Global Volunteers

Global Volunteers


Global Volunteers, a non-profit organization, has been giving short-term volunteers the chance to provide essential services to local people on service programs since 1984 - and trusted by 34,000+ volunteers. Volunteering for one to three weeks under the direction of local leaders, team members form groundwork for international peace via common, global understanding. Our goal is to sustain authentic development projects with the host community and give volunteers wide opportunities to help.

Global Volunteers' tax-deductible volunteer program fees start at $1,045. The fee includes all meals, accommodations, airport transportation, transportation within volunteer projects, project costs, administrative expenses, and support from Global Volunteers staff. Discounts are also available for students, family and multi-person groups, and returning volunteers. Free-time activities, airfare, or other travel are not included in the fees.



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Yes, I recommend this program

This was my third volunteer experience with Global Volunteers but first trip to Portugal. The goal was to build relationships and provide exposure to (American) English as a native speaker. The educational settings ranged from small classes of six to larger classes of twenty with some one-on-one tutoring. Students ranged in age from ten to working adults. Students (and their teachers) were genuinely warm and welcoming. The people of Beja were so gracious and friendly and tolerated my feeble attempts at speaking Portuguese. Being that this was my first trip to Portugal I was fascinated to learn more about the complex history of the country, the art, the architecture, the agriculture, etc., etc., etc.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I am proud to say, that at the recommendation of several of my students, I tasted and enjoyed two traditional Portuguese dishes from the Alentejo region: migash and açorda de alho. You shall have to travel to Beja to try them yourself!
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Yes, I recommend this program

The title is from a motivational picture of three wolves about Teamwork. The team at Rosebud practiced this every day. Not only with each other on the team, but with citizens of Rosebud. Our mantra was, "what do you need us to do today?" Seniors working along side the next two future generations learning from each other, teaching each other, and helping families of Rosebud. I have been on one other GV project, but Rosebud and Rev. Stanley taught me so much about the Lakota and their continued struggles. I was so proud to be apart of the April 2019 Team and recommend it 100%.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Our second experience with Global Volunteers to us to Beard's Fork, West Virginia, and I'd like to tell you that we changed the world. But that's not what happened and we had no illusions that it would. That doesn't happen in a week. What did happen is that we changed ourselves. We saw West Virginia, lived it for a week, and came out with an appreciation for its history, struggles, joys, and daily rhythms. I'm not saying we didn't do any good. I'm sure we were useful: we helped teach kids and we played with them. We cleaned up the gardens at SALS quite nicely. But we were just part of a river of support that Global brings week after week, year after year.
We made good friends and bonded over the experience. Our leader Celida Dottino did a wonderful job in keeping us busy, well-fed, and well-educated. We hope to return.

What was your funniest moment?
Chasing a chicken around the grounds. It was futile.
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Yes, I recommend this program

There are experiences in life that you may consider pivotal--perhaps because of the people you were with, the value you believe you gave or gained or maybe how it changed your outlook on life. My volunteer experience with Global Volunteers on the Rosebud Reservation encompassed all of those. I am forever grateful.

Two friends and I volunteered together. We had no idea what to expect when we arrived in the little town of Mission, South Dakota, on the Rosebud Reservation. Our host was Mother Lauren Stanley, an Episcopal priest who serves the local Lakota population. We were not surprised to learn that life was not easy on the Reservation. Mother Lauren arranged a meaningful array of ways we could help and participate with the local community beginning with attending a church service and lunch with the congregation. We had such an amazing variety of service projects. We helped with renovating the local Women's shelter under the guidance of locals Billy and Danny, and helping, Lindsey, the Director of the White Buffalo Calf Women's Society, organize the Women's thrift store. The facility was established in 1977 by Native Americans for Naative American Women and was the first of its kind in the United States. We had such a blast working with the children in the GLORY Program (God Loves Our Rosebud Youth) one evening. We had a wonderful selection of guest lecturers who shared their knowledge and wisdom with us. We took an extremely meaningful and unexpectedly emotional field trip to Wounded Knee Massacre site. We danced with Sage Eagle (using the term danced very loosely), admired amazing beading shared by Hattie, ate delicious food prepared by Billy and his daughter Rachel, and, visited a nearby quilting factory. We also worked at the Rosebud Economic Development garden with Aaron, an amazing project aimed at developing food sources. A personal highlight was our visit and tour of the local Middle School to delivery backpacks we had brought to support a project of sharing food with students. There were several teachers on our team and everyone was absolutely blown away by the programs the Principal, Dana, had put in place. I could go on. In fact, I have to anyone who would listen There is no way to describe everything we learned, all the amazing people we met, our extraordinary team, and the sacred place the Rosebud Reservation holds in our hearts. Yep, a pivotal experience. I highly recommend you give yourself the gift of this experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Can't think of anything--the program was well planned. We had all the information needed. Most important, we had an AMAZING Team Leader, Kathy.
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Yes, I recommend this program

It was one of my most amazing Global Volunteer experiences and I've had 3 others. I knew nothing about Appalachia, including how to say it. To learn how impoverished the coal mining communities are, how in need of ongoing support and acknowledgement, and how dedicated were all the local volunteers, was mind-expanding to me.

It would be of enormous benefit if the program were to be longer than one week. The summer school for the children, the Read and Feed component, the driving around to distribute food to families, the organic gardening and animal care, all of this is needed for more than a week of Global Volunteering. I wanted a longer program and SALS was only available for a week.
If at all possible, I would do it again next year, and perhaps a close friend of mine would come with me.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Expand the program to at least 4 weeks. Find ways to encourage local families to take advantage of the Read and Feed program. There needed to be more incentive than we were able to provide to make Read and Feed viable.
Make sure that the volunteers read to the classrooms as often as possible. Make sure the volunteers have opportunities to share their skills and interests with the children, with local volunteers, and with each other.
Finally,, as a single gay woman, it was difficult to be with two families who had teenagers as part of the Global Volunteers in the dorm, at meals, and at work. Because they already had comfort with each other, mothers, fathers and adolescents, I felt like an outsider, and I coped as best as I could. I
Response from Global Volunteers

Thank you so much for your wonderful review of your service program in Appalachia! We are so glad that you had such an amazing experience volunteering at SALS. We also thank you for your feedback. We are taking your concerns into consideration here at Global Volunteers. Longer volunteer stays can be pre-arranged with the community partner on a case-by-case basis. Thank you again for your service, Barbara!


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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

Poland is a country that I had very little knowledge about. I knew very little of it historically. After doing some investigation, the history of Poland seemed like something I could enjoy learning about.

I had previously volunteered in China as an English facilitator and thought that there might be a similar opportunity in Poland. Working with students has helped me broaden my horizons as well as given me an opportunity to give back on a personal level.

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

I volunteered through Global Volunteers. I want to emphasize how helpful they were. From my perspective, they laid out the “game plan” of what we were trying to accomplish on this assignment. They also provided the support I needed, being relatively new at overseas volunteering. In-country support and guidance were very helpful.

Through Global Volunteers, I was able to customize my individual teaching days to different schools.

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

I would say that going in with a Flexible, Positive and Enthusiastic attitude is the best way to approach this or any program.

Be Flexible on any change in plans that occur, because sometimes that can happen.

Be Positive even when your lesson plan does not “land” as well as you would like. Learn from it and adjust as needed.

Be Enthusiastic about teaching the students, and about Learning the culture yourself. Your Enthusiasm has a tendency to be contagious and is a great way to introduce yourself to others.

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

We had an outlined “ game plan”.

I worked with an experienced group and they gave great guidance.

A) The evening before: We prepared our lesson plan. Usually “English Exercises or Lessons”.

B) Next morning around breakfast time, we fine-tuned our “lesson plan” and discussed it with other members. We would also give “thought of the day” and read the “Daily minutes” from the previous day. Afterward, we were on our way to the schools.

C) Did our introductions to the classes and interacted with students in a way that would support the learning objectives. (Speaking, listening or writing in English).

D) After classes, we would have a “regroup” with fellow volunteers and talk through “what went well and what could be improved“. This was a great time for others in our group to give suggestions.

E) In the afternoon, we had about an hour and 30 minutes to tutor about 4-6 young kids who were wanting to learn English. Usually playing cards or memory games.

F) After dinner, we would start on our next day's learning plan and discussion.

This process was repeated every day except weekends.

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

Going to a new or different place can be a source of anxiety. I arrived in the country about a week early and traveled around to learn some of the cultures. For me, this was a good way to transition into the assignment and relieve some of the anxiety that could arise. Interactions with the local folks served as a great way to “fit in” and feel more comfortable.

What is my greatest “take away “ thoughts from Volunteering, especially overseas?

I think there are a couple of points.

1) People are more similar than different. I felt extremely welcome when I was in Poland. I was included and welcomed in many cultural activities. Just as we have busy lives and are focused on our families, so are they.

2) People seem to have a curiosity about others who are not from their direct culture. I wanted to learn as much about them as they wanted to learn about me. To me, the key is to learn it as a student, the same way they learned from me.

3) “Seek to understand first”. Understanding a different culture first can help in the teaching/ learning process. Do not assume that other cultures are the same as yours.

Staff Interviews

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

Stephen Raja Chinnappan

Job Title
Nepal Country Manager
Stephen was born and raised in Bangalore, India, and now lives in Porur. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, and owns a tour business in Chennai.

Stephen served as our Country Manager and on-site consultant for our India service programs until 2018. Since 2019, when we started our service program in Nepal, he has served as our Nepal Country Manager.

He leads all teams of volunteers in Nepal and manages the day-to-day logistics and volunteer engagement of our Nepal service program.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is visiting St. Lucia with Global Volunteers and the opportunity to serve the underprivileged children in Anse la Raye and learning about the local community and its culture. I also loved the beauty of the island. I would love to go back again.

My favorite travel moment has been spotting a tiger in the wild on an elephant safari in Mudumalai Forest in Southern India. It was the most incredible moment in my life.

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

I have been working for Global Volunteers for the past 18 years. And the opportunity to serve the underprivileged and needy children in my community through Global Volunteers helped me to find true joy and happiness in serving others. It has helped me to love children and serve them in many ways possible.

It gives me immense satisfaction that, through Global Volunteers, I have been able to contribute to the lives of many needy children in a very positive way and continue to do so.

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

One of the boys whom Global Volunteers sponsored to go to college on the India service program successfully completed his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. After he found a job, the first thing he did was start to help another needy student by paying her college tuition. Now he wants to help others, especially children in his community in as many ways possible. This reinforces my belief that any help you do bears fruit in many ways.

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

I would love to go on Global Volunteers Tanzania service program.

As we do in Nepal, in Tanzania Global Volunteers serves one of the most underprivileged communities in the world and I would also like to personally contribute my services to this community and its children.

This is a community which lacks many basic facilities like electricity, running water, etc. It would be a very nice experience to live in the community and experience life from the perspective of the local people.

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

The desire to serve the underprivileged children around the world to make them better citizens of tomorrow makes my organization, Global Volunteers, a unique one as we have been serving children for the past 36 years. When our volunteers return to our communities again and again, it just makes me so happy that we are doing good work and this has motivated our volunteers to return again and again to serve with us.

Also, over the years Global Volunteers have touched the lives of thousands of children in a very positive way.

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

For my organization, Global Volunteers, the biggest successful factor has been our true commitment to help children and local communities worldwide.

Through our Vision “To wage peace and promote justice”, guided by our philosophy of service, ensures that we truly serve others, wage peace, and promote justice. The success of these has inspired our volunteers to return back to serve with us again and again.

Also, Global Volunteers motivates, inspires, and supports its staff in a very positive way, which has helped me to continue to work with them for the past 18 years.