Alumni Spotlight: Alina Palmer


Why did you choose this program?

IVHQ offers many programs, which made it really hard to choose one to volunteer on. This time I really wanted to experience some part of the African continent and I knew I wanted to do teaching. At home I study to become a teacher so I wanted to see what schools over there are like. I read on the IVHQ page that they recommend Ghana for teaching and that is why I decided to sign up for this program.

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

Once I signed up for the program, I got a checklist on my IVHQ account, which showed me what I had to do before my travels. I booked the flights, got my visa, a criminal background check and all the vaccinations I needed. However, IVHQ was always there to support me if I had any questions or needed something for my visa application. They also provided a list for packing and a short booklet on the destination to give some basic information about the country.

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

The piece of advice I would give to someone going on this program is to be open-minded and not too nervous. The local staff is really great, so there is no need to worry about anything. If you feel unsure about anything once you are there or need something the staff is always happy to help. Just be excited for the adventure and a trip you will definitely not forget!

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

An average day on the teaching project starts at around 6 am, when all the volunteers start getting up. At 6.30 am everyone eats breakfast together and then at around 7 everyone leaves for their program. For teaching the volunteers walk to the school, which is about 5 minutes away and are usually greeted by all the kids on the way, which is the best way to start the day! Once there, everyone goes to their classrooms and assists the teachers there. At around 12.30 there is lunch at the volunteers house and after that two or three more hours of school. School finishes at around 3 pm and then everyone is free to do whatever they want. At 6.30 pm all the volunteers eat dinner and then just hang out in the living room until it is time to go to bed.

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 going on the program was to not make enough of an impact while being over there. However, at the placements you could feel the locals being very grateful for all the work the volunteers do there, which helped a lot. I also had lots of conversations with the other volunteers about this issue and we soon discovered that everyone had thought about this problem, but we all agreed that by taking our time and money and spending it on this experience to be there and do something definitely makes an impact!