Travel Abroad, Teach Abroad, Work Abroad, Volunteer Abroad, or Study Abroad with Greenheart Travel

Greenheart Travel

About

Greenheart Travel is a 501(c)3 non-profit, mission driven organization based in Chicago, USA. We are passionate about providing immersive cultural immersion experiences for teenagers and adults in countries all over the world.

Teach English Abroad | Volunteer Abroad | High School Study Abroad | TEFL Courses | Teen Language Camps | Work Abroad

We believe in the power of travel; a power that broadens your perspective and turns strangers into family. It’s this belief that motivates us at Greenheart Travel to provide life-changing adventures for anyone with a case of wanderlust. We’re your personal cheerleaders as you navigate the unpredictable joys, surprises, and challenges of life abroad. With unrivaled support and guidance, Greenheart Travel gives you the tools to make sure you’re more than a tourist, you’re a world citizen. You don’t just travel for the sights, you travel for a change.

Founded
1985
Headquarters

200 W. Superior St.
Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60654
United States

Announcing $12,000 in Scholarships for First Time Travelers!

In 2019, Greenheart Travel will provide scholarship grants to individuals who are “first time travelers” and have the desire for travel and cultural immersion. Our First Time Traveler Scholarships will be available for our Teach English Abroad, TEFL Course, Work Abroad, Homestay Abroad, High School Study Abroad, Teen Summer Language Camp, and Volunteer programs.

Reviews

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Nini
10/10

10 out of 10 overall because there wasn’t any confusion or anything that I felt like I wasn’t provided. I loved communicating with the staff because they answered my all of questions with patience, and 5 months before my actual trip. The program was great! I really liked that the application was really thourough, because I was placed with a family that matched! We shared a lot of hobbies together and I’m grateful to have been placed there! And also I loved that you are placed instead of being able to choose where you want to stay, because I’ve been able to visit places that I would’ve never even heard before. Although I didn’t have many questions during my stay, I’m pretty sure they’ve would have been answered quickly by the staff, great overall! I recommend this program, because it helps you with a bigger understanding of someone’s everyday life.

Yes, I recommend this program
Georgia
9/10

Originally, I am from a small, mountain town in Arkansas. I love where I'm from, but I thought the big city might be the change I was looking for to shake things up a bit. So, I settled on Bangkok for my placement school. I went a more non-conventional route in my living situation. I managed to find an abandoned clothes factory turned studio apartment by a few local artists, and I now live with 10 other people from all over the world - from Thai to Russian. We cook dinner together, we go out into the city night-life together, and they provide new insights into the "unseen" Bangkok than I ever could have imagined.
But amid the exhilarating highs, it took quite a number of lows to get where I was finally happy in my placement town. This will happen whether you're in Bangkok, Phuket, or a small village in Isan. Change is hard, and the loneliness will follow suit. The people you love back home will find it hard to connect to those pains, but they are there for you. Ultimately, It's a time to grab yourself by the bootstraps and feel the waves of a real adventure lapping at your shore. Don't miss out because you're afraid of the sea.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sharmin
8/10

Introduction:
As an ESL teacher with some experience teaching abroad, I would like to share with you my experience of this program. It is a good program to do whether you are a newly certified ESL teacher, or a seasoned one. It brings together a good amount of teaching time, with the community life in Costa Rica, and the knowledge that you are making a real difference in students lives. It’s great to see the students being enthusiastic and learning, they want to do their best and you are helping them to make the most out of a great situation. They get to learn English through the Costa Rican government, and you are helping them achieve this and more with the opportunities the language will provide them in the future. I was already in Central America when I was informed about this opportunity, and was very happy to begin on a new adventure!

It is still a very new program. The interview process, and submission of documents were simple and fast. It was done through Greenheart travel and I was assisted by Lauren, she was very friendly and helpful and I received some introduction materials prior to the start of the program. There were a lot of useful materials in there and good guidelines for what to expect while in Costa Rica. If it is your first time travelling overseas, it will be super useful for you, but even as a seasoned traveller I found the information very good. I liked how the insurance and housing is provided within the program too. The only thing you need to worry about is your teaching.

Orientation:
Once the program had started, I went to San Jose to do the orientation. The orientation and program are run by an organisation called Aliarse in Costa Rica. It is still a new program so some of the pieces are still being put together. You will be told about your placement location and host family during the orientation. The orientation itself was detailed and we were told what to expect in the classroom, and were given lesson plans. We also had the opportunity to print our resources ready for the first week. We had a mock lesson with opportunities for feedback on our teaching methods, which was also very useful.
I liked that they were putting a good emphasis on the overall needs of the student because they really wanted their students to succeed and stay in the program and to also help them once the program finished in securing a job. I really like that this was a socially responsible program, and it is what the heart of volunteering is all about. I believed in the work that I was about to do, so I was feeling excited to do it!

With that said, we were told that our orientation would be for one week, but it was actually quite rushed, and within the second day I was told I’d be reaching my placement location - the very NEXT day ready to teach! We left early enough to reach my town and begin teaching straight away, it was quite overwhelming being taken to my placement that quickly. Additionally, the host family that I would stay with were also not confirmed until after we reached my placement town.

What the lessons are like:
Once we arrived in my placement location, I was introduced to my class and the rules were explained to the students in Spanish. (TIP: It’s going to be the best thing for you to learn at least a basic level of Spanish, even though you will learn very quickly while here, it’s going to be a greater experience if you already have an understanding of the language. Babbel and Duo lingo are good and easy ways to learn, but ideally you should practise your Spanish with a teacher before submersing yourself in this experience in Central America.)
The teaching materials are all provided through the program. Lesson plans are ready and there are many good materials for you to use. You can come in as a complete beginner with little experience, and still have the plans laid out waiting for you, you need to personalise them of course to make the best of the lesson ;)
You are teaching on average a total of 6 hours a day, with breaks as well. You teach four days a week, with Friday’s for planning and making copies of materials for the students. You can expect to do a lot of planning and marking, it is a full workload for sure. The cost of the copies are provided for by the organisation as well as the transport to the school so you don’t have other costs. I chose to walk to my school in the mornings because that was my preference in the little hilly town where I stayed.

Host family:
The people of Costa Rica are very “Pura vida” :) That means relaxed and easy going. They all are warm and good folks. When I entered my host family’s place, it was a nice feeling when we were welcomed with breakfast. And while getting to know them on my first day, they picked me up from my classroom to have lunch with them at home on my lunch break and then dropped me back to class. They were a big family of four, and very festive and loud. They loved singing and karaoke, and are a musical family with many dogs and one cat! I loved how they all got together to do things like that. You are treated like one of their own, and introduced to many more family members, grandfathers, uncles, cousins and so on.
With many international exchanges, it’s completely normal to sometimes have a miscommunication if you aren’t completely fluent in the host language. My program director and social worker were really helpful to me in a situation where there was some misunderstanding. It was nice to know that I would have help here, when you are in a new country without your regular support systems in place, it can be a little bit tricky to understand how to navigate situations. You’re in a new culture, with new folks, and many new customs to understand, and of course it is a lot to understand! They were available for me to talk to if I needed that. My host family showed me Tamale’s which are a traditional special occasion food eaten in Costa Rica, and I showed them Pavlova, a dessert from New Zealand where I am from.

More:
One of the things that appealed to me about this program was that you were not going to be placed alone. I really liked that we would have a social worker and an English co-ordinator in the classroom, and also one other fellow volunteer in the same town as you. I was happy about that! So far, in my town I am actually the only volunteer here and it wasn’t until a few weeks after starting that my social worker arrived in my placement town. We don’t have an English co-ordinator either. It is still a very new program so I can understand that some of the things are not yet in place, however it was very difficult for me in the first few weeks of starting this program. I didn’t know anyone here, my Spanish is not perfect and I was the only person in the classroom, it is a lot of work - and without the support in the beginning it was very hard. It was different to what I was told we would have in the program. I think that this might change as more pieces come together in future, and I also know that in other placement towns that there are more volunteers.

Overall
If you speak Spanish, are interested about teaching English to adults that want to learn and will do all they can to study AND if you are excited about travelling to a “pura vida” place like Costa Rica, I think that you will have a good time :) Keep in mind it is a new program, and things are still happening for the better. You will have a good time, and have a fun experience. Gracias!

How can this program be improved?
This is a good program and it can be made better by:
- Giving volunteers the appropriate expectations about time to prepare during orientation.
- Having at least two volunteers per placement location and other support in the classroom ready before volunteers arrive.


Yes, I recommend this program
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Catherine
9/10

I spent a month living with a family in Bronnitsy, a town SE of Moscow. Dad, Mom, two sons (9 and 11) and their dog. The family went out of their way to show me Russian life, including trips in to Moscow, to plays and ballets, and to their dacha. I met other members of their family, their friends and several of the boys' teachers. Their school actually made a really big deal of my visit, inviting me to classes, a forum where advanced English students spoke, and a special presentation and tea. They even put me on local TV! I tailored my English instruction individually: helped the younger son with his English homework and worked on reading; traded history lessons in English (me) and Russian (him) with the older boy; worked with Dad every morning over breakfast; and worked with Mom in the kitchen, practicing vocabulary and listening. I met Grandmother, and an older daughter who is at university. I really felt one of the family, and enjoyed the experience immensely.

How can this program be improved?
The placement and timing were all arranged by email, and I misunderstood the start date for the program. Thus, in applying for a visa, they provided a support letter that gave different dates from what I put on the visa application, and the visa was awarded with the dates from the support letter. As a result, I arrived in Helsinki a week before my visa began, and had to wait there until I could continue to Moscow. The family made a very long, fruitless trip to the airport on the earlier date, when I did not arrive.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Benjamin
10/10

Our daughter is spending the first semester of her sophomore year of High School studying in Spain. She has completed her first three months and is having an incredible experience. Her family is wonderful and school experience has been both challenging and incredibly rewarding. Her Spanish has improved tremendously. She began the program with only one year of High School Spanish and has been able to participate in succeed in all of her classes. She has joined the volleyball team, which has been both fun and a great way to learn Spanish. She has made many friends and is learning how to navigate life on her own in Spain. We could not be happier with the experience she is having and the support we have gotten from Green Heart Travel. They were very helpful and responsive from the beginning and helped my daughter complete her application in a relatively short time.

Yes, I recommend this program

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