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GeoVisions Foundation

About

Get paid to teach English abroad or be an au pair. Volunteer to tutor English or be a language summer camp counselor. This is a great way to reward yourself with a working vacation for 1 to 12 months in Thailand, France, Italy, and 10 other countries! Earn your TEFL Certification online or in Italy or Greece.

SAFETY AND SECURITY
"I'm an adult with a college degree, but still my parents want to know I'm going to be safe." Health and safety is our priority. All placements and all overseas staff are screened and vetted.

QUALITY OF REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES
"Having access to former participants helped me set accurate expectations." Listen to our Alumni stories and you'll realize how much value there is in a GeoVisions Foundation experience. Talk to them by phone, read their blog posts, watch their videos.

EXPERIENCED PEOPLE
"The moment I found your website I could tell there was both quality and passion implemented into the programs." Commitment and longevity is our strength.

Founded
2001
Headquarters

63 Whitfield St.
2nd Floor
Guilford, CT 06437
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Hailey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Here is the thing: life is short, it goes quickly, and it is human nature to want to get the most out of it. You WILL if you take on this experience. In short, I spent two months in Italy. That sounds magical enough right? I also went skydiving, swam in Lake Como, visited Switzerland and Greece, took a boat tour in Venice, road a vespa all over Florence and the hills of Chianti up to a villa for pasta and wine, taught in a Italian middle school for a few days, visited Pisa, Verona, Pietrasanta, and Italian wineries all over the country, swam in the Mediterranean, went to an Italian language school and hiked between the towns of Cinque Terre. I also got to live in the most incredible place with a wonderful family. If this sounds ideal-do it!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Most people would probably say that skydiving was the scariest, maybe even going to a country to live where you do not know one person or the language; however, for me it was riding a vespa through Florence. Vespas are very touchy, FAST machines. You have to be very cognizant and aware, but I also wanted to enjoy the surroundings and not be too tense and nervous that I would miss out on having fun. I had to take a few deep breathes, tell myself I can do it (because I believe once it is verbalized it can come true), and bask in the glory of what an incredible experience it would be! A lot of my trip I needed to do those three things, and it helped me grow into the independent woman I want to be, as well as to take each day as it was and get the most out of it all.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Faith
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I speak fluent spanish, but I live in a place where its almost impossible for me to practice! I've also been teaching english for 3 years so as soon as I found out about this opportunity, I paid my $1700 and got on a plane ASAP. The 31 days I spent with my host-family were incredible, the things I was able to see and do when I wasn't teaching were incredible, and of course, the support and communication between myself and the team @ Geovisions was pretty simple and fast. Also the best part about this trip was the lifelong connections I now have in San Ramon, so basically when I return to travel there, I have some sweet hookups. As far as safety goes I never felt safer! The streets here are clean, the people are extremely friendly to tourists (especially since the majority of costa rican economy comes from tourism) and the food is amazing!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
All the research I did didn't prepare me for the humidity! I brought 3 pairs of jeans and never wore any of them. If you come from a dry climate, bring plenty of tank tops, lots of suncscreen and get ready to drink a gallon of water a day haha!
Default avatar
Harriet
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I enjoyed the experience but found that the children I worked with were a bit too young for the program. One was 3 one was 6. They had no experience speaking English before I arrived, so they found it extremely difficult and no matter what I did, it was not successful. Upon leaving, the mother asked the youngest child if she would miss me, and she replied, no, because she did not understand me. That says it all for the kids. The adults, on the other hand were amazing, and they made my stay lovely. They both improved oral English speaking and they were most appreciative. My recommendation would be that in order for this placement to have been totally successful, I should have been able to speak German. I learned some German, but not enough.

What would you improve about this program?
The people in Germany prepared a little book with German words--it was EXCELLENT. I would suggest that they also include simple phrases and sentences in that book.
Default avatar
Suzanne
8/10
No, I don't recommend this program

I signed on with Geovisions because, being from the USA, they were one of the few programs that came up in my search and from their description they seemed to be the most appealing. They were quick to respond to my first contact, quick to register me for their "Teach English in Cuba program and quick to send invoices. That was where the quick responsiveness ended. I understand that things in Cuba change quickly and that it can be frustrating but that didn't explain everything. I often had to make several attempts and wait many days to get answers to my questions and, often, their reps seemed to be put out by my requests for information. At one point, being very frustrated, I pushed hard enough to be passed onto the director, Randy Grant. Once I had the opportunity to talk to Randy I felt that my questions were more adequately answered and that I had a better idea of the program and the situation in Cuba.
Additionally, no one from Geovisions made attempt to screen me or my traveling companion to find out if we were even qualified to teach English.
I had experienced volunteer placement in other countries through IVHQ so I know what it is to be informed and supported.
I would not use Geovisions again.

Default avatar
Joseph
2/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Here is the bottomline of my experiences with the GeoVisions Tutor a Family in France program.
- I wanted to spend three months in France to experience this wonderful and tutor in english for the first time to see if I enjoyed tutoring and teaching. Initially things started out fine with GeoVisions.
- It turned out I wasn't a good fit for GeoVisions and they couldn't find a suitable family for me. They did persuade a family to take me though, but it was a bad fit from the get go and it was apparent that I wasn't wanted.
- The family confessed this to me along with a local rep also telling me they couldn't find a family for me. GeoVisions did not tell me any of this though as I can only surmise they wanted to keep my fee.
- When things got to a point where a change needed to be made for several reasons, GeoVisions had very little help to offer. They did find a retired couple with no children and no english ( I also came to France to learn the language and told GeoVisions I was a beginner), in a tiny, remote and isolated village. This was not acceptable in any way but I visited the place anyway while nothing convinced me in the least to change my mind so I turned it down. GeoVisions had nothing else to offer so my choices were 1) stay where I was and where I wasn't wanted and was endangering my health (I told them at the beginning that I was allergic to cats. They told me the cats wouldn't be in or at the house but they were. This was far from the only issue). Or 2) Go to this other family which met none of a small list of things I initially wanted ( french language school nearby, a chance to tutor in english), or 3) leave the program.
I left the program after one month (of three I paid for).
You find out a lot about people and organizations when there is a issue or problem. Anyone can be nice and pleasant early on and at least until the check clears. I am a very flexible person and usually can make a situation work. I don't know if I could have culled things out of GeoVisions in the initial stages and avoided this, but I sure wish I tried harder and didn't too easily get caught up in the dreams and fantasies that often occurs in travel. GeoVisions failed in their job. Don't believe their marketing and hype.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 21

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Hailey Davey

Hailey grew up in Evergreen, Colorado with the love for adventure and travel. She now teaches High School Mathematics in North Carolina and took an absolutely fantastic summer trip...to ITALY!

Why did you choose this program?

Here is the thing: life is short, it goes quickly, and it is human nature to want to get the most out of it. You WILL if you take on this experience.

I chose this program because it had the flexibility to travel on the weekends, and was cost-effective to experiences I wanted to have. In short, I spent two months in Italy. That sounds magical enough, right? I also went skydiving, swam in Lake Como, visited Switzerland and Greece, took a boat tour in Venice, rode a Vespa all over Florence and the hills of Chianti up to a villa for pasta and wine, taught in a Italian middle school for a few days, visited Pisa, Verona, Pietrasanta, and Italian wineries all over the country, swam in the Mediterranean, went to an Italian language school and hiked between the towns of Cinque Terre. I also got to live in the most incredible place with a wonderful family.

If this sounds ideal, do it!

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

The organization hooked me up with the best host family ever, a wonderful mother and an extremely bright daughter. They also gave me insurance for the time I was there.

I did everything else! The flights, transportation to the host family, travels I had on the weekend, and experiences during the week such as the Italian Language School I went to were all up to me.

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

There are a few things I would say to someone who is about to live overseas.

First, I would really try to not have any expectations; it will end up being a beautiful, wonderful experience, so take a deep breath and leap into it. If you do not have any expectations, you can rejoice when anything good happens.

I would also say to pack light, with an open heart and mind.

I would say, immerse yourself as fast as you can into the culture that you go into. Talk to people, ask questions, if the thing to do is have coffee at 11 am and dinner at 9 pm, try to do that - see what it is like! The point is to see life in another country, so the faster you jump into it, the more enriching it will be.

Do not get bogged down when the classic travel problems arise. Flights will cancel, trains will delay, hotels will not be what you thought, something will go wrong - and that is OKAY. Take a deep breath, and know that everyone deals with it; that is part of the fun, to adapt and make a good story out of the problems that arise.

You will grow so much and learn so much about yourself at this time; just get ready for the ride!

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

I think it depends on what type of host family you are living with and what their schedule is, but for me, a typical day was WONDERFUL.

I would get up around 8am and the mother and daughter were already at school or work, so I did not speak with them and do English lessons until they got home at night. My days varied because of this fact, but most often I would go on a run around the old city walls, come back and make breakfast and get ready for the day.

I would go to an Italian Language School, find new restaurants or museums in my town to go to, or take a train for a day trip somewhere magical! Then, I would get the daughter from her choir or cello lessons, and then we would go have dinner, take walks and I would teach her English in real life scenarios.

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 was being able to accomplish all of the things I wanted to or be able to have enough time to really understand the culture. There is a balance you have to find when you travel abroad. A balance in how much you travel and how much you settle into the culture you are in, as well as a balance of whether to go to the touristy places or off the beaten path.

I would first make a list of places you really want to see or goals you want to achieve (Google reviews and pictures help a ton to deem if something is important, but make sure to read more than just one or two to get a real idea). It is tiring to be on the go-go-go, so do not burn yourself out trying to go everywhere and see everything, the world is big, try to prioritize on what you REALLY want to do. With that being said, some of those things you want to see will be the big tourist attractions; that is because they really are great! But be aware of when you go for crowds or booking tours in advance. To climb the dome in the Duomo in Florence, book in advance! Hostelworld.com is a great way to find hostels, and of course, airbnb.com is an awesome tool for apartments. Cinque Terre, Venice, Lucca, and Lake Como are truly incredible! I also would look into booking a villa in the hills of Italy. We found a fantastic one in Garfangana that was very cheap with a pool! It was very gorgeous. Also, the beaches in Pietrasanta are wonderful!

With all of that being said, I realized that having the correct mindset for what you want to accomplish is key. I realized that you can not control everything, and you have to be able to go with the flow, and if you have an inkling to do something, there is a reason you have it - follow that!

You will not be able to do EVERYTHING on your list, but to enjoy each day is much more important. Traveling alone to a new country where you do not know the language takes an adjustment, try to get the tears or nerves out of the way as quickly as you can, to treat each day as a gift - it goes fast!

What was the scariest or most nerve-racking thing you did while abroad?

Most people would probably say that skydiving was the scariest, maybe even going to a country to live where you do not know one person or the language; however, for me it was riding a Vespa through Florence.

Vespas are very touchy, FAST machines. You have to be very cognizant and aware, but I also wanted to enjoy the surroundings and not be too tense and nervous that I would miss out on having fun. I had to take a few deep breathes, tell myself I can do it (because I believe, once it is verbalized, it can come true), and bask in the glory of what an incredible experience it would be! A lot of my trip I needed to do those three things, and it helped me grow into the independent woman I want to be, as well as to take each day as it was and get the most out of it all.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Randy LeGrant

Job Title
GeoVisions Executive Director
We are proud to feature Randy LeGrant, who is the Executive Director of GeoVisions. Randy and the rest of the folks at GeoVisions provide voluntourism opportunities in international education and exchange in over 25 countries around the world. Randy has extensive experience in teach, volunteer, and internship opportunities abroad, and we're delighted to have him here today to share his own experiences and advice. We hope you enjoy the interview and welcome further comments and questions below!

Lets start with a brief introduction. Who are you, where are you, and what are you doing?

My name is Randy LeGrant and I'm the Executive Director of GeoVisions. Our inbound office, where we operate the J-1 Visa U.S. Work and Travel program is located in Chesterfield, NH. Our outbound office, where we operate the volunteer and teach abroad programs is located in Guilford, CT. I work in Guilford and I love it. The building we're in was built in 1750 and the town Green we overlook was built in 1639. About a mile down the road is a working harbor for Lobstermen and we even have a lighthouse. We feel like we walk around in a postcard all day.

Tell us a little about GeoVisions and what this organization aims to accomplish?

We founded GeoVisions on August 11, 2001. We hit our first real challenge a month later on September 11, 2001. But through that, and most recently the global financial meltdown, we have managed every year to grow our programs and the number of volunteers and teachers we send abroad.

Something many people don't realize is the amount of experience the three principals of GeoVisions have. We're old guys and in some respects that works against us. But combined we have 109 years of experience in this field. When we sit down at a table for a meeting, 109 years of experience is a good thing.

And before you take pitty on this old man, I'll also share that I'm a Black Belt in TaeKwon-Do and hold 5 Gold Medals in International competition. I'm in the Dojang four nights a week unless I'm traveling. Even then I research a GTF or ITF school where I'm going to be.

Describe a typical GeoVision volunteer.

Is there a typical volunteer that is drawn to GeoVisions? That's a good question. Our volunteers and teachers are mostly 22-35 years of age. 80% come from the U.S. and the other 20% from the UK, Canada and Australia. 65% are female and that actually is lower than the industry average of 80%. We attract more males, I think, because of the unique projects we have available.

When we talk to people with an interest in volunteering abroad or teaching abroad, we ask a lot of questions. A good volunteer is either going to have a very precise reason for going abroad and a very precise location in mind, or the volunteer will be open to suggestions and countries. You either need to be focused on one type of project in one location or you need to be an open canvas, ready to write or draw your experience as it happens.

GeoVisions engages in Voluntourism. We are not an aid or development organization and we don't pretend to be. The type of programs we provide give a volunteer or teacher plenty of time to experience the local culture and to travel around the country. And then we provide the time to roll up your sleeves and get a lot of experience working in a community, and living with a local family.

Many aspiring volunteers are surprised to learn they must pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to volunteer abroad. How does GeoVisions address this concern?

The "why do I have to pay to volunteer" is a question we get from time to time. Interestingly, as Voluntourism is now a "mainstream" travel experience, most people know they are going to have to pay. But years ago it was a question we received all the time.

When we open up a new project, we calculate fees based on what it will cost us to support the project properly. We don't want any volunteer to be a burden on the community or a host family. So we build in an insurance policy that covers death, accident, medical and dental. In countries where families need assistance with food for another mouth to feed, we calculate that cost. And almost all projects require a financial arrangement to help offset the cost of a foreign volunteer. The volunteer found out about GeoVisions and the project through the Internet and I don't think anyone understands the enormous cost of marketing programs online. Our annual online marketing fees are more than we pay in any salary to anyone on our staff. And then of course we don't set up a project unless someone from our team goes abroad and fills out a 15-page Risk Management report on the project, the people who work at the project, the community and the host family if we use one.

We maintain a page on our website that explains how we spend volunteer's money and we try to be transparent. Above all, we respect anyone who is going abroad to help others. We respect the time our volunteers are giving and the money they are spending.

I like to think we honor the commitment of our volunteers and teachers by providing solid but very unique experiences. We have a live person answering our phones 24/7 and we care about what our volunteers think and what they are doing. We write to them when they are abroad and check in from time to time with our offices there. We have a big presence on Facebook where volunteers can write anything they want and we also encourage comments on our blog. We don't remove anything that is negative because we know we aren't going to please everyone. But the fact that we are transparent and we do provide many open forums, we know that makes us a better organization each day.

What do you believe is the continuing benefit of volunteering abroad after returning home?

There is a global debate, you know, about whether an organization is for-profit or non-profit. And there is a debate on whether or not voluntourism does more harm than good or if the projects benefit the volunteer more than the local community. We engage in this debate everyday. I comment on at least three blogs each day about these topics.

What GeoVisions is really interested in is what our volunteers and teachers do AFTER the experience. Here we call it the 'Experience after the Experience'. If we do our job in finding sustainable projects that are unique and different from other organizations, and if we do our job in making sure the projects and host families have a sustainable need, and if we do our job in making sure the volunteers and teachers we send are matched appropriately to the projects, then the experience the volunteers have will be positive. What we want to do is encourage our volunteers to be engaged locally when they return. Or volunteer abroad again. We are engaged in research along these lines with Southern Connecticut State University and Voluntourism.org.

What does the future hold for GeoVisions?

We have a very bright future. We do a pretty good job of differentiation in a sea of so many volunteer abroad organizations. If you hear the name Conversation Corps or Conversation Partner, you can equate that with GeoVisions. The Corps represents 65% of our volunteers. Just this week we added Conversation Corps-Nepal and Conversation Partner-Rio.

Thanks for asking these interesting questions. We appreciate your interest in GeoVisions.

Professional Associations

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