• Vietnam
Dec 18, 2017
Aug 26, 2015
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About Program

Greenheart Travel has an amazing Alumni Program that allows all past participants to become more involved in the global leadership sphere. They have access to updates, events, resources, scholarships and more. The goal is to create an interactive community that continues to grow after they have studied, volunteered, or taught abroad.

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Program Reviews

9.2 Rating
based on 5 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 80%
  • 7-8 rating 20%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 9
  • Support 8
  • Fun 8.3
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.8
  • Benefits 7
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Facilities 8
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Greenheart Volunteering with Disabled Children in Hanoi

The program itself was really fun and it was great to meet all the volunteers from different countries.
That being said, I ran into many difficult problems during my stay.

To start, nobody picked me up at the airport. First time in Hanoi, all alone, I arrived at 11pm on a Friday and there was no one there to meet me. I tried calling my program supervisor but she didn't answer my calls or Facebook messages or emails until Sunday. I ended up taking a cab into the old quarter and staying in a hotel for two days on my own.

Problems I encountered with the housing:
-The program supervisor specifically told me it was a ten to fifteen minute walk from the city centre. It was an hour bus ride or 30 minute car ride...walking wasn't even an option.
-She also mentioned that the volunteer centre was close to the dormitory. Another lie that proved her lack of knowledge concerning the entire Greenheart program in Hanoi.
-She supplied me with the wrong kind of visa and failed to tell me that I would need a new one upon reentry into Vietnam, despite the fact that I told her I would be leaving the country (before she got me the visa of course). I ended up getting another visa, which I had to pay for myself, after a friend made an offhand remark about the different types and I checked my own.
-I was also told that I would get a room by myself or shared with one other person at most. At one point during my six week stay, I shared a bedroom with five other people, minimum of three two others.
-The house frequently ran out of water. There were many times that I arrived back at the CSDS at 5pm after volunteering and taking the hour long bus ride, only to find out that I couldn't even wash my hands. Forget a hot shower, with as many as 36 volunteers crammed into a house I showered in cold water almost every time.
-The nanny at the CSDS went through my private locked locker and took some of my items. She took my slippers, some of my unopened food and my coat hanger that I brought from home. Nothing expensive but the invasion of privacy was unbelievable; the other volunteers and I kept our passports in our personal lockers prior to that incident).
-She failed to check up on me once throughout my two month trip. I contacted her about four weeks in, after which she responded, but I would have expected her to be at least curious as to how my trip was going after the huge miscommunication about my arrival time at the airport.

11 people found this review helpful.
Response from Greenheart

Thank you for your feedback regarding your volunteer program. We sincerely apologize that you did not feel supported during your program and were disappointed in the preparation you received. Once the program manager was made aware of the issues you were having at the project, she did her best to improve the situation by communicating with you to resolve the frustrations, as well as communicating with our local partner staff in Vietnam. While we are disappointed that you did not enjoy your experience, we hope that making adjustments to our program, thanks to your feedback, will help improve the program for future participants.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Greenheart/CSDS Volunteer Opportunity in Vietnam

My experience with CSDS (the NGO with which I was placed by Greenheart International) in Hanoi, Vietnam was wonderfully fulfilling though all-too-short. Were it not for my job and desire to return to my wife, children, and grandchildren, I would like to have spent more time being of service to the students who are being helped so ably by CSDS.

My volunteer work with CSDS was positive in every respect. In my opinion, a well-run institution, whether a business, a charity, an NGO, or any other type of organization, begins with capable, committed, effective leadership, and at CSDS that leadership begins with Que, the Vice Director, with whom I interacted most frequently, and Phuong, the Director. They run a very focused and well directed program.

While I can't speak directly about the work that other volunteers did in hospitals helping physically disabled children or those with learning deficits, I can say that the volunteers with whom I spoke who worked in these areas found the work extremely satisfying and unquestionably helpful to the hospitalized young people.

My volunteer work involved the teaching of English as a second language. I have some background in this area since I volunteer my time at home to teach English to Spanish-speaking residents living near me. My knowledge of Spanish helps me to fulfill this task. But I have no knowledge of Vietnamese other than the Vietnamese language lesson I was given courtesy of CSDS. And yet, I really believe that I became an effective teacher of English to my CSDS students and was really able to connect with them and advance their knowledge of English. This belief may have far less to do with any abilities I may have and far more to do with the support and structure of the CSDS program.

First of all, CSDS provided a native speaker of Vietnamese to nearly every class I taught. These native speakers are called local supporters, and they help the volunteers when the concept being discussed can be explained in greater detail by using Vietnamese. We used Vietnamese sparingly because, after all, these were English classes, but the few times such assistance was necessary, it was very helpful to have. Second, I need to say that I have a physical disability which is slowly becoming more severe as I age, and this condition makes standing up and walking for long periods of time rather problematic for me. CSDS helped me tremendously by having another volunteer come to the classes with me, and she did all the writing on the board while we were both engaged in the lesson. The students also gained the perspective of an American speaker of English as well as that of a European for whom English is a second language.

Next, partly as a aid to me as a volunteer, Que had two of her office staffers accompany me to my first two classes. These staffers helped to answer questions and translated the few times that was necessary. I should mention that these same CSDS staff people were actively involved in my orientation process regarding house rules at the CSDS residence, the layout of the house, recommendations as to what to do and tour while in Hanoi, and the like. As a personal accommodation to me, the CSDS staff allowed me to move to a room on a lower floor to limit the numbers of steps I'd have to walk each day. I did not ask for such a move. Rather, the staff anticipated my needs and suggested the move themselves.

That room was quite comfortable and more than adequate for my needs. And the food prepared for me and the other volunteers each day was nothing short of delicious. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day, along with meats, poultry, or fish, and of course, rice, made for a nutritious and healthful diet.

Beyond the organization and the logistics of my stay at CSDS, the most important thing, and the reason I traveled to Vietnam, was to be of service to some young people of that beautiful country by helping them to improve their English skills, and perhaps enabling them to increase their employment opportunities in their chosen fields or professions upon graduation. And in my small way during my short stay in Vietnam and with the help of an extremely efficiently run and effective organization like CSDS, I think I was able to be of service and to make a difference in the lives of some of these young people. By the end of my stay in Hanoi, I really think I was connecting with the students. The classes went well, and there was lots of enthusiastic participation and engagement on the part of the students. They were increasing their abilities and skills in English which is precisely the reason I volunteered for this work.

In fact, now that I am back home, I continue to write to several of the students who want to continue to dialog with me and have me critique their written English. I am happy to do just that and will continue to assist these students as long as they wish to do so.

This review may have turned out to be far longer than your readers need to learn of my experience with CSDS. My experience was excellent and could not have been improved upon. I am so grateful to Greenheart for arranging for me to do my volunteer work with CSDS because that organization is so well run and fulfills its mission so effectively. My only hope is that Greenheart will consider sending even more Americans to participate with CSDS in fulfilling its good work in Vietnam. Que once said that the volunteers from Greenheart have been exceptional and adept and skilled in fulfilling their volunteer responsibilities, and I sincerely hope that other Americans will have the same opportunity to serve students in Vietnam through this quality organization as I did.

What would you improve about this program?
Please note that I completed my volunteer service in January, 2015, which was not provided as an option in the "Year Completed" tab.

Very little needs to be changed in my opinion. My experience was uniformly positive. I suppose that Greenheart could have forwarded the CSDS website link to me in advance of my flight to Vietnam so that I could have been more aware of their programs. This point is extremely minor.
11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fabulous Adventure

My month long stay was incredible, particularly because of my host mom's hospitality. She gave us advice and encouraged us to venture out whenever we felt the travel itch. We ate traditional homemade British cuisine for dinner, toured the surrounding area together, and bonded over differences/similarities between our countries. It was a wonderful way to truly experience a day or week in the life of an English family.

What would you improve about this program?
I would've liked to live with a family who had a son/daughter my age, but really I had a fabulous time. I can't imagine changing it at all.
12 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

My trip with Greenheart Travel was amazing. The program manager, Jennifer, was always available to help me throughout my process. I remember the day of the trip, I called her while I was at the airport because I was nervous and we talked until I was ready to go. As a traveler, you definitely have the support of the members of the program.
Living in the volunteer house was a learning experience. I was learning about the Vietnamese culture from the local volunteers; I was also able to interact with volunteers from other countries such as South Africa, England, Estonia and Finland.
The couple who was in charge welcomed me as a member of the family. They were always checking on me. One of my favorite part of the day was meal time. One reason was the food; the other reason was the daily' stories/adventures that were shared during meal time.
In terms of work, the schedules were different. I taught in the morning and in the afternoon. However, I had the weekends off to explore and go sightseeing. Depending on your schedule, you might be able to visit a nearby town.
I went over the summer so it can get extremely hot. In addition, respect the culture. Despite the country you are visiting, it is good to take into consideration their dress code.
I loved my experience in Vietnam and with Greenheart Travel. I look forward to another program with them.

What would you improve about this program?
12 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing one month experience in Peru

I registered a Language School program in Cusco, Peru with Greenheart Travel and they not only booked courses for me at the Amauta Spanish School but also provided me a wonderful host family. I did not know a single Spanish word prior to coming to Cusco. Not only my host family was very patient in allowing me to learn Spanish in baby steps, but also the school provided incredibly intensive education in Spanish. The courses were three hours each day. I was amazed by how much Spanish I learned within a month. While I did not become fluent, I learned just enough to have basic conversations.

The school also has an on-site travel agent who was wonderful in providing information on sites that we could see in Cusco and its surrounding areas. The agent also booked us on tours including to the Machu Picchu, Manu Rainforest and Sacred Valley.

8 people found this review helpful.
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