When deciding where to volunteer abroad, I came across International Student Volunteers and was amazed at how thoroughly organized the program was. I immediately applied to volunteer and was accepted for my first choice, South Africa! They do everything for you, from the flight booking to the accommodations, to most of the meals and all of the activities you could possibly imagine doing while overseas. It was such a culturally rich experience and there was a diversity in activities during the adventure tour to please the thrill seeker and the cultural history buff at the same time.
The volunteer project that I was on in Cintsa East, South Africa, was an eye opening experience for me. We got to work side-by-side with locals in the community, we got to experience the Xhosa culture and ultimately put smiles on the faces of the children there. In fact, the entire experience made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in Global Health which is exactly what I am doing now, two years later! I strongly suggest volunteering abroad with ISV if you have any desire to work with vulnerable populations, especially children, or if you are studying health/international development. It can definitely enrich your educational path.
It was also excellent that we had a fixed schedule day to day, waking up around 7:00am and travelling to our project. We had our lunches prepared for us and worked until between 2 and 4:00pm. In the evenings, we were free to go to the community store and to call home (which was incredibly easy from South Africa...only 1 rand a minute with a payphone). We also had our dinners prepared by our amazing house mother and got to spend quality time together all evening.
There were plenty of opportunities to learn about different African foods and cultures throughout the volunteer project and the adventure tour. We were able to participate in high adrenaline activities like caving and swimming with whale sharks, but we were also awarded cultural experiences like visiting an orphanage in Swaziland.
The ISV staff were generally very kind and helpful, with the exception of a couple incidents with our project leader, but overall we felt incredibly safe and supported the entire time.
I also went on this experience with my boyfriend and it was an excellent way to bond as a couple.
I would suggest this experience to absolutely anyone who was considering it!!