Posts filed under ‘Amal El bakhar’

Transformative Experiences: Family Volunteer Trips

A recent article in the New York Times, titled “Volunteer Trips: Is Your Family Ready?” paints a portrait of the value of family volunteer trips that allow both the parents and children to immerse themselves in a culture, while contributing positively to the community.

The family volunteer trips allow for the guest family to spend several days living in a different culture, and participating in community development programs and living in similar conditions as the citizens of that region. In the article, Ms. Everson, a Facebook Executive writes, “the trip was a chance for us, as a family, to play a global role in helping others while also expanding our worldview.” Various other parents share the sentiment after a volunteer trip, and they see the effect of the involvement on the children’s education and perceptions of the world.

The article proceeds to provide answers by experts to essential questions that might be posed by a family seeking to plan a volunteer trip. First, parents always ask, “how do we prepare?” Ellen Sachs Alter, a psychologist, states, “[before going]…discuss the challenges [with your children] and explain that the trip could be heartbreaking at times, scary and even difficult.” In fact, it has been continuously reiterated by families who have volunteered abroad “that nothing can truly prepare someone unaccustomed to poverty for the deprivation common in developing world. Still, there are steps to mitigate the shock,” such as having an honest conversation with your children.

Second, parents’ often ask, “How young is too young?” Kristy Clum states that “she discourages parents from bringing children under 10.” It is often recommended to take kids during their teen years, when they are very self-absorbed. Third, parents’ ask, “What happens if you get sick or hurt?” It is recommended that the family visits their health care provided four to six weeks before the trip and make sure that they have all the required vaccinations or medications.

The article provides other answers to important questions, such as “Should service trips be mixed with pleasure?” and “Does the experience translate back home?” Overall, it confirms that family volunteer trips provide a lasting impact on both the parents and the children.

If you would like to plan a family volunteer trip, contact one of our IVPA members below. As Genevieve Brown, Executive Director of IVPA, pointed out in the NYT article, “[Our nonprofit members] speak the language, know the culture and the political situation,” and thus can provide you with the most immersive and impactful experience.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Global Citizens Network

Global Service Corps

Globe Aware

Habitat for Humanity

Projects Abroad

ProWorld

Service For Peace

August 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

Book Review: The Voluntourist

Ken Budd: The Voluntourist

 

The opening pages of Ken Budd “The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate and Singing Bon Jovi Bethlehem” are thought provoking. It provides a unique perspective into a traveler’s world as he seeks to help others while defining his own life purpose and answering, what am I doing that matters?

The memoir begins with Ken Budd, an award-winning writer and editor, trying to determine how he can pursue a life with meaning while constantly defining parts of his journey and what meaning they hold. Through his journey, he volunteers in various roles, in various countries – including Costa Rica and China.

In a recent interview, he said, “In the past year, there have been a few studies that suggest that volunteer work is as healthy for the aging body and brain as exercise and right diet.” This statement is further validated by his own testament and volunteering. In his book, Ken asserts that he was constantly challenged – mentally, spiritually, and emotionally – and he always felt outside of this comfort zone. In fact, in his book, he describes how his volunteer work in China – where he worked with disabled children – forced his brain to work in a different way.

For advice to future volunteers, Ken says, “look for an organization that has ties to the local community: you want an organization that’s creating partnerships rather than dependencies.”

To read more about Ken Budd’s book and his adventures, click here

July 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm Leave a comment

International Volunteering for Teens

Volunteering abroad is a thought provoking, challenging and stimulating experience. For teens, the experience provides a new perspective on life, allowing them to perform activities in a new culture, with meaning and value.

Volunteering abroad can give a teen the opportunity to shadow people in different professions, gain insight to diverse cultures and  have a life-changing experience.

According to Simone A. Bernstein, Co-Founder and President of VolunteenNation.org, students need to volunteer abroad in order to gain skills that will help them succeed in their future. For example, Shannon McNamara, began volunteering at age fifteen in Tanzania, and thus far, has donated 33,000 children’s books to girls in Africa. Her work has impacted more than 8,000 students and teachers in Africa, and has earned her numerous awards and recognitions.

However, before letting your teen volunteer abroad, it’s important for parents to ask certain basic essential questions when they contact the organization directly. These questions include:

  • Who should I email/contact in your organization to obtain more information about the volunteer program?
  • Who licenses your organization?
  • Do you have any counselors at the volunteer site? If so, whom are they licensed by?
  • What will my child be doing in the community? What are the expected tasks that my child will have to perform?
  • Where will my child be volunteering? (ask for specific location and address)
  • Is my child responsible for planning their own meals, travels and any other logistics?
  • I am concerned about my child’s safety. What policies are in place to assure that my child is safe?
  • Where and with whom will my child be residing?

Additionally, not all volunteer abroad programs provide volunteer opportunities for teens who are younger than 18 unless accompanied by a parent. But here are some international community service programs that are members of IVPA that do:

July 13, 2012 at 11:26 am 1 comment


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