Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad

About

Projects Abroad is a global organization formed 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, teach, study and internship programs abroad.

Reviews

Default avatar
Anneke
10/10

I had a great experience in Cordoba, Argentina, and I would recommend it again! I stayed in Cordoba for ten weeks as a human rights intern.

The human rights internship is good for any age or professional level, as it is flexible. We participated regularly in three to four main activities, but we often went to other events and were asked to create our own research projects. My favorite regular thing we did was act as peer mentors for young women in a correctional facility, and my favorite event was marching on International Women's Day in favor of safe, legal abortions and to bring awareness to femicide.

Cordoba is a good city to live in for volunteers with tighter budgets like myself. The city is centered in the Sierra mountains, so there are LOTS of places with day-trip potential nearby, and the buses were inexpensive and reliable. My favorite trips involved hiking--Capilla del Monte and Las Cascadas. In Cordoba, there are art fairs, street performances, and events all the time, as well as some really good art museums.

I would definitely recommend that volunteers brush up on their Spanish! I went with very little, and I was not able to afford PA's Spanish lessons, so I relied mostly on immersion to learn. I learned quite a bit, anyone like me with little Spanish would be able to do it and have a great experience--however having a better grip on the language will give you a more dynamic experience overall. Having spent two and a half months in Argentina I am motivated to learn more Spanish, so that my next experience will be even better. I am planning on taking Spanish when I start school next fall.

I genuinely recommend this project for anyone looking into human rights work as a career, like me. It gives a good, in-depth look at work in the non-profit sector. Additionally, Argentina's past struggles with human rights in the 1970s and 80s gave me context for everything we were working on--it is a good country to learn in and from if you need an introduction to human rights advocacy.

How can this program be improved?
There are parts of the main activities in my project that could have been streamlined to be more effective, however I understand that this partially due to our very new volunteer coordinator (who was really good, even though she was just hired) getting used to the position--in fact, as I was getting ready to leave the coordinator and other volunteers were planning how they could improve the project.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Shannon
8/10

Over the spring break, I went to the Taricaya Ecological reserve in Peru, and I loved it! This was technically meant for university students, however Projects Abroad was super accommodating and still let me go even though I am in high school. I received lots of information and my contact was incredibly helpful, and answered all of my questions quickly and thoroughly. They offered to book flights for me and sent me an option, but I ended up finding a cheaper option and booking them myself. Once I arrived in Peru, there were always staff around who were very helpful and kind. I loved working Taricaya, doing research and conservation work, and I felt like I was genuinely being helpful, rather than just volunteering to make myself feel good. The only thing that I wish could be improved is the overall cost, as it was a little expensive. All in all, I had a fantastic time, and Projects Abroad was very helpful during my travels.

How can this program be improved?
Cheaper Cost
Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Shannon. Thanks for sharing! We are indeed very flexible in terms of dates and projects. It's great that you were able to join us in Peru over your Spring Break. This is such a unique project and volunteers' help is much needed and appreciated. The cost of the program does include a lot more than what may be at the sight, so not only does it include the arrangement of your project, housing, insurance and food, but also the support from our staff 24/7, the partnership with the reserve, materials, training and workshop, and so much more! You do get a discount as a member of our alumni community so hopefully you can join us again in another one of our projects soon!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Abbey
9/10

My experience was very enjoyable and I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to partake in an overseas immersion experience. The staff in the country were well experienced with the program and itinerary and also about the local culture. The staff were also very friendly and were able to connect with the kids to ensure we got the most out of the trip. The support provided prior to the trip was also extensive and helpful and once it came time to leave for Cambodia I felt very prepared and I knew what I was to do once I arrived due to the conversations I had been having with Projects Abroad staff prior to my departure.
At our placement we spent our days painting, teaching and we built a pond at the primary school. My favourite part was seeing the excitement on the faces of the children. This motivated me even more to continue the good work I was doing and assured me that this trip was worthwhile. I enjoyed every moment on placement and to see the impact we had made once our trip was over was a life changing moment for not only myself but all people involved.
One of my biggest concerns when embarking on the trip was the people I would be sharing the experience with. However, I didn't need to worry as I made long-lasting friendships in the people I went on the trip with. What I found even more interesting was that the individuals on the trip came from across the world and were all of a similar age to myself. I truly believe the people I shared the experience with made it even more worth it.
Overall I believe the trip was prepared and managed well from start to finish by the Projects Abroad staff. I never had a doubt in doing a program with Projects Abroad and I plan to do more as I loved the first one so much.

Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Abbey. We are glad to hear you had such a great time in Cambodia! We understand that it may be a bit scary to go to a foreign country at a young age, which is why our staff is always happy to provide all the information you need and answer any questions both before you travel and during your stay.
One of the great thing about volunteering abroad is that you get to work with other volunteers from around the world who share your same vision and passion for helping out those in need. It's wonderful that you got to experience how grateful the children are for your contributions!
Thanks for sharing!

Yes, I recommend
Christine
1/10

After spending 2 months in Cambodia volunteering with Projects Abroad (cost $4400 Australian not including flights) I came away asking where has the money gone. Apparently PA allocated $4.50 US each day for each volunteer to eat. The organization gave the school that I was working at $100 US for my placement and allocated a further $40 for me to buy resources for the school. The accommodation was worse than any basic hostel I have seen. The mattress I slept on looked like it had been dragged out of a rubbish tip. So where did the money go In fact where did the $18 million profit that this company made in 2016 go? Well according to PA (as per an email they sent me) "In Cambodia we make considerate donations to an NGO called Khemera for their 8 daycare centres..." Interesting use of the word "considerate" when Khemera's 2016 financial statement indicates that Projects Abroad donated a mere $42,469.00 some of which was made up of the $100 per volunteer placement contribution made to 8 childcare facilities operated by Khemera. Further investigation uncovered the mother company of Projects Abroad....Beech View Holdings Ltd. The company's financial statement 2016 makes for an interesting read: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/03286143/filing-…. And if you're not fully convinced about the profit making focus of this company, here's another article: https://www.incomediary.com/peter-slowe-interview-running-t…

How can this program be improved?
The mission statement on the Projects Abroad website states that: "Our mission is to encourage young people to volunteer for worthwhile work in developing countries." I find this statement discriminatory in the extreme. At age 58 I clearly don't fit the "young" profile and my attention was crudely drawn to this by a PA staff who referred me to the mission statement when I questioned the efficacy of Projects Abroad practices.
Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Christine,

We appreciate the concerns you have raised, and we have been in email communication several times to answer your questions around how your project fees are allocated. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our projects and the experiences our volunteers and partners have, and we’ve taken all your feedback on board to help with this effort.

We try and be as transparent as possible around how project fees are allocated. Unfortunately, the picture you paint is not the full story, and reflects only a small part of the costs of running projects in the developing world all year round. There are many fixed costs that need to be covered even if we don’t have any volunteers signed up at various times during the year, such as local staff salaries, office rents, donations to projects and project materials. Your fees would have also contributed to the annual costs of running these projects and our full-time team in Cambodia, as well as towards other projects around the world that don’t receive as many volunteers but still make a significant impact on local communities.

The $18 million “profit” in 2016 you refer to is actually £18 million turnover – it’s the full amount of money we received in 2016, with the vast majority of this going straight into running our volunteer projects and support structures throughout the year. We do factor in some profit, with most of this going into a reserve fund to make sure we can keep our projects running throughout the year, even if we don’t have any volunteers at any given time.

We understand that it can be difficult reconciling Projects Abroad being a for-profit organisation and offering volunteer work, but we have found that by structuring ourselves this way we are best able to keep our projects running year after year, for 25 years now, as we are not reliant on government or donor funds. We can choose the communities and focus areas that we believe will benefit the most from the work and contributions of our volunteers, and we often work in areas that very seldom get attention from large donor organisations or the international media.

We welcome volunteers of all ages and from all backgrounds, and in fact we see more and more people choosing to volunteer as a career break or during retirement. We certainly don’t intend to exclude anyone based on age, and we apologise if you felt our mission statement is discriminatory. We are always looking to improve, and this will be reviewed to make sure we are as inclusive as possible.

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Natalie
9/10

I took the leap at the young age of 16 and decided to fly half way around the world to volunteer with Projects Abroad. I signed up for their High School Projects without evening knowing where Cambodia was!!! Projects abroad helped and assisted me with everything. My trip leader was beyond amazing, a real support buddy and I later learned that the team did an incredible job at supporting my Mum with all her nervous questions!!

The Staff at Projects Abroad were there to support us 24/7 in country and back Home. It was a well run program and I felt I was in safe hands. I recommended this program to someone else and they had an experience very like my own which was great to hear. It’s great to know that the team at Projects Abroad believe in what they do.

Accommodation was great, basic but very comfortable. I had my own bed, shared bathroom and space for my suitcase at the end of my bed to store my belongings. Accommodation was always clean, neat and tidy. Drinking water was always available. At night there was a night guard although it did feel it was in a pretty safe area.

I am so glad that I went with Projects Abroad for this trip and couldn't imagine having gone with anyone else.

How can this program be improved?
Everything was well thought out.
Response from Projects Abroad

Hi Natalie. It is wonderful to hear you had such an amazing time in Cambodia. A fantastic aspect of our High School Specials is that we organize every activity for you so you can really seize the day and be as helpful as you can with the community, while also getting to explore everything they have to offer. It is also a great way to meet friends from around the world who share the same perspective as you, which is always refreshing. Thanks for sharing!

Yes, I recommend

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