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Projects Abroad

About

Projects Abroad is a global organization formed in 1992 around the need for gap year programs abroad designed for students taking a break from studying. Since its inception, Projects Abroad has expanded to offer high school volunteer programs, and a vast variety of programs geared towards those taking a gap year or a career break. Visit the Projects Abroad website for more details on volunteer, study and internship programs abroad.

Reviews

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Felix
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the most beneficial experiences of my life

I made possibly the first group of proper friends on this trip. I was never a loner, but i would consider every single one of the 20 or so people with me in the Galapagos as part of my family, the vibes we had were immense! Our projects advisor was very open to suggestions and improvements that we had for the Project, which really made you feel a valued part of the team and allows you to have a more lasting impact while you are out there. It was the perfect mix between work and play. The ability to structure our free time as we saw fit and take a week or two off gave us the opportunity to visit a ton of different islands. It allowed me to do meaningful work, broaden my cultural horizons and have a great time.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Nada. I would Just do my best to appreciate it more
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Fanny
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching project in Tanzania

My experience in Tanzania with Projects Abroad was definitely an eye opener! I discovered the Swahili culture and learnt a lot from the Tanzanian people I met who shared their experience with me. Besides, I must say I also learnt a lot about myself and how to step out of my comfort zone.
During my project I taught Maths, English and hygiene to children aged from 2 to 6 years old. It was challenging as well as rewarding to see them making progress.
Besides, my Tanzanian host family was adorable and made me feel like their daughter. The two other volunteers and I really felt at home: whenever we left on the weekends (for a safari or to go to Zanzibar), we joked about being so excited to get "home"!
Also the Projects Abroad staff was very nice and went out of their way to help me whenever needed and I am grateful for that.
It was an incredible adventure that I would definitely recommend!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay longer!
I was supposed to stay for one month but when I was there I extended my trip for two more weeks. But I think I should have extended my stay for at least another month!
Response from Projects Abroad

Hello Fanny,

Thank you so much for taking the time to let others know about your experience in Tanzania with Projects Abroad! Our staff strive to provide the Gold Standard for safety and staff support, so your positive feedback is greatly appreciated. I love that you had such a great experience with your host family and found your project to be both challenging and rewarding!

We would love to have you join us again in the future. Please contact us anytime when you are ready to use your alumni vouchers!

Kind regards,

Courttani
Project Expert
Projects Abroad

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Claire
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing summer in Hanoi

My month in Vietnam with ProjectsAbroad was honestly one of the most enlightening and rewarding experiences of my life so far. I volunteered on the Care Project at Vietnam's K3 National Cancer Hospital, where I worked in the playroom on the children's ward. My role mainly consisted of keeping the children entertained during the hours of free time that they had between treatment. Most of the kids mainly enjoyed playing jigsaws and drawing with me, but there was also plenty of physical activities to participate in (toy cars, building blocks etc.) Obviously there was a slight language barrier here but luckily I had an amazing translator who did an excellent job of interpreting conversations between the children and I. I also took the opportunity to learn some rudimentary Vietnamese beforehand so that I could verbally communicate on some level with both children and adults alike - the Vietnamese people REALLY appreciated my efforts to speak their language, so I would absolutely recommend doing some learning beforehand!
The children in the hospital really enjoyed having me working in their playroom for 4 weeks. Initially, they were slightly suspicious of me and quite apprehensive to approach me - especially because of my blue eyes! - but soon enough we had formed relationships and had so much fun together as they took a break from hospital life and focused on enjoying and playing.

I stayed with a host family during my time in Hanoi - again, another amazing experience. The family I stayed with lived in a small village in the south of Hanoi which was pretty close to the hospital I worked in which made it easy for me to get to work every day. The mother of my host family actually worked for ProjectsAbroad as the cook in the volunteer house, which was great as it allowed me an opportunity to get to know and socialise with many more volunteers. I cannot begin to describe how amazing my host mum was - she was so hospitable and was always making sure that I was comfortable, safe, and enjoying myself in her house. And as you can imagine - she was an excellent cook! We spent so many nights watching football together (the World Cup was on at this point) and doing karaoke at the top of our lungs. I still keep in contact with her regularly and I am hoping to return to Hanoi in a year or so to visit her.
My host parents also had two young children aged 11 and 15 who I loved spending time with! Their English was really good and the little boy especially loved teaching me Vietnamese words and walking with me to the local shop for snacks. Staying with a host family made my experience all the more authentic and it was so cool to be completely immersed in another culture.

In terms of tourist attractions/food/nightlife, Hanoi genuinely has it all. Vietnam is enriched in fascinating history and there are so many interesting landmarks and museums to check out in the city. Make sure that you spend plenty of time in the Old Quarter! There are also so many wonderful locations not too far from Hanoi where you can spend your weekend - places like Ha Long Bay (an absolute must) Sa Pa, Ninh Binh etc. Make sure that you cram as much as you can into your free time - you will not regret it.

As well as the Vietnamese host family I lived with, I also made so many other friends during my time with ProjectsAbroad. It was such a great opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. I now have friends in several parts of Australia, Switzerland, France and across the UK - not to mention the staff at ProjectsAbroad that I networked with in Hanoi and many other Vietnamese friends I made during my project.

This project was rewarding in so many different ways. It is such an excellent opportunity to do something worthwhile in another part of the world, to make new friends and to immerse yourself in a different culture. Vietnam has such a special place in my heart and I cannot wait to return one day.

What would you improve about this program?
I think there should be more clarity and information given before you actually arrive in the country. I found it very hard to get in contact with the Volunteer Advisor that I had been corresponding with via email. Matters such as where I was staying in Hanoi and my actual volunteer project weren't properly explained until I had actually arrived in Vietnam.
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic volunteer experience

I volunteered with Projects Abroad in the Galápagos Islands as part of a High School Specials group. It was the experience of a lifetime. During the 2 weeks, we were kept very busy doing impactful work in the local community. The staff were very involved and helpful. The accommodation was great, very comfortable and social atmosphere with good local food at lunch/dinner. Overall, the experience was fantastic and I would definitely recommend this project to anyone who is considering volunteering abroad.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring loads of spare clothes and a pair of walking boots for working that you don’t mind getting dirty
Response from Projects Abroad

Hi Hannah,

Thanks for leaving us such a wonderful review. We are thrilled that you enjoyed your time away with us on High School specials project in Ecuador. We really appreciate the time and effort that you invested into achieving our long term goals. You will be welcomed with open arms upon your return!

William Puga, Country Director for Ecuador

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Linda
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great volunteering experience in public health

After graduating from Health and Life Sciences in The Netherlands I decided to gain some experience in the workfield of international public health. Projects Abroad offered me a great 6 weeks-stay in San Pedro, Belize. I learnt a lot about local health challenges, gained some medical skills and enjoyed being immersed in a different culture. It was fantastic how the staff made sure the program was educational, impactful and varied. I was given the opportunity to shadow nurses and health inspectors, to help organize a health fair, to provide information about hygiene in schools, to measure blood sugar, BMI and blood pressure in mobile clinics, to work with Red Cross and the National Emergency Management Organization and more. In the meantime I stayed with the most friendly host family, who were also amazing cooks and were willing to introduce us to various cultural activities and habits. I'm very thankful for the great experience I had and would highly recommend it!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I ate a LOT of unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, loved it!
Response from Projects Abroad

Hi Linda,
I'm glad to hear you had an amazing time on Public Health project in Belize. Thank you for the effort you put into the project. It is greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to leave us a positive review. It really does help build the Projects Abroad Global Family. We hope to see you on one of our projects again!

Sanikia Powell, Head Office Coordinator for Belize

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I had some free time and I decided to use it volunteering for conservation. I did it twice, once in Costa Rica for three months and once in Galapagos for three weeks. I think that working hard in nature helps clear your mind and gives you a different perspective on life. And it worked very well.

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

As I am not a young person, I did everything by myself: looking for the program, choosing it, organising the flights and some of my traveling accommodations. I managed with Project Abroad about my fist night when I landed in the countries. And, of course, the lifts to my final destinations.

Everything worked very well.

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

When you go volunteering, bring always with you patience, smiles, curiosity and flexibility. Be open-minded - there are new cultures, foods, lifestyles that you’ll meet and you have the opportunity to share yours with local people. Don’t be scared to experience, but respect and follow the behaviours of your guests. You might have problems only if you insist to behave as in your country.

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

Days with Project Abroad in Galapagos are very well scheduled. You have the opportunity to see many different aspects of local life, nature, animals. You can also organise tours and short trips to other islands of the archipelago. It’s a never-ending adventure.

You work for 5 hours per day (average) and then you can enjoy surroundings, pubs, restaurants.

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

After the PA experience, I’m more confident in problem-solving and I know that a different lifestyle can be fun and definitely ‘change your eyes’. Things that seemed so important at home, take the right place in life.

I was scared not to find friends, but I was wrong. I found a lot of friends...

Any last pieces of advice?

The side goal of this experience in Galapagos (but also the one in Costa Rica) is that you really create a net of friends all over the world. You meet different people, different ages, different cultures. And it’s really interesting. I met Australian, Chinese, New Zealand, Canadian, European. When you share life, you learn a lot about other people.

Staff Interviews

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

Natalia Raquel Gomez

Job Title
Volunteer Advisor
Natalia was born in Argentina; she studied tourism and worked as a travel agent, receptionist and in customer service both in Argentina and abroad (Ecuador, Colombia and Panama). She is currently living and working in Mexico.
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What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory was having the chance to visit the coffee farmers in the central jungle in Peru. I got to see the entire process of coffee farming and the realities and life stories of the families working there.

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

I was able to grow both personally and professionally by traveling abroad and experiencing different ways of life. I was taught the importance of working as a part of a team and getting to know the different staff members, personally or via email or Skype.

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

Hearing the experience that one of our medical volunteers had when given the chance to witness a birth.

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

I would choose one of the marine conservation projects that are a great help to communities by contributing both with cleaning beaches and species research, and teaching children the importance of the environment.

Another project that I would be interested in joining is the nomad project in Mongolia. It will give you an amazing chance to experience a different culture first hand and learn a lot about their traditions.

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

I am very proud to be a part of this excellent team. I feel that we offer a great opportunity to people that wish to travel and make a difference, as an alternative to just tourism.

Projects like the Disaster Relief in Nepal after the earthquake, Teacher´s Training in Peru, Building in Ghana, Marine Conservation in several locations, and working with refugees in Italy are only a few examples of the different things that make me proud about Projects Abroad.