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.


375 East Little Canada Road
St. Paul, MN 55117-1628
United States


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Yes, I recommend this program

My husband and I decided to volunteer on Blackfeet Reservation as a way to learn more about the native american culture, and possibly to give back to a community that we really knew very little about. At the end of each day we were to ask ourselves; did we learn, did we serve and did we grow? We spent an amazing week; starting out getting to know each other (11 of us), and attending a Catholic church service (this was optional), with the highlight being a local Blackfeet singer who had an amazing voice; our first cultural experience! Our next experience came from a local historian, again another Blackfeet, who shared a wealth of Blackfeet knowledge and gave us a tour of the Reservation within Glacier National Park. Certainly a great day for learning! We all shared in the first two days of this adventure! However, the next four days would bring different learning experiences to each of us. I spent time with patients at a nursing home, listening to their stories. The next day I went to a thrift shop to help organize clothing and jewelry so that shoppers could purchase inexpensive items. I also went to the Senior Center in town where meals were made and served to seniors who live at the center and meals were prepared to be delivered out in the community (meals on wheels). I had the opportunity to go out in the community to help with the delivery of meals and see how some of the Blackfeet people live. I went to the Food Distribution Center to help stock shelves. We helped others in the community with projects that they needed done. Some of us stayed at one location all four days, others (like myself) moved around. We got to attend a sweat lodge, to connect one-on-end with Blackfeet people over lunch at the Senior Center, and to participate in a purifying smudge and prayer ceremony which was done by a Blackfeet who was praying in his native tongue throughout the ceremony. We also got to participate in a celebration of dance put on by a Blackfeet. This was a totally amazing experience. So did we learn, did we serve and did we grow? My answer to this is most definitely. I feel that I was given so much more from this experience than what I gave.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go with an open mind, immerse yourself into the Blackfeet Culture,and listen (really listen) to their stories.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I enjoyed teaching English as a 2nd language to a few of the college professors from 5:30-7:30. We had fun and they really enjoyed learning more English grammar, idioms, wring skills etc.
However. I did not really enjoy my time with the vocational students during the day as much, because very few of them spoke English at all and we did not really have a translator except maybe one student once in a while. Therefore, it was difficult to get the particular lessons across to the kids. I thoroughly enjoyed the city of Beja and the people there and our group! It definitely was a good experience.

What would you improve about this program?
I am not sure.... maybe more one on one teaching or small group tracking of those that knew some English
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Yes, I recommend this program

My stay in Anse La Raye was memorable. I still think of the children I worked with at the Infant School with delight. They want to learn and the school was so prepared for us I feel we did make a difference in just the week we were there. The pride they have in their country was evident. The celebration of their Nobel Award Winners was moving. The children were singing their hearts out with joy. Excellence and Discipline were evident.
The village people were so open and easy to talk with. I enjoyed my walks around talking with and watching the fishermen and others. A special treat was working with a small of group of women in the evenings learning to sew, making and using patterns. Chemida’s, “OK. Let’s go.” After giving an instruction still rings in my head.
The beauty of the island is spectacular. I learned so much and enjoyed every minute in Soufriere’s botanical garden. St. Lucia is the only Windward Island named after a woman. Is it because of Petit and Gros Pitons? She's the Helen of the Windward Islands.
I hope to return if time and resources allow me.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be wonderful if there could be found a place in the village where volunteers could live while they are there; more interaction with the villagers. JJ's was lovely, but interactions were mostly with the staff.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Global Volunteer experience in Kathmandu ranks very high when I consider all of my GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS experiences, literally high in altitude, high in making dear friends, high in believing we made a difference, and high in the pure joy of being in this beautiful country with these beautiful people. My new friend Jenny, a young woman relatively new to the GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS experience, and I became the “Jenny and Fran show”. That’s what happens when one finds a soul mate among our Global Volunteers. Jenny’s enthusiasm made each day a delight. We could feel it and see it in the faces of the women and the students with whom we shared our time.
Our first week was spent at the Soroptimist Center helping women speak and understand English. The term Soroptimist comes from the Latin soror meaning sister, and optima meaning best (the best for women). We Global Volunteers joined in that quest of providing the best for women. The tears of joy we saw on the faces of these women touched our hearts. They grew more comfortable with the language as the week progressed. There are always small miraculous experiences on my GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS adventures, but in Kathmandu we experienced a plan that was meant to come together. “I love it when a plan comes together.” Our local miracle man, Ps Buddhi Man Shrestha, was aware of a book to assist in our English language lessons, but it was prohibitively expensive coming all the way from the United Kingdom. A little exploration by Fran and Jenny discovered the books were actually published in Kathmandu. Suddenly the books became accessible. The team of our volunteers, our GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS leader Stephen Raj, and our local Nepalese Buddhi Man made it all happen. The excitement upon receiving the little books in the small classroom was palpable. Global Volunteers do make a difference.
Jenny and I celebrated the Teej holiday at the Soroptimist center with Soroptimist leaders and the women in our classes. Teej is the fasting and celebrating festival of women in Nepal. It usually takes place in the month of Nepali Bhadra (August to September in Solar Calendar). We ate and danced with joy. Sharing in their special holiday is sharing love and peace. One of the joys of volunteering is becoming a part of the communities we serve. To join in daily life, in special occasions, and in making their lives better, as well as learning more about the country and its people is amazing. Yet, anything we give seems to be returned in abundance to those of us who are Global Volunteers.
For the second week, we took our “show” to St. Joseph’s School and once again the experience touched us. Our discussion in English with tenth “graders” about pollution was amazing. What thoughtful and articulate young people. Yet, it was only one of many experiences we volunteered teaching in the classrooms. It was so very gratifying to spend the time with them. And all of our time, we knew we were making a difference to those who call Kathmandu home. The principal Dambar Singh KC expressed his gratitude to Jenny and me for our time at his school, but I know that while we touched the lives of so many students, we gained so much more.

My time in Nepal is but one chapter of my Global Volunteer book of experiences. Whether I recall my times in India, the Cook Islands, St. Lucia, Poland, Hanoi, or Tanzania, recalling my weeks in Kathmandu still causes my heart to leap, my joy to rise, and my love for volunteering to grow.

What was your funniest moment?
The Jenny and Fran opening the classroom door of the Seroptimist Center to practice greetings in English. It surprised Stephen Raj. You had to be there to enjoy the humor.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Having communicated with Global Volunteers for many years, I finally decided to "do it!!" I hosted a couple from Krakow through couchsurfing in late 2018; as we exchanged travel stories, they said, "You must come to Poland!!" I decided to visit them and also volunteer for two weeks with Global Volunteers in the Warsaw area. I traveled by train from Krakow to Warsaw and stayed over in a hotel near the airport. Global Volunteers picked me (and other volunteers) up the next morning (Saturday) and took us to Reymontowka, a lovely country estate. Dorota checked us in; we were given a key to our private room with private bath.
The students arrived the following day; we were introduced to them and later we were introduced to those whom would be our students! I was assigned 9 students ages 12-14. Monday morning we began our routine of four 45 minute sessions with conversational English. Most of my students had attended the "camp" for several summers so I spent time finding/developing activities to challenge them with vocabulary and speaking ability. Because I had worked as a teacher, I focused on their reactions to the activities. Some students lingered between sessions to converse about the activity or just to have a personal conversation.
The students were very responsive and let me know what they really enjoyed. The more experienced students assisted others. All were quite serious about completing their part of the activity.
This setting had not had a volunteer from New Mexico so I was privileged to show all camp participants and staff a 45 minute powerpoint of photos from throughout the state...and videos of ski areas, Balloon Fiesta, the tram ride to the top of the Sandia Mountains, etc.
Dorota and the counseling staff were great to work with. The experience of working with six other talented volunteers was memorable. The volunteers were taken to area cities/towns for personal shopping and other activities. It was great to get to know the region.
The meals served were wonderful! We were served wonderful meals in a lovely dining room with special table settings...really quite elegant!
I do hope to return again...but cannot do it in 2020 due to other commitments. I encourage others to "do it!!" It will be an experience that you will NEVER FORGET!

What was your funniest moment?
The day after arrival and the Sunday between the two weeks, we were taken to a nearby church, if we chose to attend. The second Sunday we were taken to a larger church than the first Sunday....only to find that the pastor had changed the service time and had not changed it on the website!! So, we (students and volunteers) were taken back to the church we had attended the previous Sunday!


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Alumni Interviews

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

Duane Besso

Retired in 2017 and enjoy working and learning different cultures. I especially find working with students very rewarding because it requires me to step out of my “comfort zone” and forces me to learn different perspectives. I view learning as a lifelong process.

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.