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Globe Aware

About

Globe Aware coordinates, organizes and leads volunteer vacations, service vacations, working holidays and service trips to two Peru locations (Andes & Cusco/Machu Picchu), Costa Rica, Thailand, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Jamaica, Romania, Ghana, Mexico, and China.

Reviews

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Richard
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went on a one week program with Globe Aware in July of 2017. I was a part of a small group of 3 volunteers from the US, though it felt like we had many more on the trip considering all of the lovely local Globe Aware staff and all of the folks receiving therapy at the center for people with special needs, where we volunteered daily. The program was well organized and I felt that I was able to make a difference while assisting the lead therapist in daily activities at the center. We helped with everything from arts and crafts, to pool therapy, to the simple things like making sure we all washed our hands before each meal. I really connected with my fellow volunteers and all of the people there as well. The lead therapist would translate for us when we would tell stories about life at home and really enjoyed learning some Romanian as well. She was always there to guide us. Lunches were fantastic and made fresh daily by one of the moms there at the center. Dinners were arranged at the hotel, which is right on the major pedestrian street in Brasov. Brasov is such a beautiful city, and I was completely blown away by the thriving cafe culture in the old town. There are plenty of sights to see in town, as well as taking a trip out to see Castle Bran and Rasnov Citadel. If you have time, I highly recommend doing some onward travel in Transylvania - though I think Brasov is still may favorite city in the end. I highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in volunteering in Romania!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I could have stayed longer!
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Sikha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had such an amazing time checking out the volunteer vacation program in Jaipur! I've been to India many times but this was my first time alone, without family and I loved it. Not only did I feel comfortable, I also enjoyed my time seeing the sights and meeting with the locals. I also enjoyed being able to interact and educate children and get to know the women in the empowerment camp. Awesome time!

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Judith
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This is my second trip with Globe Aware as a trip leader. I found Globe Aware and began a conversation about how they may be able to help my students find a meaningful abroad experience containing a service component. Their communication is excellent; there is nothing worse than putting in a phone call or e-mail to someone with whom you are trying to do business and then feel ignored, because of how long they take to answer. Rest assured that this will not be the case with Globe Aware, a company of dedicated professionals who exemplify superb customer service at every turn. Once you get to your destination, you may be assured that the in-country coordinators will be the same way. The Cuba trip was incredible from beginning to end. Since we as American citizens have not been allowed to visit our neighbor during my lifetime, it was especially meaningful to be able to go there under the guidance of a company who already had experience there and could speak to the circumstances of the country, what to expect, and more. I have dealt with many companies of this type and can say without reservation that Globe Aware is within the top three. I am planning another trip with them for next year. If you are on the fence about which provider to use, look no further. These folks will deal with you in a most professional manner and you can have confidence that they will deliver a superior product.

What would you improve about this program?
I only wish we could have stayed longer!
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Kris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program was life-changing for me and it's critical for the elephants in Surin that volunteers continue to support it. The work is not overly taxing as there are sufficient breaks due the heat (I was there in March/April - the hottest time of the year). The food is terrific and freshly prepared every day. I'm vegan and there were no issues accommodating my needs. You get to spend a lot of time with the elephants through daily walks where you observe them in the forest and through walks to the river to bathe them. Volunteer support is critical as it show the mahouts and villagers that tourists want to see elephants treated humanely, off chains and able to roam the forest with their elephant friends. Most of the elephants in Surin are chained all day when they are not performing in the circus and are subjected to the bullhook (which is NOT allowed in the project). The Surin Project exists side-by-side with the circus and it can be troubling to see the conditions and treatment many of the elephants endure. But it is imperative that volunteers continue to support Surin Project. It makes a world of difference for the elephants.

What would you improve about this program?
The only improvements I can recommend is great awareness of the program itself.
Read my full story
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Cindy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The school we worked on was in need of cleaning and painting. The Girl Scouts we brought took great pride in their projects. I also learned how to mix and lay concrete. The people we met were great and made us all comfortable in their homes. The down time was nice. The girls were able to interact with one another. The day at the hot springs was a treat. We all had a great experience. Federico was a great guide and was very caring and patient. Federico knew how to interact with all the girls in the troop. He connected with one of the girls that needed a little more attention. Federico shared his world experiences. It was very comfortable just hanging out at night. Federico was also very conscious of protecting the people on the trip.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Kris Depowski O'Donnell

Kris is an education and communications professional, teaching at the University at Buffalo and working as a field producer providing medical reports to more than 100 television stations around the country. She loves making a difference through international volunteer work.

Why did you choose this program?

Globe Aware offered a program that helps better the lives of captive Asian elephants. With this program, unlike some others in Thailand, the elephants' welfare is front and center at all times.

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

Globe Aware provided detailed descriptions of the project and outlined what volunteers should expect and bring with them to Thailand. They suggested hotels for me in Bangkok that were close to the meet up point and assisted with a reservation that I had an issue with. I took care of finding a hotel near the airport (flights from the U.S. almost always land around midnight and depart in the early morning hours).

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

For this particular program, there wasn't much I didn't already know prior to arriving in Thailand because Globe Aware prepared me so well and I did a lot of research on my own as well. For friends who are thinking of going abroad I tell them GO! You will never regret it as long as you have an open mind, a sense of adventure (and humor) and love learning new things.

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

The days at Surin Project are well-coordinated. Everyone has breakfast together around 7 am. The food is freshly prepared and delicious. I'm vegan and they could easily accommodate my needs. We then have a work project for about an hour or so, which includes cleaning enclosures and chopping sugar cane. Then we walk the elephants in the forest for an hour or so. Then there's a break for lunch at a local eatery, then an afternoon work project followed by another walk in the forest where the elephants get to hang out with their friends and enjoy being elephants. We end the day by having dinner together. On two of the days, we walk the elephants to the river to bathe them, one of the highlights of the experience.

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

I have traveled extensively through Europe, mainly on my own, so my fears were relatively limited. I think the biggest reservation I had was that I had never been to Asia (and was traveling on my own). I was also traveling to a very remote part of Thailand to work in a village with no air-conditioning, indoor plumbing, showers or hot water.

The way I overcame the fear is by reading as much information as I could ahead of time about what to expect and making sure I had the proper travel shots, medication, etc. Knowledge is power.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with prospective volunteers?

There is one important thing to know and it's something I've been asked about. Travelers should educate themselves about the plight of captive elephants in Thailand. It is a sobering and complicated issue. Elephants in Surin Project are allowed off chains for at least 5 hours a day and mahouts are not allowed to use the bullhook. But the Project exists alongside elephants who are used for the local circus. These elephants are chained 24 hours a day (when they are not performing), sometimes by all four feet.

It's difficult emotionally at times to see them in these conditions but I remind myself (and tell prospective volunteers) that it's critical the Project continue to receive support from volunteers. It shows the local people that tourists want to see elephants treated humanely and interacting with each other in a natural environment. I have taken part in Surin Project every year for the last three years so there isn't anything I would have done differently.

I can say that on the first day of my first visit (in 2014) I sat on my bed, on the floor, in 100 degree heat, with only a fan and mosquito netting and thought 'what in the world have I just done!?! I can't survive this!' Fortunately, that feeling lasted less than 24 hours. Then I was hooked. But it was briefly terrifying!