UBELONG Volunteer Abroad Reviews

UBELONG

About

Most Affordable - Trusted by Thousands - Real Impact

Booking group volunteer programs only.

- Pick from 100+ projects in education, caregiving, conservation, medical and more
- Go to Africa, Asia & Latin America
- Go 1 week to 6 months and start any week of the year
- Fees from $175 for a 1 week placement - without compromising safety or impact, the most affordable volunteering opportunities
- UBELONG is an American social organization based in the US. Don't gamble, have the accountability, legitimacy and proximity of going with a US-based organization
- World-class training and mentorship program
- Powerful brand: UBELONG Volunteers have come from universities throughout the world, including Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Rice, University of Michigan and many more!

Website
ubelong.org
Founded
2009
Headquarters

PO Box 52
Manson, WA 98831
United States

Reviews

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Bianca
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed my experience in Laos volunteering to teach at the school. The children are great and eager to learn, they are kind and care deeply about each other and they value your time. I made the mistake of only going for a short amount of time and if you really want to get a lot out of the experience and if you want THEM to get a lot out of the experience, stay for a while and get to know these people! They're so kind and really good. The staff was extremely sweet and very encouraging. They are all so loving and kind and made sure you felt at home. Laos itself is becoming a big tourist hub and the social scene is what you won't expect, but if you do go, go for the volunteering aspect of the trip! Laos itself is beautiful and take a weekend trip to Luang Prabang and visit elephant sanctuaries and waterfalls! Overall, a wonderful cultural experience that I wouldn't have been able to fully achieve without volunteering! Thank you!

What would you improve about this program?
I enjoyed the program to its fullest extent! Maybe recommendations of where to go on weekends as in Luang Prabang so that volunteers can see the whole of Laos.
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Alicia
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was my first time traveling abroad by myself. I was very nervous and excited to embark on my first trip. I had always wanted to volunteer abroad and found out about Ubelong through the global education director at my university. Ubelong Peru was my destination because of the project (working with the elderly) and being able to live with fellow volunteers. With the help of my mentor Martina, from Ubelong, I was at ease with my impending trip. Working with the adult community and meeting people from different parts of the world while in Peru was a blessing. I have a very basic knowledge of Spanish but with the team leaders and fellow volunteers I survived. I look forward to visiting this beautiful country again.

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Alexandra
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The UBelong trip was truly a one of a kind experience. The volunteering experience was an eye-opener, and it was very safe. The volunteer leaders are incredible and humble people. I definitely recommend to choose UBelong as the program to volunteer through if you want to make an impact. The impact that you can make is definitely not limited, and you have the freedom to bring new ideas to the table. This experience has definitely made me a more culturally appreciative person, and more thankful for the life that I have. I volunteered in a disability school for deaf children and I volunteered at an orphanage shelter. Not only will you make a huge impact on the children's personal growth, but you will also experience a tremendous personal growth. I would have to say that UBelong would be the best volunteer program to participate in if you are planning to volunteer in Cusco, Peru.

What would you improve about this program?
I would say that this program can be improved in Cusco, Peru if the location where volunteers stay at would be changed to a hostel with better room conditions and healthier breakfast/lunch, and that the hostel also provide dinner. Other than this, it is an amazing program, and it really depends on the individual to make the most out of the volunteer experience.
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Stephanie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering at a local school in Ghana was such an eye-opening experience in terms of engaging with the welcoming locals, learning about the Ghanaian culture whilst living with a loving host family and growing personally into a more globally-aware and agile individual. Princess, my host sister, was always full of energy and keeping us on our toes. The staff and students at the school welcomed us unconditionally and taught us to sing and dance Ghanaian-style, which is one of the many experiences I will never forget. Through the program with Ubelong, I have been inspired and motivated by the local team and fellow volunteers to continue to help improve living standards to communities in need. It was my first time travelling without family and I felt supported and well-informed throughout the experience; from the time I submitted my application until post-program, where I still feel connected to Ubelong and the local team in Ghana. I have shared this unforgettable trip with my family, friends and peers and it is definitely something I recommend everyone to personally experience.

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Emilia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience in Cosa Rica was definitely a great experience.
I chose to go to Costa Rica for different reasons. First of all, I've always wanted to visit the country: its people, culture and way of living inspired me positive energy (the so called "Pura Vida!") and its nature and landscapes have always attracted me.
Plus, I felt the need to travel alone, in a very distant country, in order to have a completely challenging and bracing experience. And so it was! I met amazing people: my host family, the Volunteer Staff, the other volunteers, all the people that work in the school I volunteered at.
Fortunately, I speak some Spanish, so it was easier to me to communicate with the students, which was the thing I loved most. For two weeks, I shared every single moment with them, and I can say that I learnt from them as much as they learnt from me!

Alumni Interviews

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

Lacey Jochim

I'm Lacey! I just recently turned 21 and I live in Vancouver, WA, USA. I am currently attending a community college and going for my bachelors in nursing. This was my 4th trip volunteering abroad and my 6th visit to a third world country. I absolutely love traveling and all of the exciting opportunities it provides me with! :-)
A young girl posing for a picture.

Why did you pick this program?

I picked this program because I have volunteered with Ubelong before and loved the outcome of my trip. In 2012 I signed up for the program caring for children in Cambodia for one month through Ubelong. I was 18, and it was my first trip traveling alone. Ubelong could not have set me up for success more then they did.

I felt completely safe, my expectations were all met, I was prepared for what was needed and wanted from me, I had my own personal explore time and I grew so much in that short month I was away. Ubelong really makes volunteering abroad both personally and financially easy!

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

I believe the hardest part about going abroad is the unknown. You really have no idea what you are getting into until your in the country, miles away from home, in a place you don't know a lot about. That can be frightening and a bit intimidating to some people.

The language barrier and respecting the culture is also a more difficult part for me but only because I want to make sure I learn about the country and respect their culture. Over time, ( with trips or just being in the country in general) all these difficulties will eventually fade away. Just give it time :)

What made this experience unique and special?

This experience ended up being the hardest yet the most impactful volunteering trip I've ever been on. Like I said previously, this was my 4th volunteer trip. I've volunteered in third world countries a few times before this yet this trip I have never felt so connected and helpful as I did on this trip.

I got to literally see the positive impact happen in front of my eyes, I was apart of a strong bond with such a great group of 12 girls. My last day volunteering the girls brought out a huge thank you card and started to read me what they wrote. I instantly broke out into tears, as each girl started too as well.

It ended up being a big hug, farewell and sobbing party but I have never once cried upon leaving a group of kids until this trip. It was a great way to show the relationship we created amongst ourselves.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

I was volunteering in New Delhi, India. The population of that state is around 22 million people! One weekend some of the volunteers and I decided to travel to Varanasi, which is around 12-15 hours away. The best way of traveling to different cities is by train. On the way back we literally had to just hop on the train back to New Delhi.

We were on the waiting list but never got a confirmation of our seats, yet had to be back by Monday to volunteer. So Six of us volunteers, literally crammed in a TINY hallway between the bathrooms and the carts.

There was dirt covering the walls, people walking over us, wind blowing in our faces, and I think my whole left side fell asleep since this was a 14 hour ride.. but it was so funny to look back at this experience!

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

One piece of advice id give someone going on this program is to try everything once. The food, the culture, the work, the whole environment is SO different from back home yet so worth while to become involved and educated on the country and work your doing here.

I have never once said, "I wish I didn't do this, or I wish I never tried that." Everything you experience here teaches you something, no time or decision is ever wasted. Go by the motto - Try everything once, say yes more then saying no. :)

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

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

Martina Kaser

Job Title
Program Officer & Mentor, Local Team Leader Mexico
In January 2011 Martina met UBELONG Co-Founders Cedric Hodgeman and Raul Roman in Cusco, Peru. She started to work as the UBELONG Local Team Leader in Peru, and then moved to Mexico where she spearheaded the creation of the successful project. Martina has also been working as a UBELONG Program Officer & Mentor since May 2015.
cenote sinkhole ubelong mexico

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have travelled a lot in my life and could share various memories, but one of my favorite memories is my trip to Peru in 2010. I was excited and nervous at the same time to travel to Latin America for the first time. I had four weeks of Spanish classes in Cusco and four weeks of volunteering in Arequipa as well as some time to travel around afterwards. I loved it, from working with the girls at my project to not being able to leave Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes, the little village before Machu Picchu) for a week and flying out in helicopters to exploring Peru, its culture and traditions.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

In my opinion Mexico is often underrated. It’s supposed to be really dangerous, everyone is worried about safety and drug trafficking. And yes, of course, there are a lot of dangerous places I recommend not to go to, but Mexico is a huge country and has a lot to offer – breathtaking beaches, rich Mayan culture, cenotes and natural parks to only name a few. I think Latin America in general is often underrated concerning safety. However, I can’t think about a destination that’s most overrated.

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 the staff; motivated, experienced, responsible and passionate people who care about the company and want to make it grow as well as love their job. Furthermore, good leaders who know how to manage employees are important.

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

I have changed and grown a lot since working for UBELONG. I learned a lot about people, different cultures, communication, marketing, client service, conflict management and leadership. I have grown from different challenges like being part and leading one of the largest and most respected volunteer programs in Peru, building up our Mexico program from the ground, starting to work as a UBELONG Program Officer & Mentor as well as helping plan and joining the Mexico expedition (during an expedition you travel to global hotspots and come face to face with the world's most pressing social and environmental issues). Furthermore, I’m about to head to Asia with a high school team from Vermont to work in our projects in Laos.

I learn something new every day and believe in bringing people together across borders to collaborate for the common good.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

UBELONG has a unique team - our employees, partners in the field, hosting communities, the range of individuals and corporations that work with us, an exciting global community. We have recognized professionals, our programs are built on practical knowledge gained through years of international experience. We are flexible, we offer programs across many areas and for different time frames. We are affordable and want to make a positive difference the local communities, volunteers and the world.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.

I feel proud to be part of the UBELONG Team every day. We support and motivate each other, do great work and grow together every day. However, I felt especially proud to be part of the team when we started the program in Mexico 2014. It was amazing to be part of it and to have seen the program grow over the last two years. Furthermore, another really special moment was the first expedition in Mexico in November 2014 about immigration. We went to different communities around Merida (state of Yucatan) and interviewed people who for example crossed the border to the United States illegally years ago and others who have their children and/or husbands there. We took pictures of each of them and presented the stories and pictures to the public in Merida as well as in 2015 in an exhibition in New York City.

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

There are lots of stories to tell :) One of the best stories was from a UBELONGer who volunteered at the Center for disabled children In Cusco. He loved his project. One day he asked the kids how old they are, they did answer and also asked him for his age. He said 32, and all the kids started to laugh like crazy and afterwards only called him "abuelito" (grandpa). They had the time of their life, and a simply thing like calling the volunteer "abuelito" made them laugh every day.