Prior to spending a year in Myanmar with VIA, I had already spent considerable time abroad, including a Fulbright Fellowship in Indonesia. So while it wasn't my first time abroad, it was definitely the time that had the most significant and long-term impact. I returned from my year with VIA and spent a year studying Burmese in graduate school and later applied for a PhD working on Burma. None of this would have been possible without VIA.
What I liked about VIA was that volunteers, fellows, staff, interns - everyone was made to feel very included in the organization itself - we weren't clients - just as the local organizations we work with are not clients - we are all partners. The staff tried their hardest to help us to troubleshoot problems in the field and come up with creative solutions and work with our partners to create new linkages and new programs.
I highly recommend the fellowship program for anyone interested in immersing themselves in a new culture and learning new skills - at any stage of your career.