One of the most inspiring, helpful, enjoyable, and worthwhile things to do in one’s life is to become a volunteer in some activity—there are many avenues. One such avenue is an organization, Global Volunteers, which has for several decades offered such uplifting—and downright personally satisfying—opportunities.
Brief background: a young couple—two lawyers—were getting married, and the wife-to-be was given the task of planning the two-week honeymoon. The husband was dreaming of lolling on a beach somewhere; the wife had slightly different ideas. “One week for “lolling” she said, the second week “for helping other people who needed help”—but she allowed it could be in a foreign country.
Years later, their fulfilled dream is Global Volunteers, sending volunteers of all ages to countries around the world and to places in the U.S. where help is needed. Not an easy task. You will recognize places as holiday travel for many of us, but China, Hungary, Honduras, Mexico, among many other countries, now became a two-week, a three-week, or a month home for Americans eager to help with farming, schools and colleges, orphanages, clinics, hospitals, foreign government agencies…..now wherever a need is, GV wants to be there. Today, there are new programs to Vietnam and Cuba! (I am so tempted with the latter!)
Age is never a factor. Teams with high school students, (Mexico), teams with an 81-year-old woman, (Hungary), teams with the wide variety of ages between those two, and with a similar variety of skills, and of interesting cultural or business backgrounds to share in the evenings over dinner.
Even the training program in Minnesota was fun. The wife, mentioned earlier, demonstrated something by using a large black frying pan and an egg. I now don’t remember what the scene meant, but laughed at her energetic abuse of that egg. And we learned! (I didn’t want to be hit with the frying pan!)
A fellow Hungarian volunteer at least a decade ago, is still a good . . . no, a great . . . friend of mine today. A fellow volunteer in Mexico, now a retired special education teacher, is still a wonderful friend. We’re talking many years. Besides the children and the others we met—and fell in love with—we grew to appreciate the happy energy of our American colleagues.
Let’s talk cost. A volunteer pays: program cost depending on length of program which includes all housing and meals and in-country needed transportation. Volunteer pays the cost of transport to and from home to volunteer site, and personal incidentals, of course. (The transport cost may…may…be deductible. It used to be, but always check with your tax person….maybe today even part of the program cost is deductible. Note use of “may.”)
An attractive new catalog has just been published, which has great pictures of the places included for the upcoming year. As you browse it, think—besides of the great good you could do—of the cultural, historic, and visuals that you will learn and see—no cost for that!
I could talk forever about GV. Also, they do not know that I’m writing this, nor have they asked that I do any “recruiting” for them. This is just my own experience with the 8 programs I’ve been on with them. Their address: Global Volunteers 375 E. Little Canada Road, St. Paul, MN, 55117-1628 Think about it! Chloe