Projects Abroad Participant Reviews
Teaching English in the Galapagos Islands
Submitted by Alexander DiMauro - Thompson | July 22, 2017
I just traveled to the Galapagos Islands for a month with Projects Abroad. On the island of San Cristobal, I taught English to students ages 7-13. The staff there worked very hard to make every volunteer feel welcomed, and appreciated. I received so much support from them as well as other volunteers. It was certainly a challenge getting the young kids to pay attention during class, but it was a fun process.
The host family I was matched up with was great. I had my own room and was given three meals a day. My host mother was selfless, and always looked out for my wellbeing. I had a lot of fun with the kids there too. I taught Naomi and Diego to play a few songs on the guitar, and in return, they taught me some funny Spanish jokes.
I am glad that I decided to go to this part of Ecuador, and I hope to return someday.
Turtle conservation - summer 2017 (high school special)
Submitted by Sophie - Woodrow Wilson Senior High School | July 08, 2017
Hi my name is Sophie and I spent 2 weeks in June 2017 volunteering with Projects Abroad in Mexico! I spent months deciding what program to participate in because there are hundreds of options all over the internet but I eventually chose Projects broad because they genuinely seemed like a program that wanted their volunteers to make a difference. I did not want to go to a foreign country and just be a tourist doing busy work and the Projects Abroad turtle conservation program was exactly what I was hoping for.
After arriving in Mexico, I met my fellow volunteers (all ages 16-19) and we spent 4 hours traveling by bus from Guadalajara to Cuyutlan, accompanied by an incredibly friendly staff member from Projects Abroad. Once at the camp, we met the rest of the staff and got right to work. We learned about each job we would be completing at the Tortugario Ecologico (the nature reserve) which ranged from washing the adult and baby turtles and cleaning turtle tanks to feeding the iguanas, planting mangroves, completing a bird census, etc. The staff members spoke English as well as Spanish and they were very helpful and accommodating with anything we needed. The other volunteers I was working with were also super friendly. The majority of us were from the United States but there were also a few people from places all over the world, including as far away as Norway. We all got along extremely well and I am still in contact with a few of them today.
We spent the next two weeks working together at the Tortugario as well as a crocodile farm about 40 minutes away from camp. It was hard work but in my opinion there was a great balance between work time and down time. I had time for an afternoon siesta almost everyday and we also spent countless hours at the beach, enjoying the waves. During the weekend, we traveled to another beach town called Melake where we ate some amazing seafood (vegetarian options available!), shopped at local stores, and just enjoyed the relaxation.
The entire trip was amazing and passed in the blink of an eye. I had not expected to make any close friends but I was genuinely sad to be leaving both the other volunteers and the staff behind. I definitely want to go back and hopefully for a much longer period of time!
Physical therapy in Nepal
Submitted by Hannah Habighorst - University of Montana | June 24, 2017
My experience with Projects Abroad was completely positive, which allowed me to have the most wonderful journey in Nepal. I was unsure of which organization to do my project through. There were so many different organizations and so many varied reviews. But due to the variety, price, and review of projects abroad I decided to do my project through them. The staff was wonderful. I had an amazing host family. My placement allowed me to learn so much. I spent 5 weeks in Nepal performing physical therapy work. I was able to create friendship and memories that will last a lifetime.
Getting ready to travel abroad was a very confusing process for me as I had never traveled sole to a foreign country. However, Jessica, my pre-departure support staff, was helpful. She was a little slow to answer my questions, but she always responded and answered my questions fully and to the best of her ability. I also used the pre-departure website all the time- as it was extremely helpful. It included information about my placement, my health concerns in Nepal, visa information, packing lists, and many other helpful topics.
During my stay in Nepal, I have no complaints whatsoever about my experience. The host family was amazing and completely accommodating to certain health restrictions in my diet and everything. They took care of all the cooking and cleaning and made me feel completely comfortable in their home.
Because of my desire to become a physical therapist, I chose to due physical therapy work during my stay in Nepal. I was placed at a rehabilitation center for children with cerebral palsy. I learned so much from the physical therapist and got a lot of hands on work. At one point my placement was no longer suitable for me to work in. Because of the help of the staff, I was able to change placements and begin a new journey at an official physical therapy clinic. Here I was able to perform physical therapy on the individuals of Nepal who had suffered from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, trauma, and other injuries.
I was able to create many friendships during my time abroad. I met other individuals from around the world and was also able to travel around Nepal creating unbelievable memories. Projects Abroad created many opportunities for us all to connect with each other and also planned weekend excursions for the volunteers. We had weekly events that was open to all volunteers in Nepal which were a great opportunity to meet other people from around the world. These things made it easy to truly experience Nepal and bond as volunteer from very different backgrounds.
Projects Abroad responded to this review June 30, 2017 at 2:07 PM
Hi Hannah. Thank you for trusting us with your volunteer abroad experience. It's great that you had such an amazing time in Nepal and that you were able to observe Physical Therapy as it is done both in a rehabilitation center and a physical therapy clinic. We are always working hard so you can learn as much as you can and want during your time abroad. Thanks for sharing!
Speech therapist - Volunteering abroad in Fiji
Submitted by Emily - The University of Tulsa | June 04, 2017
I had never volunteered abroad (besides mission work with a church) before, so this was a new experience for me. I was really impressed with Projects Abroad staff. They were welcoming and friendly and made me feel right at home. I loved my placement at a special education school where they welcomed me with open arms and were eager to have me help their students. My trip was unfortunately short due to my academic schedule (I only had 2 weeks) but I got to know other volunteers, explore the beautiful islands on the weekends, and was able to really bond with my host parents. Halfway through I ended up getting a bug bite that got infected. I was dizzy, lightheaded, swollen, and in pain. The Projects Abroad Country Director, Karishma, went above and beyond taking me to the doctor and pharmacist in such a loving and supportive way. I'm so thankful for this experience and I recommend it to anyone looking to explore the beautiful country of Fiji and it's equally beautiful people!
Projects Abroad responded to this review June 30, 2017 at 2:05 PM
Hi Emily. It is wonderful that you decided to spend the little time you had for a break from school volunteering in Fiji. I am sure your impact with the students is still powerful, even if you were there for a short period. Bug bites are unfortunately something we cannot foresee, but Karishma and the rest of our staff in Fiji are always happy to help in any way they can, and care for our volunteers like they are their own.
Thank you for sharing!
My Fiji time
Submitted by Aimee S - Darwin Australia | May 15, 2017
In April this year, I was fortunate enough to volunteer with Projects Abroad, in Fiji for 2 weeks. I had the idea of volunteering for quite sometime however, Projects Abroad made it come to life and I am so grateful. For a 21 year old who has never travelled alone, projects abroad offered the support I needed to feel safe in Fiji from day dot. Having a good local support system really added to my experience. Not only did Mere (Project Advisor) show me around the city, how to get to and from placement, how to catch the bus etc. All the staff offered endless advise on the country including places to see and where to go. The staff made sure all the volunteers where located near each other and close to the projects abroad office. This ensured that we could all stay in touch as well as offering a sense of safety. One of the challenges I felt, prior to my stay in Fiji was feeling comfortable living with a host family. I was pleasantly surprised when I was introduced to my host parents Shayal and Raj and shown around my new humble home! My host family had everything I needed to feel comfortable in Fiji. Shayal always had yummy curries and roti prepared, and made sure my experience was the best that it could be. The most fulfilling part of my experience was at my placement. In the mornings I would assist teachers at Tiny Tots kindergarten then later walk to Saunaka Village to teach year 6/7 class. The children were so eager to learn about Math and English and showed so much respect. On the last day of my placement the children were very enthusiastic to show me around their village. Within 2 minutes of my tour, Jope the head boy, lead us down to a river. As soon as we were on the bank, all the boys ran and jumped in leaving the girls laughing and smiling, practically in tears. It was such an honour to be apart of their lives and be so warmly welcomed into their community.
Being apart of a like-minded community felt so good. The memories I have, the friendships I have formed with people from all over the world, will never be forgotten. It was truly the best experience of my life and I am looking forward to organising another trip, a longer one this time!
Program: Care in Fiji with Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad responded to this review May 25, 2017 at 11:55 AM
Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Fiji! The community and our families are indeed very welcoming and work hard to make volunteers feel at home and comfortable. It's great that you were able to create such a bond with your students. I am sure they will cherish this experience as much as yourself!
Thanks for sharing!
An unforgettable experience
Submitted by martintm - W&J College | May 11, 2017
Hello, I am a returned projects abroad volunteer. I volunteered at the basketball coaching placement in Nima, Accra, Ghana. My stay was three weeks long and it was the best time of my life. One thing that stood out to me about projects abroad was the amount of support that they gave their volunteers. I was given so much information, help, and guidance. The staff who were in Ghana were outstanding and made my experience so much better. While volunteering, I stayed with a host family, which was great. My host mother was very helpful and staying with her really made my experience unique. I was originally planned to stay only two weeks but I was enjoying my time in Ghana so much that I extended my stay another week (Which was uneasy process). I can't put in words how much my time volunteering really meant to me. I highly recommend everyone to volunteer abroad with projects abroad. It is a great chance to really see the world in another way and have an "unforgettable experience" Thank you projects abroad!
Projects Abroad responded to this review May 12, 2017 at 10:56 AM
Dear Martin: Thank you for joining us as a Coach volunteer in Ghana. I am sure the experience was just as rewarding for your young students as it was for yourself. It's great that you decided to stay an extra week, the longer you stay, the stronger connections you are able to make with the community, or in this case your students. Hope to see you again soon in another one of our projects!
My incredible volunteer experience in Romania
Submitted by kkiss310 - Chicago United States | May 06, 2017
My experience volunteering with Projects Abroad changed my life more than I could've possibly imagined. I always had a desire to volunteer and a friend recommended I volunteer through Projects Abroad. She spoke very highly of their staff support, the entire volunteer experience, and of how comfortable she felt during her time in Romania. I was able to experience all of those things first hand when I traveled to Romania in July. I chose to volunteer as a Drama volunteer because I wanted to bring theater education to their disadvantaged youth in Brasov. Before my journey began my volunteer advisor emailed me several times to make sure I had all of my questions answered about accommodation, transportation, and general life abroad. He was always available to answer questions and he even called me before my trip just to double check that I felt secure about all of my program details.
When I arrived in Romania, I was picked up at the airport by one of the local Projects Abroad staff. Razvan was extremely helpful and I immediately felt welcome to beautiful Romania. When I arrived in Brasov he made sure I was safe and sound at my host family's house. One of my favorite parts of my volunteer experience was my incredible host family. My "host mother" Rodica welcomed me into her home with open arms and plenty of delicious Romanian food. I swear I have never eaten better in my life! Although there was a language barrier between us I knew that I could always come to her with any questions about my stay in Brasov. She made me feel like I was home.
I can't speak highly enough about the Projects Abroad team in Romania. They helped me navigate my way through my volunteer program as I had many placements. One of the head coordinators, Ali, made sure I was comfortable with all of my placements and she even took the time to answer any questions I had about living and navigating Brasov. She was always open to communication and we spoke almost every day about how my drama program was coming along. Overall, the entire Projects Abroad team was incredibly supportive and I will forever be thankful for them. They made my volunteer experience very special.
Last but not least, through my experience with Projects Abroad I made life long friendships. Several of my fellow volunteers were from the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and the USA. We still all keep in touch and we often look back on our wonderful experiences with Projects Abroad. Overall, my volunteer opportunity in Romania allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream: to give back to others in need. Projects Abroad assisted in helping that dream come true!
Projects Abroad responded to this review May 12, 2017 at 11:01 AM
Thank you for sharing your experience! It's great to hear you had such a wonderful time volunteering in Romania. The language barrier can be a bit challenging at first, but our host families work hard to make all of our volunteers feel welcome and comfortable. We would love to try your host mother's food one of these days, it sounds delicious! More importantly, we are thrilled to have helped make your dreams of giving back come true. I am sure your Drama students feel the same way!
Ghana spring break
Submitted by emily sliazas - uiuc | April 25, 2017
Hi my name is Emily and this past spring break I attended a trip with Projects Abroad. I went to Ghana, Africa and it was the best trip of my life! To start, the other girls I volunteered with were great and fun to talk to since they were all from different countries. We had such a home-y host mom and aunt the food they made us was delicious and made me feel like a part of the culture. Working was the best part and Richard and Gifti, the staff that lead my group and I, were so helpful. They made sure to explain everything and help us any chance we needed so that we could focus on the patients. They also made sure we were able to experience the culture with trips to a nature reserve, a restaurant, and an art market in our spare time. Any travel-anxiety was gone because Projects Abroad was so helpful.
Projects Abroad responded to this review April 27, 2017 at 4:30 PM
Hi Emily. Thanks for sharing! Our staff is always happy to make our volunteers experience go as smoothly as possible. Being in a different country can be a bit challenging at first, but it's always easier with the help of our friendly host families, volunteer community and local staff, isn`t it? It's great you got to fully explore the beautiful Ghanian culture! Hope you can visit again soon!
One week in Akuapem Hills, Ghana
Submitted by Felicia Van Dress - University of Toledo | April 19, 2017
I traveled to Ghana during my college's spring break. It was a great experience! My host family was welcoming and provided cultural food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The other volunteers and I were able to explore the area and learn about the culture, meet the people, and go on trips (markets, botanical gardens, hiking). I spent the week volunteering in a school and orphanage. The Projects Abroad staff was kind and helpful as they explained what my roles and responsibilities of the week were, how to get to my placement, and introduced me to the staff at the placement. The children I worked with were energetic and playful. They welcomed me into the orphanage and school and showed me where they played, did homework, where their animals lived, and much more.
Projects Abroad responded to this review April 27, 2017 at 4:25 PM
Hi Felicia. Sounds like you had quite a different Spring Break in Ghana! It's great that you got to immerse yourself in the culture with the help of your host family as well as your fellow volunteers! Rest assured, your impact in the orphanage and school will still be felt, long after you have returned home. Thanks for sharing!
Volunteering as an Occupational Therapy student in Vietnam
Submitted by Kathryn - University of Sydney | April 15, 2017
As an occupational therapy student at the mid-way point of my degree, I had always pondered what my future profession looks like in practice within a developing country. This, combined with a desire to see the world and expand my worldview led me to volunteer in Vietnam with Projects Abroad over a period of four weeks. Throwing yourself into an entirely different culture and way of life is never the easiest experience, but I can honestly say that I felt very well supported by the Projects Abroad team every step of the way. From patiently answering the barrel of questions I had prior to applying and in preparation for going to Vietnam, to the personal guidance I received from the Vietnam Projects Abroad team during my stay in Vietnam, I was blown away by how attentive the team were to my needs and concerns every step of the way.
I volunteered with a friend from university and our placement was at Hanoi Friendship Village, a residential community for Vietnam War veterans and for children and adults with disabilities resulting from the intergenerational health effects caused by Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide that was used by the American military during the Vietnam War. We spent most of our time in the therapy room, working with the children and adults from 13-30 years old, most of who presented with Cerebral Palsy like characteristics. Working as an occupational therapy student in a country where our profession is not widely recognised came with its own set of challenges which we had to navigate, but through this experience we become more well-rounded and globally conscious OT students.
We stayed at one of the two volunteer houses with fellow volunteers from around the world. Sharing this experience with one another was one of the highlights of my time in Vietnam - my volunteer family were a valuable source of support after long days, and I have formed many treasured friendships as a result. Vietnam is a beautiful place to visit, full of warm people, and bringing your OT skills to the table will benefit the lives of many.
Projects Abroad responded to this review April 27, 2017 at 4:24 PM
Dear Kathryn. Thank you for sharing! Indeed, Occupational Therapy is not a very recognized profession in Vietnam, but they are in real need of selfless OT volunteers like yourself. The impact you have on the patients you help is unmeasurable, even though it may seem like it was a short time for you being in such a beautiful country! This experience is all about helping those who need it most, but in most cases, they truly end up helping us more! Glad you were able to experience this yourself!