Global Volunteers Partners in Development

Global Volunteers


Global Volunteers, an international NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations, has mobilized short-term volunteers on long-term development programs worldwide since 1984 - and is trusted by 37,000+ volunteers, college and corporate organizers and faith-based organizations. Groups, families and individuals serve for one to three weeks under the direction of local leaders, applying their unique skills and interests on a broad variety of projects to help children and families reach their full potential.

Global Volunteers is a long-standing safety leader abroad and in the USA. Discounts are extended to groups, students, families, companions, and returning volunteers. The tax-deductible fixed program contribution ranges from $1,045 to 2,995 and includes orientation, all meals, accommodations, ground transportation, project materials, medical emergency evacuation insurance, a trained team leader, administrative expenses, and 24-hour staff contact.


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Yes, I recommend this program

We have served on eleven programs with Global Volunteers and feel that the organization does a wonderful job in all aspects; planning, orientation, safety, direction, support etc. The Tanzania program is led and managed by country residents who provide an excellent understanding of the culture and the people. Their direction and support is superb. We live in the community and have amazing interactions including visiting homes, attending worship and helping in schools. We work alongside local citizens as we complete tasks designated as needs by the community. The intimacy in this type of travel allows us to obtain a deeper knowledge of the people and truly enhances our lives in innumerable ways. Although we know our actions are beneficial to the people we serve, we feel we get so much more than we provide.

Although the people we serve have very little financial wealth, they willingly share what they have. They are magnanimous, open and friendly making us feel very special in their presence.

Tanzania holds a special place in our hearts - we have served there twice - and as soon as it is safe to travel we intend to return to one of our favorite places on earth.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
We were building a green house and after a week of ground preparation and concrete work we were set to erect the structure. The company providing the materials arrived after a three hour drive and we began the set-up in a pouring rain. It was a miserable day and we had to convince the company reps to stay til the end. We got it done but it was a struggle for all.
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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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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.

Chemida Popo-Cox

Job Title
St. Lucia Country Manager
Chemida handles the day-to-day logistics and volunteer management of the St. Lucia service program. Formerly teacher and acting principal at Anse la Raye Primary School, Chemida has lent support to volunteer teams since Global Volunteers’ partnership in Anse la Raye began in 2012. Born and raised in St. Lucia, Chemida has dedicated over 20 years to educating the children of Anse la Raye. She received her associate degree in Teacher Education and Education Administration from Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St. Lucia. In 2011, she graduated magna cum laude from New York City College of Technology, with a Bachelor’s degree in Teachers Technology Education.
Chemida gives a lecture

What is your favorite travel memory?

Natural scenery has always fascinated me so when I had to obtain a visa to gain entry into the U.S., I knew that my visit to Barbados, a sister island lying southeast of St. Lucia, would not be complete without visiting Harrison’s Cave. The wonderment of that placed totally enthralled me as I gazed upon the beauty of its various mineral formations.

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

I have become a more rounded individual. I am now more knowledgeable in many areas in which I previously had no or little experience, such as the importance of early childhood education, project management, growing vegetables, and interacting with people form diverse backgrounds. These experiences have made me more tolerant and understanding of others.

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

Annually one of my volunteers returns to the St. Lucia service program to find her “happy place”. The environment enables her to practice self-care while volunteering. The scenery and people are her therapy; it is her solace. It helps her unwind from the reality of her world and in her own words, “reenergizes and prepares me to reconnect with life at home."

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

Tanzania would be my first choice because of my ancestral ties to Africa and because of the Serengeti. I want to experience life firsthand there. It would be a wonderful thing to see the animals roaming freely on the vast grasslands. Additionally, the Tanzania service program epitomizes Global Volunteers' Philosophy of Service -- every step involved in empowering local people is in action there, so it would be the ideal place for me to experience.

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

We allow local people to drive their own development; we never tell them what is needed or how things should be done. That is, we work under the direction of, and along with, local people on projects of their own choosing. So, we support the local communities where we serve to help them improve.
I am happiest when my team is able to help at least one local person accomplish a goal. When life has become better for a person, that spells success for me.

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

With good leadership everyone involved will have clear lines of communication and responsibility. Staff members will know that their cases are heard. They will feel that they are not alone when challenges arise in both their professional and personal life; they are cared for holistically. This will motive and enable them to go above and beyond the call of duty. Happy staff, leads to an effective workforce and increased productivity.