Monthly Archives: July 2012

First Global Generation: Are We Global Citizens?

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A recent NPR article, titled “’Globals’ Generation Focuses on Experience” has caused many journalists and bloggers to ponder the true meaning of the American dream – has it really changed for this generation (current 20-something and early 3-something Americans)?

NPR defined the “First Globals” as members of a generation that have “moved beyond suburban homes and traditional nuclear families, and it’s ones that now goes even beyond U.S. borders…it’s a generation just as likely to watch the World Cup as it is the Super Bowl.”

The accuracy of this definition is supported by various studies that clearly show that the percent of the current 20-something and early 30-something Americans who have traveled abroad is greater than any previous generation. In fact, the International Institute of Education notes that more than 270,000 students studied abroad during the 2009-2010 school year, more than three times what it was two decades earlier.

The “First Globals” are focused on volunteering and working abroad, gaining a wide array of experiences, skill sets and a broader perspective on a variety of issues and cultures. Traveling abroad places value on experience, rather than ownership – the tenet of the ‘former’ American dream. Thus, it appears that the new American dream is composed more of being globally minded and the idea of public service, than commitment to the idea of ownership and family structure.

It is also evident that the advent of the Internet, specifically social media, has greatly contributed to the expansion of the idea of global citizenship. With social media, Americans are able to access a wide array of information, gaining a diverse set of knowledge, which further propels their interest to travel, volunteer or work abroad.

The process of volunteering or working abroad is exciting and its continuously expanding – it is the thrill of being able to “learn about other cultures, meet people from different backgrounds, talk to people with different global perspectives.”

So, do you consider yourself part of the “First Globals”? If not, check out our members and spend a couple of weeks traveling abroad – discover what it truly means to be a global citizen.


Book Review: The Voluntourist

By | Amal El bakhar, Book Review, Volunteer Stories | No Comments

Ken Budd: The Voluntourist


The opening pages of Ken Budd “The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate and Singing Bon Jovi Bethlehem” are thought provoking. It provides a unique perspective into a traveler’s world as he seeks to help others while defining his own life purpose and answering, what am I doing that matters?

The memoir begins with Ken Budd, an award-winning writer and editor, trying to determine how he can pursue a life with meaning while constantly defining parts of his journey and what meaning they hold. Through his journey, he volunteers in various roles, in various countries – including Costa Rica and China.

In a recent interview, he said, “In the past year, there have been a few studies that suggest that volunteer work is as healthy for the aging body and brain as exercise and right diet.” This statement is further validated by his own testament and volunteering. In his book, Ken asserts that he was constantly challenged – mentally, spiritually, and emotionally – and he always felt outside of this comfort zone. In fact, in his book, he describes how his volunteer work in China – where he worked with disabled children – forced his brain to work in a different way.

For advice to future volunteers, Ken says, “look for an organization that has ties to the local community: you want an organization that’s creating partnerships rather than dependencies.”

To read more about Ken Budd’s book and his adventures, click here

International Volunteering for Teens

By | Amal El bakhar, IVPA Members, Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Volunteer opportunities, Volunteer Stories | One Comment

Volunteering abroad is a thought provoking, challenging and stimulating experience. For teens, the experience provides a new perspective on life, allowing them to perform activities in a new culture, with meaning and value.

Volunteering abroad can give a teen the opportunity to shadow people in different professions, gain insight to diverse cultures and  have a life-changing experience.

According to Simone A. Bernstein, Co-Founder and President of, students need to volunteer abroad in order to gain skills that will help them succeed in their future. For example, Shannon McNamara, began volunteering at age fifteen in Tanzania, and thus far, has donated 33,000 children’s books to girls in Africa. Her work has impacted more than 8,000 students and teachers in Africa, and has earned her numerous awards and recognitions.

However, before letting your teen volunteer abroad, it’s important for parents to ask certain basic essential questions when they contact the organization directly. These questions include:

  • Who should I email/contact in your organization to obtain more information about the volunteer program?
  • Who licenses your organization?
  • Do you have any counselors at the volunteer site? If so, whom are they licensed by?
  • What will my child be doing in the community? What are the expected tasks that my child will have to perform?
  • Where will my child be volunteering? (ask for specific location and address)
  • Is my child responsible for planning their own meals, travels and any other logistics?
  • I am concerned about my child’s safety. What policies are in place to assure that my child is safe?
  • Where and with whom will my child be residing?

Additionally, not all volunteer abroad programs provide volunteer opportunities for teens who are younger than 18 unless accompanied by a parent. But here are some international community service programs that are members of IVPA that do:

Rio +20

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On June 20th, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector and NGO’s, gathered in Rio de Janeiro, for the 20th Anniversary United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

The conference, which has come to be known as Rio +20, formalized to help shape how world leaders, organizations and companies can reduce poverty, social equity, and ensure environmental protection. The conference focused on the importance of sustainability, highlighting a future with minimal challenges. Thus, the main themes were green economy, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and establishing sustainable institutional frameworks.

The three-day international summit was met with different reactions from the media, and received mixed reviews from a wide array of leaders and prominent journalists. Rio +20 did bring to the forefront the concepts of economic, social and environmental development and the agenda helped millions of people recognize the importance of sustainable development.

Rio +20 was expected to be a fundamental mark in our history, giving that it’s the 20-year anniversary of the first Earth Summit on sustainable development. However, it failed to achieve such high prominence before, during and after the summit. Additionally, world leaders were not able to agree upon the outcome document, which contained several proposals on sustainable development.

The Rio +20 Summit occurred at a time when global development faces numerous challenges, specifically given the numerous economic downturns. Thus, it has given millions of people hope, that with a goal of sustainable development, achieving global prosperity is achievable.