What position do you hold at Volunteer Trip? What has been your career path so far?
Mallory: I am a co-founder of Volunteer Trip, along with my husband, Tavo. Previous to living our current dream, we both were Spanish teachers!
Gustavo worked as a Spanish teacher to international travelers in his home country of Honduras, and I worked as an elementary Spanish teacher to little kiddos in northern Wisconsin!
Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Mallory: I lived and studied Spanish in Argentina for 6 months. I then traveled throughout South America before returning to the reality of a job after college!
I eventually made my way back down to Central America, specifically landing on the beautiful country of Honduras. I volunteered in an orphanage for 3 months and lived with a local family.
During my stay, I met my future Honduran husband! I returned to Honduras various times to volunteer, translate in the public hospital, work with the local Spanish school, and spend time with my husband's family.
What is your favorite story of a volunteer's experience via Volunteer Trip?
Mallory: One of our undergraduate medical volunteers was so excited to work in the public hospital and see a variety of cases in the ER. However, her true passion was in gynecological care. We happily connected her to the baby delivery wing of the public hospital, which was very under-staffed and excited to receive extra help.
On her first day, she not only witnessed, but also assisted on the delivery of twins! I cannot explain how thrilled she was to have been in the room and assist on the delivery of twins, especially as an undergraduate student!
Where do you see Volunteer Trip in 10 years?
Mallory: In 10 years, we hope to have expanded to every country in Central and South America. Our overall goal is to create lasting change in the marginalized communities of our volunteer destinations.
And I hope to have achieved success in terms of positive, long-term change. Additionally, I would like to continue to be a super-affordable and high-quality volunteer organization.
We work directly with local organizations and all of the program fees go directly to our host families and partners. We are a small staff of dedicated individuals that just want to connect interested volunteers to opportunities in Latin America!
Additionally, I see us strengthening our relationships with our in-country partner organizations, hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages, and community centers.
And finally, I obviously want to create the most impact by sending the highest number of volunteers for the longest commitments possible.
Which volunteer abroad destination is most popular? Which is not as well-known but definitely worth checking out?
We do not have one volunteer abroad destination that stands out as absolutely the most popular. It is surprising to learn the variety of motivations to travel and volunteer in certain destinations.
Some volunteers simply are interested in the location and many others choose a volunteer program solely on the type of volunteer work. For some, the destination is not as important as the actual work.
As far as an up-and-coming destination, I believe that San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua will only receive more and more positive attention. It is super-affordable, home to great secluded beaches, and a surfer's dream! We offer a special needs and an English teaching volunteer program in San Juan del Sur. Check it out here.