Experiencing the true culture of your host country is the best way to develop some of the global skills needed to succeed in the twenty-first century. These skills will ultimately lead to greater cooperation and understanding among nations and peoples of the world. Whether you want to teach, rescue wild animals, work on conservation efforts or assist in community projects, there are many options rich with opportunity to learn about another country and its people.
Here are 10 of our favorite meaningful travel experiences available to travelers this summer:
Conversation Corps in the Galapagos: This is a great program for people who want to experience life in the Galapagos and the Ecuadorian culture in-depth. Many Ecuadorian families on the Galapagos want to learn English or get better at speaking English through conversation. This program has a focus on cultural exchange and host families are not only excited to learn English, but also love to share the characteristics of their country, culture and cuisine. Volunteers work 15 hours a week helping the host family with Conversational English and, in exchange, they provide a private room and 3 home cooked, healthy meals Monday through Friday as well as breakfast and dinner on weekends. Your airfare from Quito to the Galapagos is included in the program fee along with local boat transfers.
Marine Conservation in Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about oceanic mammals and habitats while rehabilitating animals to be re-released into the wild. The park, located in Puntarenas, two hours away from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, caters to locals and tourists alike who are interested in learning about sea life and what goes into helping injured animals recover and return to their natural habitats. The park has 22 fish tanks that hold a variety of species such as puffers, anemones, crabs, sea stars, frog fish, clown fish, nurse sharks, and more. Volunteers in this program will get the chance to learn about the amazing variety of marine animals and habitats around Costa Rica and also about conservation practices used to care for and protect the marine wildlife.
Conservation Initiative at a Wildlife Reserve in South Africa: Located on a unique, private game reserve that overlooks the Indian Ocean in the malaria free Eastern Cape, this Conservation Initiative program is home to the Big 5 animals. Rare white lions, which have bred naturally in the reserve, call this home. The lion cub rearing program is managed by the volunteer program. Usually, there are cubs from 6 weeks to 6 months old. The reserve is also an elephant sanctuary, allowing up close learning opportunities for participants. The reserve is well stocked and therefore in need of various programs in monitoring and assessing the game in the reserve. This is truly a world-class program that gives you the chance to work behind the scenes in this amazing commercial game reserve.
Animal Rescue in British Columbia, Canada: Located approximately 90 minutes from Vancouver, this wildlife rehabilitation project provides volunteers the opportunity to become involved with an animal rescue and rehabilitation project. This project helps in the continued conservation and protection of Canada’s diverse native animal species such as: black bears, raccoons, coyotes, deer, rabbits, beaver and more. Volunteers might help in the clinic with the professional staff, with administrative duties in the office, and outside doing light construction and maintenance.
Maori Culture & Conservation Program in Wellington, New Zealnd: The Maori Culture program represents an amazing chance for you to learn in-depth about the fascinating indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori. You will also be able to volunteer in various conservation projects. The program starts with a two-week course on Maori culture at the Wellington Business School. This includes trips to places of interest as well as a lesson in the Maori language. The course takes 22 hours of trips and classes and finishes with two full days and one night on a Marae which is a Maori meeting place. Other activities include, but are not limited to: beach excursions to collect paua shells, lessons in traditional jewelry making and flax weaving, learning the haka (traditional Maori dance) and a trip to Somes Island.
Improving the Lives of Women in Argentina: This project began in 1975 in honor of a famous Argentine woman who, during the foundational process of the Argentinean state in the 19th century, fought against unfair conditions of women and proposed a free and public education system where women could learn the same disciplines and subjects as men. The project regularly organizes workshops and seminars to promote and raise awareness on gender equality and women’s rights. The organization has an office in downtown Cordoba and also works within the facilities of the public library located in a poor neighborhood of Barrio Talleres Este. In close cooperation with this library, the project offers courses and debates about their objectives.
Saving the Wildlife in Namibia: Here is your opportunity to help save wild animals in the only country in the world that addresses wildlife conservation in its constitution. This program in the southern African nation of Namibia lies on a farm on the Otijhase River, just 40 miles east of the capital of Windhoek. If you can imagine yourself feeding and tracking cheetahs and lions or riding horse back on the African plains, then this program is for you. As a member of this program, you will get the chance to help capture at risk animals, fit them with radio collars to track their movement patterns and then re-release them away from human harm. During the animals’ stay on the farm, you will be responsible in assisting with their feeding, grooming and general care.
Environmental Conservation throughout Australia: The Protecting Australia’s Environment program allows you to become immersed in this country’s amazing environment in a way you never thought possible. This program offers volunteers the opportunity to work in many different conservation projects. These include tree planting, erosion control, seed collection, construction and maintenance of walking tracks, endangered flora and fauna surveys, weed control, habitat restoration and heritage restoration. You can choose to start out in one of seven different cities throughout Australia: Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin, Perth, Brisbane, and Adelaide. Each placement varies as there are so many conservation projects going on across the country.
Medical Center in Lima, Peru: This program provides the opportunity to not only visit one of the most beautiful and interesting countries in the world, but also to make a difference in the lives of its people. Peru is a nation with a rich history, from the ancient civilizations whose ruins still remain to the growing modern society it is today. This is a chance to work at a medical center, treating members of the community and helping to improve the welfare and health care in the capital city of Lima. Whether you aspire to a career in medicine or simply want to make an impact on people’s lives, this is a wonderful program.
Coach Sports in the Indian Himalayas: Launched to encourage and support sports activities in schools, this program gives volunteers a unique opportunity to experience close cultural interaction with the students through sports coaching. Volunteers take part in schools’ sports periods, set up sports clubs, introduce various sports and games, practice skills and exercises, teach the logic and rules of games, and help enhance the motor skills of the children. ‘Active in India’ begins with an adventure expedition and is followed by an orientation and 4–6 weeks of fun teaching sports in Indian schools.
For a complete list of destinations currently offered by the Conversation Corps, click here. To request more information from GeoVisions about how you can participate in the Conversation Corps, click here.
To fill out an application, click here.