Trellis

Trellis

About

Trellis is a non-profit organization which uses education as a tool to uplift individuals and communities. We offer comprehensive volunteer and work experience programs for people who want to travel, teach, and live overseas.

Our entirely unique, self-sustainable, and community-driven volunteer and work placement programs will provide you with all the support, training, and work experience necessary to become a truly exceptional foreign language educator.

Develop your skills in a safe and structured classroom environment while teaching underprivileged youth in the beautiful city of Da Nang, Vietnam. If you want to continue your journey oversees upon completion of our program, Trellis can help you secure a full or part-time teaching position of your choice through Trellis' trusted network of partners in either Vietnam or Japan.

Travel with purpose in 2018. Volunteer with Trellis!

Website
www.trellis.ngo
Founded
2016
Headquarters

7 WAKAMATSUMACHI KYONAKA
Kanazawa, Ishikawa
920-1165
Japan

Reviews

Default avatar
Duvessa
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I can not recommend this program enough. I worked for them for just under 4 months during which I lived in a great apartment, was given 2 weeks of thorough teacher training and taught multiple individuals from age 6 to 25 at two universities and an orphanage weekly. Trellis gives you the opportunity to actually have a visible impact on members of the community, which is rare to find in many programs. Furthermore at the end of the program Da Nang felt like a second home to me due to the ideal balance between independence and guidance that Trellis offers.

I was able to make friends and engage with the community in a way that I haven't been able to before whilst traveling abroad. I was also given a considerable amount of responsibility, being able to plan my own syllabus and classes. I was an 18-19 year old girl when I took part in this program, which was daunting to say the least, but Trellis made me feel safe, comfortable and confident. This is an experience I am so lucky to have had and would recommend it whole heartedly to anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone in a positive way. I am undoubtedly a better person for it.

What would you improve about this program?
It can't be.
Default avatar
Morgan
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Hello!

I was part of the first round of volunteers for Trellis. I'm a military spouse from the USA. Unfortunately, I had to leave a month early to help a loved one recover from major surgery. Now that I'm not a full-time nurse, I've decided to leave a review.

The program begins with a crash course into teaching, including basic lesson plans and how to adapt lessons from a textbook. It focuses on the teaching aspect, not so much on the evaluation aspect. As a new teacher, I had to guess student's English fluency and try to make lessons to their level.

My background is education and biology, so I expected to do well in Trellis. However, the program was really difficult for me. When I first started, there were not as many lesson activities and resources as I thought there would be. I'm good at designing lesson flows once I understand how to incorporate activities, but if I don't fully understand how the activity works then it's harder for me to adjust it to a student's level. I asked for help and I mostly got it. At first I was mostly told to Google lesson plans. Most of what I found online tended to be aimed at kids. Maybe I'm not good at Googling. I was persistent in asking for resources and ideas on how to modify the activities, and eventually received more help. Trellis is a program where you have to advocate for yourself. If you're not comfortable asking for help when you need it, then this program may not be for you. If you ask for something and you're not getting it, then you have to be persistent.

In college, I was trained to have well planned lessons. I became a bit of a perfectionist by the time I graduated. I thought my attention to detail would serve me well in Vietnam, but it hindered me. Teaching in Vietnam is very different from America, it's more laid back. The expectations are low, to the point where teachers aren't really supposed to take the teaching part too seriously. I did, and I struggled because of it. Eventually, I learned that teaching there means focusing less on grammar and vocab and more on creating opportunities for them to practice. It took me a while to find activities appropriate to their fluency level, but once I did I used them in rotation.

Trellis provides transportation to and from the hotel, and volunteering is like working a 7am-4pm job. Most of my time was at the University, if not teaching then preparing lesson plans. I'm not someone who's good at "winging it," and I think that added to my struggle. I like having activities ready ahead of time and at least ideas for back up activities if students aren't at the level I think they are (and frequently, they weren't). Others could just grab supplies and throw things together, but alas I could not. At least, I couldn't until the end of my time there. Eventually I came to understand how each activity worked and how it could be adjusted, but a lot of what I learned came from trial and error.

As far as the country of Vietnam, it was really overwhelming to me at first. Growing up, my parents always pointed out certain parts of town to stay away from, especially since I was a girl. To me, most of Da Nang looks like the parts of town my parents told me about. It's a developing country, and I didn't really quite know what that looked like until I was there. It took me a bit to feel comfortable enough to walk and explore on my own. Once I gained that confidence to explore, I discovered that the locals are some of the most friendly and outgoing people that you'll ever meet. People approached me and invited me to join them frequently, whether it was at a coffee shop or for an early morning beach walk.

If you do go, I'd recommend getting to know the locals. One of the easiest ways to do that is through your students. I know, it's looked down upon to socialize with students in Western countries, like mine, so it can feel uncomfortable at first. But really, if you want to know the best places to shop, eat at, or just explore, they're probably your best resource. Most of them want to get to know you too, so take advantage of it and invite your class to eat out with you, or just go to the beach on a weekend.

It can also be tempting to want to stay with the group of other teachers (or other expats) because they're familiar. I didn't really get to know the locals until I ventured off on my own, and I'm so glad I did. I learned so much more about the country's richness and a surprisingly lot about myself. Unfortunately, right about the time I started adapting to life in Vietnam, I got some bad news about a loved one and had to leave early. I wish I could have stayed.

Although most of my time with Trellis was a struggle, I'm really glad I went. I don't think I'm the same person I was going there, I'm much more capable and confident. I'm handling the recovery of my loved one and the uncertainties of my personal life surprisingly well, and I think a bit of that comes from my growth abroad. I am grateful for my experience there. If you're up for a challenge, then I recommend that you go too.

(Also, ladies: options for feminine products are limited, so bring your own)

Response from Trellis

Hello Morgan!

We're so glad to hear that things are going well for you back home and that your loved one successfully recovered from their surgery. That's great news! Thanks very much for taking the time to leave us a review.

For the sake of others reading this, I would like to emphasize that the program that Morgan took part in was our very first pilot program. As such, the expectation wasn't that it would be perfect off the bat. Since then, we've taken measures to process the feedback we've received and identify areas which we could develop further so that our volunteers and students could benefit even more from our program. One of the biggest changes we've made is to our scheduling; volunteers will generally teach for about two to three hours per day with some additional hours thrown in for recap discussions so that we can provide support and feedback in order to make the lessons more enjoyable and productive. We've also partnered with two new organizations since this program which will allow our volunteers to gain a broader spectrum of teaching experiences and increase their overall engagement with the local community.

Here in Vietnam, all students study English in school from a very young age. As native or fluent English speakers, the biggest impact we can provide in terms of the language development of our students is practical, one-on-one engagement and speaking practice. Grammar and vocabulary are very important but we prefer to incorporate grammar and vocabulary teachings into more fluid, practical lesson activities. A large component of our lessons are game or discussion-related rather than traditional methods such as lectures and daily worksheets. This creates an environment which indeed seems more "laid back" when compared to a typical classroom environment.

Trellis values independence and flexibility in our volunteers. Culturally, Vietnam is very different than most Western countries and this indeed translates to the classroom and institutions. Most important, however, is that our volunteers are not expected to be 'perfect' teachers from the beginning. We aim to assist in developing your skills over time. Our program is also meant to be a way by which people who are interested in teaching English overseas can test the waters to see if it's something they would like to do long-term. Living and teaching overseas isn't for everybody but for many, many people it has provided an avenue for personal growth unlike any other possible!

Morgan - while, at times, the skills of other volunteers developed at a faster rate than yours, we're very confident that if the unfortunate circumstances in your home life had not arisen and you weren't forced to leave early, you would have definitely caught up and become a fantastic teacher. You're absolutely right about the importance of getting to know the local people; when it comes to travel in particular, you get back what you put in!

Thanks again Morgan! Please keep us updated on how you're progressing home. We're glad everything has worked out for you and we wish you all the best! Stay in touch!

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

In this internship program, we gained valuable experience not only teaching Japanese but also developing a new project from scratch. In order to teach well and make the students understand concepts better, we always needed to pay close attention to students, their learning environment and other teachers and find problems that needed to be solved. Then, we discussed solutions, decided our next actions and improved the quality of our language program. This is our mission. We came up with different activities in extracurricular activities in the Japanese Club and school trips to provide with opportunities to know more about Japanese and Japanese culture. I tried to make these activities something that students could enjoy a lot and also learn Japanese. I came to think about how I can make the most of this wonderful experience with Trellis in Vietnam for my future. I began to think that I would like to be a police officer and be of great help to Vietnamese students studying in Japan in the future. Having more dreams for the future will be a drive to your life. I hope more people will join this program and expand the possibility of their future.

Response from Trellis

Hello Yuki,
Thank you for the kinds words. We are happy to know that Trellis internship program has provided you with valuable experience and an inspiration for your future career. Come back and see us when you have a chance. Good luck with your future endeavors!

Default avatar
Rika
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a great experience and met wonderful people as a Japanese intern in Danang, Vietnam. The organization is still at its early stage and we were their first interns. Of course, the system was not perfect but Trellis provided us with a comfortable environment where we could reach out the staff if there were any issues and they dealt with them right away. We needed to be proactive as volunteers and Trellis listens to our opinions and respects them. I could nourish my skill to come up with my own ideas and put them into practice during my time there. As one of Trellis' Japanese volunteers, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work with English volunteers, Vietnamese teachers and students. I also had a chance to meet a lot of Japanese living in Danang. It was an extraordinary experience to understand different traditions and cultures there. It was the best internship in terms of gaining experience.

Response from Trellis

Hello Rika!

Thanks for the kind words. We're glad to know you made it back to Japan safe and sound. Thank you so much for all you contributed this program! Your students truly grew as a direct result of your time spent in the classroom and they all miss you very much! We hope to see you again soon.

All the best,
Team Trellis

Default avatar
Daniel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

To begin, let me start by saying that I was a member of Trellis' pilot program, and it will only get better with future programs. That being said, my experience was great. I found Trellis while searching online for possible location to teach English, without even having a destination country in mind. Not knowing if teaching would be something I would like to do for more than a few months, I though I would give it a shot.

The hiring process was very quick, and gave plenty of time upon my acceptance of the offer to prepare to come to Vietnam. I arrived a few days before the program started, and found temporary accommodations waiting for me. The day the program started, I moved into the housing that Trellis would provide for the next few months: a spacious, well-furnished studio apartment with some of the friendliest staff I have met.

A two-week training period kicked off the program, with one of the teachers from Trellis' parent company in Japan travelling to Vietnam to give a crash course in teaching basics. The classes themselves consisted of between 8 and 10 university students between the ages of 19 and 22. They were very entertaining to speak to and become close to, and they loved the system of "learning disguised as games" that Trellis uses.

Vietnam itself is a beautiful country. Da Nang is a seaside city surrounded by mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Travel inland a few miles, and you will be surrounded by dense jungle. Be sure to travel to Hoi An and check out the silk tailors! Or take a ride up to the Lady Buddha on Son Tra Mountain and explore a very peaceful monastery.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Trellis in Vietnam. Upon completion, you will have a chance to work in Japan teaching English in Kanazawa, a small city in western Japan that is rich in culture and heritage. Having been in Kanazawa for just over a week now, I can say that I made the right decision volunteering with Trellis.

Response from Trellis

Hey Daniel!

We're so happy that you gained so much from our program. You're welcome back anytime you'd like! We hope your settling into your new role as an English teacher in Japan. If you need anything please let us know!

All the best,
Team Trellis

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Daniel Polk

Daniel is a 26-year old American who has traveled and lived in multiple countries around the world. This was his first experience teaching English abroad.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because of the potential for a career in ESL. When the Trellis program is completed at the end of three months, they don't simply say goodbye to you. They help place you in a job in Japan if you choose that it was you want to do, and also can give advice for staying longer in Vietnam.

One positive aspect of the program is the relationship Trellis has with Lesson4U, a school in Kanazawa. This helps greatly in terms of training and job security.

Plus, Vietnam is an amazingly affordable country to spend time in. It is beautiful as well!

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

Trellis provided assistance with the following:

  • Accommodations for the length of the program
  • Assistance with getting the correct visas
  • Several organized excursions, ranging from a few days in a remote village to dinner in a nearby town
  • Day-to-day support, especially at the beginning when everyone was adjusting to life in Vietnam. Setting up a new phone, exchanging money, learning how to get around the neighborhood we lived in, etc.
  • Teaching materials for our use
  • Covered the cost of our transportation to and from the work site each day
  • Job placement upon completion of the program

I had to cover food costs (except for program dinners), non work-related transportation, and personal travel to other cities

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

Just do it! If you have never taught ESL in the past, this is a very good way to get your feet wet. There is a training period of two weeks before classes begin, and the program itself is a great trial of whether you want to continue teaching or not.

One piece of advice that I would give is to take advantage of the cheap transportation costs and use the time available to explore the country. You will be expected to put in the agree-upon time at the school, but that still leaves much time to do other things.

Also, be willing to eat food that may be out of your comfort zone! This is true for most countries you visit. Even if it does't look like something you would like, try it!

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

The days usually started with either a 7:30 am or 9:00 class, and ended in the afternoon. There is a lot of time between classes to get your materials ready for the next one, or to go grab something to eat from the many coffee shops and restaurants in the area. After work, the city awaits! Most places are open late, and there is no shortage of things to do.

The work week is Monday to Friday, and weekends are open. Occasionally a trip might be planned, but otherwise, you are free to do as you would like.

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

My biggest fear was simply teaching! I did not have many qualms about going to Vietnam, but teaching ESL was something I had no experience doing. Yes, the first few classes were a learning curve, but by the end of the first week, it felt natural. The best way to overcome it is just to do it!

What was the most rewarding about your experience abroad?

Teaching university students was interesting because unlike teaching children, university students are definitely capable of expressing their happiness or frustration with their experiences very clearly.

It was great to know that they loved the system of teaching used by Trellis: learning disguised as games and activities. Their excitement was evident by the number of extracurricular events that took place (at the students, requests) such as dinners and parties. Everyone was so friendly and actively wanted to learn more. This led to a very refreshing teaching environment, and I think it reflects well on the attitudes of the students.

The most rewarding experiences I can remember were the times when students expressed their appreciation. It was a great feeling!

Staff Interviews

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

Brendan Rumball

Job Title
Co-Founder, Project Manager
Headshot of Trellis staff member, Brendan Rumball

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is watching the sun rise over the vast temple complexes of Bagan in Myanmar.

I spent all night on an overnight bus from the capital city of Yangon and arrived in Bagan at around 4 am the next morning. My travel companions opted to sleep in the lobby of our hostel until our room was ready but I decided to jump on the back of a horse cart and make my way to one of the thousands of temples that dot the plains of Bagan.

I scrambled to the top of the temple and sat there with my camera, eagerly awaiting the sun. The wait was worth it. The spectacle of thousands of temples being enveloped by the morning light while hot air balloons drifted effortlessly above them was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen!

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

Founding Trellis has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. I've lost count of all the skills and knowledge that I've accumulated as a result of this experience.

Watching an idea turn into a reality is simply amazing and I encourage everyone to pursue what they're passionate about so that one day your ideas can manifest themselves into something you can be proud of.

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

If I were to engage with one of Trellis' programs it would have to be our international 'Travel and Teach with Trellis' program. I love travelling but I also try to maximize the productivity of everything that I do.

Teaching English as a foreign language is a lot of fun whether you're volunteering or working full-time. Both Vietnam and Japan are fantastic destinations for both traveling and teaching, and Trellis enables you to experience both!

Our 'Travel and Teach with Trellis' program encourages motivated people to travel, give back to the community, become excellent ESL teachers and secure full-time teaching positions in multiple countries! What more could you ask for from a volunteer program?

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

Trellis is unique for many reasons. First and foremost, our innovative partnership with our benefactor in Japan enables us to provide our volunteers with many opportunities that other similar organizations can't offer.

Since we're a non-profit organization, 100% of all program fees go directly towards expanding our educational initiatives; nobody profits off the hard work of our dedicated volunteers or students.

Our programs are socially-responsible and sustainable and are focused on turning our volunteers into the best foreign language educators they can be. We also provide our volunteers with the opportunity to experience multiple countries by engaging with our programs.

Operating as an international organization can be difficult at times, however; I'm proud of my team's ability to transcend language barriers and effectively operate in multiple time zones and locations.

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

I believe the biggest factor in being a successful company is being passionate about your product or service. Envisioning your company and its operations as an extension of yourself and your aspirations is the first step towards creating success and value for yourself, your customers, your employees, and your volunteers.

In this sense, being successful as both an organization and a person can often be a direct consequence of working towards the change you want to see.