Staff Spotlight: Lauren Melnick

Social Media Manager
Lauren is a self-professed elite South African zombie hunter. When she is not preparing for the impending apocalypse you can find her in Cape Town taking pictures of sunsets for Instagram, stalking penguins and writing ridiculously awesome travel and volunteering blogs.

girl at sunset

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory is when I visted GVI's Luang Prabang hub in July 2014. I was invited to participate in a few cultural activities that really made my trip. The first was waking up before sunrise and joining the staff and volunteers on the main road to give alms to the local monks. The second was being invited by a former novice monk to join him for chanting at a local temple with the monks and community elders. It was incredible to have such an intimate experience of Luang Prabang culture and made me want to learn more about Buddhism and the country's rich cultural heritage.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Africa is the most underrated destination for sure! A lot of people have misconceptions about all the countries on the continent which stops them from exploring unspoilt coastlines, seeing incredible wildlife, going on amazing adventure activities and meeting some of the friendliest people on this planet. Every place in the world has its bad spots, I really think people need to give Africa more of a chance to prove itself.

The most overrated would have to be Europe. C'mon people, get off the beaten track and go have an adventure somewhere that isn't on everyone's bucket list. You won't be inundated by tourist and your money will go a lot further because prices won't be jacked up for tourists.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The biggest factor would have to be company culture. If your staff aren't inspired to come to work everyday and put in 110% why should your customers hand over their hard earned cash to people who aren't passionate about what they do?

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

When I joined GVI, I had just moved down from Johannesburg to Cape Town after resigning from my first social media job at an agency. I knew I wanted to be in marketing and I knew I wanted to only focus on one company's social media. Being part of the marketing team in GVI has allowed me to do this and basically, craft my role according to my interests and capabilities. I discovered how much I missed writing and have been fortunate enough to develop this skill once again through the blog posts I write and the text I have written for their website.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

GVI has a very family orientated quality. Whether you are in the field or based in the field, our culture is all about getting to know each other and creating support structures like one big global family.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team

There have been a few times where I have been proud to be part of the GVI team. From being a part of an organisation that helped with the Nepal earthquake relief efforts to when everyone in the office brings old clothing, books or food for the various community drives we have here in Cape Town.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Oh wow! Being on social media, I hear so many good ones on a weekly basis. It's great to hear how our interns and volunteers have found paid positions either with GVI or elsewhere after being on our projects and seeing how well they are doing. It's also great to see volunteers encouraging others to join us on social media and it's even better when you hear of people coming back for their second, third and even fourth GVI trip! Those people inspire me to keep on working for GVI because I know I play a small part in helping them do great things for themselves as well as the communities that all their hard work effects.