Category Archives: Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director

Can Being an International Volunteer Land You a Job?

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director, Research, Tips for Volunteering Abroad | No Comments

Can becoming an international volunteer help you get a job? According to The University of California San Diego Extension’s Center for Global Volunteer Service (CGVS) the answer is maybe. By spending time abroad volunteering you may be developing important skills that translate to the workplace back home.  CGVS recently completed a survey studying global volunteer service and the workplace.

The survey was completed by 1010 adults from across the country. They found that respondents thought that those participating in international volunteering also developed leadership skills, creativity and resourcefulness  Other benefits may be developing compassion and a willingness to give to others and intercultural awareness.

Voluntourism continues to grow in popularity. CGVS reported the highest ever exposure and participation in global service.

“Over half (52 percent) of respondents said they had joined in a discussion within the past year about participating in a volunteer service project or trip to regions outside their own community or country — a 7 percent increase over the previous UC San Diego Extension survey in 2009 and the first time that figure has risen above 50 percent.”

The younger populations also report very high interest and exposure to international volunteering. Out of college students surveyed 91 percent said they knew someone personally who had been a global service volunteer and 87 percent of high school students gave the same response.

So how can you leverage an international voluneer trip when applying for jobs? Make sure to highlight the experience on your resume. Remember to quantify your service by giving numbers that tell a story. For example, you could say that you taught English classes to 30 kids or gave 80 hours of service in building a home. You can also use stories of lessons you learned or skills you developed when in an interview. Prepare with practice questions beforehand so you narratives flow.

Ever Thought of Volunteering in Coral Reef Conservation?

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director, IVPA Members, Volunteer Stories | No Comments

One of the opportunities I had while in Thailand recently was to go with some Projects Abroad conservation volunteers on a reef dive. These volunteers work on projects like mangroove reforestation, beach clean up and reef conservation. The day I went scuba diving with them there were two groups. One group was composed of newer volunteers taking the first steps in conservation like learning about identifying coral and other life under the water. The second more experienced group was working on a reef nursery to help rebuild part of a reef that has experienced a lot of damage.

Reef conservation is not something I knew a lot about but I am learning more. I just read an article in the Guardian about the economic importance of saving our reefs

I had a great experience diving with the volunteers. We may not have seen the most beautiful parts of the reef but for anyone who enjoys diving, conservation should be a big issue. The experience had me wishing that more aspects of  conservation could be incorporated into diving and tourism.

It’s About the Exchange

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director, Volunteer Stories | No Comments

If you are familiar with voluntourism and volunteering abroad then I am sure you are familiar with some of the controversy and debate about the effectiveness of volunteers, often young and inexperienced, going abroad.

This post is not to delve into all aspects of that debate. To summarize my thoughts: yes, there are concerns but when done thoughtfully and with respect and partnership, volunteer organizations (including IVPA members) can get it right.

I wanted to highlight one of the positive aspects of volunteering that doesn’t get as much attention, cross-cultural exchange. The exchange that occurs through volunteering can build understanding and respect between people, communities and cultures.

Stan Pletcher, MD, founder of Mission Eyes Network, recently said in a speech to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery,

“It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s not about how many cataract surgeries we did this week, but it’s about fostering an exchange and interchange.”

That is a powerful statement considering the importance of their of work in restoring sight.

If you ask a volunteer about her experience the number one thing you will hear her say is that the experience “changed my life”. The experience of volunteering leaves a lasting affect perhaps because the volunteer’s eyes are opened to a new culture, she experiences new things but mostly because the volunteer grows to love the people she interacts with.

I recently spoke with Creative Learning about their work in supporting and promoting international volunteering in Muslim majority countries as a way to build bridges of understanding and foster better relations. They believe that this cross-cultural exchange is so important and effective that they have a who initiative called the Unofficial Ambassadors to help increase the number of volunteers in Muslim counties.

Cross-cultural exchange is an important part of volunteering. It builds understanding, compassion and respect, something this world could use a little more of.

International Women’s Day – Women Hold Up Half the Sky

By | Book Review, Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director, Uncategorized, Volunteer opportunities, Volunteer Stories | No Comments

A few years ago Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn published a book titled Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Half the Sky is a stunning book with gripping stories of women around the world and their plight for freedom. Issues summarized in the book include maternal mortality, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, education and workforce participation.

The book also highlights grassroots action and the impact that individuals can have. There is the story of Harper McConnell a young university graduate who volunteers in the Congo and ends up staying and running a school. The authors also encourages volunteering often throughout the book.

Some of the alarming facts stated in the book include:

“It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the twentieth century.”

“The World Health Organization estimates that 536,000 women perished in pregnancy or childbirth in 2005, a toll that has barely budged in thirty years. Child mortality has plunged, longevity has increased but childbirth remains almost as deadly as ever, with one maternal death every minute.”

“One of the most cost-effective ways to increase school attendance is to deworm students… “The average American spends fifty dollars a year to deworm a dog; in Africa, you can deworm a child for fifty cents.””


Interested in volunteering to help the plight of women around the world? Below is just a sampling of some of IVPA’s member programs.

Education: Spend a year teaching with WorldTeach or if you only have a week to volunteer, look at Globe Aware‘s programs

Health: Volunteer to help improve women’s reproductive health with  Child Family Health International or work on one of Global Service Corps global health programs.

Women’s Empowerment: ProWorld and Projects Abroad has a number of opportunities in human rights and women’s empowerment.

Microcredit: Assist micro-credit organizations with Cross-Cultural Solutions

Community Development: work with indigenous communities with Global Citizens Network or work to promote education and community based solutions with Amigos de las Americas.



Volunteer Experiences in Thailand

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director, IVPA Members, Uncategorized, Volunteer Stories | No Comments

My apologies for the delays in posting. I’ve been traveling in Asia and while traveling I had the opportunity to visit some fantastic volunteer sites. These visits got me excited again about the cultural connections and person-to-person impact one can have as a volunteer.

Currently 8 of IVPA member organizations offer projects in Thailand including WorldTeach, ProWorld, Projects Abroad, Habitat for Humanity International, Globe Aware, Global Service Corps, Global Citizens Network, and Cross-Cultural Solutions. They offer programs located from the northern hilly region to the southern peninsula and range from a few weeks to over a year. Programs also offer a variety of projects like volunteering with beach and reef conservation or teaching English in a school.  So take a look and maybe this year you might find yourself volunteering in Thailand.

MLK Day – Quotes and Inspiration

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director | No Comments

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

On MLK day I think of all those who not only wish for a better world, one where people are not marginalized, victimized and cast out of society, but who go out and do something.  What are we going to do make our mark, to help those in need, and come together as a global community?

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

International Volunteer Day

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director | No Comments

Happy International Volunteer Day!


International Volunteer Day was December 5th and it is a special day to recognize and thank volunteers for their contributions to communities around the world.  In the US alone, about 63 Million people, almost 27% of the population, said they volunteered in the last year (US BLS).

The theme for 2010’s IVD was “Volunteering for the MDGs”. So as we celebrate volunteers worldwide let us also reflect on what is being done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and what we personally might be able to contribute.

  • Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
  • Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Goal 4: Reduce child mortality rate
  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.
— Winston Churchill

US Center for Citizen Diplomacy – Citizen Diplomacy Summit

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director | No Comments

Last week the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy convened a momentous summit on citizen diplomacy. The breadth topics on citizen diplomacy included tourism, volunteering, education, social corporate responsibility and government involvement. The event was cosponsored by the Department of State which added to the variety of participants and speakers.

IVPA Executive Director, Genevieve Brown, participated on the task force for K-12 Education. “While participating on the task force I was able to read the proposals for educating of our youth and engaging them with other cultures so that they become better global citizens. I was impressed with the innovation and creativity of the programs and organizations involved.” said Ms. Brown.

The conference was held over four days in Washington, D.C. and ended with the a commitment  to double the number of citizen diplomats by 2020.

IVPA Conference Summary

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director, IVPA Members | No Comments

On November 4, 2010 International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) convened its 2010 IVPA Conference. The event, held at Cross-Cultural Solutions’s headquarters in New Rochelle, NY, brought together executive directors from leading volunteer sending organizations from around the country.

With twelve organizations participating this year, the event gave an opportunity for executives, in the spirit of collaboration, to come together and share ideas in an intimate setting. Presentations and roundtable discussions focused on providing quality programing and trends in the field of international volunteering and voluntourism.

Some of the highlights included Social media expert, Stephanie Schwab, who presented on 2011 trends for social media and there was some great discussion on how those trends apply to the field of international volunteering.

The IVPA Conference is an annual event and open to IVPA member and non-member organizations. For more details about the event or next year’s conference please contact IVPA.

2010 IVPA Conference – Nov 4th

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director | One Comment

This week IVPA members and friends will be convening for the annual IVPA Conference and Membership Meeting. This year Cross-Cultural Solutions will be hosting the event at their headquarters in New Rochelle, NY.

The IVPA conference is a time for leaders in international volunteering to come together in an intimate setting to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the field.

IVPA Conference, Nov 4th 10:30-2:00, New Rochelle, NY

For registration information please contact Genevieve Brown at