GIVE Volunteers

GIVE Volunteers

About

GIVE is an established leader in sustainable volunteer and adventure travel offering meaningful trips in Nepal, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. 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 adventure; or take our Wilderness & International Leadership Development (WILD) Program to turn your passion into a profession.

Headquarters

1900 W Nickerson St STE 116 #123
Seattle, WA 98119
United States

2020 Trip Dates are Here!

Check out our new 2020 dates and our newest location, Vietnam!

Reviews

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

Wow! Coolest and most different experience of my life. Very adventurous, culturally immersive, and on the move. Reach villages you would never get to traveling on your own. So many incredible aspects of the trip including teaching English to elementary school kids, assisting with permaculture on an organic farm, hiking, caving, interacting with elephants, completing crafts with women in the villages, etc. GIVE is an incredible organization that travels responsibility and does a great job explaining their intentions and the behind-the-scene details of everything on the itinerary. Everyone who goes on these trips has an adventurous and giving heart, which leaves everyone bound to bond. I learned so much about Thailand, myself, and the world on this trip and would go back in a heart beat. Would recommend to anyone and everyone!

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

Traveling to Laos this summer 2019 has been such a beautiful and unforgettable experience. The second I arrived at Sop Chem, I immediately felt at home. The locals are so welcoming and genuinely want to connect with you. A key lesson I learned was that love overpowers any language barrier. While in the village, I learned about Laos and Khmu cultures. To become even more immersed, there is a homestay. This was my absolute favorite part of the trip. I stayed with a family that had a thirteen year old daughter named Nali. Throughout the night, another volunteer and I helped her cook dinner and asked her questions about her life. From then on, she always referred to me as "sister" when working on the permaculture plot with me or at the Baci Ceremony. This ceremony is so unique and powerful because it is where the whole community and volunteers express their gratitude to each other.
After leaving Laos, I experienced the Thailand Elephant Add-On as a responsible traveler. This was eye-opening to be able to learn from locals about ethical elephant tourism and conservation. We were able to interview local mahouts and elephant experts. I learned a lot about the mahout-elephant relationship and the misconceptions that exist. When we got to one of the local guides village, his elephant came running towards him, and it was beautiful being able to witness their deep connection.
I can't recommend traveling with GIVE Volunteers enough. All of the guides are kind-hearted, hard working, and well-trained teammates that truly make the experience so much fun. These trips get you out of your comfort zone so that you can grow, and the relationships you form last a lifetime. I continue to talk to my group and guides from the Thailand GIVE trip when I went last year in Summer 2018.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. During free time, walk around the village and talk to the locals, especially people you haven't talked to yet. Write down your experiences and self-reflections in a journal. Take the time to get to know your local guides because they have the best insight and stories to share.
Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was an awesome trip, and one of the most challenging but fun things I've ever done before. I loved the guides who were part of our trip, as I think they really made the experience as fun as it was. I feel like I really made some important and lasting connections while here. I would definitely recommend this trip for anyone who wants a good adventure, as there is quite a lot of independence to explore where you are staying. Additionally, the culture component of this trip is really strong, which is something I really enjoyed. I felt like the community really enjoyed our presence and wanted to learn from us as much as we wanted to learn from them. It was overall just an unforgettable experience, and I loved everything we did, even when I felt incredibly challenged.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-wracking moment for me was the hike into Langtang, as it was the longest and hardest hike I've ever done. I was intimidated to start, but after receiving the support from my guides and fellow members on the trip I started to realize that it wasn't all that bad and I was much more ready to climb the mountain.
Default avatar
Hadley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This trip successfully immerses the participants in the culture of the area and provides first hand experience of local community life. The guides do their best to help the volunteers understand the cost of living up in this region, not only in financial expenses but also physical and mental tolls. The region was heavily affected by the 2015 earthquake, history, religious artifacts, families, and livelihood were lost as a direct result and it has been a long four years healing from the impacts. Though there are still very visible scars on the landscape and the people themselves they have not let the effects stop them from pressing on. Their strength is inspiring and I could only hope to one day be like them. I personally hope to return to the region in the future and continue to help them grow, cherish, and maintain their culture.

What would you improve about this program?
Preparation for physical expectations, though there was a section about the hiking trip I felt I would have benefitted from a play by play for the hiking so I could have prepared myself more fully.
Default avatar
Jordan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This trip was better than I ever imagined it to be! Everyone I met throughout this experience was so welcoming, caring, friendly, and it really felt like a big family! The guides were very organized and created an environment where everyone felt comfortable. The relationships they created with the locals was so amazing to see and allowed us to truly get a cultural experience by the lessons taught by the community. Every aspect of the trip, from the transportation to the tea houses we stayed in, was very well planned out and the experiences we had were unforgettable. At each place we had the chance to visit, we were welcomed with open arms and warm hearts! Our group was always laughing, having fun, and getting to know each other while being surrounded by the amazing scenery! GIVE is a one of a kind family that I am so thankful to now be a part of!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future travelers would be to try everything, get outside of your comfort zone, and really immerse yourself in the experience. For me personally, I have never been an adventurous eater, but throughout this trip my group encouraged me to try new things which allowed me to really experience the culture! I also recommend completely unplugging and really spending time with the people around you and taking in the place you are in because this experience is truly a once in a lifetime!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

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

PJ Ikpe

PJ is a recent college graduate intent on making an impact in the world. She deeply cares that everyone has the same opportunities to thrive and reach their potential. She loves to travel and experience the many cultures of this planet, and learn from the people in them. She believes that we all, people and environment, are one in the same and that through travel we can see that connection.

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.

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.

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. Wednesday 12 February
    Portland, OR Gap Year Fair
    Cleveland High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. Thursday 13 February
    Seattle, WA Gap Year Fair
    Roosevelt High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  3. Tuesday 18 February
    Studio City, CA Gap Year Fair
    Harvard-Westlake School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

Professional Associations

USA Gap Year Fairs Logo