Global Volunteers

Program Reviews

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Gordon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteer at the Blackfeet Nation in Montana

Volunteering at the Blackfeet Nation in Montana was an amazing experience. We learned about the Blackfeet culture from native elders and worked in a variety of ways to assist the community. And we were able to enjoy Blackfeet stories, dance, and artwork. In our free time, we were able to visit Glacier National Park on two different occasions. Our leader, Karen, was well prepared from her leadership experiences with the Blackfeet in previous years and she did an excellent job during our week there. We were also blessed to have the opportunity to experience the Sun Dance on two different days. The Blackfeet community expressed their gratitude for our service. They affectionately referred to the current and past volunteers who have served there as "Globals." Volunteering in the Blackfeet Nation is a very meaningful and worthwhile program.

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Timothy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure, Fun, and Helping a Wonderful Community

I have been volunteering with Global Volunteers since 1998 and I just returned home from Poland on my 18th trip with the organization. I was in the Cook Islands in 2018 and it was magical. The setting, the culture, the welcoming community, and an incredible team leader. I was teaching at the high school where students came from all over the Cook Islands because it was through this school that they would advance on to university. I was encouraged by the teachers and students who all appreciated my time and enjoyed the challenges to improve their command of conversational English.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy the experience. Remember that you have been invited by the community in Rarotonga to help them reach their goals. It is a beautiful location. The students are interested in learning and really enjoy working with the volunteers.
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Greg
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Travel with Purpose

We have served on eleven programs with Global Volunteers and feel that the organization does a wonderful job in all aspects; planning, orientation, safety, direction, support etc. The Tanzania program is led and managed by country residents who provide an excellent understanding of the culture and the people. Their direction and support is superb. We live in the community and have amazing interactions including visiting homes, attending worship and helping in schools. We work alongside local citizens as we complete tasks designated as needs by the community. The intimacy in this type of travel allows us to obtain a deeper knowledge of the people and truly enhances our lives in innumerable ways. Although we know our actions are beneficial to the people we serve, we feel we get so much more than we provide.

Although the people we serve have very little financial wealth, they willingly share what they have. They are magnanimous, open and friendly making us feel very special in their presence.

Tanzania holds a special place in our hearts - we have served there twice - and as soon as it is safe to travel we intend to return to one of our favorite places on earth.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
We were building a green house and after a week of ground preparation and concrete work we were set to erect the structure. The company providing the materials arrived after a three hour drive and we began the set-up in a pouring rain. It was a miserable day and we had to convince the company reps to stay til the end. We got it done but it was a struggle for all.
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Sharon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English with Global Volunteers in Beja, Portugal

This was my third volunteer experience with Global Volunteers but first trip to Portugal. The goal was to build relationships and provide exposure to (American) English as a native speaker. The educational settings ranged from small classes of six to larger classes of twenty with some one-on-one tutoring. Students ranged in age from ten to working adults. Students (and their teachers) were genuinely warm and welcoming. The people of Beja were so gracious and friendly and tolerated my feeble attempts at speaking Portuguese. Being that this was my first trip to Portugal I was fascinated to learn more about the complex history of the country, the art, the architecture, the agriculture, etc., etc., etc.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I am proud to say, that at the recommendation of several of my students, I tasted and enjoyed two traditional Portuguese dishes from the Alentejo region: migash and açorda de alho. You shall have to travel to Beja to try them yourself!
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Denny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

"Be strong enough to stand alone, be yourself enough to stand apart, but be wise enough to stand together when the time comes."

The title is from a motivational picture of three wolves about Teamwork. The team at Rosebud practiced this every day. Not only with each other on the team, but with citizens of Rosebud. Our mantra was, "what do you need us to do today?" Seniors working along side the next two future generations learning from each other, teaching each other, and helping families of Rosebud. I have been on one other GV project, but Rosebud and Rev. Stanley taught me so much about the Lakota and their continued struggles. I was so proud to be apart of the April 2019 Team and recommend it 100%.

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Jason
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

West Virgina

Our second experience with Global Volunteers to us to Beard's Fork, West Virginia, and I'd like to tell you that we changed the world. But that's not what happened and we had no illusions that it would. That doesn't happen in a week. What did happen is that we changed ourselves. We saw West Virginia, lived it for a week, and came out with an appreciation for its history, struggles, joys, and daily rhythms. I'm not saying we didn't do any good. I'm sure we were useful: we helped teach kids and we played with them. We cleaned up the gardens at SALS quite nicely. But we were just part of a river of support that Global brings week after week, year after year.
We made good friends and bonded over the experience. Our leader Celida Dottino did a wonderful job in keeping us busy, well-fed, and well-educated. We hope to return.

What was your funniest moment?
Chasing a chicken around the grounds. It was futile.
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Judy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing Experience on Rosebud Reservation

There are experiences in life that you may consider pivotal--perhaps because of the people you were with, the value you believe you gave or gained or maybe how it changed your outlook on life. My volunteer experience with Global Volunteers on the Rosebud Reservation encompassed all of those. I am forever grateful.

Two friends and I volunteered together. We had no idea what to expect when we arrived in the little town of Mission, South Dakota, on the Rosebud Reservation. Our host was Mother Lauren Stanley, an Episcopal priest who serves the local Lakota population. We were not surprised to learn that life was not easy on the Reservation. Mother Lauren arranged a meaningful array of ways we could help and participate with the local community beginning with attending a church service and lunch with the congregation. We had such an amazing variety of service projects. We helped with renovating the local Women's shelter under the guidance of locals Billy and Danny, and helping, Lindsey, the Director of the White Buffalo Calf Women's Society, organize the Women's thrift store. The facility was established in 1977 by Native Americans for Naative American Women and was the first of its kind in the United States. We had such a blast working with the children in the GLORY Program (God Loves Our Rosebud Youth) one evening. We had a wonderful selection of guest lecturers who shared their knowledge and wisdom with us. We took an extremely meaningful and unexpectedly emotional field trip to Wounded Knee Massacre site. We danced with Sage Eagle (using the term danced very loosely), admired amazing beading shared by Hattie, ate delicious food prepared by Billy and his daughter Rachel, and, visited a nearby quilting factory. We also worked at the Rosebud Economic Development garden with Aaron, an amazing project aimed at developing food sources. A personal highlight was our visit and tour of the local Middle School to delivery backpacks we had brought to support a project of sharing food with students. There were several teachers on our team and everyone was absolutely blown away by the programs the Principal, Dana, had put in place. I could go on. In fact, I have to anyone who would listen There is no way to describe everything we learned, all the amazing people we met, our extraordinary team, and the sacred place the Rosebud Reservation holds in our hearts. Yep, a pivotal experience. I highly recommend you give yourself the gift of this experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Can't think of anything--the program was well planned. We had all the information needed. Most important, we had an AMAZING Team Leader, Kathy.
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Barbara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SALS Labor School

It was one of my most amazing Global Volunteer experiences and I've had 3 others. I knew nothing about Appalachia, including how to say it. To learn how impoverished the coal mining communities are, how in need of ongoing support and acknowledgement, and how dedicated were all the local volunteers, was mind-expanding to me.

It would be of enormous benefit if the program were to be longer than one week. The summer school for the children, the Read and Feed component, the driving around to distribute food to families, the organic gardening and animal care, all of this is needed for more than a week of Global Volunteering. I wanted a longer program and SALS was only available for a week.
If at all possible, I would do it again next year, and perhaps a close friend of mine would come with me.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Expand the program to at least 4 weeks. Find ways to encourage local families to take advantage of the Read and Feed program. There needed to be more incentive than we were able to provide to make Read and Feed viable.
Make sure that the volunteers read to the classrooms as often as possible. Make sure the volunteers have opportunities to share their skills and interests with the children, with local volunteers, and with each other.
Finally,, as a single gay woman, it was difficult to be with two families who had teenagers as part of the Global Volunteers in the dorm, at meals, and at work. Because they already had comfort with each other, mothers, fathers and adolescents, I felt like an outsider, and I coped as best as I could. I
Response from Global Volunteers

Thank you so much for your wonderful review of your service program in Appalachia! We are so glad that you had such an amazing experience volunteering at SALS. We also thank you for your feedback. We are taking your concerns into consideration here at Global Volunteers. Longer volunteer stays can be pre-arranged with the community partner on a case-by-case basis. Thank you again for your service, Barbara!

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Mary
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A fantastic volunteer experience

I have traveled three times with the organization Global Volunteers and have never been disappointed. I took the Greece trip with my 16 year old daughter. My husband is of Greek heritage and I wanted her to have a taste of her roots. The family who runs the hotel where our group was housed was incredibly hospitable and would go out of their way for the volunteers. Greek hospitality is among the warmest anywhere. My daughter has Celiac disease and must follow a gluten free diet. Every day, there was gluten free food prepared for her in a special container so that there was no contamination. And the food was delicious!

Our work was teaching English at a community day camp for kids. My daughter and I chose the 11 year old group and after a couple of rough days of figuring out how to manage a group that we didn’t know well, we had an amazing time with those kids. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of our two weeks. We still laugh at all of the antics in class.

The group leader Sam was so helpful and we really felt like we could ask her about anything. In the evenings, she joined us for dinner at the hotel and sometimes I would sit with the owner of the hotel and his family, just listening and trying to learn some Greek. In the evenings, for those that are a bit younger, there’s a lively town within a 5 minute walk from the hotel with lots of restaurants and shops. The beach is also only a 5 minute walk.

My daughter cried when our volunteer time had come to an end. We had made a real connection with our students and with the Cretans. I plan to return to this program. Don’t hesitate and go; you won’t regret it for a second!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I think I would have been a bit more relaxed about how much teaching I could accomplish. I’m a foreign language teacher and I approached the volunteer work in the same way I would approach a class at home.
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Jessica and Allen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Make a Difference in Sunny, Friendly Crete!!!

Incredibly family friendly project, atmosphere and staff. Participate in improving the economic future of children in Crete. Family owned hotel lodging is close to project, beaches, shopping, night life.

Crete has everything you could ever want in a project location. The weather is incredible, the people friendly, and the food fantastic. Your daily English camp sessions with Global Volunteers will be providing for the futures of your students - many of whom will need English to secure employment in the island's tourism industry.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Rent a car and travel the island after your project!