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United Planet


United Planet is an international non-profit organization based in Boston, MA with a mission to enhance cross-cultural understanding while addressing shared challenges to create a community beyond borders, one relationship at a time. We connect volunteers who want to make a difference with communities in more than 25 countries, where they learn, teach, work, engage and immerse themselves in an mutual exchange. For many, it’s the most fulfilling experience of their lives.

United Planet's programs are designed to be immersive, authentic, and comprehensive. The program elements encourage full engagement with a new culture, forging strong relationships and new challenges. We partner with the communities we work with to ensure the experience is important, relevant and impactful.


256 Marginal Street
Boston, MA 02128
United States

Enroll in our Volunteer Quest Program to Ghana, Romania, Argentina, Nepal and New Zealand before January 31st!

During the month of January, United Planet will offer $250 Travel Grants to anyone who enrolls in a program to Ghana, Romania, Argentina, Nepal, and New Zealand (valid for any duration in that country). Enroll Today!


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Yes, I recommend this program

Really I thought just being in Japan was enough to make my heart beat, but not only that was amazing there where the people I meet and the family's I stayed with. I have traveled a lot in my life and this was my first time traveling alone, I was scared but the overall feeling of being able to be apart of this adventure just made me so happy. My host family's where so kind that I felt welcomed and reassured. Nothing about my experience was not fun, even when I missed my stop at like midnight and had to take a very expensive taxi back home. Now I only laugh about it, what can I do about it. It's now a story I can tell my friends over dinner.
The food there was the best for me, it comes in small portions but there are so many different dishes.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I was on a one week United Planet program in Cusco, Peru.
United planet is very well organized and everyone in the US office and in Peru was so helpful and knowledgable. United Planet helps with a fundraising page to help volunteers raise money to cover costs.
Once “in country” the experience was amazing. I volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary and I never could have or would have had the opportunity in the US (or maybe anywhere) to be so up close with the animals and to work side by side with locals... and the host family was great and they picked me up at the airport.... spanish language classes arranged at a local school. Add on tours offered. Advice and tips for before and during the stay in the country. Registration with the State dept, health insurance... the list goes on and on about how much United Planet gives. It was great!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Pick a good program like United Planet - trust their experience and professionalism and “Just do it”! :-)
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Yes, I recommend this program

My experience volunteering with United Planet was top-notch and life-changing! I felt extremely prepared prior to arriving, thanks to the excellent pre-departure assistance UP provided. I volunteered for 2 weeks at a K-8 school in Santiago. The experiences I shared with the teachers and students are unforgettable. Although it was only a two-week Quest, I feel recharged, energized and extremely grateful now that I am back home. In addition to volunteering, I especially cherish the time I spent with my host family. They went out of their way to take me to the most beautiful locales. They were able to share with me the REAL Santiago. My Chilean family made me feel safe and supported, and encouraged to venture outside of my comfort zone. They will remain life-long friends! I also really appreciate my program's director, Paul Fischer. He checked in on me often, which I appreciated!

What would you improve about this program?
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Yes, I recommend this program

I spent 2 weeks living in Cuzco, Peru and volunteering at a nearby dental clinic. Overall, it was an amazing time, I especially loved the city and all of the cool places to visit. My experience at the clinic was great as well, the dentists and staff were all very welcoming and kind, and I never felt uncomfortable. The staff at the Spanish school did a very good job at introducing us to the project, and giving us a thorough orientation about everything we needed to know about living in Cuzco and getting to our workplace. Also, if you go to Cuzco in the winter, just be aware that it is very cold, especially at night it gets absolutely freezing, so be sure to bring lots of warm clothes. As far as safety goes, I would say that you don't have much to be worried about, as it is very touristy in most places. However, at night on the weekends, I maybe wouldn't stray to far from the main areas without other people, just to be sure.

Portimão, Portugal
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a great time in Changsha, China! Living with the local people was very enriching, because it was different from where I live. I've learned lots of things in those three weeks. Not only how to teach or stand in front of a class of minimum fifty children. I also learned about the Chinese culture, the local (spicy) food and of course the beautiful (but oh so difficult) language. The Chinese education system is different from the one in Belgium. I think experiencing those differences was very interesting. In other words, I got the chance and opportunity to see life from another perspective. An unforgettable experience!

What would you improve about this program?
Sometimes I felt lonely. Maybe an extra volunteer would've made the Quest more interesting for me. I was the only volunteer at the school, so I didn't really have someone to share my experiences with.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Allie McCormack

Allie McCormack is from Ipswich, Massachusetts, is 19 years old, and took a year off after high school before going to Tulane University to volunteer in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. At Tulane she will be studying Public Health and International development. She loves traveling, running, going to the beach, and learning as much about people from other cultures as possible.
honduras travel

Morning: On a typical morning, I would wake up at about 6:30, eat breakfast, and then either take the bus to work or get a ride with my host sisters. I worked every day from 8:30 to 1:00. I worked at Programa de Rehabilitacion para Paralisis Cerebral (PREPACE). PREPACE is a center for about 100 children in Tegucigalpa who have cerebral paralysis, down syndrome, and other learning disabilities. Every morning I helped the children off the bus and then fed those who needed help. We typically spent the day doing music therapy, some physical therapy, and just lots of personal interactions with the kids. I usually stayed in one classroom, working with kids between the ages of 4 and 6.

Afternoon: Since I stopped work at 1, I had lots of free time. My host sisters went the La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras, so I usually went there to spend time with my sisters and their friends. I made a lot of friends in this way, with whom I am still in contact. This was also a huge help with my Spanish - since I was talking every day with people my age, conversation because pretty easy for me. Sometimes we would go to the center of the city or towns a short bus ride away from the city to get coffee or go to museums or just walk around.

Evening: A typical evening was usually just coming home and having dinner with my family. After, we would always hang out and talk or watch TV. I was really close with my host sister who was my age, so it was like living with a really good friend. On the weekends we usually went out either to our favorite bars in the city or to friends' houses. A few of the other volunteers lived in Tegucigalpa or towns that were fairly close, so weekends were always a perfect chance for us to catch up and share our experiences, and since they became friends with many of my friends in the city, we always had a great group.

punta sal

Highlights: The highlight of my volunteer experience was the last day at my project, because I really saw how much of an impact I had made. Every day I just did little, everyday things with the kids - I guess there weren't really any huge, standout things that I did there. But I became so close with them, and with the teachers throughout the whole experience, that leaving really opened my eyes to how important I had been. Part of my organization's philosophy is that as a volunteer who is only going to work for 6 months or a year, we need to be helpful and important, but not necessary. I felt so helpful and important, but I know that my project will continue to do amazing things without me, as they did before I arrived.

The highlight of my entire experience was all of the friends that I made. By the time I left I had so many connections that it was nearly impossible to leave. I was one of 13 ICYE volunteers (United Planet is the name of ICYE US/Canada). The others were from England, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Denmark. 6 arrived in August and stayed for a year, and I was one of the 7 who arrived in January and stayed 6 months. We lived all over the country, but we all visited each other all the time, and we had an automatic group to do weekend or weeklong trips to all of the amazing places in Honduras. I also took a weeklong vacation in Nicaragua, for Easter week.

I became so close with all of them, and made friendships that I know will last a lifetime. These friends became friends with my amazing Honduran friends, and all of them together are the main reason that my trip was so incredible. My friends in Honduras improved my Spanish while I improved their English. Every day I could talk in a different language about anything, to the most incredible people. They showed me the city, and the country, and taught me so much. I have friends all over the world who I can visit and talk to and maybe even travel with in the future, and I am so grateful to have had the enormous good fortune to meet all of them.

Staff Interviews

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

Elissa Allen

Job Title
International Programs Manager

What is your favorite travel memory?

A fond memory that first comes to mind is seeing women openly breastfeed their children in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The public transportation in the city is amazing and, while I was in route to various places I kept noticing women feeding their children on the bus. The most notable aspect was the lack of shame by onlookers. I was proud that their society hadn't succumbed to the discrimination of breastfeeding in public and, I hope it never does.

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

I've always known that being adaptable is important for both travel and volunteering. But, my versatility as a professional has developed within working for a nonprofit. Being a nonprofit team member is being a team member in the truest form of the term. There is so much to contribute outside of your set responsibilities. The work United Planet volunteers engage in requires so much flexibility.

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

I can not just pinpoint one volunteer. I think, rather, the best notification I receive from volunteers traveling for 6-months is that they would like to extend their stay for the year. Many participants enroll for 6-months because they want to be sure they can acclimate to the culture before deciding to stay one year. More often than not, I get a call 3-months in requesting a place for the remaining time. It just goes to show how volunteers are embraced and accommodated within their international communities and projects.

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

I would travel to Kenya for a year if I participated in a Long-Term Quest. The team in Kenya is so welcoming and hard-working. I have heard so many wonderful things from our volunteers about the Masai community, with which most of the projects work. I would like the opportunity to get to know Kenyan heritage for myself while volunteering there.

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

United Planet is very mission driven. I was especially proud to meet with our board and realize their compassion and active role in the organization.

United Planet truly utilizes all the talents of its team. I think this makes the organization especially unique.

Though there are certain roles and responsibilities of each team member, one can truly create a place for themselves doing what they love.

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 a cohesive team culture. Being able to work with like-minded individuals who share the same passions and vision for the company is so important for achieving a company's mission. This seems to be especially true for non-profits and NGOs like United Planet but, also with whom we partner volunteers.

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