Monthly Archives: March 2014

Go West…Go Abroad

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New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof has long been an advocate for study abroad and  recently he reiterated his stance that more Americans, particularly college students, should study abroad, do a gap year or otherwise live abroad.

“The number of Americans studying abroad has tripled over the last 20 years, but, still, fewer than 10 percent of college students study overseas during undergraduate years.”

As Kristof explains, learning another language and living abroad expands your perspective, exposes you to a new culture and way of life and gives you the tools to interact with an increasingly globalized world.

As an association, IVPA is dedicated to promoting awareness and access to valuable volunteer abroad programs. Many people don’t realize that volunteering abroad can be an adaptable experience depending on your situation and time commitment. Volunteer programs can be short term, a week or two, but many of IVPA’s member organizations offer Gap Year experiences and/or college credit with longer volunteer programs.

explore Sodavekt

Have Love – Will Travel: Reading about Volunteers’ Experiences

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 Credit: LA Hall

I am always renewed by the stories of travelers, the connections and encounters.  Just reading over some of IVPA members’  blogs I feel I am gaining some of that knowledge by reading about volunteers and their experiences. Check out some of the latest from IVPA’s members and you might just catch the travel volunteer bug yourself:

Amigos de las Americas News and Blog

AYUDA’s Latest Updates

Cross-Cultural Solutions’ Blog

Global Citizens Network’s Blog

Global Service Corps’ Blog

Globe Aware News

Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Volunteer Stories

Projects Abroad News

Service For Peace’s Volunteer Stories

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness…Does it?

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The western world seems to spend a lot of time searching for happiness. Consumer culture tells us that stuff makes us happy but we have all experienced that the happiness from things is only fleeting. In 2013 two behavioral scientists published their latest research in a book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. In their book authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton outline five principles for individuals and companies can follow, when spending money, to achieve more happiness.


The authors’ five  principles include:

  1. Buy Experiences
  2. Make it a Treat
  3. Buy Time
  4. Pay Now, Consume Later
  5. Invest in Others

These principles are such great reminders and especially ring true for volunteer travelers. So many times when an international volunteer returns home they will describe their experience as “life changing” and I think Happy Money provides a little insight into why. When people take a volunteer trip they are not purchasing a vacation but they are experiencing a whole other way of life. Volunteers are learning from another culture and community and investing their time and resources in other people.