Creating Peace Through Global Volunteering

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)

About

Volunteers For Peace (VFP) is a U.S. based non-profit organization that operates within the global networks of the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS), Service Civil International (SCI) and the Alliance of European Voluntary Service to provide meaningful cross-cultural engagement opportunities all over the world to thousands of volunteers every year.

Work project types include but are not limited to: construction/renovation, historic preservation, archeology; environmental and wildlife conservation, organic farming; educational and language learning; social services such as working with children, the elderly, physically or mentally handicapped, refugees, minority groups, drug/alcohol recovery; arts, sports and festival projects.

These opportunities promote peace by offering volunteers a chance to strengthen their ability to communicate in diverse groups, explore grassroots leadership opportunities, and build cultural understanding and connections.

Website
www.vfp.org
Founded
1982
Headquarters

131Main St #201
Burlington, VT 05401
United States

Would you like more information about this program?

Click below to get in contact with a personal advisor at Volunteers for Peace. We would love to answer your questions and help you discover if this program is the right fit for you!

Reviews

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

This workcamp takes place in an exceptional place, the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. The work they do for the environment is important to all. The people who work there are committed and fun to work with. While there the volunteers get to meet lots of local people, scientists and of course the international group. We all had a chance to learn about other cultures and find our own voice within the group. We learned lots of useful skills as well. We laughed a lot. I, as a facilitator, learn more about others and myself every year. Hopefully we are teachable no matter what our age. We had two Korean woman in their early twenties and an American of German descent in her mid seventies, an interesting mix and we all got along and loved spending evenings together.

What would you improve about this program?
Can't think of anything. The place we lived was comfortable, the area gorgeous. None of us really cooked, but we survived.
Lysistrata
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed ST VINCENT, France work camp in a cemetery. The reasons are it was an an international experience, each member was from a different country. We were able to share our unique background and cultural similarities. I enjoyed not feeling embarrassed by our age. Each volunteer was a different age and it did not affect our work behavior. Our work schedule was organized in a professional manner and it made it fun for us to finish the project. The project was taking down the cemetery wall. We removed the grout and stucco and put on new one. We used hand tools such as a chisel, to take it off the old grout, and a float to grout and stucco the cemetery wall. Every day our meals were prepared by some of the volunteers and it made the work experience different and more fun. Our afternoon were free from work, and it gave us the time to visit the village, or swim at our own leisure to also enjoy the country side. I recommend work camp for those who are able to commit to a project, and to also discipline oneself to volunteer.

What would you improve about this program?
Two weeks was intense, I would have liked it to spend more time working on the cemetery wall but also longer visits to Toulouse and other villages too.
Default avatar
Alexander
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the Turkish girls had me over to her Grandparents house right on the sea of Mamara. They owned a fruit farm and I got to try an amazing assortment of home grown fruit. And the food was all home made and delicious. I just remember the beautiful sunset over the water. I could see for miles down stream. No one really spoke English, so we had to rely on pure emotion as a form of communication. It brought a tear to my eye that night and still does.

What would you improve about this program?
More supervision. I sometimes got very lost...
Sonam
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteered with children who had Agent Orange. They required a lot of care to be provided to them on a daily basis. I remember a little boy whose head and body were twice or thrice the size of his legs and had to kneel on his knees the entire day, everyday. It was very painful to see. I'd recommend this programme especially to medical students who may be more well-aware on how to handle and love the children. It was really difficult for me, not having the experience needed so all I really did was to show my affection, feed them and sing to them. I guess that helped soothe their pains as well.

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

...And I ended up in the emergency room, but not because I injured myself "on the job."

It was about midnight when I realized I needed to go to the hospital, and woke our volunteer coordinator to let her know. (At best, I speak about 5 words of Italian. Clearly, I was going to need her help.) We ventured out into the main square of our tiny town in Umbria to find a cab but there were none. She asked a passerby where we might find one. He responded by putting us in his car and driving us himself.

My care at the hospital was excellent -- my volunteer coordinator translating every word, while the nurse practiced her little bits of English. Upon leaving, the hospital informed me I owed them a mere 25 Euros. And...could I come back and pay tomorrow? They couldn't accept my money at the time.

The next day, I gladly returned with another staff member, and 25 Euros. What could have been a frightening experience -- sick overseas -- turned into an unexpected exploration of a foreign health-care system, amazing treatment at a fraction of the cost I would expect to pay at home, and compassionate care by every Italian I encountered that night and early morning. Grazie.

What would you improve about this program?
A greater variety of tasks...and tasks that better connected us to the purpose of the festival. We spent most of our time in the kitchen -- preparing food and serving the other volunteers.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Yasmine Rahmani

Hello! My name is Yasmine and I'm from Los Angeles, California. I will attend the University of Oregon in the fall and learn about ethnic studies. I love traveling, photography, and anything outdoors!

Why did you pick this program?

I picked Volunteers for Peace because they offer a large selection of volunteer opportunities in any country you can think of. I chose to go to Spain since I had never been before and I wanted to immerse myself in a new language. I decided to work with children because I felt that they could teach me as much as I was teaching them.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Although my program only required English, I wish someone had told me to learn some Spanish beforehand. When I flew to Madrid, no one knew how to speak English. So, trying to change trains and asking for directions was very difficult.

I also wish I had spent more time in Spain. When going abroad to Europe, I learned that countries are very close together and therefore easily accessible.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I would tell them to go for it! You have the opportunity to step into a new world and a new way of life. Don't be afraid to discover and learn about different places because it will benefit your future. I think that gaining a new perspective on the world is the best thing to have. By sharing my experiences with my friends, they can one day do the same.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

The hardest part about going abroad was missing out on some things. Volunteering takes up most of your time, so I didn't get to visit major cities or eat a lot of traditional food. I would suggest doing as much as possible in your free time such as meeting new people and trying something new. You are in a different environment so take advantage of it!

What made this experience unique and special?

After only a few days, a young girl named Neda was very interested in trying to interact with me. She would speak and point things out, and I would communicate back to her in the best way that I could. Neda made my experience very personal and something I will always look back on.

Being able to visit some beautiful and historical sites added to my experience. I saw the town's castle, museums, and churches. Walking through and learning about Villena, Spain made me feel like a local, especially being the small town that it is.

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

During my first day, my friends and I decided to walk around after our break. As we were making our way down a street, we noticed that everything was closed. I later learned that everyone takes a siesta (an afternoon nap) every single day for at least 3 to 4 hours. In Spain, people generally do not revolve their lives around their work but more about what happens after it.

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

My one piece of advice is to learn some helpful phrases in another language for wherever you are traveling to. For example, if you are going to France, you probably want to become familiar with French. I would learn how to say: hello, how are you, my name is...

You should also learn how to ask for directions or give directions to your desired destination. Remember that you are entering another country, so they do not have to know your language in order to communicate with you. Also, learning another language is always beneficial!

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

When I reflect back, I thought that my purpose for going on this journey was to impact others. The main focus of my project was to go to various small schools and assist Spanish children with learning English, along with educating them about countries other than Spain. But, I soon learned that this experience had greatly impacted me.

While teaching others about where I come from, they reciprocated and taught me about their lives. I discovered my passion and curiosity for other cultures, and the importance of appreciating them.

Staff Interviews

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

Chelsea Frisbee

Job Title
VFP International Placement Coordinator

Tell us a little about VFP and your role at the company.

This year VFP is celebrating its 30th anniversary! We place American volunteers overseas in short-term and long-term volunteer projects around the world and also host international volunteers in the US every summer. Our projects build leadership skills, teach effective communication strategies and allow volunteers and communities to expand their global perspective and cultural understanding.

I’ve worked here since December 2010 as the International Placement Coordinator, helping American volunteers plan their overseas experience.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

I’ve always loved traveling and feel my experiences abroad have helped shape who I am today. I wanted to be involved in making those life-changing opportunities available for others!

What makes VFP unique?

VFP is a small organization with a large scope. To start the process, you’ll get a personal interaction and experience with VFP office staff. Internationally, you’ll work with our partner organizations based in each country who know the language, culture and regions where you’ll be volunteering. We try to keep our projects affordable because we know the value of volunteerism and want volunteers of all income levels to be able to participate!

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

Having an open mind, taking personal responsibility for one’s experience, being flexible and caring.

How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?

We are part of three different international networks of similar organizations – the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) at UNESCO, Service Civil International, and the Alliance European Voluntary Service Organizations. These networks have protocol in place that ensure all organizations are monitoring programs to be sustainable and have a positive effect for all involved.

More Interviews