Global Volunteers

Global Volunteers

About

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.

Founded
1984
Headquarters

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

Reviews

Default avatar
Sandy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My husband and I volunteered for 2 weeks at the daycare at La Sagrada Familia in March. We were amazed at how patient and caring the teachers and staff were and how welcoming everyone was toward us. It was a very rewarding experience - I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a desire to become immersed in the Peruvian culture. The program was well-run, the accommodations were safe and comfortable, the food was fantastic, and our leader was super organized, attentive to our needs, and fun!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be willing to adapt and be flexible. Be open to new experiences.
Default avatar
Robert
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Over the course of 3 weeks we visited several schools and multiple classrooms in each school, all teaching English. The youngest students were grade 7 and the oldest were university graduate students. I had the opportunity to interact with about 1600 students, so, while deep interactions were not common, our team was able to have a huge impact in giving students an opportunity to interact with a native English speaker, and to receive a message of people to people friendship. While the classes were fun and the students were incredibly welcoming, the real enthusiasm and meaningful interactions often took place right after a class when they were freed from the formality of the classroom. This program was an extraordinary experience.

I would note that, while this program is expensive for the volunteer, participants often learned that we were not only unpaid for our work, but we covered all the costs of our participation in the program. This was meaningful to them and, I felt, contributed to their deepened appreciation of the program.

Default avatar
Marta
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My husband and I recently returned from two weeks volunteering with Global Volunteers in Xi'an China and I would like to share with anyone interested in volunteering in China that this is an excellent program if you are interested in interacting with the Chinese people. During our stay we were able to work with excellent Chinese English teachers/professors and very motivated students. We were able to work in different universities, all of which were welcoming and pleased that we were able to work with their teachers and students. In addition to volunteering, on the weekend we were able to experience the historic and vibrant city of Xi'an, which should be on every "must do" list for tourists. This was an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Default avatar
Kurt
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my experience volunteering at La Comunidad de Niños Sagrada Familia in Peru. Sagrada Familia is a community that ministers to the homeless and abandoned street children in Lima, Cuzco and other places in Peru. It provides them with food, education, safety, homes, medical care and, above all, love. The children come from difficult backgrounds but I have never in my life experience such love and caring.

The community is based in a compound in the middle of a very poor neighborhood to the north of Lima. The poverty can be a bit shocking, but the compound itself is very safe and the local people were very warm and welcoming. Sagrada Familia is a relatively new partner for Global Volunteers and while we were there they were still discussing ways the volunteers who visit can help the community, but there is no question that we made a difference. As Miguel, the community founder noted, just the fact that we came to see them is inspiring to the children. I split my time between helping construct new classrooms and teaching English to a sixth grade class. The hand made thank you cards I received from the class when I left are something I continue to treasure.

We volunteers stayed in the nearby seaside resort town of Ancón in a comfortable family run hotel. It was the off season, so things in town were relatively quiet, but the food was excellent and we were well taken care of.

Global Volunteer begins all their trips with a day of training to help the group get to know each other and understand what kind of experience they can expect as volunteers in the community. I really appreciate the values of community partnership and service that they bring to their programs. This was my fifth trip with Global Volunteers and it was by far my favorite and the most rewarding. I will be going back.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
There was a tremendous variety of food in Peru and I really enjoyed sampling all the different choices. My most interesting meal was easily the dinner I had over the weekend in Lima at the ámaZ restaurant. They specialize in food from the amazon region. My entree of dorado (fish) cooked in a tree leaf was wonderful but the most unusual was an appetizer of river snails served over tapioca that was just amazing. That was a first for me.
Default avatar
Mark
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have been on a number of volunteer trips, and, the Peru Global Volunteer program is far and away the best one that my family has ever been on. The organization supported (Sagrada Familia) houses, feeds and educates children in need. These children and the supporting staff are so loving and appreciative of the support provided that it makes for a meaningful and memorable experience. Global Volunteers provided training, support (including translators who accompanied the volunteers), and local leadership that ensures that there are focused, purposeful assignments. The transportation, meals & accommodations were excellent. We had a mix of volunteers ( college students, older retirees, families with young children ) that made for an exciting group. On a side note, Peru is an awesome place to visit. Most all of the volunteers traveled in the country after the service assignment. Our family went into Lima over the weekend and did some local tours, and, after our 2 week volunteer work, went up to Cusco for a week to see the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu ( a must see destination ). Volunteer programs are not all the same; I have been on ones with very unfocused or lack of meaningful assignments, some where the poor accommodations, food and safety concerns become a distraction to the purpose of the trip. This is NOT the case with Global Volunteers and Peru .... it was a fantastic location with an organized, professional staff that is engaged in supporting a group ( Sagrada Familia ) that needs and appreciated the volunteer efforts.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The first day of volunteering, there was a teacher out unexpectedly for the 7th grade class. They asked if a couple of us could run the morning class to provide coverage until they could get a substitute. Jake ( a college student ) and I jumped on in, and, along with the help of a Global Volunteer translator and some of the teaching materials they provided, we did just fine ( and had fun doing it ).

Programs

Displaying 10 - 15 of 15

Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I chose to go on a Global Volunteers trip because I have experience with the organization. I have always been impressed with how they run their programs. They follow a philosophy of always working with and for local community organizations as partners. They provide all volunteers with basic information and training on the best way to serve those they work with.

I chose the Peru program initially for two reasons. I wanted to work in a location where I could realize my desire to teach and I wanted a chance to use and improve my Spanish. I will be going back next year because of the incredible experience I had at Sagrada Familia. What Miguel, the community founder, is doing there is truly amazing and I want to do whatever I can to support it.

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

Global Volunteers take care of all transportation, meals, and lodging once you arrive in the country. They provided us with training prior to starting our work and contacts and assignments at the work location. They also provided translators where needed.

Travelers are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Lima. If you plan to do any sight-seeing or make extra purchases, that is up to the volunteers. For example, many of the people in my group planned trips to Machu Pichu either before or after the program dates.

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

Ventanilla, where the Sagrada Familia community is located is very, very poor. They do not have basic supplies that most Americans take for granted. Things like paper and pencils for school are available but scarce. Plan to bring things like copies of materials, books or magazines with you. They can be donated to the community via the Global Volunteers staff when you leave. The poverty is very real, but don't let it depress you. These people are joyful.

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

We had breakfast in the morning at 7. Breakfast included a brief meeting where we read the prior day's journal and offered a thought for the day. Then we took a van to the Sagrada Familia campus where we got our work assignments for the day and met with the local staff and translators. Lunch was taken with the children at 1:30 followed by afternoon assignments until 4:00.

After getting back to the hotel, we had time to freshen up and explore Ancon until time for dinner at a local restaurant at 7:00 pm. Dinner included a chance to debrief on the day and share any stories or concerns we might have. Then we returned to the hotel to relax and go to bed.

Weekends were completely open for whatever activities the guests wanted.

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

My biggest fear of going to another country is always fear of the unknown. I am jumping into another culture, possibly another language and I don't know what to expect. I don't want to be caught unprepared, nor do I wish to cause offense because of my ignorance. Paradoxically, this is also the thing I find most exciting and compelling.

The more I travel the more I am reminded that we are all human beings. We all share the same basic humanity. We all have family and relationships. We all love. We all get angry. We all get frustrated, or embarrassed. We all laugh and have fun.

What impressed you the most in this trip?

La Comunidad de Niños Sagrada Familia was founded by a father who lost his infant son and was moved to help the street children he saw standing outside the hospital who could not get care because they had no money. Ultimately he founded this community of children and gave over his entire life and everything he had to care for them. He is an extraordinary human being and he has built an organization founded on love and caring. I was, and continue to be honored to do what I can to help him in his mission.

Staff Interviews

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

Daniel Salazar Vásquez

Job Title
Peru Country Manager
A native of Peru, Daniel earned his BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King’s College in New York and worked as an intern at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. He has served as Global Volunteers’ Peru Country Manager since 2014.

Before joining Global Volunteers, Daniel was a professor at Universidad SEL in Lima.

What is your favorite travel memory?

For our honeymoon, we wanted to go on a cruise to the Bahamas. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford it, so my wife and I decided to go on a cruise somewhere else. But on the day of departure, an itinerary change was announced. We were now going to the Bahamas!

While lots of people were complaining, we were thrilled. It was just what we had wanted!

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

I have learned to work with all sorts of people from diverse backgrounds and ages. Before, I just wanted to be part of the perfect team with perfect people. But I learned that I’m as flawed (or maybe more) than other people. Regardless of this, any team that supports each other and puts the team and goals before each individual interest can be successful. I now appreciate the wisdom and talents of everyone on a team.

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

I have a volunteer who constantly posts pictures and other memories of her time in Peru on social media. She constantly tells me and everybody in her social network how amazing it was to volunteer with children in Peru. She served and loved it while she was here, but she also learned that happiness and love do not depend on your circumstances. When the anniversary of her service programs comes, she shares how much she cherishes her memories, how the experience changed her life, and how much she wishes to come back.

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

I would go to Greece or Poland because of how beautiful they seem. The pictures and videos I have seen look amazing. The communities where we work are in gorgeous settings. Also, there is so much history I could learn. I love European history, so I would be the happiest person in WWII museums in Poland or in ancient ruins in Greece. Nothing better than to serve in lovely communities and get to know beautiful and rich cultures.

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

We follow the direction of local leaders. We don’t think that we know what’s best for others or what they need to do to fix their circumstances, because we don’t. It’s a simple fact, but many organizations believe they do. Also, we don’t do poverty-tourism. We just support local people on projects that are important to them.

They are the agents of their own progress; we merely support them.

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

Communication should be clear. Most issues could be avoided if only there were clearer, faster, more honest communication.

People shouldn’t assume everyone understands everything they say, and nobody should be embarrassed to ask questions to clear up doubts or get further explanations. When questions are encouraged and managers make the effort to be as clear as possible, things go a lot smoother and larger issues are avoided.