Bamboo Alumni

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Bamboo.

Video and Photos

About

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.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

93%
based on 47 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.4
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 15 of 47
Default avatar
Sara
10/10

BTC - Costa Rica - Sara Halabi

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.

How can this program be improved?
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!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Catherine
10/10

Inspired to be the change

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

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lily
9/10

Inspiring people in real life, not movies.

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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Wendy
9/10

Fantastic week with a fabulous bunch

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.

How can this program be improved?
More time to do the pre/recommended book.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Norma
9/10

Worth the Effort, Time and Cost

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sue
9/10

Just Do It !

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 !

How can this program be improved?
More Guest Speakers from the field with examples and stories we could learn from .
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Alice
10/10

Trusting the Process

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Eden
9/10

Be The Change; inspiring, motivating and supportive

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.

How can this program be improved?
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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jann
1/10

Do NOT use Global Volunteer Network

I assistant taught for 4 weeks at a middle school in Soweto, South Africa. Global Volunteer Network (GVN) arranged for the housing for me while I volunteered. ZOTE was the local organization that oversaw my stay. My money was stolen from my bedroom. GVN has not stopped placing volunteers in that house or stopped using ZOTE as I suggested. If you volunteer with GVN and ZOTE, lock your bedroom door.

Response on June 9, 2015:

Miriam (GVN),

You're right, I talked to Colin, GVN Founder. He reinforced what you mentioned, that the house I stayed has not been used since I left, and there are no plans to use it. He also said he would be visiting South Africa in August and ZOTE would be evaluated after that.

Colin and I agree that volunteering in South Africa is a great idea. The school I volunteered at welcomed me warmly and appreciated my help. The people in my community, Soweto, were wonderful. Many of them helped me in various ways. The children were especially interested in talking to me and learning who I am. As a bonus, the country is beautiful as I found out in 2 weeks of sightseeing. The scenery, and more importantly, the people were wonderful.

I recommend everyone consider volunteering in South Africa.

All the best,

Jann

Response from Bamboo

Hi Jann,

We’re always sad to hear when something negative happens to affect a volunteer’s placement with us. I understand you will be speaking with Colin (Founder) over the phone. Just to let you know, we haven’t placed any further volunteers with this family since your stay.

Thanks,
Miriam (GVN)

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Ruth
9/10

Brazil Teaching Program

I volunteered on the GVN Brazil Program this September and it was by far the most rewarding, eye opening and heartwarming experience I've ever had. GVN supported me before, during and after my trip and is always there to answer any questions you may have.

During my stay in Rocinha, I was working and living with wonderful volunteers from all over the world in a shared apartment. I did the Teaching Program, so I got to teach smart and enthusiastic kids every afternoon, as well as equally amazing adults some days of the week. At night we got to do some locals classes which was a lot of fun as well, I've never met more welcoming and friendly people than the ones in Rocinha!

The children running up to you yelling "Teacher!", grabbing your hands and hugging you, will put a smile on your face every single day. The lessons are great because the kids are genuinely happy to be there and eager to learn, especially when you put in the effort to make everything interesting for them (singing songs, playing games, reading stories, letting them act things out and draw, asking people to come up front to point things out etc.).

Arriving in a favela by yourself is daunting of course, especially when you don't speak Portuguese. All I can say is that it's SO worth it to jump in head first and go for it, you will not regret it. Sure, it won't always be easy but that just makes you a stronger, more independent person. The people you meet, the experiences you have, the things you visit in Rio will stay with you forever. My main advice: come with an open mind and stay as long as you can!! I was only there for a couple of weeks and I so wish I could've stayed longer.

Thanks to GVN and the local Brazil Program, I can't wait to come back some day!!

How can this program be improved?
It is not always very organised, though this is very understandable as the program is located in a Brazilian favela. Come with an open mind and don't expect too much, just take in the favela life and rhythm :).
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
JoAnne
10/10

GVN's Be the Change in Taupo

I attended Be the Change in Taupo, New Zealand in November, 2013. It was my first venture into the volunteer abroad arena and was an ideal venue for me to get information and interract with experienced volunteers. The week was life-changing for me.
GVN staff picked me up at my hotel as arranged through e-mail. There were 9 of us there as participants and 6 GVN staff. We lived as family in 2 houses with both staff and participants intermixed, which was a bonding experience. We shared cooking and cleaning responsibilities. I loved this format, finding that volunteers are an adaptable and thoroughly interesting group to live with for a week. We were a diverse group, ranging in age from 20 to 67, of varying ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. At the end of the week, I considered them all friends.
The purpose of this workshop was to both inform and motivate volunteers to pursue our own charitable projects at either a local or international level, or to feel confident in participating in existing projects. I came away both informed and motivated. I was most impressed with GVN staff's enthusiasm and dedication to their work.
Having previously attended both business and horse training workshops, I had a vlue comparison. Be the Chage delivered what I considered to be a good product for the price.
I have no criticism for the Be the Change program. When I fail to find anything to criticize, I tend to be generous with my ratings. I will be going to Uganda in June as a follow-on to investigate how GVN distributes money they raise through participating in the global Eat So They Can fundraising campaign.

How can this program be improved?
I do not have the expertise to suggest changes to this program. I consider it a unique training and idea exchange venue.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Eve
10/10

Life changing!

Working with Volunteer Service in Nepal (VSN) through GVN was nothing but a positive experience for me.

The people I met through the program (VSN staff, fellow volunteers, host family and of course, the children!) had the most impact on my life, not to mention the beautiful scenery in Nepal.

At the time I was in the program VSN was taking over guardianship of the SSCH kids. I saw these children in the non VSN home they were in during my placement as a volunteer, which could only be described as appalling and then, when having the privilege of returning to Nepal the following year as Volunteer Coordinator, saw the undeniable impact VSN was having on those children's health, happiness and wellbeing.

I had gone into the program initially, as a volunteer, with my eyes open and admittedly with scepticism but came out the other side with nothing but respect and admiration for the amazing work VSN was doing in changing, for the better, the lives of the children within their care..

VSN's pragmatic and appropriate methods of maintaining the Nepali culture within their homes set them apart from some of the other NGOs I visited whilst I was in Kathmandu. I respected the ethos and values VSN was trying to uphold, keeping the children close to their traditions (without bringing in Western ideals) but also trying to improve their social standing and way of life through good nutrition, health and education.

There was no question that I would continue my support of VSN following my departure from Nepal, which I have done along with other fellow Aussie volunteers back in Australia through ongoing fundraising efforts over the past 7 years.

Some of us have also been back to visit the children over the years and continue to be astounded with the children's happiness and wellbeing since coming into VSN's care.

How can this program be improved?
If only VSN could support more children than what they do currently, so more kids receive the opportunity of a better future!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Andrea
10/10

Be The Change was inspiring

I went into this adventure without really knowing what was going to come out of it. It's hard to explain, but meeting a group of people with different dreams and projects is really inspiring and mind-opening.
Along the program and even now that its over, i feel like i have my GVN family for life supporting me in every step of my way towards fulfilling my vision.

It gave me the confidence to believe that i could make a change and that i was not alone in this task.

I can tell that GVN members are people who are deeply committed to make the world a better place. They are incredibly humble, which i loved.

I think is important to be open to learn, not only from every session but also from the different encounters you make along the way.
The greater learning is not "in the lines", but in- between.
I feel so blessed for been able to have had this experience, it was unforgettable.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Teru
9/10

BTC 2013

It was an incredible experince i had with BTC crew 2013. I got to meet some amazing people from around the world with great stories. BTC has difinately put me in the right direction in making my dream come true and difinately excited to put the skills i learnt to use.

One thing i love about the course is how everyone can have an input into your idea and how you can feed off other people energy. The amount of motivation you get is fantastic and skills i have learnt has will difinately make my idea/dream so close in making it a reality.

Bring on 2014!!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Skye
10/10

Amazing experience

I originally volunteered in Nepal for 5 months in 2008, but have been lucky enough to make 2 more volunteer trips back over the past few years. It's hard to put into words what an amazing experience I have had working with Global Volunteer Network and VSN (the local organization in Nepal)! I highly recommend this program!

I volunteered at Shining Stars Children's Home (SSCH) and have had the great joy of watching these children blossom in the care of VSN! Not long before my first volunteer trip to Nepal, VSN rescued these children from homes where they were severely mistreated and malnourished. I don't want to imagine what would have become of these kids had VSN not stepped in and taken custody of them. Now, thanks to VSN providing them with good nutrition, safe housing, schooling, and, of course, lots of love, these kids are thriving! I'm so honored to have been able to witness a small part of their transformation!

VSN also does a great job at keeping the kids in touch with their cultural roots. I've celebrated several holidays in Nepal and have enjoyed how the folks at VSN make sure the kids experience those holidays in traditional Nepali style, while still giving the kids plenty of treats to make holidays truly special.

I also have to mention the warm hospitality of the host families I have stayed with. While recognizing that the Nepali culture may be very different from mine (American), they have always been so great at making me feel like part of their families.

Overall the experience I've had working with GVN and VSN has been phenomenal! From my first trip, when I had never been to Nepal before, to my subsequent visits, they've always made the process so easy! I highly recommend this program to anyone looking to volunteer with a bunch of smart, funny, energetic, and loving kids! And the organization responsible for making them that way!

How can this program be improved?
I wish the cost of the flight from the US wasn't so expensive so I could go back to Nepal more often!
Yes, I recommend

About Bamboo

Bamboo is the next step in independent volunteering and adventure travel.

We're dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what responsible tourism is all about. Our dedicated team, consisting of the perfect mix of international travellers and passionate...