Service For Peace Hosts University Alternative Spring Breaks

IVPA member Service For Peace just finished an exciting month of March hosting six alternative spring groups. These six groups of  university students chose to take part in alternative spring breaks, participating in service projects and learning about new cultures in Guatemala and Dominican Republic.

Students and staff members from Alternative Breaks@UCSD joined the Service For Peace Servicio Para la Paz República Dominicana team in La Represa, Dominican Republic to continue construction of two new classrooms, a new computer lab and an administrative office/library, AND learn to make organic chocolate courtesy of the new Empowered Women’s Cooperative. In Guatemala another Alternative Breaks@UCSD group joined Service For Peace to continue building three new classrooms in the Community of Peace of El Quimal.

service for peace service for peace 2

Students from Georgia Tech’s AMSA – American Medical Student Association served in the DR’s largest public children’s hospital, El Angelita. They visited the rural Community of Peace to learn about unique challenges facing the medical community in the Dominican Republic, and experience what’s not so different after all.
Service For Peace involves volunteers in ongoing community development programs around the world. Currently Service For Peace works with communities in Kenya,  Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Programs are designed to further the growth and development of individuals and communities through the shared experience of voluntary service. For more information visit Service For Peace .

April 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

Go West…Go Abroad

New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof has long been an advocate for study abroad and  recently he reiterated his stance that more Americans, particularly college students, should study abroad, do a gap year or otherwise live abroad.

“The number of Americans studying abroad has tripled over the last 20 years, but, still, fewer than 10 percent of college students study overseas during undergraduate years.”

As Kristof explains, learning another language and living abroad expands your perspective, exposes you to a new culture and way of life and gives you the tools to interact with an increasingly globalized world.

As an association, IVPA is dedicated to promoting awareness and access to valuable volunteer abroad programs. Many people don’t realize that volunteering abroad can be an adaptable experience depending on your situation and time commitment. Volunteer programs can be short term, a week or two, but many of IVPA’s member organizations offer Gap Year experiences and/or college credit with longer volunteer programs.

explore Sodavekt

March 18, 2014 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Have Love – Will Travel: Reading about Volunteers’ Experiences


 Credit: LA Hall

I am always renewed by the stories of travelers, the connections and encounters.  Just reading over some of IVPA members’  blogs I feel I am gaining some of that knowledge by reading about volunteers and their experiences. Check out some of the latest from IVPA’s members and you might just catch the travel volunteer bug yourself:

Amigos de las Americas News and Blog

AYUDA’s Latest Updates

Cross-Cultural Solutions’ Blog

Global Citizens Network’s Blog

Global Service Corps’ Blog

Globe Aware News

Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Volunteer Stories

Projects Abroad News

Service For Peace’s Volunteer Stories

March 12, 2014 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness…Does it?

The western world seems to spend a lot of time searching for happiness. Consumer culture tells us that stuff makes us happy but we have all experienced that the happiness from things is only fleeting. In 2013 two behavioral scientists published their latest research in a book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. In their book authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton outline five principles for individuals and companies can follow, when spending money, to achieve more happiness.


The authors’ five  principles include:

  1. Buy Experiences
  2. Make it a Treat
  3. Buy Time
  4. Pay Now, Consume Later
  5. Invest in Others

These principles are such great reminders and especially ring true for volunteer travelers. So many times when an international volunteer returns home they will describe their experience as “life changing” and I think Happy Money provides a little insight into why. When people take a volunteer trip they are not purchasing a vacation but they are experiencing a whole other way of life. Volunteers are learning from another culture and community and investing their time and resources in other people.






March 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

Child Beggars – What Should You Do? What Can You Do?

When traveling or volunteering abroad, especially in developing countries, chances are you will be confronted by a child asking for money. What do you do? Do you give some change, a larger bill, or do you walk away?

Last Fall, Jillian Keenan published an article for titled  Keep the Change, Giving Money to Child Beggars is the Least Generous Thing a Tourist Can Do.   In the article she explains how harmful giving money to child beggars can be.

“Many travelers already know that when we give money (or gifts that can be resold, such as pens), we perpetuate a cycle of poverty and give children a strong incentive to stay out of school. You also may already know that giving candy to children in some areas of the world actually causes enormous suffering, since many communities do not have the resources to treat tooth decay. But the reasons to never, ever give to child beggars go much deeper than that. Organized begging is one of the most visible forms of human trafficking—and it’s largely financed and enabled by good-hearted people who just want to help.”

Child beggars are often victims of human trafficking and the money they earn begging goes to organized criminals who are enslaving children. The movie Slumdog Millionaire  opened a lot of people’s eyes to the plight of child beggars in India but the truth is human trafficking happens everywhere. A BBC’s Panorama program about an investigative report on child beggars in the UK revealed that a child begging could make up to 500 pounds a day. And what happens when the child grows up? Often they are pushed into prostitution.

I love what Keenan suggests on ways to interact with child beggars. We don’t want to ignore the children but we can’t give them money directly. She suggests donating to a legitimate charity and finding ways to interact with beggars that don’t involve giving gifts or money.

“The imperative to not give money or gifts to child beggars doesn’t mean we have to turn our backs on them. Donate to responsible NGOs, and look for creative new ways to be kind to children that won’t disrupt familial dynamics, encourage long-term poverty, undercut local businesses, or abet human trafficking.” “Find an inventive, responsible way to be kind.”

February 12, 2014 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

Volunteering Abroad is Within Your Reach

This article taken from the Winter 2014 IVPA Newsletter.

IVPA Principle and Practice #5: Suggest means of fundraising to participants

To prospective volunteers who are just starting to think about volunteering abroad it may come as a surprise that most volunteer sending organizations charge a fee to participate in the program or project. Program fees allow for a volunteer sending organization to maintain a sustainable volunteer program in their partner communities and provide important support before, during and after a trip.  At first glance, a program fee may seem prohibitive to many who want to volunteer but there are ways to make volunteering abroad more affordable.

Fundraising Opens the Door
For many, fundraising is a key that opens the door to volunteering abroad. Some volunteers even fundraise all of their travel and program costs.  Asking friends, family, neighbors and local businesses to contribute to your volunteer trip involves a whole network of people with your experience and your cause. In many cases part of their contribution is also tax deductible*

IVPA member organizations adhere to Principle and Practice #5 by suggesting means of fundraising to participants.  For many first time volunteers, fundraising for their trip is their first exposure to fundraising. IVPA members have years of experience coaching and provide the support volunteers who need it.
Some of the advice from IVPA Members includes:

  • “Set concrete goals.” Global Citizens Network
  • “Make it convenient for your sponsors to donate by telling them about the simple and secure online donation process.” Cross-Cultural Solutions
  • Ask for a specific amount of money. Serivce For Peace
  • Think of creative solutions like: ‘bid on a date’ evening, arts and craft sales, car washes, entering a ‘bike-a-thon’. Habitat for Humanity
  • Approach your employer about a Contribution Match Program. Globe Aware

Fundraising is work but volunteer sending organization can provide the tools and knowledge needed to get the work done. And as Service For Peace return volunteer, Michael Bustamente, stated “Honestly, I can’t even recall what the exact cost of the project was. What I will never forget is the exposure the program gave me. You can’t really put a value on that.”

*Ask your volunteer sending organization or a tax professional if and how much a contribution is deductible.


“Never think you need to apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy cause, any more than as though you were giving him or her an opportunity to participate in a high-grade investment. The duty of giving is as much his or hers as is the duty of asking yours.”
– John D. Rockefeller, Jr

February 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm 1 comment

Make Your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions a Reality


Love it or hate it, with a New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. Does your new year’s resolutions look something like the list below?


2014 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Travel
  2. Volunteer


Every year some of the most popular resolutions include “taking a trip” and “volunteering to help others in need”.  Why not combine those goals and volunteer abroad? There are so many volunteer opportunities out there. Just a quick google search can overwhelm with information but the good news is that there IS an opportunity out there that will fit your abilities, interests and circumstances.

Start your journey now. Make 2014 the year you take that step outside yourself and volunteer abroad. Start by making the goal and move forward by researching opportunities and organizations . A great way to start your foot on the right path is to check out IVPA’s Member Organizations. IVPA members have a diverse list of projects all over the world that varying lengths of time and the best part is IVPA Members have committed to 35 best practices of volunteer-sending organizations. This is your year.



“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”- Mark Twain

January 1, 2014 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

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