GIVE Volunteers

GIVE Volunteers

About

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

Reviews

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Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip of a Lifetime

I think about this trip every single day. Perfect combination of cultural learning and immersion, volunteering, excursions, and vacation! I fell head over heels in love with Thailand and all of the people. I went completely alone not knowing anyone in my group and left with lifelong friends I still keep in touch with 4 years later. I couldn’t study abroad so looked into GIVE over winter break and recommend it to EVERYONE! Highlights included teaching in the school, 5am walks to look for elephants, ziplining through the trees, and celebrating New Years with the community.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Say yes to absolutely everything. I usually proceed with caution anywhere and everywhere but raised my hand to volunteer for every opportunity and had no regrets.
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Dominic
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Experience that Will Stay with You Forever!

To anyone who is considering the trip with GIVE to the Pacific Northwest, I would say that it is not an experience that you would want to miss out on and is absolutely worth every moment. It is a lot to consider in terms of money and planning out your travel schedule but once that is all figured out, the trip itself and the organization of GIVE will make you feel great about your decision to go. The team at GIVE is professional, knowledgeable, and most of all a group of great friendly people. Everything with the itinerary of the trip was well-organized and executed with clear communication to all the volunteers involved, never once were we confused or second-guessing what we were doing. Not only will you be doing important work, but you will also be immersed in beautiful places with a fun group of people, with a trustworthy and highly commendable organization guiding you along the way.

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Vittoria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience Hawai'i with a positive impact

GIVE sets up the most incredible experiences. The thing I loved most about this trip was that we were there to learn and help local non-profits and educational organisations without interfering. Being able to help the restoration of native plants and be surrounded by such a sacred culture is as rewarding as it gets. Recommended for people who are not afraid of doing the work and getting their hands dirty. Be ready to step outside your comfort zone and meet amazing people along the way. I promise you will not regret it.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Noni. It's a little fruit that will surprise you.
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Rebecca
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing

I traveled to Nicaragua with GIVE and it was a great decision. I was able to learn about the culture and it was a great experience to be able to help make an impact in someone’s life. Our trip with GIVE had the meals and accommodations already ready, so it was included in the price of the trip which was great so I did not have to worry too much about having enough money for food because I wanted to help support the locals. We did a ton of fun activities like volcano boarding, mangrove seed planting, swimming, surfing, turtle releasing, karaoke, etc. amazing experience.

What was your funniest moment?
Probably everything honestly! Everyone was always laughing and having a good time.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE TRIP TO HAWAII

This trip truly changed my life for the better. Not only did I learn so much about traveling and living sustainably, but I felt more connected to the Earth than ever, and I made friendships that I will cherish forever. The volunteering projects taught me so much, and after we volunteered we went on amazing excursions including going to the beach, hiking, snorkeling, etc.. Everyone at GIVE has the biggest hearts and they want you to be the best version of yourself that you can. If you are thinking about going on a trip with GIVE, DO IT NOW. You won’t regret a single second of it! :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future travelers would be to go into this trio with an open mind and an open heart. If you do that, this trio will make you an overall better person, and you will love every second of it like I did :)

Programs

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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.