Staff Spotlight: Melissa Kirschner

Director of Volunteer Travel


As Director of Volunteer Travel with Unearth the World, Melissa loves working with individuals and groups to plan meaningful cross-cultural, international, exchanges.

What is your favorite travel memory?

This is a tough question! Some of my favorite memories come from different travel adventures. If I had to pick one, though, I would have to say the time spent with my homestay family in Nicaragua, while visiting Unearth the World's Sustainable Tourism partner there.

They were such a warm and welcoming family! I loved sharing meals with them, watching TV in the evenings, and practicing my Spanish - they were very patient! I felt like I learned so much about the culture and local community through their generosity, and willingness to open their home to a stranger.

If you ever have the opportunity to participate in a homestay while traveling abroad, I would highly recommend it!

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

One thing I love most about my job is that I am constantly learning! I would say that I have definitely become a more informed global citizen through my role with Unearth the World.

Everyday I get to interact with members of different international communities that are working to address pressing and important issues where they live.

This has really opened my eyes. On top of that, I get to speak with volunteers who have just returned from service work abroad. I get to hear about their time volunteering, and learn from their experiences as well.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I think there are a few things that really make Unearth the World (UTW) unique. The first is that we absolutely take a holistic approach to each individual volunteer.

I personally speak with each volunteer who is interested in participating in an UTW program to make sure it is the best fit for him or her, and a good fit for our international partner. On top of that, we provide an in-depth pre-trip training so that all of our volunteers are prepared for their time abroad.

Secondly, Unearth the World is 100% financially transparent. We feel it's so important that our volunteers know where every dollar goes! And lastly, we only form responsible, mutually beneficial partnerships with projects that are initiated and organized by members of the local community, not by outsiders.

We carefully vet each partnership, and routinely visit our partners to ensure that the relationship continues to be responsible and reciprocal.

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

I really think it is personalization. At Unearth the World we work so hard to make sure that each individual has the best international service experience possible.

We understand that each traveler has different needs and interests, and strive to ensure that they are matched to the best project. We are always happy to go the extra mile!