Volunteer Capital Centre (VCC)

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Volunteer abroad associations

“The world is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers.” ~Terri Guillemets. There are many organizations that plan volunteer vacations for travelers. They are numbered in their hundreds and many travelers wonder whether the organization they are going to use is a scam or a fraud. This is especially true with newer organizations which don’t have a previous track record. To help out potential volunteers who are going abroad, the volunteer travel companies have formed associations which try to set up standards for volunteer travel companies. These associations have websites that show a list of credible and weed out the scam volunteer travel organizations according to their standards. The standards set vary from association to association, like for example the amount for the yearly contribution varies; there should be a physical office in a particular country and minimum age of the volunteer travel organization. Note these associations do warn they are not accountable and liable to the behavior of the volunteer travel organizations. Here are a couple of associations that help volunteers:


GoAbroad was launched to fill an information void in the area of international student travel. It was conceptualized to provide a one-stop information center for students wishing to travel internationally. The site was created to link prospective travelers with organizations providing international opportunities. It is committed to providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel databases. GoAbroad.com utilizes data driven programming to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information. In addition to some of the largest directories of their kind on the internet, it provides extensive additional information within its dynamically constructed travel guides, currency converter, and embassy directories. It is dedicated to providing this information in a clean and less-commercial format.

Year out group

The Year Out Group is an association of leading year out organizations that was formed in 1998 to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year out programs, to promote models of good practice and to help young people and their advisers in selecting suitable and worthwhile projects. The Year Out Group is a not-for-profit organization. The suggestions and guidelines included on their web site have been produced by the Year Out Group and are intended both for people planning a gap year and parents, teachers and other advisers that may have an interest in helping people select a suitable and worthwhile project. The Year Out Group is an association of independent organizations and exists to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year out programs. It does not however organize or arrange year out programs itself.

International Volunteer Program Association

The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is an association of non-governmental organizations involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges. IVPA is an association of volunteer sending organizations but does not organize or run its own volunteer programs. They stand for responsibility in the field of international volunteer abroad programs. Their members are expected to uphold the IVPA's principles and practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria. IVPA can serve as a guide to anyone considering volunteering abroad or developing international service opportunities. This includes but is not limited to prospective volunteers, newly created volunteer sending organizations, corporations, and colleges and universities.


VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Our popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 75,000 nonprofit organizations.


True Travellers Society was developed out of frustration with the “volunteer in Asia, volunteer in Africa, volunteer in South or Central America, but first pay us lots of money” organizations. The aim of our organization is to connect people with no or minimal fee meaningful travel and volunteer travel opportunities around the globe. We have created a central location where this information can be shared for free.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dealing with depression while volunteering abroad

"Every human being is important and all human beings owe something to their fellow inhabitants of this planet." -- Wallace Campbell. While doing volunteer work in the host countries, there are times when volunteers get depressed, or have a down day, they get into funk or just have one of those days. Everything could be fine in the volunteer life, accommodation, food, work and country could be great. In spite of all that the volunteer might start feeling down and sad. It’s more pronounced with volunteers who have problems dealing with depression. Depression is defined as a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. It is a serious disease and sometimes it is misdiagnosed. The symptoms are that the volunteers may feel like they are sad, anxious, a feeling of emptiness, feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable, experiences overeating or loss of appetite, or problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide. During one of those days there are a couple of things the volunteers could do to change the way they are feeling.


There are various pills that are available to the volunteers to help them battle depression. Most of the pills are prescribed by a doctor and can’t be gotten over the counter. Every person is different, so the treatment will be tailored to the volunteers ‘needs. Some of the antidepressants out there are Abilify IM, Abilify Oral, Celexa Oral, Lithium Carbonate Oral, Paxil CR Oral and Prozac Oral. When the volunteer is feeling really down s/he should go to a doctor to get the medication. Once the volunteer has been diagnosed with depression, your doctor may prescribe a specific drug regimen. If the volunteer is going to travel for a long period of time s/he should inform their general practitioner and they will be given enough prescription to last the period.


Talking is one the best ways to handle depression. Talking to someone, could help the volunteer overcome depression. They could talk to a counselor, priest or anyone who has counseling experience. If the volunteer is with other foreigners, s/he could talk with them. As they are also foreigners they are in a better place to understand the volunteers’ feelings. They will give advice and support the volunteer in their time of need. If the volunteer is in a country where there are no other foreigners, or in a country where they don’t speak the volunteers’ language then s/he should call home or their friends back home.

Doing something Different

When the volunteers feel they are stuck in a rut, they could try and do something new. When their lives become monotonous they could try and break the routine. They could try to “throw a spanner in to the mix” by going to new place, doing something different. They can try to take a break from what they normally do. They could travel to a new place, eat something different anything that will bring spice back to their lives. Other than doing something different, the volunteer could take a break from the work they do. They could take a day or two off so that they can handle their emotions. On these days they could go to a hotel, spa, or somewhere they can be pampered and make them feel very comfortable. Going to such luxury places will help take the volunteers’ mind off their problems.


Laughter is the best medicine. If there is an opportunity for the volunteers to go to place where they can have fun, then they should not hesitate to take such opportunities, or if there is someone around the volunteer who makes them laugh and happy, the volunteers should hang out with these guys often. Hanging out with cheerful guys will lift the mood of the volunteers. This is the fastest way to get over depression. The volunteers could watch movies that will lift their mood. If its music that will make the volunteer happy they should listen to it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Volunteering abroad, harm or good

“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever." – Kofi Annan. Volunteering abroad is becoming a huge industry being currently valued at $ 2.6 billion with an approximate 1.6 million volunteer tourists from the United Kingdom. As such volunteering abroad or voluntourism is a big business and it has started to take peoples’ notice. There have been a lot of conversations on twitter, facebook, blogs and many social websites about volunteering abroad. The conversations are about the benefits and harms of volunteering abroad to the community. One article written by Ian Birell, “Before you volunteer abroad think about the harm you might do.” Shows the negative effects that volunteering abroad has on the community in which the volunteer work is being done. A lot has been brought about by the article, for example how unscrupulous organizations take advantage of communities as well as international volunteers in order to make money. It also says that voluntourism is a form of “colonialism” and orphans are being paraded like animals to be viewed. Although there are people and companies out there who are using volunteering abroad to make huge profits there are also well meaningful companies and volunteers who really want to do good in the world. Here are tips for volunteers to help them go abroad:


As a volunteer who is passionate about helping others not only your friends, kinsmen but also strangers then s/he should volunteer abroad. The world has so many problems and if the volunteer wants to make an impact and is passionate about it should pack their bags and go abroad. There could be bad apples in the basket, but this should keep you from leaving home to help others. Even though some organizations take advantage of the industry, the volunteers should realize what they are doing. The main reason they are doing it is to help somebody who is needy not just for them to feel good. Even though the volunteers only work for a week, there is a tremendous mark left on those who have been helped. This is the essence of volunteering, giving up one’s time and resources to go help somebody else who is in need.

Independent volunteers

Many of the concerns facing volunteering abroad is that the organizations they are volunteering with are out there to make money. The organizations take advantage of the poor and sell “poverty” to the well off travelers or volunteers. They show the plight of the poor making the travelers to invest their money to help some community. To counter being taken advantage by these unscrupulous companies, the volunteers could try and organize everything for themselves. Although this takes time and a lot of effort the volunteer can cut out the middleman (the volunteer service organization) and arrange everything for themselves. They should plan for which organization they could work in, where to stay, where to eat, and visa requirements. If this is too much for the volunteer, or if the volunteer doesn’t have time to do it, they should properly vet the organization they are going to use. The volunteers should look into everything about the programs and the organization itself. If they are not satisfied by an organization, they shouldn’t give up but start looking at others.

Volunteer programs

The volunteer programs in which the volunteers will work in affect the communities. These programs are the ones many people have problem with. They are normally badly drawn up that they are ineffective and don’t help anyone in the long run. The programs should be local solutions made by local people and should address the local problems. Poor programs not only waste the volunteers’ time but also the communities’ resources. In addition some programs are not sustainable in that when there is no volunteer working there they can’t be run. Volunteers should make sure that someone else will come and pick up where they left off. Orphanage programs are one of the most popular but also have the biggest effect on the community. In these programs the volunteers will be working with vulnerable children. When the volunteer leaves, the children feel abandoned and suffer psychologically. To prevent this, the volunteers should try to keep in touch with the kids they are working with. This will help them get over abandonment issues.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Volunteer abroad scams

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Volunteers who are abroad like other travelers are bound to fall victim of scams. There are people who are out there looking for ways to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers. They come up with lies and scams to steal money from volunteers who are abroad. As an international volunteer it is wise to be aware of the scams are out there and to avoid them. This article is to help current and potential volunteers to avoid being scammed or taken advantage of while they are abroad. Here are common scams and how to avoid them when the volunteers are going abroad:

Volunteer service organizations

Volunteer service organizations; companies; ethical travel companies; travel agents are all great organizations that help individuals to go to volunteer abroad. They take care of everything for the volunteers, from accommodation, meals to the project they will be working in. For the volunteers who agree to use these organizations should be cautious as there are organizations out there that run scams. These organizations come up with volunteer programs or projects that have no value to the volunteers. They charge volunteers high fees and they leave the volunteer to take care of themselves. The volunteers find themselves in a host country without any support, poor services and dealing with unprofessionalism. To avoid such scams, the volunteers should vet each organization that they choose to use carefully, talk to past volunteers and listen to other peoples recommendations.

Taxi scams

Every traveler has fallen victim to this scam. This scam is common because many of the volunteers are new to the country and they are not aware of the fares. This normally happens when they board a taxi and they are overcharged by the driver. The common lies the taxi driver tells volunteers are the meter is broken; doesn’t take the volunteer to his destination claiming that they have forgotten where the place is; and they inflate the taxi fare. To avoid these scams: use a reputable company; use taxi stands; go by the meter; ask a tourist or a hotel, hostel for fares and recommendations; get the price upfront before boarding; and carry small bills. Apart from taxi scams, volunteers might have problems paying for fares in public or private buses. The conductors and the drivers conspire to overcharge the volunteers. To avoid this before the volunteers boards the bus they should find out how much it costs and carry small bills only.

Credit card scams

This happens everywhere but it is more common in Europe. These scams occur when the volunteer swipes his credit card on a tiny machine which records information from the cards magnetic strip. These machines are cheap and easy to buy. With the volunteers’ information fraudsters or scammers wait for a couple of months and they start swindling money from the volunteers or in some cases they start swindling money as soon as possible. The people who are behind the scams are waiters and shopkeepers. Other ways of credit card scams are through: stolen credit cards, ATMs which swallow credit cards; and fraudulent people who stand by ATMs claiming to be bank officials. To avoid being scammed this way, the volunteers should use credit cards as opposed to debit cards because it is easier to recover the money that has been lost. In addition, the volunteers should immediately report any stolen cards and suspicious activity of their bank accounts.


When the volunteer is about to buy an item they should realize that the seller will try to take advantage for them because they are foreigners. The shopkeepers normally inflate the price up to four times because they know the volunteers do not know the actual price. As a result the volunteers should always haggle or negotiate to get the best price. As a principle the volunteers should ask for a quarter of the asking price this way the seller will know they are not new to that place. Also the volunteer should say they have been to that country a number of times and that they are new to the area.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Volunteer abroad 2011 summer flight deals

“Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.” ~David Thomas. 2011 is the year of the volunteer. Airline fare is a big part in planning for volunteering abroad. After the volunteer has picked a project and country to go and work in the next thing they plan for is airfare. Flight fees are the ones that make volunteering abroad expensive. The fare determines whether the volunteer will be able to save money for their trip. The volunteers who are going to travel this summer should start looking for deals and promotions on cheaper airfares. The best way to get great fares is by constantly checking the airlines and with travel agents. Volunteers who are going abroad this summer should look into these airlines as they are giving the best deals for this summer.


KLM has covered the world with its wide network. KLM offers travelers direct and indirect flights to anywhere in Africa from all major airports of the world. KLM facilitates travelers with all special packages. KLM operates worldwide scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 90 destinations. KLM operates out of its headquarters at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. With KLM, travelers can travel to their dream destinations under your budget so; fly with KLM to have the most contented journey. This summer they are charging $ 1200 from New York to Nairobi, Kenya. Traveler can visit their website for more information.

Royal Air Maroc

Royal Air Maroc it is the flag carrier for Morocco and has covered the world with its wide network. Royal Air Maroc offers you direct and indirect flights to anywhere in Africa from all major airports of the world. They provide connections between European cities and African cities via the Casablanca hub. Royal Air Maroc is the fourth largest airline operating in Africa behind South African Airways, Egyptair and Air Algerie. London to Lagos is going for £ 412.

Afriqiyah Airways

Afriqiyah Airways has covered the world with its wide network. It operates domestic services between Tripoli and international scheduled services to over 25 countries in Europe, Africa and Middle East. From Europe to Accra is about £ 229.

Air France

Air France has its headquarters at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, and these are now the headquarters for the parent company (Air France-KLM) as well. They go to 190 destinations worldwide on the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. From Paris to Johannesburg € 855

Swiss international

Swiss international is the national flag carrier for Switzerland. They fly to 70 destinations in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and throughout Europe. The main hub for the airline is Zurich International Airport and its headquarters is in Basel, Switzerland. From New York to Nairobi is $ 1113.

Kenya airways

Kenya Airways is Kenya’s largest airline and also the second-largest airline in sub-Saharan Africa. (The largest is South African Airways.) Kenya Airways, however, makes more transcontinental flights than any other airline in Africa. Its headquarters is in Nairobi and its hub is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi). From London to Nairobi will be $ 600.

British Airways

It is the biggest airline in the United Kingdom, and has more flights across the Atlantic than any other carrier. The main airport headquarters is at London Heathrow, although they have a huge presence in London Gatwick .British Airways flies to more than 200 destinations worldwide on the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Australia and South America. The airline has service to every inhabited continent on the globe. London to Cape Town goes for £ 349.

Delta airlines

Delta airlines might be the third-largest airline in the United States, but it’s got the largest route network of any airline worldwide. Delta serves North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Delta has its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and has the largest and busiest hub in the world at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. New York to Accra, Ghana is $ 842.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top 5 things international volunteers miss about home

“When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you are having an adventure you wish you were safe at home” – Thornton Wilder. After staying for some period of time volunteers start to miss home. Even though they are used to the environment they are in and they are comfortable, after sometime volunteers start missing home. There are moments when they sit back and realize how much they miss home, the little things and the big things that they took for granted. That is when they feel they should start packing and take the next plane or bus home. It doesn’t matter whether the volunteers are in developed countries or third world countries. It reaches a point when they want familiarity and the comforts of home. Here are a couple of things volunteers who are abroad are going to miss:

Family and friends

Family and friends include spouses, and kids; close and distant relatives; boyfriends and girlfriends; best friends and acquaintances; and pets. Volunteers all get used to family being close to them. Even though the volunteers have moved out of their home or they are in college or university. The idea of family being a few hours away is a comfort to many. While the volunteer is abroad they miss the company of their friends and family. They feel at a loss when they miss out on events that shape the lives of their friends and families like weddings, birthdays, holidays, funerals and hospital visits. However many new friends the volunteer will make while they are abroad, they will not come close to the friends they had since childhood. Some volunteers have tight knit families and they miss the family members from the grandparents to the aunt and uncles. Even with the advent of new technology that keeps people connected from facebook to Skype it’s not enough to really keep in touch with somebody.


While volunteering abroad in an exotic country the volunteers will have the pleasure of eating delicious food. They will be able to eat the local delicacies in the restaurants, streets and home cooked meals. The meals unique to a country cannot be properly duplicated. Although they have the benefit of the local meals the volunteers will still miss food they were brought up eating. Apart from those, there are recipes in which the volunteers’ mothers used to make that can’t be found in the host country they are in. In addition there are brands, types of food that the volunteer is used and it’s made differently for example whole wheat bread. The biggest challenge is if the volunteer is a vegetarian meaning that they won’t have much of a variety to choose them.


Experiencing new cultures is one of the highlights of volunteering abroad. It’s great to see how other people observe certain holidays, and how they carry themselves from day to day. Although there could be some parts of the local cultures that the volunteers find hard to deal with for example in some African countries they still practice female genital mutilation. In addition when the volunteers are in another country they get to appreciate their local culture and customs. Like how when the volunteers are at home they know how people would behave in certain situations like helping someone when everyone else has ignore the sick person. At home people could open doors for women, pull out chairs, smile at strangers, and give up their seats to the elderly and pregnant women, while abroad the local people won’t do the same things.

Public transport

When the volunteers are at home they are used to the public transport. They are used to using public trains, buses and taxis. Sometimes the volunteers have the luxury of owning their own cars meaning they can go to anyplace they want very comfortably. When they go abroad the first thing they get to see is the public transport. They get to see how different it is from their own. With the public transport come road signs that are sometime difficult to discern.


While doing volunteer work abroad, the volunteers will be staying in a homestay, group home, hostel or dorm they will be sleeping on strange beds. They long the opportunity to sleep on their own, comfortable bed with sheets nobody else has slept on. With their own bed comes privacy which is hard to come by while they are volunteering abroad.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

5 emotions felt by volunteers before going abroad

Life’s more persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Many people who are preparing for a long period of time get excited and are looking forward to traveling. After great planning and researching the volunteer is ready to go abroad. After the volunteer has already gone to see a general practitioner to get immunization shots and other medication; after travel insurance, airline fare has been paid, and if need be they have gotten the required visas to the countries they are going to. The next part is getting ready to leave. Before the date of departure many travelers are overcome with different emotions. Even the most experience travelers feel these common emotions. Many feel this way because they will be away for a long period of time and they will be by themselves in a new environment. Another reason the volunteers have these feelings is because they want to do well and they go away when you leave home. The emotions volunteers who are going abroad are:


Anxiety affects everyone and it’s the most common emotion. Travelers usually feel anxious just before they depart. Anxiety is brought about by stress it causes people to feel fear, worry, uneasiness and dread. A couple of ways of handling anxiety is through: changing the volunteers’ mindset, this can be done repeating a phrase or a mantra; the volunteers could talk with their close friends about their feelings, this helps to calm them down; the volunteers could pack early to avoid the emotional toll of doing it, this also gives the volunteer the opportunity to do some last minute shopping; and planning for contingencies that could happen while being abroad.


This is common among first time travelers. Fear is felt differently by most people but the most common symptoms are: dread, pain in the solar plexus, difficulty in breathing and heart racing. Volunteers feel fear due to a number of reasons. The reasons are fear of the unknown; being rejected; failure; hard times; making new friends; living with a host family and success. During the last days of departure volunteers fear that life at home would go on without them and they won’t be able to connect properly with their families and friends. Many people breakdown in tears due to fear just before they leave. The uncertainty and fear of travel combines to make the volunteer really sad. Fortunately there are cures of fear. Any volunteer who starts feeling afraid towards them leaving should: talking to past volunteers; talking to others who are living in the host countries; read books; research the country; and learn about the work they will be doing.


When the volunteers are about to leave they start feeling homesick. They will start missing their family, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, regular places they visit and their home. Homesickness is brought about by: being exposed to different environments and new people. The main signs and symptoms of homesickness are: Nostalgia, grief, depression, anxiety, topophilia, adjustment disorders, withdrawal, sadness, claustrophobia, and agoraphobia. To take control and overcoming homesickness is by: Keeping in touch with close associates; Carry something from home; trying to keep busy during the last days; looking forward to the new and exciting adventures. Homesickness leaves after some of time while the volunteer is abroad.


Towards the day of departure, the volunteer starts to feel lonely. With all the time they spend with their family and friends, they start to realize it will be a while before they will reunite with them. The volunteer understand that they have little time between them and their family. Even though they are still with them, they start feeling very lonely thinking of their upcoming volunteer abroad vacation. To cure this, the volunteer should try to carry something of sentimental value from their family and friends.


This is the best feeling that comes to most people. The idea to spend some time in another country, meeting new people, eating exotic foods and travelling, overwhelms many travelers. The possibility of going to unchartered territories, witnessing beautiful sunsets, and seeing first hand interesting cultures makes many people want to volunteer abroad. Fortunately there is no cure to excitement. The feeling of excitement doesn’t leave when the volunteer is abroad. the endless opportunities that are out there fuel the fire of excitement

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top 4 Volunteer abroad books

“No matter how big and powerful government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers.”- Ronald Reagan. Volunteering abroad is an endeavor that changes the lives of the volunteers as well as the lives of those being helped. As volunteer, especially those who are first time volunteers, they are excited about the prospect of going abroad and helping out. They have a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty because they don’t have much information on how life is abroad, and the kind of work that they will do. There is information on volunteer work on the internet on blogs, reviews and volunteer service organizations. In addition to information on the internet, there are books available. These books are written by past volunteers on how life is abroad. The authors are writing from firsthand experience on volunteer work abroad, and life in different countries. These volunteer books are:

How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Abroad

It is authored by Joseph Collins, Stefano DeZerega, and Zahara Heckscher. The book is Based on six years of research that included fieldwork in over 25 countries, the book is not just a directory of opportunities, but a critical review of over 80 volunteer placement organizations in this rapidly growing field, as well as a detailed but easy to read manual about everything from why to volunteer to what to do when you get back. It is an in-depth guide for anyone who wants volunteer in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East or Eastern Europe

Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others

The authors are Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger, and Ed Asner. This book provides one to two pages of information on 150 organizations through which travelers can help others while on vacation at locations both in the United States and around the world. The authors state that they have carefully vetted the organizations but they have stopped short of providing reviews or ratings. While essential information on each organization's work, locations, costs, needed skills, age restrictions, and contact information is provided, the authors encourage readers to research further on their own. They provide tips on how to evaluate an organization, and they intersperse inspiring testimonials from former volunteers throughout the book. This guide is both a good starting point and a sound overview for those interested in undertaking a service-oriented vacation.

The International Directory of Voluntary Work

It is written by Victoria Pybus. The book is a freshly revised eighth edition of the book that covers all types of voluntary work all over the world. Over 700 organizations worldwide need all types of people, both skilled and unskilled, for all types of work. Residential work available worldwide includes schemes such as organic farming in Thailand, nursing in Chile, archaeological digs in France, re-enacting battles in Pennsylvania, bird observation in the Madagascan rainforest, bee-keeping in Hungary, working with street children in Brazil, studying humpback whales in Hawaii, teaching English in Laos, or running development programs in India. The book also covers non-residential work in the UK and the USA such as planting trees in San Francisco, caring for seal pups in Cornwall, helping to re-house homeless people, working in a dragonfly museum, restoring steam locomotives, and preparing food for dolphins in Florida

The straight stuff about joining the Peace Corps

It is written by Dillon Banerjee. The book grew from Dillon Banerjee's personal frustration trying to answer these questions for himself: he couldn't find a single book written from the perspective of a Volunteer. It is organized around 73 questions starting with "1. What is the application process like?" and ending with "73. Would you go back and do the Peace Corps all over again?" The nine appendices are rich with information including PCV requirements and how to strengthen your own application plus lists of loan programs and RPCV support groups arranged by state.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Volunteer abroad New Year’s resolution

A New Year’s resolution is a commitment to that an individual makes to a personal goal, target, project or reforming a habit. As the New Year begins many people have already made New Year’s resolutions and they are hoping to keep them throughout the year. The most common resolutions made are: to improve health; improve finances – get out of debt; improve career; improve education; lose weight and improve one self. With volunteers who are abroad come up with their resolutions to make their life better. Throughout the year the international volunteers should try to keep these resolutions, to get more out of their experience. Here are a couple resolutions for volunteers who are abroad or who are about to embark on their journey:

Travel more

The volunteers will be in foreign country for a limited period of sometime. They could be in the country for one week to three years depending on the volunteer program. In the beginning of the program the volunteers are fascinated about the new country and environment. They travel and visit places during the first days or first weeks and they stop looking for new places. This year while the volunteers are abroad they should visit more places in the country that they are in. After visiting the popular tourism areas, volunteers should look for new places, less popular and the “unbeaten path”. When they are not volunteering they could go to places that are not familiar to them. They could visit smaller towns, go to more indigenous sites or really explore the town they are in. Another way of enjoying travelling is by travelling by yourself if you are used to traveling with people, and travelling with a friend if you are used to travel by your self

Stay on your budget

Many holidays and vacations are cut short because travelers run out of money. As volunteer who is staying in a foreign country, s/he should keep to his/her budget. There times the volunteers are tempted to overspend by going to expensive restaurants or by going out on many nights. They could also be carried away by shopping too much. As this year starts the volunteers should make the resolution to stick to their budget. They are many advantages of staying on a budget but unfortunately staying on a budget is not easy and it requires a lot of discipline. Ways of sticking to a budget is by try to spend less on items by looking for budget deals, negotiating and haggling. Keeping a budget journal will show that the volunteer has been spending money on things they don’t really need. Having extra money on the volunteer holiday always helps.

Keeping a journal

Having a journal and constantly updating it is a great way to document the volunteer experience. Many travelers who are abroad, encourage writing journals about their adventures, encounters and their emotional state of mind. A journal could be a book, diary or a web blog. Journals don’t have any immediate value but in the long term they are great especially at the end of 2011 when the volunteers are looking back at their great year. Writing daily and constantly updating it will help to look at the things that were affecting and influencing the volunteers during the volunteer work.

Meet more people

The main purpose of volunteering abroad is to experience new cultures and meeting new people. While at the host country the volunteers could try meet as many people as they can. The stay in the host country will be very short and shouldn’t not be wasted by just staying in a secluded environment. Going out during the day and night to meet new people and culture will expose the volunteer to the great and wonderful things that are out there. This also helps to broaden the world view of the volunteer.