GIVE Volunteers

Program Reviews

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Skyler
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE Thailand: A Fantastic First Time Overseas

I went on a GIVE trip to Thailand to shake me out of my comfort zone. I had never been outside of the US or Canada but have always wanted to travel, and not just to super-touristy locations. I was skeptical paying money to volunteer, but now, knowing what goes in to making the experience, I can say that it was completely worth it. GIVE is incredibly connected with the host communities. Most of the guides grew up locally and speak both English and Thai fluently, which made it so easy to learn about life in northern Thailand: many things that you wouldn’t be able to learn as a standard tourist. I was also able to experience many of the local shops and restaurants and what it is like to stay in jungle villages. Things that I would also not have been otherwise able to experience as a solo traveller having no previous connections in the region.
I was concerned that I would not be able to make much of an impact only staying for 2 weeks, but teaching and playing with the kids at Nongbua School, I could feel how special it made these kids feel to be visited by people from the other side of the world. I don’t think I have ever been in a place where so many people want to hug me. Playing soccer against a bunch of Thai school kids under a sky full of dragon flies in the pouring rain (and losing), was just an otherworldly experience.
We were also able to see the progress we made in the permaculture project. Just a few hours a day of the whole group finding, removing, and transplanting banana trees, we were essentially able to plant a small forest. In addition to the physical permaculture projects, we also learned about the beauty of and the urgent need for sustainable agriculture and forest restoration. Of course, learning on-site is so much more impactful than reading or watching videos about permaculture online.
I was also surprised by how much the guides and locals invited us to ask questions (the hard ones too). We had many sessions where a local would be invited to talk about a particular subject, like how it is to teach at the local school, and how Elephant ownership and conservation work in modern times. A lot of the time, these sessions were brutally honest: addressing things like the negative parts of life in Thailand, the downsides of voluntourism, and the reality of how the least harmful way to keep elephants in captivity still involves chains and hooks.
On a personal level, the guides were also very inspiring. There were quite a few emotional speeches and individual conversations that I had with the guides that made me look forward to the future more than I have in quite some time. They pointed out the opportunities that I have to travel and search for what I love doing. There is no doubt that this trip has changed the course of my future. I feel like this trip helped me see how insignificant the problems in my daily life usually are and how much opportunity I have right now that I may not have in the future and that many people might never have.
Of course, there are organisations with much longer-term projects out there that involve less tourism and more labour. These projects can have larger impacts, but there are also many fewer people willing to commit to such long-term projects. Not only does GIVE make international volunteering more accessible, but based on the experience I had, I would expect that GIVE is inspiring more people to commit to such long-term projects.

Pros
  • I got to work on local agriculture projects and teach local school children.
  • I got to meet tons of locals and adventurous people.
  • I got to see remote parts of Thailand I would not have visited as a tourist.
Cons
  • The program being only 2 weeks long made it feel like I could not get to know some of the people that well.
  • The program being only 2 weeks long is inefficient in terms of how much of the trip is just the plane rides.
  • There was only 1 itinerary, there were not a lot of options in choosing one excursion over another (maybe a consequence of small group size).
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Alexa
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE Laos: A Journey of Love and Community

I can't even begin to describe everything. But during this trip I experienced sights and adventures of a lifetime. We were educated on the history and culture of Laos as we immersed ourselves in the village of Sop Chem. Every person I met (guide, tourist, local, volunteer) was filled with so much joy and love. And the work we did - whether on farm plots, in schools, or with conservatories - was always so rewarding and fulfilling. Through everything, you create the most precious bond with the people around you. It was only two weeks, but I have experienced so much homesick after leaving. 11/10 recommend this experience of a lifetime!

Pros
  • Cultural Immersion
  • Rewarding Volunteer Service
  • Bucket-list Adventures
Cons
  • Fulls Schedule Leaves Little Bored-Time
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ALIA
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Give this beautiful country a chance!!!

I have always heard of Laos, but I never thought to visit it. I'm so happy that GIVE has created a program in this country. This country is beautiful and deserves to be seen. The people have encountered many casualties, yet remain joyful and loving. This trip felt very educational and inspiring. I loved the village we stayed in. The locals treat you like family, which feels like a home away from home. Since the village is remote, you can see how your work impacts the community personally. Aside from the locals, we had terrific guides to help us through everything. Sopchem is a place I would revisit on my own. So if you're questioning this place, I say take the chance and experience this beautiful country!

Pros
  • loving guides and locals
  • surrounded by nature
  • always adventure time
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ALIA
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

AMAZING EXPERIENCE

I loved this trip. Everything about it was terrific. We were constantly kept busy, and they ensured no time was wasted. The guides are excellent at what they do. They're always there to help if you're feeling uneasy or sad. Aside from that, they treat you like family. They're always on top of things. As for the projects, I enjoyed English education the most! If you plan on working at the school, I suggest picking the smaller school. You get to connect with the kids better. When we weren't volunteering, we got to be adventurous! Hiking the cave, tubing down the river, and bamboo rafting was sick!!!

Pros
  • amazing guides
  • great views
  • always adventure time
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Carley
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Laos Trip Summer 2022

There are no words to describe how impacted and moved I feel from my experience in Laos these past two weeks. Thank you Give Volunteers for the opportunity to be immersed in such a magnificent culture. The beautiful people in the village of Sop Chem hold a special place in my heart forever. Equally, the extraordinary volunteers and guides on this trip have changed my life. The continuous love and support that I felt every minute of our time together has made an impact on my soul in powerful ways. I feel honored to have met every single person on this journey. I am beyond grateful for this experience. My soul feels fulfilled, inspired, and truly re-centered from the life lessons taught to me in Laos.

Pros
  • Safe
  • Well rounded trip itinerary
  • Amazing people
Cons
  • Not as much volunteering time as I expected
  • Very expensive
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Esther
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

This trip was an absolutely amazing experience! I loved everyday and wished to have been able to stay for longer. The adventures everyday were breathtaking, including waterfalls, caves, and mountains. I met amazing people and I with cherish this experience forever. As a minor I felt completely safe throughout the whole entire trip. My guides were always super insightful on any question I had and made the transition from one country to the next very smooth. I can’t wait to be able to travel with GIVE again!

Pros
  • Meeting likeminded people
  • Being immersed in a new culture
  • Self growth
Cons
  • Lack of contact with home
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Sarah
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE Nicaragua 2022

This experience is unlike any other. You get to give a helping hand to a community of stangers while also growing yourself. I got to see different cultures and ways of living. From teaching English to learning to surf every memory I made on this trip will live with me forever.

Another thing is the people. Although it was only 13 days I got to meet people who have honestly become my best friends. Everyone on the trip has similar morals and beliefs so the connection is unmatched.
The one bad part of the trip is having to leave the community and all the other volunteers.

Pros
  • Appreciating what I have
  • Learning new cultures
  • Making amazing friends
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Fernanda
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Laos

Absolutely amazing!! You get to stay in the community and immerse in their culture, while helping them and making great connections and friendships with the locals.

Pros
  • Learning a new culture
  • Helping people
  • Having fun and making friends
Cons
  • No AC
  • Repetitive food
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Erin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Hidden wonder - Laos

This trip is an experience of a lifetime. Anyone wanting to make a positive difference abroad should definitely think about going with GIVE. The difference that GIVE makes within communities all around the world and sop chem, Laos is absolutely phenomenal. The relationship that the guides have with the locals and how involved the locals are with all of the volunteer work that takes place is amazing. This trip is so rewarding but also does so much good. You really learn a lot about the country you are in and past and current issues that they are facing. This trip opened up my eyes and taught me so much about a country I didn’t even know existed before my trip. I will be forever grateful to GIVE and the opportunities that they gave me.

Pros
  • Make amazing friendships
  • Make a real difference in these communities
  • Travel whilst being as sustainable and respectful as possible
Cons
  • CO2 emissions for travel
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Kyle
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The most life changing experience!

This experience was absolutely amazing and allowed me to break out of my comfort zone. From working with the locals, getting involved in the community, and going on numerous adventures, this trip is truly eye opening in so many ways. It is the best way to experience Hawaii because you get to be apart of something bigger than just a vacation. You will meet new people, create connections that last forever, and make an enormous impact on the land. Everyone needs to have this experience and I promise you won’t regret a single moment! ❤️

Pros
  • Fully immersive in the Hawaiian culture.
  • Great way to give back to the land your visiting.
  • The adventures were so beautiful and magical. You get to see parts of Hawaii that not even all locals get to see.
Cons
  • There are no cons! This trip truly is the most impactful and amazing experience you could ever embark on!