Mallory Meiser Go Overseas Headshot

Mallory Meiser

Go Overseas Business Development Manager
United States

Southern Marylander gone rogue, Mallory is an avid ultimate frisbee player and wannabe foodie. She has volunteered abroad with IVHQ and GVI, worked for Global Experiences, studied abroad at Goldsmiths University and spent time with Maximo Nivel, Jakera, Tico Lingo and Intercultura.

Undergraduate University
Towson University

My Reviews

Mallory Meiser Go Overseas Headshot
Yes, I recommend this program

PataGOnia (Team Go Overseas Review)

I spent 5 days with Zoe and her team visiting Patagonia for the first time. A quick overview of our itinerary -

Day 1: Land in El Calafate and get picked up at the airport. I got in a little late so I missed the Glaciarium but made it in time to see the sunset over Lago Argenino. Dinner was served in one of the caves where some of the first indigenous populations lived. It was a delicious warm stew with plenty of Malbec to go around.

Day 2: Wake up and drive a couple hours to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. We arrived on the bus with our guide and got to take a couple 'first look' pictures then proceeded to the boat which would take us to the glacier for ice trekking. We trekked for about 90 minutes with whiskey and chocolate waiting for us at the end! I have never used crampons before but the team was really helpful and everyone in our group was able to participate.

After the hike we ate lunch and went on a walk around the glacier for more photos. Overall one of my favorite days of the trip.

Days 3 - 5 Head to El Chalten! We caught a view of Mt Fitz Roy as we were approaching and had a nice dinner at the first microbrewery in town that night. When it came time to hike (we were doing a 2 day/ 1 night trail) it was a little rough since we were there in the off season (August) and the weather was bad. In the end we had to bail on our initial course early and head to camp due to rain/ lack of visibility. Zoe & team were great about making sure we were all kept warm and had any supplies we needed. Hot dinner was served that night and they even went out of their way to bake a cake for one of the participants birthdays.

The one draw back is that the tents are tiny and we were sharing them with another person -- the upside was that it was freezing when we were there so extra body warmth ended up being a good thing.

When we got back from the hike we had a steak dinner, wine and a chance to reflect on a crazy couple of days for our 10 person group. If you are looking for a more autonomous trip with daily flexibility this is probably not the right experience for you, however if this is your first time in Patagonia and you are looking for someone to show you the ropes and make sure you have everything you need I would highly recommend Walk Patagonia!

*I was invited as a guest on this trip and this post is a result my partnership. If you have any questions please feel free to message me directly and I'd be happy to help!

Mallory Meiser Go Overseas Headshot
Yes, I recommend this program

Go Overseas Team Review!

What I love about IVHQ is that they offer an affordable alternative to your typical vacation for young professionals. While most of my friends take a week off to head to the beach, I was able to learn a new language, interact with a different culture and make friends from all over the world. I had never been to Asia, or travelled alone before and IVHQ offered me the support and opportunity to do so. Next time you are thinking about how to spend your vacation days-- consider taking the adventure of volunteering abroad in a new country. Now for the category by category break down:

The program I worked on was called “Feeding the Homeless.” Every morning we would leave the local school where we were living around 7 a.m. and take a bus to the soup kitchen (although rice kitchen might be a more apt term). I was fortunate enough to have the chance to work with another volunteer who had been there for 7 weeks already. It was obvious the kind of relationship someone who had volunteered for longer through the program was able to make. On his last day the local staff baked a cake and threw a going away party for him!

IVHQ works with a local provider to run their programs. The onsite staff, Anna and Leigh, were very supportive and always around if I had a question. I had a staff member meet me at the airport (along with a few other volunteers) and make sure we got to our housing. Once at our housing they gave us a map of the surrounding area, made us lunch and gave a couple of tips for crossing the road (harder than you might think when no one obeys the traffic lights!). Overall there was enough support for me to feel safe, but also the freedom to explore on my own and be more independent if I wanted.

Full disclosure, IVHQ waived my fees for volunteering in Ho Chi Minh as part of the Go Overseas paid PAID vacation program. However, when talking to the other volunteers they noted that they had chosen IVHQ because it was much cheaper than other volunteer programs. Besides housing we also got meal tickets (3x day) and entry into Independence Palace, The Vietnam War Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels during culture week.

This is a fairly subjective category but I would say it is hard not to have a good time in Ho Chi Minh. There are about four different programs going on through IVHQ which means there are lots of other international volunteers around to make plans with. Leigh (one of the program staff) recommended loads of fun weekend trips (I went to Mui Ne-- a definite must!). The project itself was more rewarding than fun. We worked hard -- chopping vegetables, setting tables, washing dishes, etc. -- but the local staff and people we got to interact with while serving made it all worthwhile. One of my favorite parts was actually the culture week where we got to explore the city, learn the language and make some authentic dishes. I think the more you know about a culture the more you can appreciate it. Another highlight was a dinner that Leigh put together where all the volunteers got to meet local students who were learning english. We all had a blast trying to communicate in broken Vietnamese/English and the night ended in singing and dancing.

We lived a bit on the outskirts of town but there was never a time I felt unsafe. We all stayed in bunks with 6 - 8 other volunteers and they locked the gates at night after 11. As long as you use common sense (not carrying around valuables, let friends know where you’re going, etc). you should be perfectly fine!

This was my first time in Asia, and a developing country. Volunteering with IVHQ was a great way to travel on my own, learn about the culture, and meet other people. As I mentioned earlier, I also highly recommend it as an alternative to your typical vacation for a working professional. Getting out of the country and traveling alone gave me a chance to get outside of my comfort zone in a way its really hard to do in "real life". Feel free to email me at any time if you want to learn more about my trip!

What would you improve about this program?
One issue that some volunteers came across was that the onsite staff was not aware of what program they were doing once they got there (medical, orphanage, etc). This lead to some initial confusion and also means that some volunteers worked on programs they weren't necessarily vetted for.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Mallory, It's great to hear from you. Thanks for leaving your thoughts from your experience in Ho Chi Minh with IVHQ. We are glad we could provide you with a meaningful and memorable vacation. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

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