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Bamboo is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, and the USA. Their vision is to connect volunteers with communities in need. They offer dozens of programs in 19 countries on 5 continents.
Well how about having a new family for a week? This is what I got from my experience in BTC Costa Rica. All I had to do was find my passion in this life and be part of a family that can nourish and help me grow and expand my idea in the right direction and the right influence. Everyone in the program came in with the good intentions and want to be part of humanity in helping other human being in their own way and their own projects. We were exposed to inspiring people that actually were the change in their community. I loved this experience as it helped me dig further down inside myself and try to find my way in connecting with people and make them feel my passion about my cause in food waste management as a whole. The coordinators, Colin and Caitie, have dedicated their time for each and everyone of us to take us into the right direction and connecting us with the right people.
If I can do it again, I will! I recommend this to anyone who has the passion and the power inside to change something around them that they don't like.
What would you improve about this program?
This is the first time I participate in such a program, I found it an extremely enlightening experience for me. For now I have no comments on it except that it is AMAZING!
I have decided to take a break from my advertising carreer after running a small agency in Brazil for almost 10 years. There was something inside me that told me to do that. I asked a friend that work in UN how to be a volunteer in Nepal and he recommened GVN Foundation. As I was researching about them I found the Be the Change program in Costa Rica. I've enrolled the program and had a very interesting and inspiring week among people from all over.
This mix of cultures and experiences is so rich and enlighting... I really recommend the programm to the ones that want to get inspired and oriented by people with knowledge and good heart. And if you have already your idea in mind it is ever more useful. You can have a huge help and counseling in whatever your objective is. A real nice program lectured by real experienced and nice people <3
Throughout the BTC program, we're introduced to inspiring people who have gone all the way to realize their ideas and make the world a better place. They are all different. Their ideas are different. What is the same about them, is that they are all very genuine. They are all visionary doers.
Among them is Alonso who has become curious about what's happened to the trash that we generated everyday, and he started following the rubbish truck. He wasn't happy with what he saw. And took a bold move to petition to the top management of bottled drinks companies. Eventually got one of them to replace plastic bottle with glass bottle.
It is amazing to hear from the person himself, not from a video. We get to ask questions and discuss. It makes me believe that our small and premature idea may just be possible.
What would you improve about this program?
For people who want to start in the non-commercial sector but haven't really done anything, often feel lost because there're so many institutions, we don't know who is more credible. If there is a session to introduce some international organization/ network that are trust-worthy in the area of interests, that would be very helpful.
Colin, Catie and Cat facilitated a fantastic week with a variety of persons from a variety of stages in life. There was plenty of time to help one focus, reflect, brainstorm and just tall out ideas, plans and dreams. Even if not know what you're looking to do come and they will broaden your ideas and horizons. For me it gave meore clarity and focus for the coming year.
Meeting the leaders and learning about their accomplishments was inspiring. Add to that meeting the conference attendees who really want to contribute positively toward improving the lives of others who are struggling and/or to implement programs to decrease harming the environment or wasting resources. Time went by quickly as we learned and enjoyed each other's company.
Only after I was home and able to look back at the conference that I realized we learned so much useful information, while forming strong bonds with everyone. There was a lot of interaction among the attendees. Another aspect that I appreciated was being exposed to a few issues that Costa Rica was experiencing. I should also mention that we ate healthy, tasty, and lovingly prepared meals.
I have just completed the Be The Change course in Taupo it was awesome. The group was quite different in age and in direction, but it worked and there was a great synergy. By the end of the week I could see how each one of us had something different to offer and in the field this would have been quite dynamic and made a real difference.
Believe in yourself! Be the Change !
What would you improve about this program?
More Guest Speakers from the field with examples and stories we could learn from .
Earlier this spring, I felt as though I had hit a wall in my career. I was burnt out and being a classroom teacher wasn’t as fulfilling anymore. Whether it was the mid spring slump or the seven year slump, I knew I needed to make a change. I loved teaching too much to become unhappy and I was not ready to begin to neither despise it nor quit. Subsequently, I decided to take a leave of absence from teaching to explore my dreams and my passions.
Be The Change Costa Rica reminded me why I had loved teaching so much in the first place. It brought me back to my roots and challenged me every step of the way to uncover my passion: to effectively change educational policy where young leader learn to become change makers in our society by providing them with historical knowledge and thus empowering the youth to become effective citizens of the world. BTC mentally and emotionally challenged us as individuals to think critically about ourselves, our projects and provided us with tools to help us take our dreams and make them realities.
In the past three months, I have worked extensively with the Global Volunteer Network and my life has been a whirlwind of change. My skills as a history teacher were sought out and I was invited to travel with the GVN team to Sydney, Australia and co-develop the leadership and entrepreneurial conference for 60 youth, ages 15-19. I personally developed and led workshops on white privilege and anti-racist training. Through BTC, I was also asked to help another participant help design an English teaching program in Dansai, Thailand. I traveled to Thailand where I actively recruited members of the community to participate in our program. I have never been so exhausted and fulfilled in my life. The idea of continuing down this path of work truly inspires me as an educator and as a citizen.
Be The Change; inspiring, motivating and supportive
Dec 9, 2015
As I am only 18, going to BTC felt like a real leap of faith - I knew that I would be sharing my ideas and working with accomplished individuals from all over the world, with different cultural and professional backgrounds. Fortunately, my experience at BTC was all the better for this diversity, and my youth proved not to be a hindrance but a strength of mine. I had not recognized the value of acting as a springboard for a fresh perspective on the topics discussed by the BTC participants - all of whom were really respectful and constructive in their feedback. For me, my personal 'project' was, well, myself! (As I did not have a set direction in mind). BTC not only exposed me to a plethora of new interests and relationships - the supportive and dynamic environment gave me a sense of confidence in myself and my ability to achieve my goals. I feel that BTC really streamlined my direction in terms of self-development. I'd recommend Be The Change to anyone looking for a new experience and guidance in regard to how you can create positive social change in your life.
What would you improve about this program?
Personally I would've really enjoyed a language immersion aspect as I really think that that would've added a new dimension to the conference as a whole, but being an NZer, that obviously wasn't going to be part of my experience in English-speaking Taupo! :)
Aside from that I thought it was pretty much top-notch. Perhaps if there had been more sort of guided engagement with your project of choice? For example I really really enjoyed the TOC models and in retrospect I wished there had been more of those sorts of workshops towards the end, because it really forced me to define and establish concrete goals, and transformed my perception of the process of reaching a goal or outcome.
Andrea Cuellar is a 23 years old from La Libertad, El Salvador. She's a psychologist currently working at a local school. She enjoys freestyle dancing, music and philosophy.
Why did you decide to participate in GVN's "Be the Change" program in Costa Rica?
Andrea: I was looking for an opportunity to learn more about the field of social entrepreneurship and international development. For a while I've had the idea of starting a non-profit organization but I didn't know how to start and the tools I needed to make it happen.
Describe your favorite aspect of the conference.
Andrea: Speakers were truly inspiring and supportive. You could also tell they are reallly passionate about social change. The learning environment they created allowed you to discuss and share ideas, and given the fact that it included people from all around the world it made the encounters enriching.
Tell me about one person you met.
Andrea: Every single person in the conference was inspiring, had a deep sense of respect for individual differences and human warmth.
What was the best moment of the entire trip?
Andrea: The experience as a whole was great.I can't pick one favorite moment.
How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc)
Andrea: It gave me the skills and confidence i needed to take the next step on my career pathway, taking me one step closer towards achieving my life goals.
What is your role at GVN? What led you to join their team?
I am the Volunteer Specialist at GVN and I do what I can to assist volunteers in preparing themselves for their international volunteer placement in a developing country.
Managing volunteer expectations.
Preparing volunteers for all aspects of life in a developing country.
Informing volunteers of all the requirements they will need to meet before they can volunteer.
Providing volunteers with the information they need on their specific placement.
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I am also the Program Specialist for 2 Programs; the Nepal Young at Heart Program and the Vietnam Youth Volunteer Experience. This role includes setting up, managing and coordinating the program with our in-country partners.
I studied International Relations and have a passion for International Development. The International Development Industry can be hard to get into, requiring people to volunteer to get the experience and skills they need.
I did just this and applied for an unpaid internship with the GVN Foundation, the fundraising branch of the Global Volunteer Network which I did for almost a year. It was an amazing opportunity for me and I grew very committed to GVN and their vision. I was offered a job at the end of my internship which I eagerly accepted.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
The most enjoyable aspect of my role is hearing from both our in-country programs and volunteers alike as to the impact their relationship has had on each other.
Both our programs around the world and our volunteers benefit hugely from their time together, with friendships being formed and lives being transformed through the work of our programs and the volunteers.
You are a program alumnus yourself. What was your favorite moment of the experience?
I have spent time in GVN's Youth Volunteer Experience Program in Vietnam which has hands down been the best experience of my life. My favorite moment would have to have been the interactions I had with the kids in GVN's programs - they just want to learn, have fun and need all the love and care they can get.
Volunteers with this program raise a donation. How is this typically used?
Each year the participants of the Youth Volunteer Experience in Vietnam, are encouraged to raise a minimum of $200 as a donation to the program.
This is a great opportunity for our youth to engage in fundraising and advocacy for the children they are to meet during their volunteer experience.
We take these donations the youth have raise to Vietnam with us where the youth get to assess the needs of the children or the program and decide how their donations can best be used.
Last year we had a participant, Ali Le Carpentier, who went above and beyond with her fundraising. Ali had been to Vietnam with GVN twice before and has a huge love for the children she has worked with in Vietnam.
Using the funds Ali raised along with the donations of the other participants, we were able to purchase a generator for Friendship Village. This was at the request of the dedicated staff members who work at Friendship Village.
There are over 100 children living at Friendship Village and all meals are prepared on site by the staff. In Vietnam each district has scheduled power outages as part of the load shedding system to preserve power, as well as frequent unpredictable power cuts.
For the staff at Friendship this makes cooking and preparing meals for over 100 children really difficult. The generator is used as a back up so when the power goes down, meals can still be prepared resulting in over 100 full tummies and happy faces.
Any tips for a first-time volunteer in Vietnam?
Our volunteers are so well looked after, that the biggest thing any volunteer needs to prepare for is the goodbyes - saying good bye to new family, friends, and a wonderful experience.
More practically speaking however, there will be many difference volunteers will encounter, these include the climate, food, smells, sounds and sights but with an open mind and a good attitude, volunteers will undoubtedly have a fun and meaningful experience.
Bamboo is the next step in independent volunteering and adventure travel.
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