Alumni Spotlight: Jane Smith


Jane is a traveler and adventure seeker. Making a positive impact in her community and the world is her passion.

Why did you choose this program?

IVHQ is focused on making a meaningful difference in the community. This was very important for me and after researching several other sites and completing a program with them I found this to be true.

I was looking for a volunteer experience where I could really use my skills and add value to the community and program I was serving. IVHQ is wonderful because it offers several programs that require different skills. Having this kind of programming is great because you actually add value to your community and leave them with skills and assistance they need for the future. Building capacity, not dependency!

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

IVHQ was incredible from start to finish. The website is very easy to navigate, from registration to orientation and departure.

They organize everything for you in a very easy and convenient way. If you feel like you don't know where to start, don't worry.I promise its all there! From language, culture education, expectations, food, transportation, accommodations, and placement.

There are also videos you watch to prepare you for your experience along with a checklist of all the things you need to do before departing. It's incredible! They are always there to help you. Thank you Will McBride!

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

Go with an open mind and heart. There is so much to take in when you visit another country. Really take the time and listen to the stories locals have to tell you. Learn the language as much as you can and really make good use of your time.

If you have a short trip, use your days after volunteering to learn more about the country and the people. Use the weekends for a short getaway or community events.

Most importantly be productive in your placement! Think about how your specific skills can benefit the center long term. Think about sustainability!

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

In the IVHQ- Uganda (Child Care program), you usually start your mornings around 8:00 am. You leave in a van from the volunteer house to another location closer to your placement and then you use a taxi to take you to your final destination.

When you arrive the children come running towards you ready to play.You can do several things -- either teach, read to them or play a fun game. Depending on what month you go this can look different. Most children are on holiday break if you go in December.

Because they are children, you will usually be very busy. Expect to do things such as bathing and feeding. It is a very rewarding experience, but it also takes hard work if you really want to be productive and make good use of your time.

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

I have traveled before so I really didn't have a fear. I was excited and eager to meet everyone, experience the culture, serve, and learn as much as I could.

I think for some people the biggest fear could be going into the unknown, everything is different and completely new. New people, new friends, and a new environment. I would say, don't let this stop you. You really do grow when you get out of your comfort zone. Everyone in my volunteer house was very friendly and helpful.

Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I would have volunteered with IVHQ sooner. My biggest advice is not to wait, work hard for what you want and live life on your terms.

There might be people that don't agree with you traveling abroad, usually for safety reasons or what they think is best for your life. If there is one thing I learned from my traveling is to just go, take the risk and book your flight. We all have the right to follow our dreams, don't let anyone take that away from you.