Tell us a little about GCS and your role at the company.
Jake: In 2009 I was able to meet the Global Cultural-Solutions team and I was astonished when I discovered the organization was simple, small, and locally grown. I began my journey with GCS as a volunteer in the village of Kpetoe. I learned about the village as well as a small school that was managed by a man named Godwin. The servitude of GCS members, like Desmond and Sammy, was a humbling demonstration. I noticed that each member of GCS looks out for the well-being of anyone volunteering which is reassuring, especially to the ‘apprehensive first-time volunteer.’
Near the end of my initial trip I decided I wanted to be a part of GCS. They were providing care for the needy around them while remaining intent on development through their programs. Nana provided great vision for the group while leading by example. I was glad to be accepted as the Foreign Ambassador before leaving so that I could continue helping their cause. As Foreign Ambassador I pledge to assist any prospective volunteers, ease communication abroad, answer any questions volunteers might have, review applicants as time permits, correspond with the team and give input as I am able, and support in recruitment/web-based duties while away from the physical site.
How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?
Jake: I connected with GCS following college graduation. Like many fresh college graduates, I wanted adventure. I wanted to explore, and help someone else far from home. Simply, I wanted to learn about another culture while leaving something beneficial for a community. Volunteering was never something unfamiliar to me. I had taken opportunities in the past to volunteer at local events.
Eventually, I continued volunteering in Latin American countries. But my curiosity had grown more for the world that existed even farther from home. I watched movies, documentaries, commercials, and read about the conflicted yet enchanting continent but I was never satisfied with someone else’s perspective. So I decided to take a trip of my own to Africa. I eventually narrowed down an online search of volunteer organizations with help form past volunteers.
What makes GCS unique?
Jake: GCS is unique in many ways. There are several volunteer organizations that may not speak English. Several others might be corrupt or idle (with little purpose and few projects to work on). And yet many more organizations may not be local. This was one characteristic that placed the organization apart from other mainstream/well known organizations. I believe this is essential for the volunteer that wishes to have a more personal and connected experience while volunteering. Finally GCS offers a wide variety of programs.
How does GCS choose volunteers?
Jake: The selection of volunteers is made from a simple application process. If there aren’t issues with prospective individuals following a completed application then they would typically be accepted into a program. One important aspect about the selection process is to ask questions. Any volunteer that contributes such time, money, and effort should investigate what they really want from an experience. Applicants will typically find out if they are accepted within a week or two. However because the organization is small, necessary contacts have to be made before placement can be confirmed. This in itself can take a week or two. Patience is important as is the information sent out prior to the trip. It also never hurts to talk to other volunteers that have done something similar!
What does the future hold for GCS?
Jake: I hope that GCS continues to grow. My wish is that more volunteers will learn about the organization and more needy communities will become further developed because of the positive contributions of those volunteers. This is my hope for the future of the organization.