GIVE Volunteers

GIVE Volunteers

About

GIVE is an established leader in organized volunteer and responsible adventure travel offering meaningful trips in the USA (Hawai'i and Washington), Nicaragua, Tanzania, Thailand, and Laos. We are dedicated to inspiring growth, empowering global citizens, and igniting sustainable change worldwide. GIVE has adopted the Asset-based community development (ABCD) model which is a set of proven best practices in sustainable development that mobilizes a community's own assets and resources as the basis for development. Join us in exploring incredible and remote corners of the globe while uplifting host communities and changing your life. Live your passion by volunteering abroad and embarking on an adventure; or take our Wilderness & International Leadership Development (WILD) Program to turn your passion into a profession.

Reviews

Default avatar
Skyler
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE Thailand: A Fantastic First Time Overseas

I went on a GIVE trip to Thailand to shake me out of my comfort zone. I had never been outside of the US or Canada but have always wanted to travel, and not just to super-touristy locations. I was skeptical paying money to volunteer, but now, knowing what goes in to making the experience, I can say that it was completely worth it. GIVE is incredibly connected with the host communities. Most of the guides grew up locally and speak both English and Thai fluently, which made it so easy to learn about life in northern Thailand: many things that you wouldn’t be able to learn as a standard tourist. I was also able to experience many of the local shops and restaurants and what it is like to stay in jungle villages. Things that I would also not have been otherwise able to experience as a solo traveller having no previous connections in the region.
I was concerned that I would not be able to make much of an impact only staying for 2 weeks, but teaching and playing with the kids at Nongbua School, I could feel how special it made these kids feel to be visited by people from the other side of the world. I don’t think I have ever been in a place where so many people want to hug me. Playing soccer against a bunch of Thai school kids under a sky full of dragon flies in the pouring rain (and losing), was just an otherworldly experience.
We were also able to see the progress we made in the permaculture project. Just a few hours a day of the whole group finding, removing, and transplanting banana trees, we were essentially able to plant a small forest. In addition to the physical permaculture projects, we also learned about the beauty of and the urgent need for sustainable agriculture and forest restoration. Of course, learning on-site is so much more impactful than reading or watching videos about permaculture online.
I was also surprised by how much the guides and locals invited us to ask questions (the hard ones too). We had many sessions where a local would be invited to talk about a particular subject, like how it is to teach at the local school, and how Elephant ownership and conservation work in modern times. A lot of the time, these sessions were brutally honest: addressing things like the negative parts of life in Thailand, the downsides of voluntourism, and the reality of how the least harmful way to keep elephants in captivity still involves chains and hooks.
On a personal level, the guides were also very inspiring. There were quite a few emotional speeches and individual conversations that I had with the guides that made me look forward to the future more than I have in quite some time. They pointed out the opportunities that I have to travel and search for what I love doing. There is no doubt that this trip has changed the course of my future. I feel like this trip helped me see how insignificant the problems in my daily life usually are and how much opportunity I have right now that I may not have in the future and that many people might never have.
Of course, there are organisations with much longer-term projects out there that involve less tourism and more labour. These projects can have larger impacts, but there are also many fewer people willing to commit to such long-term projects. Not only does GIVE make international volunteering more accessible, but based on the experience I had, I would expect that GIVE is inspiring more people to commit to such long-term projects.

Pros
  • I got to work on local agriculture projects and teach local school children.
  • I got to meet tons of locals and adventurous people.
  • I got to see remote parts of Thailand I would not have visited as a tourist.
Cons
  • The program being only 2 weeks long made it feel like I could not get to know some of the people that well.
  • The program being only 2 weeks long is inefficient in terms of how much of the trip is just the plane rides.
  • There was only 1 itinerary, there were not a lot of options in choosing one excursion over another (maybe a consequence of small group size).
Default avatar
Alexa
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE Laos: A Journey of Love and Community

I can't even begin to describe everything. But during this trip I experienced sights and adventures of a lifetime. We were educated on the history and culture of Laos as we immersed ourselves in the village of Sop Chem. Every person I met (guide, tourist, local, volunteer) was filled with so much joy and love. And the work we did - whether on farm plots, in schools, or with conservatories - was always so rewarding and fulfilling. Through everything, you create the most precious bond with the people around you. It was only two weeks, but I have experienced so much homesick after leaving. 11/10 recommend this experience of a lifetime!

Pros
  • Cultural Immersion
  • Rewarding Volunteer Service
  • Bucket-list Adventures
Cons
  • Fulls Schedule Leaves Little Bored-Time
Default avatar
ALIA
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Give this beautiful country a chance!!!

I have always heard of Laos, but I never thought to visit it. I'm so happy that GIVE has created a program in this country. This country is beautiful and deserves to be seen. The people have encountered many casualties, yet remain joyful and loving. This trip felt very educational and inspiring. I loved the village we stayed in. The locals treat you like family, which feels like a home away from home. Since the village is remote, you can see how your work impacts the community personally. Aside from the locals, we had terrific guides to help us through everything. Sopchem is a place I would revisit on my own. So if you're questioning this place, I say take the chance and experience this beautiful country!

Pros
  • loving guides and locals
  • surrounded by nature
  • always adventure time
Default avatar
ALIA
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

AMAZING EXPERIENCE

I loved this trip. Everything about it was terrific. We were constantly kept busy, and they ensured no time was wasted. The guides are excellent at what they do. They're always there to help if you're feeling uneasy or sad. Aside from that, they treat you like family. They're always on top of things. As for the projects, I enjoyed English education the most! If you plan on working at the school, I suggest picking the smaller school. You get to connect with the kids better. When we weren't volunteering, we got to be adventurous! Hiking the cave, tubing down the river, and bamboo rafting was sick!!!

Pros
  • amazing guides
  • great views
  • always adventure time
Default avatar
Carley
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Laos Trip Summer 2022

There are no words to describe how impacted and moved I feel from my experience in Laos these past two weeks. Thank you Give Volunteers for the opportunity to be immersed in such a magnificent culture. The beautiful people in the village of Sop Chem hold a special place in my heart forever. Equally, the extraordinary volunteers and guides on this trip have changed my life. The continuous love and support that I felt every minute of our time together has made an impact on my soul in powerful ways. I feel honored to have met every single person on this journey. I am beyond grateful for this experience. My soul feels fulfilled, inspired, and truly re-centered from the life lessons taught to me in Laos.

Pros
  • Safe
  • Well rounded trip itinerary
  • Amazing people
Cons
  • Not as much volunteering time as I expected
  • Very expensive

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it is more than just travel. It combines the meaningful ability to volunteer with the wondrous adventures awaiting in these countries to provide an incredible adventure that excites the soul and the mind. I wanted to volunteer and learn about different cultures. I wanted to do something I've never done before in a new place. I got all of that with GIVE.

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

I didn't have to do anything completely on my own. They helped me with fundraising ideas, connected me to a flight booking center, sent me all the information for travel documents I would need, sent a packing list, and contacted me with reminders to keep me on track to be able to go. The only thing I had to do was go see my doctor for any shots or medications.

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

Don't plan everything. Traveling is supposed to be an adventure, complete with highs and lows. If something goes wrong, don't put but; accept the situation as an experience to learn. With that said, nothing really goes wrong. When things are incredible, take the time to appreciate it in person rather than having your phone out the entire time. Go with the flow and when packing, take out a third before leaving.

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

Wake up and have breakfast. Go volunteer. Eat lunch. Volunteer. Free time to fill with various activities depending on location. Dinner and discussion on various topics. Free time before bed. Volunteer days follow this pattern. Adventure days are either scattered throughout the week or at the end and vary depending on location and adventure.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I have traveled enough, especially with GIVE, that I have no fears. I know that anything unexpected that may occur will be dealt with by my guides and I enjoy the thrill of not knowing 100% what is coming next. I am always eager to learn about the culture I am in, and what I've learned has definitely changed my perspective on various international issues. The hardest part is the reverse culture shock; that is the shock of coming back to the US and dealing with our culture.

How accommodating is GIVE to different personal preferences? (i.e. food, allergies, medications, etc.)

GIVE will ask you if you have any dietary restrictions or medications when you sign up for a trip, and offer a space to add any other concerns you have about personal preferences. I am a vegetarian and always had something to eat. My friends with allergies always felt safe since the guides have medical kits at all times.

Staff Interviews

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

Amber Parucha

Job Title
Lead Guide - Nepal
Amber Parucha is a Lead Guide and Volunteer Fulfillment Specialist for Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE). She has led groups in both Thailand and Nepal. She studied Biology/Psychology with a minor in Leadership and Civic Engagemnt at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Amber Parucha

What is your favorite travel memory?

There was a time in my life when I wanted to see the world and thought I only had a short amount of time to see it all. I was more concerned about how many stamps I collected in my passport rather than the quality of the time I spent in each place. It was not until I had my first experience in SE Asia with GIVE that I realized I had been doing it all wrong.

We spent 2 weeks living and working within the region, Muang Khong. This experience lifted the superficial veil of travel and allowed me to become part of a community rather than a tourist passing through. We shared meals with the locals, learned from them, and became completely encompassed by the culture. By the end of this experience, we felt like we were part of the family.

I'll never forget trekking through the jungle following in the footsteps of a mahout named Eddy. We spent 2 hours tracking semi-wild elephants. As we passed through lush vegetation, Eddy was telling me about his family, his experiences growing up in the jungle and the special connection he shares with his elephant. Reminiscing on standing face to face with my favorite animal and I still remember my conversation with Eddy above it all. Memories are deeply encoded when you share an emotional connection with that place or the people within it. That is what GIVE provides when you travel, a connection to yourself, others, and this planet, unlike anything you have ever felt before.

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

Before joining GIVE, I had never truly made the connection that my actions could have an impact. I cared about social issues but lacked guidance and direction. GIVE mobilized that deeper desire within me to be a part of something that was bigger than myself.

I've learned that small choices lead to larger lifestyle changes and one of the best ways to make others more cognizant of their actions is to lead by example. I'm thankful to work for a company that builds up its employees and genuinely cares about the legacy they are leaving behind.

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

Many of our volunteers return home with an ignited sense of passion and eagerness to spread their knowledge to others. I am always so proud to see folks use social media as a platform for advocacy and environmental stewardship after going on a GIVE trip. The best stories always stem from eco-experience. Those that plant a seed of compassion in the country and nurture it through education and expanding perspective once they return home.

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

Of course I would recommend our Thailand and Laos program for anyone who is looking to experience the magic of SE Asia. Not only are these places beautiful to visit but GIVE also shines a light on the colorful cultures and people that call these places home. The programs are jam-packed full of adventure activities for those looking to push their comfort zones. I'm a thrill seeker myself so bungee jumping, zip-lining through the jungle, and chartering a bamboo raft down the mighty Mae Tang river are right up my alley.

If a month in SE Asia is not enough, which of course it's not... We also now offer a separate elephant immersion program that includes 8 days of observing, caring for, and most importantly serving as advocates for a rapidly declining keystone species. Talk about a fricken epic travel memory...

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

GIVE practices a specific form of development that is centered around evaluating the strengths and assets within a community rather than focusing on what they are lacking or in "need" of. We do not compromise our values and treat these communities with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Our projects are built upon the ideas of great leaders within these communities and GIVE is the catalyst to make these dreams become reality. I am proud to be part of a team that views sustainable development as a way to invest in people. By practicing responsible tourism, we are not only voting with our dollar to support local initiatives but also gaining perspective and preserving the sacred entity of culture within.

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

I believe the biggest factor for success in our company is to constantly analyze our impact and "walk the walk". How can we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs? It's all about finding a better way to do things and that is the ripple we hope to spread throughout the world.