The Advance-Titan

GIVE presents opportunities to volunteer abroad, learn customs

Lexus Parker

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Courtesy of Sammy Rothney

A GIVE volunteer teaches a student. GIVE is a volunteer program rather than a study program, which allows participants to aid third world countries, rather than sitting in a classroom.

The volunteer organization GIVE, or Growth International Volunteer Excursions, came to campus Sept. 14 to inspire students on campus to volunteer abroad.

Seven sessions were held throughout the day in Reeve 307, starting at 10 a.m. until 3:15 p.m. GIVE offers students the chance to travel to Tanzania, Nicaragua, Laos or Thailand.

“We hope to inspire people to volunteer abroad to inspire growth, empower global citizens and to ignite sustainable change worldwide,” Kristin Ashley, a global engagement representative for GIVE, said.

Ashley said she attributes the program’s success to the asset-based methodology, an idea that focuses on helping communities based on their strengths and potentials, rather than telling communities how to do things based on what Americans know.

“We like to focus on the strengths of the community and their futures instead of teaching them how to do things we do in America,” Ashley said. “This way, we can make the communities better in a sustainable way.”

When asked what the overall goal is for the program, Ashley said she hopes many people would volunteer with the program again.

“Not only would you be helping make the communities a better place, but volunteering would help motivate them to pursue their dreams,” Ashley said. “And volunteering is a great differentiator for your resume.”

According to GIVE’s website, there are five different programs students can choose from. One is in Tanzania, with a four-day Mt. Kilimanjaro add-on for $350. Two are in Thailand and Laos, and it is recommended students do those together to get the full experience. The last two programs are in Nicaragua; one on the Pacific side and one on the Caribbean side.

According to Ashley, all five of these programs are supported by the three pillars that GIVE’s mission statement is built on: sustainable infrastructures, such as building schools and water tanks, education and conservation.

According to Ashley, all three of these pillars are supported in the different programs, even if the activities vary. In Nicaragua, students will be helping with coastal erosion, rising sea levels and teaching English and computer skills to local children. In Tanzania, not only will students be building schools for local children, but the whole government gets involved, too.

Ashley said these schools are made out of eco-bricks, which are repurposed water bottles. In Thailand and Laos students will be able to teach local children English and build a water tank for fresh water.

Students who volunteer will also have time for adventures, Ashley said.

“What really stood out to me about these trips were the awesome adventures that they go on, like sand boarding down an active volcano, scuba diving, a safari, hanging out with elephants, surfing and helping baby sea turtles,” Taylor Egger, a past student volunteer, said.

Egger said she wanted to do something that her parents didn’t sign her up for.

“I chose to go to Nicaragua and Tanzania when I was a sophomore, and I fell in love with the program,” Egger said. “I felt the need to be independent and do something bigger than myself.”

Egger said she signed up impulsively and did not think the program would have had such a positive impact on her life.

“Going on those two GIVE trips has taught me more than I could ever imagine,” Egger said. “It has taught me independence, to love others and myself immensely.”

According to GIVE’s website, each location has its own action-packed adventures. In Tanzania, you can dive with dolphins, visit white sandy beaches and snorkel. In Nicaragua you can help sea turtles, go up active volcanoes and earn your padi-scuba certification while helping with reef construction. In Southeast Asia, you can take a two-day trek into the jungle and bathe elephants. You can also do cultural activities like weave baskets and scarves and make jewelry.

According to GIVE’s website, the cost of the programs, which do not include international flights, traveler’s insurance and visas, run a little steep. But there is a solution to this.

Ashley said GIVE provides students with a fundraising kit, and told a story about a student who made their own homemade peanut butter and sold it for $10.

“Not only did she make enough for her trip, which includes accommodations, food and water, in-country transport, adventure activities and project funds, but she made enough to help with the multiple projects she helped with,” Ashley said.

Egger said there are other ways than fundraising to raise the money for the trip.

“Work a few extra hours,” Egger said. “I always tell others that I’d rather be rich in experience and happiness than rich with money.”

UWO student Abby Anaya said she hopes to go to Thailand and Laos.

“I’ve always wanted to volunteer abroad, and I appreciate the organization’s values,” Anaya said. “I’d like to help build schools and help with the animals. And all my friends already went so I’m hoping they’ll come with me.”

Anaya said she hopes to appreciate other cultures and communities and wants to improve the lifestyles of those living in the communities abroad.

Egger said she would recommend it to anyone regardless of their major or year in school, and that being a college student is the perfect time to travel.

“My advice to those who are thinking about volunteering abroad is not to let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this slip between your fingers,” Egger said. “College is all about discovering yourself, doing the things that you love and taking risks before the real world hits with an adult job.”

To learn more about what GIVE has to offer, go to www.givevolunteers.org.

Leave a Comment
Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
GIVE presents opportunities to volunteer abroad, learn customs