ISV (International Student Volunteers)

Program Reviews

Faya
9/10

Isv- all about safety, they said, while finding our way through the wood covered, muddy, wet steep hills. It wasn't dangerous, but imagine our sarcasm!

Noty only provided ISV a great learning enironment, they also gave us a life among a Maori family to teach us more about cultural identity, tradition and the ancient thoughts on nature, the earth, our modern way of living and travelling as a grest way to safely explore the world without doing it any damage.

Highly recommended expierence both mentally, physically and on a conscious enviromental level ad well as culturally.

And... Thank you for being here, reading comments/revieuws to be inspired, but now it is time for YOU to inspire us. Go out there and have a great time while doing great work!

How can this program be improved?
More people from around the world! As much as I loved the almost all American group, I hope more and more people from other countries would enter (I am Dutch, for example).
Yes, I recommend this program
Cat
10/10

In 2011, a couple of ISV student reps enthusiastically promoted their program in one of my lecture halls my junior year of college. Little did I know this moment would change me life dramatically. I picked up the flyer and thought, I could never do this! I can't afford this experience. It sounded amazing though and I didn't want my doubt to be what hindered me. I looked into it more and decided to try fundraising for it. It was super hard and I didn't come up with all the money, but I begged my family to help me pay the rest. In a nutshell, the 2 week volunteer experience opened my eyes to the large-scale social problems of gender inequality, economic hardship, and poverty which was the hallmark motivation to pursue my Masters in Social Work. This trip was my first overseas experience as a traveler, not as a tourist. I met amazing people and it opened my eyes and my heart to the meaning of life, of traveling, and of being a humanitarian. Since then, I have completed my Masters in Social Work with a focus on international community development and am currently serving a 27 month service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru. It's been 4 years since my trip to Ecuador with ISV and I believe now more than ever, I would not be where I am in life today if it weren't for this experience. So, if you are considering doing a trip with ISV, but have doubts, find a way to make it work because it could be a big step in fulfilling your destiny!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Yidi
10/10

we cried a lot during the time in Thailand with our buddies, they are like my real sister and brothers, and i hope i can come to Thailand again to visit Maekok Foundation .
It was the most memorable experience in my life. I learned so much during the time spending with the Kids, and i miss them so so so so much!!!
We taught the Kids English while they also taught us how to do the work, like how to mix the sand and rock, how to plan rice.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Carol
10/10

When I first learned about what ISV was, I immediately wanted to sign up- and I'm so glad I did! Traveling to Costa Rica in the summer of 2016, was the best experience of my life that I've had so far. My career goal is to become a veterinarian, so when I found out that ISV had programs involving wildlife conservation I was hooked. Luckily I was placed in the Osa in Water project, which involved many aspects of sea turtle conservation, and I was thrilled! The project site was on Playa Blanca, and we traveled to several neighboring beaches where we would set up nets in the ocean in order to capture either Hawksbill, or Black sea turtle species. Once we had one trapped in the net, the researchers would haul it onto the boat, ride to shore, and we would conduct the data research of measuring the turtle's carapace, plastron, and tail length. If it was a new turtle that we had never encountered before, we would give it a number tag on its left and right flipper in order to monitor its travel patterns. We would also take a tissue sample from its hind flipper so the researchers could further study blood lines. On days where we weren't working directly with the sea turtles, we would plant Mangrove seeds, which are a vital food source for the Hawksbills. We would also do beach clean ups, and different maintenance work along the project site. It felt so rewarding, being able to help conduct this project successfully. Something I would definitely do again!

How can this program be improved?
The project was great!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Alison
10/10

My trip to the Dominican Republic this summer was without doubt the most fulfilling and worthwhile experience of my life. I opted to travel out to the DR for the 5 week programme and enjoyed every second of it. Before flying out, I must admit that I felt a little uninformed about the exact tasks we would be responsible for on the project site. Please do not let this put you off - once over there everything became clear and all fell in to place.
The first week was a Spanish and Cultural Immersion programme. This is something I would definitely recommend to future volunteers because knowing a bit of Spanish is invaluable when working in a school and interacting with the locals. Extras such as dance and cooking classes, city tours and a trip to the beach really added to the experience and gave more of an insight in to Dominican culture. For the duration of the week I stayed with a really lovely host family who took great care of me and made me feel extremely welcome in their home.
For the two week programme myself and 13 other volunteers were placed on project at Blue Moon. We worked in a kindergarten teaching the local children a range of subjects including English, Health, Road Safety, Arts and Crafts and Physical Education. On top of this, we restored and developed the worn-out playground at the school, and re-built the foundations of an elderly man’s house and laid concrete floors within it. It was a truly eye-opening experience! Seeing the children playing in their new playground touched my heart and really made all of the hard work and sweat worth it. A really rewarding experience that I felt honoured to be a part of.
The adventure tour was another incredible experience. I would 100% recommend staying for the last 2 weeks as it’s a perfect opportunity to see more of the country and do so many fun filled and adrenaline pumping activities. A couple of my many highlights were rappelling down the side of a 45m waterfall, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and another was cliff jumping.
I must also mention the awesome ISV project leaders Danyi and Pedro, and adventure tour leader Adolfo. They were all full of fun and enthusiasm, constantly keeping a smile on everyones face. The experience really wouldn’t have been the same without them. Think yourself lucky if any of them are involved in your ISV experience!
I would recommend this programme to anybody who wants to make a positive impact in our world. Whether you are an avid volunteer, a wanderlust globetrotter, or a novice traveller, you will fall in love with the Dominican Republic and ISV. I was lucky enough to make some amazing friendships along the way. I’m already looking at another ISV programme for next year! We as volunteers take part in a programme like this to enhance the lives of the less privileged, but my life has also been enriched in so many ways. Amazing experience and I fully encourage everyone to look in to volunteering with ISV or a similar organisation.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Adrianna
10/10

Traveling with ISV to Australia was one of the best decision that I have ever made. Growing up I had always wanted to visit Australia and travel the world, but I thought it would be impossible to go so young. After hearing about ISV I knew that I had to take the opportunity that was given to me. Going to Australia was the first time I had got on a plane and the first time I had ever left the State of Texas. It was scary and nerve-wracking at the beginning of the trip after all I went by myself half way across the world and with a bunch of strangers. This was the scariest thing I had ever done, but after the third plane and after meeting my group members, I knew it was all going to be okay. Volunteering at Phillip Island Nature Park for two weeks was interesting and a lot of fun. Learning about the environment, the animals, and making an impact in the world was an adventure itself, by building penguin houses, watching penguin parades and chasing wallabies out of plantations, it was so much fun. The girls I spent my time with went from strangers to family in just a couple of days. But that was just the beginning, and the action packed adventure tour was next and it was really an adventure, wing two weeks of laughter, being a risk-taker, and having adrenaline rushes. From swimming in the Great Barrier, to jumping off bridges and planes, the adventure was everywhere. The last week of the trip was a tour around the tropical islands of Fiji and it was paradise. This trip was not just a vacation, it was a life-changing experience. Learning about the culture of Australian natives and Fiji natives was a great experience and it made me realize how lucky I was to have everything. This trip is a bit pricey but every cent spent was all worth it for the trip of a life time and I definitely recommend everyone to join the experience.

How can this program be improved?
This program could be improved by giving out project overviews or travel manuals more advanced rather than right before the trip. Maybe just samples of what the previous groups have done. Overall the program had everything organized.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Dulce
10/10

Sharing a story of your experience in Costa Rica is very challenging, there are just so many things I learned and how now applied to my daily life. Costa Rica changed my perspective of living and life in general in a positive way. One thing that I wont forget is how aware people are of there environment and try to provide ways to reduce pollution. I was able to appreciate small basic needs, like the ability to have clean drinking water. I also learned to try and live more eco-friendly and reduce the impact of trash. The moment I realized how beautiful and rich Costa Rica is was when I kayaked to Rio Tropicales lodge. The beauty there is hard to describe and difficult to forget. Trees everywhere surround you and you have this huge river that sound like a lion roar at all times of the day. Hiking around and being able to feel the rain pour down your face has never felt to relaxing.

How can this program be improved?
Allowing people to explore more of the community and town. Being able to communicate and emerge people with the culture and environment.
Yes, I recommend this program
Chloe Roberts
Chloe Roberts
10/10

This was my second trip through ISV and it was absolutely amazing! I was able to get hands on experience doing things I learn about at my university as well as gain knowledge on certain things that I probably would not have learned sitting in a classroom. I always felt welcomed and accepted by all of the other volunteers and the staff. The work was hard but definitely rewarded and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Completely life changing! I would recommend this to anyone who loves to travel and volunteer!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Bailey
10/10

ISV is an amazing program that changed my life. You work towards sustainability goals on a conservation project making lifelong friends. Then you travel the whole country with these amazing people doing crazy thrill-seeking adventures. The volunteering is fun and then you do crazy once-in-a-lifetime things like skydiving from 19,000 feet, Bungy jumping at the first place in the world, and Zorbing down a hillside. Plus you see sights that even a camera cannot capture. It really is a win-win situation. You make a difference in the world, and you gain some unforgettable friends and memories!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Hasha
10/10

My experience volunteering in the community of El Castillo in the Dominican Republic was unreal. I can't think of a single thing I would change about it except the length. I wish I could have stayed for much longer than two weeks. I had the opportunity to work in community development so I got to do a little bit of construction and also spend time with the children in the community school. Every night when I went to sleep, I thought to myself, "wow, today was the best day of my life". Although every day felt like the most wonderful day, I have to say that working with the children was the best aspect of my trip. Getting to interact with them and give them the attention and love they crave was the most amazing feeling in the world. I will never experience as much happiness as I did when I would chase a kid around and finally catch them and tickle them and see the sheer joy in their smiles. Meeting the families and connecting with the children is the most amazing part of this entire volunteering experience.

How can this program be improved?
The only improvement I can think of would be to have a more accurate project overview. Once I got to the Dominican Republic and our trip progressed, I realized that most of what I had been told in the project overview was inaccurate. It wasn't a huge issue or inconvenience for me, but it could end up being one for trips in the future in other places.
Yes, I recommend this program