Category Archives: Uncategorized

Travel Tip #2 – Learn the Language!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

(photo taken from Quality Courses blog)

I apologize for the little hiatus on the blog posts – things have gotten busy over here! But I’m back, and with another travel tip!

If you’re traveling abroad to another country, one of the most intimidating aspects is definitely the language barrier. Learning the native language of the area you will be temporarily inhabiting is an extremely helpful (and unoriginal) idea, but much easier said than done.

If only it was that easy (photo taken from

It’s highly unrealistic to become fluent in a new language, especially in a matter of only weeks or months prior to your trip; however, there are a few things you can easily do in the time that you have leading up to your departure that will not only help give you peace of mind about that language, but also show respect to the culture you will be immersing yourself in.

  1. Know basic phrases in the foreign language, such as “hello,” “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,”etc.
  2. Don’t hesitate to take notes, and don’t be afraid and to reference them while on the trip.
  3. Don’t forget about physical communication – know what it and is not appropriate/offensive, and remember to use gestures to further communicate with native speakers.
  4. Trial by fire may be embarrassing to attempt, but it is the easiest way to learn a language quickly, so just talk!

For a more comprehensive and detailed list of these tips and more, I found this page on Voluntario Global’s website to be a great source. As always, I hope you found this helpful, and happy traveling!

IVPA newsletter!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Here are a few highlights from our latest newsletter! For the full newsletter, here is the link. Definitely check it out!

Community and Impact Assessment

Every now and then, we need to reflect on the foundation of IVPA – our standards. Today’s focus will be on…

IVPA Principle and Practice #23:
An IVPA member organization “Collects feedback from global partners and communities at least once annually to assess the impact and quality of the volunteers’ contributions and level of ‘buy-in’ from community members.”

“For any successful project, communication and feedback are essential.  Perhaps nowhere is the need for feedback more evident than with international volunteer programs.  (…) The type of feedback mechanism in place might vary from project to project or host country to host country. (…) No matter the method, there should be a formal feedback mechanism in place so that there is a record and a history of the project and the relationship with the partner or community. A record can protect institutional memory and be a resource for analyzing the success and future steps for a project.”

Remember – always take into consideration your host country’s culture, customs, and language(s) to ensure that the most efficient and effective feedback mechanism is put in place!

IVPA Members Respond to Nepal Earthquake

“On April 25th, an 7.8Mw earthquake hit Nepal. To date over 8,000 people have died in the earthquake and over 19,000 injured. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese have been rendered homeless.” In response, two of our member organizations, Projects Abroad and Habitat for Humanity, both of which have had long-standing work relationships in Nepal, went to work immediately.

Projects Abroad has worked in Nepal since 1999, and since the earthquake they have  “transitioned their volunteer projects to a disaster relief focus, ‘to show them that we stand with them when they need it most.’ (…) The project will expand into other regions as work is completed and participation grows.”

Habitat for Humanity has been working in Nepal for the past 18 years. “Habitat’s disaster response teams are coordinating response operations with local government agencies and disaster relief partners. Habitats efforts include distributing a goal of 20,000 emergency shelter kits, organizing engineers and engineering students to perform house-by-house damage assessments, and construct transitional and new permanent housing.”

We thank our member organizations for their incredible work!

Meet the Balmediano family

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

When a person commits their life – no matter how much or how little of it – to true volunteer service, they often do it for no reward, other than the fulfillment of bettering the world. However, it is always wonderful to see people making headlines for their tremendous work and dedication to the field of volunteer service.

Today’s spotlight is dedicated to a very special family in the Philippines: the Balmedianos.

Philippines: Legacy of a volunteering father

Apreillou Balmediano (right) standing next to brother Bryan and his family (photo taken from

When Benny Balmediano suffered a cardiac arrest in 2004, his son Bryan successfully resuscitated him with his first aid training as a volunteer for the Phillippine Red Cross (PRC). After this life-altering event, Benny, alongside Bryan, joined the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a volunteer driver and emergency responder for the PRC. He even encouraged his daughter, Apreillou, to join as a volunteer as well.

However, on the night of February 19, 2012, while responding to an incident in Kidapawan City, Benny died in an explosion while trying to shield Bryan.

Their father’s death has drastically impacted the lives of Bryan and Apreillou, but they have decided to continue their volunteer work with the Red Cross. Together, they have been saving countless lives through their efforts to both preserve the lives of the people in the Philippines, as well as the the legacy of their father, Benny.

To read the full article, click here.

Travel Tip #1

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

On this blog, one of the posts every month will be dedicated to some short tips to always keep in mind when volunteering abroad. After all, traveling to a new place can be pretty exciting, but also very, very scary – especially if you’re not prepared! Today’s tip is…

Buy good shoes!

Wherever you’re traveling, you’re guaranteed to be walking…a lot. Invest in a comfortable, high quality pair of shoes. It doesn’t necessarily have to empty your wallet, but definitely something you can count on for long, taxing hikes throughout the duration of your trip. Make sure they’re closed-toe to prevent bug bites and cuts, weatherproof for when Mother Nature unpredictably strikes, and make sure they aren’t flashy, but they are very, very durable.

Click to enlarge

Salomon Ellipse GTX – women’s (

And definitely don’t forget to break into them before your journey! Your feet will thank you!

Meet Our New Summer Interns!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Srisivaa Karri – Communications Intern

1398573_739284922751511_272028057_oMy name is Srisivaa Karri, or Sri for short, and I am the new summer Communications Intern for IVPA! I am going to be an incoming sophomore at The Ohio State University as a double-major in Communications & International Studies with a minor in Global Public Health. I love volunteering and have done it for many years, ranging from assisting physical therapists, to tutoring underprivileged kids, to sponsoring 6 orphan children through SOS Children’s Villages International, but I’ve never been able to do anything outside of my hometown in southern Ohio. My dream is to go on a volunteer abroad trip, which I hope to do in the near future. Be sure to check out IVPA and Everyday Ambassador’s blogs for new posts!

Annemarie Morris – Social Media Intern

My name is Annemarie Morris. I was born and raised in South Florida but am Annemariecurrently studying at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. I am going into my senior year majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Social Work. Volunteering has always been an important part of my life as I spent endless hours at my local homeless shelter. Presently, I volunteer at my college local Astor Head Start Preschool. Last summer I volunteered at an orphanage in Rio Dulce, Guatemala which expanded my passion for volunteering internationally. I had the pleasure of spending last fall studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain and traveled around Europe. 

Visiting Amigos de las Américas in Oaxaca

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

As part of my job as Executive Director of IVPA, I occasionally get to visit our member programs and see volunteers in action. Visiting with communities and volunteers is one of my favorite things. Last week I was in Oaxaca and was able to spend the day with IVPA member organization, Amigos de las Américas.



AMIGOS is an amazing organization that has a long legacy volunteering. They are celebrating their 50-year anniversary this year! AMIGOS’ mission is to inspire and build young leaders through collaborative community development and immersion in cross-cultural experiences. AMIGOS primarily works with high school and university students on summer projects and recently expanded to have semester and gap year programs.


I first met up with Amigos de las Américas’ Oaxaca Project Director, Emma Smith. We discussed her role and the different programs that she helps manage. Emma brings a lot of experience to her role and was even an AMIGOS volunteer in high school, only to return to work for the organization after receiving her master’s degree. Emma manages 35 volunteers in Oaxaca. Emma’s responsibilities when visiting a community include meeting with local officials, host families, partner organizations, and volunteers to make sure any problems or issues have been properly addressed.

That day we were meeting up with Supervisor, Rani Kumar and together we would take a colectivo taxi to the rural community of Santo Tomas Mazaltepec, about an hour away from Oaxaca. Rani is a university student and returned AMIGOS volunteer who in her role as supervisor visits volunteers weekly in their communities.


In Santo Tomas Mazaltepec there are two teenage AMIGOS volunteers. These volunteers get a full immersive experience, living with a host family and working with community partners and local youth volunteers. I was particularly impressed with their level of maturity, their language skills, and their dedication to the work.


The AMIGOS volunteers have been working with a partner organization, Puente a la Salud Comunitaria. Puente is a nonprofit that trains community promoters who teach healthy cooking and nutrition and also run a summer lunch program for the local children. What I loved about Puente was that they actively work to introduce the native amaranth grain that is full of vitamins and amino acids, teaching families how to cook with it.

In addition to their work with Puente, the AMIGOS volunteers also work along side local youth to brainstorm, plan and execute a “micro project”. In the community of Mazaltepec the youth chose to develop a game night and to stock the library with games, some purchased and some created.



It was so fun to AMIGOS volunteers at work and to see their staff coordinating and working with the community and partner organization leaders.

Thanks AMIGOS for letting me witness the great work you are doing.

Global Citizens Network and Intercultural Student Experiences Announce Launch of Global Learners Grant and 2014 Recipients

By | Uncategorized | One Comment



Global Citizens Network and Intercultural Student Experiences Announce Launch of Global Learners Grant and 2014 Recipients


Minneapolis – July 29, 2014 – Global Citizens Network (GCN) and Intercultural Student

Experiences (ISE), a nonprofit alliance dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and cooperation, have named five Minnesota high schools as recipients of Global Learners Grants. The recipients—The FAIR School, Minneapolis; High School for Recording Arts, St. Paul; New Century Academy, Hutchinson; Wadena-Deer Creek High School, Wadena; and Washington Technology Secondary Magnet, St. Paul—were selected from a pool of eligible applicants. In its inaugural year, the GCN-ISE Global Learners Grant program will provide a total of $200,000 that will enable more than 50 students to participate in immersion and cross-cultural education programs in East Africa, Thailand, Costa Rica and China in 2015.

In response to increasing demand for international and cross-cultural student learning experiences, the Global Learners Grant program is designed to expand opportunities for high school students and teachers to participate in short-term cultural and/or language immersion programs abroad. Global Learners Grants are awarded to Minnesota high schools that serve predominantly low-income student populations and currently have limited or no organized opportunities for students to participate in such global experiences.

“We developed the Global Learners Grant program as a way to provide meaningful cross-cultural experiences for students and teachers who might otherwise not have such opportunities. Participating in these cross-cultural experiences at a young age has provento be beneficial in many ways, including improved language, communication, leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as increased employment and earning potential in the future,” said Steve Struthers, executive director for GCN and ISE. “We are very excited to launch and grow this initiative to further expand access to cross-cultural exchange experiences for high schools in the region.”

About Global Citizens Network (GCN) & Intercultural Student Experiences (ISE): GCN and ISE are two strategically aligned, Minneapolis-based nonprofit organizations with more than 60 years of combined experience working to increase cross-cultural understanding and and cooperation.


  • GCN facilitates international and domestic volunteer travel programs for individuals, families and groups, including academic programs for high schools and universities. These programs offer opportunities to live and work with members of indigenous communities who have long-standing relationships with GCN, in a culturally rich and respectful immersion experience.

Complementing the international programs, GCN also offers local programs that provide Twin Cities residents Spanish language training led by native speakers, from beginning to advanced levels, and educational forums for understanding the cultures, histories and issues affecting indigenous and international populations.

  • ISE coordinates international language immersion programs for K-12 students of French, German, Mandarin and Spanish. Through unique travel itineraries and family stay experiences, ISE programs emphasize language practice and acquisition while providing authentic cultural and linguistic immersion.

ISE also facilitates U.S. hosting programs that allow international high school students to experience United States culture and improve their English language skills while living with volunteer U.S. host families.

  • The GCN-ISE alliance also provides training and consulting services to individuals and organizations seeking to enhance their effectiveness in cross-cultural engagement.

To learn more about GCN and ISE, please visit and

Volunteering’s Reciprocity + “Be the Good” Giveaway

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

International volunteering is an inherently reciprocal act, yet often it is the volunteer who is most changed by the experience.  Return volunteers describe their experience as life changing. Why is volunteering abroad such a powerful experience? International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) believes that volunteering abroad changes the participant because of the following experiences:

  1. Volunteers are faced with culture shock and complex social problems that force reflection and deeper thinking
  2. Volunteer work with host communities builds relationships.  As communities and volunteers work together they build trust and cross-cultural understanding.
  3. Return volunteers are passionate about making a positive change in the world and have real ties to communities in need. Volunteers are more likely to become future change agents and involved global citizens.

IVPA believes that volunteers have a greater chance of positively impacting the community and having a life-changing experience when they are: open, respectful and informed.



As a reminder that we must first be the good we wish to see in the world IVPA is partnering with Cents of Style to give away one of their “Be The Good” graphic t-shirts. To enter the IVPA “Be the Good” Giveaway, click on the link and make sure you like IVPA’s Facebook page. Additional entries through following IVPA on Twitter and tweeting a message about the giveaway.


IVPA Media and Communications Intern Position

By | Uncategorized | No Comments


Position Description: IVPA Internship – Media and Communications

Approximate Dates: May 5 – August 22, 2014

Application Deadline: April 26, 2014

Location: This is not a location specific internship.

Wage: Internship is unpaid but a small stipend of $500 or discount on volunteer travel program options are be available.

The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is a 501c3 nonprofit association dedicated to promoting awareness and access to quality volunteer aboard programs. IVPA is committed to standards of excellence in the field of international volunteering and IVPA member organizations must uphold the IVPA’s Principles and Practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria. IVPA is an association of volunteer sending organizations but does not organize or run its own volunteer programs.

The Main Duties of this position are to support the online branding and marketing presence of IVPA 

The Responsibilities of this position will vary but may include the following:

  • Take part in the rollout of a new social media campaign
  • Curate content for dissemination on social media platforms
  • Contact and liaison with potential social media partners
  • Author special topic IVPA Blog Posts and Newsletter articles
  • Support administrative projects and other duties as assigned


  • Demonstrated interest in international volunteering, cross-cultural exchange and/or previous international travel or study abroad experience
  • Ability to work independently, remotely and manage multiple tasks and deadlines
  • Understanding and experience with social media platforms
  • Experience with Microsoft Office
  • Strong writing and copy writing skills

Hours and Length of Service:  Intern hours are flexible and will be arranged prior to start date. Intern must be willing to offer a minimum of four months of service or 125 hours. A longer commitment is preferred.

Supervision:  Intern’s responsibilities and work arrangements will be coordinated with and supervised by the IVPA Director.

To Apply:  Interested candidates should submit a cover letter & resume.  Please email your application to

Only applications received electronically will be reviewed.   No calls please.   Deadline:  April 26, 2014

Thank you for your interest.