VIA Programs

Program Reviews

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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Learn through action!

As a Master's student, I participated in the Indonesia summer program with VIA and George Mason University on their approximately 3-week Gender, Culture and Conflict program. I traveled throughout the islands of Bali and Java - conducting interviews, visiting historical sites with local experts, learning from community-based organizations and conversing with women's groups on issues highly relevant to my Master's program. What I appreciated about this field research program was that you were given the opportunity to pursue issues related to your field of study and I discovered new dimensions that I would have never considered if not for this field experience.
As a graduate student, whether you pursue field work or research in the future, you will find this program and others that VIA operate to be highly rewarding. Honestly, the decision to enroll in the summer program was spontaneous for me (I randomly overheard about it from a co-worker) but VIA and the staff at George Mason worked together with VIA to make my enrollment possible. I only heard about the program very close to the deadline, but I didn't want to pass this good opportunity so I applied and thankfully it worked out. So, if you heard about this program close or pass the deadline or are nervous about not meeting the qualifications - reach out! You won't regret it.

What would you improve about this program?
It was a great program!
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Rowena
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I can't say enough good things about the VIA Global Community Fellowship. I was a VIA fellow from 2012-2014, and it was one of the best decisions I've made, especially during a period of career transition in life. For the first year I taught English speaking at a local university in Yogyakarta. The second year I served as a program assistant at a prominent, local NGO called Yayasan Dian Desa, which works on appropriate technology solutions for community development, particularly in rural communities.

VIA did an incredible job in providing us fellows (who all came from very diverse, interdisciplinary backgrounds and passions) with the necessary skills to thrive within our respective programs/organizations. Throughout the two years I spent in Indonesia, I always felt that the local VIA staff (comprising Americans and local Indonesians) were there to support our growth, language learning, and orientation. I very much appreciated VIA's on-going work in forging supportive, collaborative partnerships with local leaders, schools, and NGOs.

I highly recommend the VIA fellowship program, as well as other programs in general, especially if you are looking for a smaller, intimate organization that does an excellent job in promoting healthy cross-cultural exchange and learning!

Will
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

I was an adult participant on the 2014 Indonesia-United States Youth Leadership Program. My experience in the program was enlightening, fun, and life-changing. The staff was professional, helpful, and engaging at every step in the process. They provided a dynamic balance of experiential learning and culturally-informed travel experiences. I would recommend VIA programs to anyone who is looking for a meaningful, insightful, and fun global experience.

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Gabrielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Indonesia Youth Leadership Program

The Youth Leadership Program to Indonesia was the most formative experiences I have had in high school. It is rare to have the ability to travel abroad and be truly immersed within the culture and community of the country you are visiting. It is these experiences that open your eyes to the great diversity and traditions of the world. The VIA staff is what made this possible. I experienced a side of Bali and Jogja that most tourists never see. I learned about the issues people from Indonesia face, and the ways in which they combat these issues. I met people who demonstrated the importance of civic engagement and the acceptance of all people. The staff constantly encouraged us to dive in and take what we learned back home. What we discovered was that while the issues may be different, the work and actions of the citizens are the same.. The VIA staff guided our way to developing our own leadership and communication skills. VIA offers a unique blend of cultural exposure and a concentration on personal growth. I am constantly thinking back to what I learned and experienced in Indonesia. Entering my senior year, I could not be more thankful for the opportunity for intellectual and personal growth the Indonesian Youth Leadership Program offered.

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Kristian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Hike to Borobudur

4:00 AM we left our homestay in Jogjakarta departing for the Borobudur Temple in an attempt at catching an Instagram worthy picture. At this point we had spent nearly two weeks together and it was towards the end of our first week in Jogja, however previous to this day I really hadn't bought into the whole program. However on this early morning trip followed by a late night reflection everything on this trip seemed to connect and I finally realized how important this trip had been to me and the lasting impact it would have on me. Beyond the picture and beyond the beautiful view from the top of this Buddhist Temple, the impact that the discussion that started on leadership leading to compromise and finished with a reflection of the two weeks will forever stick in my head. Looking back on this one month summer program I can guarantee anyone that is fortunate enough to go on this trip will have countless experiences that will shape them beyond that one month. The leadership skills and peace and conflict skills we learned on this trip were only the beginning of the transformation that will come on this trip. Additionally, the people that you will meet along this one month are connections that will last for long beyond this month, the learning environment they create is unlike anything that can be experienced in a school environment. All in all this trip is one the best experiences I have ever had.

Mallory
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Learning Experience

This past summer, I had the extraordinary opportunity to travel with Volunteers in Asia (VIA) on a U.S. Department of State sponsored exchange to Indonesia to study conflict resolution, particularly in context of Indonesian society and culture. The knowledgeability and passion of all the staff members was clear throughout the trip; each and every lesson was engaging and, when a particular topic piqued a participant's interest, the staff consistency went above and beyond to answer questions and explore the topic further. Arguably the most notable aspect of the trip, however, was how many activities we were able to participate in that truly immersed us in Indonesian culture. Our group had the privilege of staying at an islamic boarding school for two nights during Ramadan, where we got to experience firsthand fasting and attending muslim prayers. We also each got to live with a host family on Bali for multiple nights, where we were exposed to the day to day lives of real people living in Indonesia. It was clear that VIA went above and beyond trying to find opportunities for the participants that were not typical tourist traps but rather actually worked with local individuals collaboratively so that we could learn about Indonesian society from Indonesian people themselves. My time with VIA was eye opening, educational, and truly an adventure. For anyone who would like to travel in a sustainable way which respects and works with locals in another nation or who wants to have one of a kind experiences that only come with having strong community ties, I could not recommend VIA enough.

Alice
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

learning through doing - life-changing education

My experience with VIA was brilliant. I was part of a month long intensive research methods and research practice class in the summer of 2016. With a group of ten or so graduate students, I learnt the theories and arguments of qualitative and quantitative methods, while simultaneously conducting an ethnographic research project. Academically, it was rigorous and challenging, and the learning outcomes were life-changing; rather than learn about field research from a classroom in Northern Virginia, we were learning while plunged into our field - and exposed to the real life experience of what it means to conduct in depth fieldwork. Working with VIA staff and research assistants was humbling and essential, and I feel so lucky to have worked with patient and creative staff, who provided local expertise on our topics and assisted in navigating cultural and language considerations in Yogya.

Beyond the classroom, living in Yogya for a month was beautiful. The accommodation was beautiful, friendly, and safe and I think eating meals with the Homestay owner was one of my highlights and enabled me to shed my feeling of being a mere tourist and feel more familiar with the neighbourhood and city. VIA staff were also key in this feeling - taking us to important cultural and social sites of the city, and ensuring that our experienced moved beyond the classroom.

A couple of long weekends allowed time for travel in and around Java - and allowed some rest and a break away from the rigors of the classroom.

I learnt so much during the program - both about myself and the kind of research I want to do, as well as what it means to be actually doing fieldwork and practicing ethnography.

I highly highly recommend this program.

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Sanchay
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Go Overseas with VIA

I had the fortune of participating in VIA's 8-week program during the summer of 2015. Our group of 7 U.S. and 7 local university students had the opportunity to live and carry out extended service projects together in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. From the beginning to the end, our experience was designed in a way that maximized service learning, fun, and personal growth.

During the first two weeks of the program, we took part in language classes at Gadjah Mada University and spent our free time exploring the city and orienting ourselves. Our Indonesian friends and the VIA staff showed us all of their favorite spots, neighborhoods, and restaurants!

For the rest of the trip we completed our service projects and continued language lessons with private tutors. The VIA staff worked hard to place us in organizations whose work lined up with our personal interests. Students in our group volunteered with planned parenthood, microfinance groups, education nonprofits, and a youth-run arts cooperative, just to name a few. I taught dance classes at a halfway house for recovering drug users and individuals with mental health concerns. Once a week, we got together as a big group and shared highlights, experiences, and general reflections with one another over dinner.

On the weekends we went on small excursions together. One weekend we went to Borobudur and Prambanan, another weekend we went on a tubing/beach retreat, and towards the end of the program, VIA even helped us plan a trip to Bali! For me, one of my biggest cultural highlights was experiencing Ramadan and celebrating Eid with the participants from all of VIA's programs!

I wholeheartedly encourage everyone reading this to apply for the program! This was easily one of my most memorable life experiences.

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Rachel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Developing meaningful relationships and independence abroad

I was a 2011-2012 English teaching volunteer at Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta (UMS) in Central Java, Indonesia. VIA truly changed the course of my life. The staff are tremendous and offer both logistic and emotional support while also giving you quite a bit of independence to make the experience your own. I had some issues with my visa and VIA remained a constant resource in troubleshooting the oftentimes red-tape filled Indonesian government. VIA attracts people who really want to learn about a culture, learn the language and think critically about their experience as an expat in Asia. I have made true long lasting relationships with the fellow people in my VIA cohort. Teaching abroad also allowed me opportunities to volunteer at other NGOs in Indonesia which has since furthered my career in international development. (In fact, I stayed 4 months after my post officially ended.) While my specific post did challenge me (lack of support from the faculty at UMS and occasional loneliness), I developed so much resiliency and openness towards others. I would highly highly recommend VIA.

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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An outstanding way to teach, work, and travel!

I was a VIA Fellow in Jogjakarta, Indonesia from 2012-2014 teaching English at the Vocational School in University Gadjah Mada. Those 2 years were, hands-down, the most incredible and memorable years of my life. Teaching and living in Indonesia was life-changing and I don't think I would have had the opportunity or the support to do it without Volunteers in Asia. We had training in Cambodia and wonderful staff in Jogja to help guide and support us as we started working at our posts. VIA helped with everything from learning about local culture, language training, getting us situated with housing, mediating between VIA and the university, assisting with visa/passport issues, and other things as they came up once we were in country.

VIA is great at supporting your teaching/working goals, assisting in any cultural/in-country issues you may face, and is an overall strong and socially conscientious program. I will forever be grateful for being accepted to VIA and working with such a great university and wonderful students. I made memories and gained professional skills that will forever benefit me through this program, so I highly recommend it - especially to recent grads who want to do a bit of traveling while also productively giving back and working abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
In the 2012 cohort year I remember wishing for a better teacher's training program during orientation before going to our respective posts. This may have been improved already though.