On any given Global Volunteers service program, a collection of students, working professionals and retirees come together to make a difference in a community requesting help. How they contribute depends upon each volunteer’s commitment to service and personal experience and energy. For instance, on one service program, a contractor, a sales representative, a dairy farmer, an economics professor, a nutritionist and a barista joined two college students and a family of five. All were engaged in areas of their interest, applying their professional and personal skills. Through three decades of serving children and adults abroad, Global Volunteers’ expertise in placing volunteering professionals to make the greatest contribution is unmatched.
Teaching University Students
An example of working on a university campus is at La Molina Agrarian University (LMAU) in Lima, Peru. Professors there want to improve their English teaching abilities, especially in expressing agricultural terms and concepts such as in the fields of genetically-modified crops and food production. The students all come from low-income families, and need extra help to compete for places in the world of work. So, volunteers with a farming or rural background are especially helpful in this assignment.
For instance, Judi, a retired teacher, held classes with up to 28 students in their early twenties, as well as teenagers and older ladies. With such different ages and backgrounds, it would generally be difficult to manage such a group, but Judi had no issues at all. She held their attention through her years of experience and enthusiasm. Above all, the students were eager to learn, and grateful for her service. At LMAU, students sign up for these free classes, because they really want to learn English.
Judi finishes the day tired, but happy. Teaching conversational English may not sound like much to some, but Judi realizes how important it is for low-income students who need English to study and find a job, and what a rewarding experience is to see their students try hard and enjoy their classes. Students and staff at LMLC are thankful for volunteers like Judi, and Global Volunteers is thankful for them and all the volunteers who have given their money, time, and effort to help these students. Read about another volunteer who taught University students in Poland. Other University teaching opportunities are in China, Portugal and Vietnam.
Teaching Primary and Secondary School Students
Although English is the language of instruction everywhere we work, most English language teachers are local professionals with limited English language ability. So, native English speakers are tremendous classroom resources.
Linda is a retired teacher from Illinois with top-notch qualifications. So she was eager to try teaching students in a foreign culture and test her creative skills in many different ways. The Poland summer language camp was just the right opportunity, she says. Having previously taught University students in Mexico, Portugal and Vietnam with Global Volunteers, Linda was eager to work with youth. She selected the Tatra Mountains program where the informal and bucolic setting inspired her creativity.
“The students emit such sincerity in their approach to their studies and to their firm commitment to learn English. They were truly a delight to be with. I’ve learned how much they love their families. (Yes, they even love those sometimes-pesky younger siblings.) They have great pride in their country and Polish heritage. Their openness and confidence points to strong family ties, the true desire to work hard, and desire to become a productive member of the global community – whether in Poland or elsewhere in this world. This is where I can truly make a difference.” Other programs where you can teach children English and other classroom subjects are: China, the Cook Islands, Cuba, Greece, Nepal, Peru, Poland, Tanzania and Vietnam.
Improving Health and Nutrition
Students and career professionals alike share skills in the areas of pre- and post-natal counseling, pediatric care, breastfeeding support, physical therapy, diabetes screening and education, dental hygiene, proper hand-washing, first-aid training, disease prevention, HIV AIDS & STD education, eye exams, blood pressure checks, and diet and nutrition. During their two-week service, nursing students from St. John Fisher College were engaged with the local community on various projects including accompanying Global Volunteers’ RCP staff on home visits with a goal to encourage, educate and support women on improving the health and development of their children. In addition, they conducted interactive workshops with pregnant women and parents on family planning and sexually transmitted infections. Such ongoing workshops help parents build knowledge resources in diverse areas.
Some of the students were surprised by the village mothers’ openness to new health care approaches and practices. “Family is the center of everything in Tanzania, and the mothers of the community are doing the best to learn how to keep themselves and their families healthy,” student Victoria Merrick reported. Student Blair Darcy said her experience delivering a baby early one morning was a highlight. “It started by a startling knock on my door at 2:57 AM,” Blair said. “Ana, the clinic director, was outside and announced, ‘there is a baby.’ I jumped out of bed, got ready, got down to the delivery room in the clinic and helped deliver the baby by 5:36 AM,” she enthused.
Caring for Infants and Pre-School Children
Volunteering families and grandparents line up to care for the children at Kiddie’s Homey Daycare and First Step Early Childhood Center in Anse la Raye, St. Lucia. The truth is, people of all ages and genders and backgrounds who love children are qualified to help them take their first steps, brush their first teeth, read their first book, and speak their first sentences.
But, education professionals of all disciplines provide a special resource to teachers and students at these two work sites. Some alumni return year after year to help prepare “their” students for graduation and kindergarten. For instance, retired elementary school teacher Karen Issac was “hooked” after her first service program in St. Lucia. “I immediately fell in love with the little children of Anse La Raye, and decided within two days of coming home in 2017 that I would be returning the following year. The children are beautiful, and resilient, and funny and fun. They bring out the brightest and best part of me and make me so glad to have the opportunity to get back into their classroom,” said Karen. “So loving this feeling that they elicit, makes volunteering for me a somewhat selfish act. Not surprisingly and because of this, I’ll soon be on my fourth trip back to St. Lucia with Global Volunteers.”
Volunteers feed and stimulate the youngest children in “babies’ rooms” while their parents are at work during the day. Toddlers are supervised at playtime and taught simple words and colors in a stimulating environment. Music, games and crafts are teaching tools for children of all ages. Volunteers also assist with toileting, lunch, naptime and preparing the students for field trips. In addition to St. Lucia, professionals care for and teach children in the Cook Islands, Ecuador, Nepal, Peru, St. Lucia, and Tanzania.
Helping With Labor Projects
Regardless of your level of your trades or mechanical skills, your assistance on labor projects around the world is always needed. For instance, a team of 15 “blitzed” a program in Quito, Ecuador to vastly improve an early childhood development center.
Each day, parents came to work with the volunteers on this important renovation project. The first part of the project was to tile the walls of the exterior in order to fix moisture problems, a common ailment in building structures in Quito. Volunteers and parents chipped away at the wall to prepare it for tiling, mixed cement, put the cement on the walls, installed the tile, and grouted the tile. The other part of the project was to completely renovate the fencing and main entrance. This involved taking down the old, dirty chain link fence; chipping away at the bottom wall to make it even; cleaning off the metal bars purchased for the new fence; installing the new metal bars; and painting them white.
Meanwhile, two volunteer contractors helped build a new entry and erect a security fence. At the same time, they designed and constructed two playhouses in just the right size “toddler size” to keep hands busy and safe. Playgrounds, classrooms, kitchens, libraries, gardens and so much more need repair and upgrading all year around in partner communities worldwide. You can also lend a hand on important labor projects in the Cook Islands, Cuba, Montana, Peru, St. Lucia, and Tanzania.
Read on to learn more about how to contribute your professional skills to a service program with Global Volunteers.