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Omprakash EdGE

About

Omprakash EdGE (Education through Global Engagement) is about making global engagement ethical, educational, & affordable.

Omprakash EdGE is a fully accredited comprehensive volunteer pre-departure and re-entry training program. The program includes extensive online training and personalized mentorship to individuals who are volunteering within the Omprakash network of autonomous international grassroots social projects (or elsewhere). Participants are encouraged to think critically about international aid and volunteering.

Reviews

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Edward
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Omprakash EDGE Program

Omprakash is truly a one of a kind organization whose main goal is to first educate volunteers going abroad so that they will have not only a real authentic experience, but at the same time, learn about the ethics, proper awareness, and appropriate ways of helping those in need.

I highly recommend taking their EDGE program as it's truly educational (even for a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) and will help volunteer travelers have the right perspective, knowledge, and attitude that will help prepare them for their work or projects that they will go into.

Omprakash's fees are also very affordable, transparent, and really mostly goes towards their partners. They even provide scholarships to applicants that might need them.

I'm really thankful for Omprakash and for the wonderful and educational experience I've had with one of their partner organization. I wish many others will also have the same opportunity.

Ben
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lost on how to volunteer? Use this company!

I volunteered in Peru helping a local economy with agriculture business development. I absolutely loved the experience. It changed my life! I was very lost on how to volunteer in a country like Peru and was lucky to stumble across this company. They were very helpful and created a wonderful experience. Sometimes the living conditions would be rough and logistics were challenging, but that is to be expected in a 3rd world country. The trip was ended with a journey to Machu Picchu. Looking for a way to give back with an adventure? This is the one!

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

Omprakash is volunteering the right way

Omprakash takes a different approach to volunteering abroad. Rather than place you with an organization, Omprakash facilitates a direct exchange between local organizations and volunteers. This allows a real personal relationship between organization and volunteer and assures that you are not "assigned" to volunteer with an organization without a clear purpose and expressed interest from the organization. This strategy allows you to be much more effective in your role when you arrive.

Throughout my time working with Adisa in Santiago Atitlán Guatemala, I was well supported by Omprakash staff and its community. Between skype calls, global dialogues, reflections, and the capstone project (cumulative learning project), I was always engaged with Omprakash and constantly challenged to critically evaluate my experience.

As for its partner organizations, Omprakash has a comprehensive evaluation process that assures that only qualified, legitimate, and trustworthy join its network. The reliability of its local partners makes the volunteer experience an effective, safe, and gratifying experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The main improvement I can suggest is some improvement to the customization of crowdfunding campaigns. I find that the general layout can be a little bit restrictive for organizations to build their own brand and personalize their page.
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Ian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

EdGE Internship in Oaxaca, Mexico

As an Omprakash EdGE intern, I spent six months in Oaxaca, Mexico after completing a six week training course. The Spanish skills, level of personal confidence, and appreciation for Oaxacan culture and its differences with my own American culture I have gained over this time with Omprakash have revolutionized my perspective on a huge variety of things and left me with deep gratitude for the experience. The pre-departure preparatory course is fascinating and engaging while still being at a self-determined pace. The mentor system is super helpful for dealing with problems that come up (especially culture shock) and making a valuable friend. The capstone project to complete while doing the volunteer work is a great challenge and a great reason to have to talk to people you normally might not. For me, the most important part of what Omprakash gives to the intern is the freedom to choose from a wide variety volunteer positions. For that reason, details about living arrangements and the time spent at the host organization are not too helpful. However, Omprakash vets all of the partner organizations to make sure they fit the goal of the EdGE program and in my instance, it was very clearly a good option for me. Furthermore, with regular calls to my Omprakash mentor I never felt like I was ever too far from support. In my opinion, Omprakash should be a household name, it's a fantastic institution.

What would you improve about this program?
EdGE interns could interact eith each other more often and interns could have more opportunities to talk to more mentors.
Default avatar
Maimuna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Omprakash

Future participants should know about EdGE. It's the most beneficial component of Omprakash. The course is what makes your experience abroad more real. The course makes you aware of your surroundings, your limitations, and opens you up to learn. if you are looking for a experience that wont just happen and then fade away, then going through Omprakash would be the best way to keep learning and growing after traveling abroad. My favorite part beyond everything else was the people I met, some of who I am still very close with.

Programs

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Staff Interviews

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

Alex Knott

Job Title
Director of Outreach and Curation
Alex is an anthropologist, an explorer, and Director of Outreach and Curation for Omprakash. Alex grew up between the U.K., South Africa, and Singapore, and hasn’t stopped moving since: so far, she has studied, conducted research, or worked in 14 countries. She is an avid believer in life-long exploration; of places near and far, others, and self.
Alex Knott

What is your favorite travel memory?

Many of my favorite memories of travel are actually those moments where the line between traveling and living in a place began to blur; the moments where you realize you’re beginning to form close relationships with people and the place, rather than just passing through anonymously.

If I had to choose one standout travel memory – not a favorite memory per se but a formative one – it would be arriving in Cambodia to volunteer abroad for the first time, during my gap year almost a decade ago. I remember the excitement and sense of adventure I felt at the time, as well as what I now realize to be the problematic ideas I had about my place in the community and the 'help' I thought I could give.

It is interesting to think back on that moment, in light of how quickly my preconceptions began to crumble in the following weeks, days and months, giving way to the more complicated and often uncomfortable, but ultimately much more fulfilling, journey I’m still on.

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

As an Anthropology student, you’re encouraged to ask questions – that’s what I loved about it – but I often felt the itch to start putting it into action. However, when it came time to put what I learnt in the classroom into action, I was disappointed to find that most organizations wanted me to leave my questions at the door and just get it done, with little room for reflection or conversation.

By contrast, Omprakash is an organization that encourages continuous questioning – and therefore continuous learning and growth – not only in its students, but also amongst its many Partners, and within the admin team.

This has allowed me to begin to explore what happens when thoughtful action, radical questioning, and open dialogue come together. It has taught me to embrace complexity, rather than trying to sift through and try to distil it. It has encouraged me to keep asking more questions, even when I feel I’ve found the answer.

My work with Omprakash over the past few years has allowed me to grow personally, as well as professionally. Working at Omprakash is not just a job – it’s an all-encompassing project, that is as much a spiritual, intellectual, and communal endeavor as it is an occupation.

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

The best conversations I’ve had with return students are those in which they explain the transformative effects of their time abroad and the connections they’ve made with people. For some, an Omprakash Grant enabled them to travel abroad for the first time… Others are seasoned travelers, but our EdGE training and mentorship program opened their eyes to a whole new way of seeing, interacting, and being in the world.

It’s been amazing to see students I’ve personally mentored undergo this transformation during their time abroad, and equally inspiring to have volunteers from 5+ years ago (way before I had become a part of Omprakash!) get in touch just to say how life-changing their EdGE and volunteer experience was for them, and how it continues to influence them years later.

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

Omprakash doesn’t really offer programs – rather than ‘placing’ students with organizations, we help students to connect with our Partner organizations directly, and work out mutually beneficial volunteer arrangements from there…

Our network of 180+ Partners is wonderfully diverse; each organization has its own unique makeup, vision, and social change mission, and I’m sure there is so much I could learn from each of from them! I have actually been lucky enough to have the chance to meet numerous Partners in South America, and speak to many more online.

I am excited to have the chance to meet dozens more of our Partners in Africa this Fall, as Omprakash will be hosting their fourth Partner Conference in collaboration with one of our Ghanaian Partners in Accra.

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

What makes Omprakash unique is the depth of commitment each member of the team has to our fundamental mission of facilitating learning through relationships. Although we have a lot going on in the day to day, the team never neglects or sacrifices this vision.

I am most proud of my team members for their openness to different opinions, and willingness to embrace the complexity of issues in the volunteering industry and beyond. Rather than trying to avoid difficult issues or discussions, they lean in to complex debates, and endeavor every day to put theory into practice, while continuing to question our own position within this space.

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

In purely financial terms, we are certainly not the most “successful” volunteer company (we are actually a non-profit, rather than a company), but I do believe that Omprakash is extremely “successful,” if we define success in terms of staying true to our mission.

I think what makes Omprakash successful in creating and sustaining meaningful partnerships and facilitating transformational learning opportunities is a commitment to continual learning, openness to adapt, and unwillingness to compromise the values that emerge from this process of continual reflection and respectful dialogue.

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