Staff Spotlight: Jessica Hillman

Lead Guide - Laos


Jessica graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in Hospitality Management. Lake Tahoe, Nevada is her home as she travels both nationally and internationally with GIVE. Jessica has volunteered with GIVE in SE Asia and is now apart of the international staff in Laos.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My absolute favorite memory was returning to the beautiful village of Sop Chem in Laos. After leaving that first summer when I volunteered in Sop Chem, I had no idea I would return. It was a tearful goodbye. I had made such strong connections to the community members who quickly became family in such a short amount of time. But the stars aligned and before I knew it I was jumping on that long-tailed boat winding up the Nam Ou river with my heart set on that family of mine. The final bend during the journey up the river is really what takes my breath away each and every time. The river merges with this beautiful beach that is surrounded by towering limestone mountains covered in lush jungle. My favorite part of that first trip back though was seeing all the kids run down from the village to welcome us back! We were home.

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

I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for the opportunities I have had with GIVE. I have gained confidence in myself and in my voice through leadership roles. I have gained new passions through experiences. I have gained valuable public speaking skills through practice. But more importantly, I have gained a group of individuals that continue to challenge me and inspire me every single day.

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

The best insight that I have learned from a return volunteer is that home is where the heart is. A dear friend of mine has been on 6 different international GIVE trips and she has left a piece of her heart in each country. The connections you make with these communities are so real and honest. The locals you meet will truly become family.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

When I have the opportunity to experience a different program with GIVE, I will definitely travel to Nepal! Nepal has such a unique energy and culture that I would love to experience and learn from. It would be incredible to work in disaster relief alongside the local community, paraglide over the mountains, and have the chance to trek to the base camp of Mt. Everest. Hearing the stories and seeing photographs from friends who have taken part in the Nepal program leave me amazed and yearning for new adventure!

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

GIVE is comprised of like-minded individuals who carry similar passions and want to make a difference. I have found my inspirations, my mentors, and my greatest friends through GIVE. I am especially proud to be apart of GIVE when I witness an idea develop into full-blown reality, such as the Nepal program! It is incredible to see the hard work and dedication each team member brings to the table.

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

I believe the biggest factor in being successful is that GIVE is constantly learning, growing, and changing. The team at GIVE always welcomes feedback from volunteers and staff alike to continue to improve and be the best it can be. GIVE is continually evaluating programs and projects, creating new ideas, and implementing change to create impactful and memorable experiences for all those involved.