Alumni Spotlight: Whitney Dawn Owens


Whitney is an adventure enthusiast, mother of two beautiful daughters, and promoter of all things good for the soul. She enjoys meeting new people and inspiring others to step out of their comfort zones!

Why did you choose this program?

I honestly made the decision to travel abroad and volunteer on a whim. I always wanted to travel internationally and one day just Googled trips. I found IVHQ and randomly chose Bali, Indonesia as my destination. IVHQ had great reviews and was very appealing, so I felt good about making that my top choice.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider gave me basic knowledge on safety, what to pack, links to airline tickets through the organization, etc. I did have some questions as this was my first international volunteer trip. My provider responded very quickly and kindly to each email.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I packed very modest clothing as teaching was my program of choice. I did not, however, pack many options for free time adventures. I would recommend bringing a couple comfortable outfits and tennis shoes for hiking, and walking around for multiple hours touring the towns.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

For myself, I made the most of the hours in a day! I would wake up at 6 am nearly every day and walk down to Lovina beach to admire the black sand and the beautiful sunrise. One day I went on a sunrise dolphin tour which was amazing and worth waking up for.

Breakfast was around 8 am each morning, and lunch was 12:30 pm. After lunch, I would usually make a video of my day and take some pictures with volunteers. A group of girls I became close with usually influenced our daily adventures. We all had great ideas and were quick to help one another out on planning things to do before our Volunteer Program which was 2:30 - 5 pm.

After volunteering (teaching English) we would come back to camp and have dinner. After that, we were free to travel around town. Which we did each night, whether it was ice cream runs, or heading to a local bar to grab drinks and snacks! The weekends you have full day-nights to travel and explore.

On one of my free weekends, a group of us girls took a fast boat and traveled to the Gili Islands! I highly recommend traveling there. It was beautiful, fun, and well worth it.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was probably finding all my connecting flights on time. I took it one step at a time and asked for help if I needed it. I would find my gate right away and calculate the time until I needed to board. Then I would go grab a coffee and chill out. Take some breathers and realize you're SO capable.

What would you do differently your next time traveling internationally?

I would spend more time self-reflecting and spend some alone time on adventures. I very much enjoyed my time with the other volunteers. However looking back now I wish I would have taken a bit more time for myself after volunteer programs, just to journal and soak in everything around me.