs could be made a little more transparent. It seemed like we paid more for groceries than we actually ended up spending.

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