Review of Volunteer Abroad Project with International Student Volunteers

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It’s crazy to think that I have been home from Ecuador for a few weeks already. I can’t believe I’m getting ready from to start school again and get back into my old routine. I miss Ecuador and I’m definitely ready to go back.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ISV and my group since I returned. I miss all of my new friends and we have all been messaging each other and posting our pictures to Facebook. I know word of mouth is such an important way that companies spread the word about their programs (especially since I was in the ISV Club at school), so I figured I would right my review of International Student Volunteers.

5

Pros:

Pretty much the whole experience was a pro in my book! I think ISV had a really well organized program in country, and the adventure tour went so smoothly. They really knew what they were doing and I felt 100% safe the whole time. I liked that we had local people as our guides during the program because we got to know some real Ecuadorians!

I absolutely loved my entire group! We all got along so well and it was so awesome being surrounded by students from all around the US & Canada. What screening ISV is doing is working! Plus, it really helped me develop self-confidence and self-awareness because I didn’t know anyone going it. I really had to socialize and make new friends quickly! I know these are people I’ll be talking to for years to come :)

I liked that the program had structure during the day & with our activities/schedule, but we also had free time to do what we wanted at night. I didn’t feel stifled or overwhelmed by rules. They let us live like normal college kids!

The adventure tour was definitely the highlight for me, and I am so glad I did it in addition to my volunteer program. I tried so many new activities that I never would have done on my own, and I really pushed myself to explore my boundaries. That’s what traveling was all about and I really feel like I grew a lot in only a few weeks.

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Cons:

The volunteer work itself didn’t feel all that impactful at the end of the day. It was awesome living with a host family and in a small town because we got to experience the Ecuadorian way of life. But I don’t think we really made a huge difference in the community. Plus the work was a little bit scattered, since there were so many different projects that we were working on simultaneously.

I also feel like the level of support from the organization could have been a little bit better. I was really unprepared before leaving on the program, and I had barely any communication from the office. I didn’t know what to expect or what Ecuador was going to be like, which would have been nice considering we paid a decent amount of money for it. Thankfully, I’m a pretty laid back person and just figured it out. But when I arrived in Ecuador and met up with my fellow group members, we all kind of joked that “what if this was just a scam” and we’re a bunch of gringos hanging out in Ecuador for 4 weeks. Thankfully that wasn’t the case!

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Are you ready to volunteer abroad? Learn more about the project International Student Volunteers sponsors at their website.

Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

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