Check in here for community updates from the Go Overseas team.

New at Go Overseas: Informing our Community About Unethical Orphanage Volunteering Programs

Learn more about our new tagging system we're implementing to help our users and providers better understand the impact of orphanage volunteering programs abroad.

At Go Overseas, our mission is to empower human connection through perspective-changing travel. Sometimes, however, there are unforeseen consequences to our travel experiences. For travel to be ethical, it must not only benefit the traveler, but also the community that plays host and provides the meaningful immersive experiences. Go Overseas is committed to promoting ethical travel, and for this reason, we’ve created a new tag to help educate our community about the potential consequences of participating in orphanage volunteering programs abroad.

Specifically, Go Overseas has partnered with Freedom United to work towards ending child trafficking perpetuated by orphanage volunteering. As Miriam Karmali, Senior Advocacy Officer at Freedom United, writes: “Volunteering in orphanages can contribute to orphanage trafficking. While organizations offering placements in orphanages may not knowingly promote the trafficking or abuse of children, they have an important role to play in supporting communities around the world to bring an end to this cycle of exploitation.” At Go Overseas, we have an important role to play in educating our community and informing future travelers about the unintended consequences of volunteering abroad in orphanages.

To learn more about the impacts of orphanage volunteering, read Karmali’s take on whether or not you should volunteer at an orphanage abroad.

What is the orphanage volunteering tag and where will it appear

This new tag will be a small, informative box that helps educate the user about potential outcomes of participating in orphanage volunteering programs. The goal of the tag is to encourage our community to think about their impact so that they can make informed decisions about how to ethically volunteer with children abroad. For this reason, orphanage volunteering programs will not be removed from Go Overseas, as this will give both users and providers the opportunity to reflect on potential consequences of well-meaning travel.

This tag will be found on all orphanage volunteering programs. Other forms of childcare volunteering will not be impacted, as these types of programs have not been linked to child trafficking.

What can I do if my program receives this tag?

The goal of this tagging system is to inform and educate both program providers and our community of prospective travelers. If you notice this tag on your program, it may be a great opportunity to check your listings, ensure that all tags are true to the experiences your organization offers, and learn more about the potential dangers of orphanage volunteering.

In addition, if your organization is operating volunteer experiences in orphanages, we encourage you to consult the experts at Freedom United to see how you can work towards shifting the focus of your programs.

December 3, 2021

Meet the Winners of the 2021 USA Gap Year Fairs Scholarships!

At Go Overseas, we take pride in supporting students through scholarships to pursue international educational experiences. Each year, we offer one or more gap year scholarships to hopeful students planning gap time, and we have steadily increased the amount of scholarship funding with each fair series. With the challenges of 2020 inspiring us to innovate, we took the opportunity to make gap year planning more accessible than ever: not only through offering virtual fairs and a free gap year crash course (check out our thematic gap year webinar recordings!), but by offering over $15,000 in gap year scholarships!

Of course, this couldn’t be possible without our fantastic gap year providers and gap year counselors who participated in the 2021 series. Although we missed being able to connect with prospective gap year students and their families in high school gymnasiums and cafeterias across the country, we were thrilled to partner with these programs to offer 20+ free virtual events and award $15,000 in gap year funding. We opened the competition to US citizens at home and abroad, aged 14-25, who were planning gap time in 2021.

The first place, $10,000 award was sponsored by us at Go Overseas and awarded to the top applicant overall, and a second, $5,000 award was sponsored by Dynamy Internship Year and awarded to the top applicant in the state with the highest total number of applications. In order to make sure our winners were well-equipped to make the most of their gap time, each student will also receive in-kind gap year advising from a Gap Year Association accredited gap year counselor.

We sought to recruit students from across the country whose visions for their gap time were bold, inspirational, and empowering -- just like the decision to take a gap year. Applicants were asked to write a gap year manifesto outlining their plans for their gap time, and to submit a visual representation of their gap year dreams. Students' plans ranged from immersion in Spanish language and culture in Costa Rica to studying international politics in Australia and New Zealand, to volunteering with disaster relief in the US. We heard about our applicants’ creative pursuits, passions for social justice and environmentalism, and their desire to connect to a broader world.

It was an incredibly competitive process, but ultimately, we were able to narrow down our finalists (with help from a group of enthusiastic gap year alumni) to two outstanding winners. We couldn’t be more thrilled to support these winners in their gap year journeys!

Meet Mariama, winner of the $10,000 grand prize scholarship!

We sent Go Overseas team members Tracy and Brittany to Seattle to surprise Mariama with a giant check!

Mariama is weeks away from graduating from the University of Washington, and is planning gap time to immerse herself in experiential learning through dance, music, and visual arts across three continents. As a first-generation Guinean immigrant and one of the few Black students on her university’s campus, she has found inspiration and community through art and the Black Feminist Book Club and African Student Union that she leads.

“Art is resistance for the Black community; our rhythms and beats carry a pre-colonial history and tell stories of ancestors who are not defined by nation-state borders,” writes Mariama. With guidance from Marion Taylor of Taylor the Gap, she will spend time teaching and working as an au pair with InterExchange in France, then traverse West Africa and the Caribbean to explore how these cultures use artistic expression to preserve indigenous cultural practices.

Mariama’s application stood out from the hundreds reviewed by our team for her passion and creativity, and we are so inspired by her vision for her gap time. “I want to participate in this gap year because I believe we need more positive stories about the Black community,” she writes. “We need stories that not only emphasize our resilience but also our ability to heal and create.”

Meet Elisabet, winner of the $5,000 second prize scholarship!

Elisabet’s mentors and friends come together to help make her virtual scholarship surprise a moment to remember.

“Accessing higher education and international education changed my life forever,” says Elisabet, “and I know that it can impact the lives of so many other students out there, too.” With that mission in mind, Elisabet is working with gap year counselor Holly Bull of the Center for Interim Programs to plan an independent gap year focusing on an entrepreneurial project and an online course through GVI.

As a content creator, Elisabet will partner with higher education institutions and use social media to help students get informed and inspired to pursue experiential learning. With her experience working in the study abroad office at her undergraduate university and current internships in digital marketing, Elisabet is well-positioned to bridge international relationships and facilitate equitable access to educational resources for historically underrepresented and underserved students.

Of winning the scholarship, Elisabet says, “This gap time will not only benefit me, but it will benefit so many other students out there, forever echoing the message of just how transformational higher education and international education truly is for all students.” Go Overseas is proud to support Elisabet in her advocacy, and we can’t wait to see her project take off!

Additional gap year scholarships

Beyond the $15,000 in scholarships, we had so many incredible applicants that our participating gap year counselors and providers decided to award additional scholarship funds to the top applicants!

Thanks to all the applicants who applied, and our partners for making this opportunity possible!

Congratulations, to all the gap year scholarship recipients!

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on funding opportunities for your own international adventures, check out our scholarship resource page to learn more about other scholarships we offer. We have a resource on gap year scholarships and grants that you might find helpful, too.

Thanks to all the applicants who applied, and our partners for making this opportunity possible!

July 1, 2021

Why You Should Attend The Forum on Education Abroad’s 2021 Annual Conference (Discount Included)

The Forum on Education Abroad’s 17th Annual Conference is a must-attend event in the field of education abroad, where leaders will virtually gather to consider the most important issues impacting international education.

17th Annual Conference Discount Code for Attendees

Like last year, the 17th Annual Conference will be held virtually on March 1-5, 2021. Use promo code GOOVERSEAS50 to receive $50 off your registration fee (it’s like registering at the Early Bird rate!). This code is available to all (no restrictions).

The Forum’s Annual Conference & Expo Registration Details

Here are the important dates to remember:

  • Annual Conference registration is live now
  • Regular Registration Deadline is February 19, 2021
  • The last day you can use the Go Overseas discount code is February 28, 2021
  • Registration closes on February 28, 2021

You can register up to the day before the event, and you can also use the discount code up to that point. But to make the most of your experience (and get the best pricing!), sign up today and start planning.

About The Forum on Education Abroad

The Forum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, membership association recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the field of education abroad.

The Forum provides training and resources to education abroad professionals and its Standards of Good Practice are recognized as the definitive means by which the quality of education abroad programs may be judged. The Forum’s mission is to cultivate educators who champion high quality education abroad experiences that ignite curiosity, impact lives, and contribute to a better world.

The Forum’s 800+ institutional members include U.S. colleges and universities, overseas institutions, consortia, agencies, organizations, and foundations who are committed to improving education abroad.

4 Reasons to Attend The Forum’s 17th Annual Conference 2021

There are many reasons that should you take advantage of this discount code when you attend The Forum’s virtual Annual Conference next month -- here are four to get you started:

  1. Get the Latest Updates on the State of the Field

    When it comes to navigating the challenges of COVID-19, know that The Forum is part of your support system. At the Annual Conference, we’ll discuss where we are and where do we go from here. Remember: We’re in it together. View the full schedule.

    In conjunction with our 20th anniversary, The Forum will invite attendees to reflect on lessons learned in the past 20 years and look forward to what the next 20 will bring.

  2. Network with Fellow International Educators

    Colleagues in the international education field: Now is a time come together -- even if that means virtually -- to knowledge share, to upskill, and to bond as a community.

    At The Forum’s Annual Conference, you have the chance to spend quality time with friends new and old from across the globe. In addition to dynamic conference programming, The Forum is offering fun ways to gather the community together to connect and enjoy the sights and sounds of Boston, MA (which would have been our conference city this year), including a two-night wine and art tour, virtual team trivia, a virtual concert, as well as community connection opportunities and language lunchrooms.

  3. Choose from More than 50 Sessions Over 5 Conference Days

    We want to let you in on a not-so-little secret -- did you know The Forum added an additional day to its Annual Conference format? That means you can engage and participate in more events to upskill and bring back valuable insights and information to your office.

  4. Enjoy the Same Conference Programming for a Fraction of the Cost & No Travel

    Here’s another insider tip: When you register for the Annual Conference this year, you’re getting the same high-quality conference programming that has become expected of from The Forum, but for much, much less than an in-person conference. Add on the $50 off promo code GOOVERSEAS50, and it’s like you’re paying the Early Registration Fee. Then, add a travel budget of zero dollars, and you realize just how much value you’ll receive when you attend the Annual Conference.

Ready to register for the 17th Annual Conference?

February 15, 2021