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GIVE Volunteers

Why choose GIVE Volunteers?

Since 2011, GIVE has led hundreds of all-inclusive, award-winning & life-changing group trips around the world, inspiring more than 8,000 teenagers and young adults to travel with purpose. Our 1-7 weeklong summer programs engage young travelers in meaningful opportunities to learn through doing, such as locally-led volunteer projects, authentic cultural experiences and eye-opening adventures in Thailand, Laos, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Hawai’i and Washington State.

Every step of the way, GIVE participants get to share the experience with an inclusive community of like-minded travelers who will become lifelong friends. Together, they get to learn, grow and empower local leaders to enact positive change in our host communities. All GIVE programs are intentionally designed to be environmentally conscious, socially responsible and economically empowering for the people and places we explore.
Simply put, a GIVE trip is not a vacation, it's a once in a lifetime adventure.

Impact

Sustainability

GIVE's mission is to inspire growth, empower global citizens, and ignite sustainable change worldwide. To truly inspire growth and achieve sustainable travel internationally, GIVE has adopted the Asset-based community development (ABCD) model, a set of proven best practices in sustainable development that mobilizes a community’s assets and resources as the basis for development. Furthermore, through providing hands-on and eye-opening learning experiences that foster authentic connections between participants and host community members, we can empower global citizens who will continue to spread GIVE’s values and ignite sustainable change worldwide.

Ethical Impact

Exploring the world with GIVE is all about responsible travel, but what does that really mean?
Mindful Tourism + Community Partnership = Economic Growth & Community Empowerment.

Part of what makes GIVE trips so special is being fully immersed in the cultures and communities we visit. However, we take extra steps to ensure we minimize our influence and always respect local cultures. We prepare all participants before travel and ensure they understand the culture and how to dress appropriately.

Reviews

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Kirsten
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE Thailand 2023!!!

There is truly nothing that compares to embarking on a journey with GIVE. My trip to Northern Thailand with GIVE was an unparalleled experience that will resonate with me for a lifetime. The adventure not only exposed me to life- changing activities like bungee jumping and bamboo rafting but also connected me with extraordinary, like-minded individuals who have etched a permanent place in my heart. Exploring the culture of Northern Thailand proved to be immensely rewarding, leaving me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Engaging in permaculture practices and teaching English at local schools added an extra layer of love to the trip. It's challenging to articulate just how amazing and life-changing this trip was. I am profoundly grateful for these experiences and the friends I made along the way. I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone, taking the literal leap (bungee jumping), and saying YES to a GIVE trip!

Pros
  • life changing experiences
  • meeting like-minded people
  • amazing local guides and staff
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Hanna
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A Life Changing Experience with Elephants

My experience with GIVE Volunteers and Hand2Trunk was nothing short of life changing. P’Ann was an incredible guide and friend who was so knowledgeable about everything she showed us; the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of elephant tourism and its history. I’m so grateful for my experience where I learned so much more in this hands-on, culturally immersive adventure than I ever could in a classroom. If you want to truly see the elephants of Thailand and their people, this is how you should do it.

Pros
  • Cultural Experiences
  • Staff Support
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Lulu
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Hawaii

My experience with Give was Incredible!
I went to hawaii with my best friend and made life long friends. I got to learn about the culture, land, explore incredible places, try new food, all while helping the community in a responsible way. It felt so good to be traveling the correct and safe way with Give. I still talk to all my friend from my trip to this day! Give us lifelong. I even celebrated my birthday on my Give Trip. It was the Best Birthday to share with all such lovely uplifting people. This experience was life changing and something everyone should be apart of.

Pros
  • trying new things
  • learning about other cultures
  • meeting new people
Cons
  • -
  • -
  • I can’t think of any
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Margaux
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience - Best weeks of my life!

I left for Tanzania three days after graduating from high school. Entering the classroom for the first time, I felt timid and under qualified to be teaching a group of adults. Instead, I was greeted with the most authentic and joyful people I've ever met. Their pure enthusiasm to learn lifted me up in the constant smiles and laughter and I was eager to come to class each morning. We were there to teach them, but in the end I learned more from the people of Kairo than I could ever learn in a classroom.
Most important to me was how GIVE engaged with the community and included locals in the work and highly valued their opinions. It was clear they wanted us there and valued our efforts in the community. We were lead mainly by locals and their knowledge of the area and the cultural values in Tanzania always made me feel comfortable and welcome. I cannot recommend this program enough for anyone who is wanting to find their purpose abroad!

Pros
  • Knowledgable guides who always make you feel safe and prepared
  • Community engagement and warm welcome from the community
  • Sustainable tourism
Cons
  • Long travel days to get there but absolutely worth it!
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Erika
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable, Impactful, & Incredibly Fun Responsible Travel Experience

GIVE Volunteers is truly one of a kind and has spent over 15 years building an incredible relationship with the beautiful community of Kairo and empowering locals in the community. Our own Education Coordinator, MC, started as a student taking English lessons from GIVE volunteers, and now, I was honored to follow the lesson plans he created to teach English to local men and women as well as members of the Masai tribe of mainland Tanzania at the GIVE Kairo school. I truly received an impactful, authentic experience and learned so much about the history and culture of Zanzibar. On top of that, I had an absolute blast with our kind, high-energy guides and fellow volunteers who started as strangers and now are lifelong friends. If you're looking into sustainable traveling, I couldn't recommend GIVE more!

Pros
  • Sustainable
  • Impactful, local-owned

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Interview

Why did you choose this program?

First was my families concerns. My parents preferred me not go alone so I brought up the idea of going with a volunteer organization. My friend had just returned safely with GIVE so that was a good selling point to my parents. We then had a couple phone calls with GIVE which helped my mom feel safe and secure with the trip. Next was what I wanted. Of course I wanted to travel and see a different culture to what I was used too. But I also wanted to make a difference and leave some sort of positive handprint on a community. GIVE's goals and history showed me that this organization was perfect to help me follow my dream and stay safe along the way.

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

Mostly I did it on my own. Although I used their recommended flight agents (student universe) to get there I relied heavily on myself for everything else. I used previous reviews as well as calls for with GIVE to do my initial planning. These calls helped a lot and I really encourage taking advantage of their helpful staff. When getting closer to the trip I was able to rely on other volunteers to help me with packing and preparing.

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

I wish I brought a couple pairs of nicer clothing. Although you do work hard a lot of time can be used to relax with friends and some nicer clothing could help with looking nice in pictures. I kind of already knew this but I think it needs to be highlighted that you do not need to worry about making friends. Everyone on this trip clicks immediately and if you just be yourself the relationships you build with others will be incomparable to anything else. If you are thinking about going all I can say is do it. It will allow you to grow so much as a person and learn so much about another culture and community.

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

Some days were different if they included cultural activities, surfing, hiking, or shopping but a lot of them were similar. We would wake up early to either squeeze in a quick swim or to just read on the hammocks. Breakfast was often served at 8am, don't be late! Once done with breakfast we would split into two groups half would go to education the other half to worksite. When at education you got to work alongside a teacher and teach kids english. You even had the chance to play soccer with them after. If you went to the worksite you would either plant some vegetables, do some weeding, shovel dirt or water plants. All more fun than they sound. Then we would drive back to our hotel in the back of the truck, which was such a fun experience on its own. Once back we would grab our lunch around noon. After lunch we usually had some time to kill before the next shift. This time could be used for reading, chatting, playing cards or even swimming. Then we would head off to do worksite, education or maybe even a beach cleanup. We would work from 1;45-4;30 usually. When back at the hotel we wouldn't have dinner till 6 so that gave us more time to get to know our fellow volunteers and build stronger relationships. After dinner was served we would run to get some delicious ice cream a couple minutes away. I loved being able to try new flavors each day. Once we got back we would write our good vibes. These were just little messages to someone or something during the day that made you feel good and happy. Then we would go to the yoga deck for charla (discussion). Each day we would get to learn about new and important topics such as politics, sustainability, feminism and environment. After we would read out our good vibes and then be free for the night. Usually we had about three hours (curfew at 11) to play card games and board games with all our new friends. Then we would turn off our lights and go to sleep excited for the next day.

This is a basic overview, only few days were as constructed as this. You get to do so many amazing activities that its impossible to say it all in a day in the life. But imagine some days surfing, others salsa dancing, others cooking and even some rest morning. Every day was unique and amazing.

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 honestly feared not getting along with the other volunteers. I was afraid our energies wouldn't match and I wouldn't make close friends. I overcome it the only way one could and that was by taking a chance and going. I told myself that even if we didn't get along I would still get to have traveled to a different country and experience a different culture. After the trip I realize that I met people who are exactly like me. Everyone that goes on a trip like this has similar molar views and often similar in other little things like music taste. I see now that my fear and anxiety was for nothing and Im leaving Nicaragua with amazing memories and best friends all over the world.

What did you learn from exploring with GIVE?

I learned so many lessons from my trip to Nicaragua with GIVE. First was how to be appreciative for what I have. People there appreciate every plate of food in front of them and I know in the past I have taken advantage of what I have, not anymore. I also learned so many lessons in sustainability with recycling, growing your own food and saving water. I learned about responsible travel and how one person can make a difference. I also learned that that I can do whatever I put my mind too. This trip was a dream of mine and I got to do it and it was the best experience of my life. So now I tell myself if I can do that dream what can I not do. The final lesson I learned and definitely the hardest one was how to say goodbye. I have never had such a hard goodbye before in my life. These people had become my family and I had to experience the feeling of not waking up to their faces every day. I hope I keep these friends for the rest of my life and that saying goodbye starts to get a little easier each time.

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.

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