Archived entries for travel

Good Enough Reasons to Volunteer

1. When you stay home you get too many telemarketing calls.

2. Your family could use a break from you. Hopefully they will miss you while you are away. Ever heard of the phrase, ‘Absence makes the heart grows fonder?’

3. You might need help yourself some day.

4. It’s hard to win a game of solitaire. Continue reading…

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Peter’s Reforestation Volunteering Experience

Peter was a volunteer for a reforestation project in India. The experience had changed his view and inspired him to make a difference to the world.

Auroville, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India.

I visited this community in the summer of 2010. I wanted to work on an inspiring project and learn about reforestation. The experience has changed my life forever. Everything I do now is because I was there, at Sadhana Forest.

It has been almost two years and the inspiration I was given is still burning strong; and I still describe my two months there as two of the happiest in my life. It is hard to imagine a place more abounding in Love, understanding and dedication to our Earth and all its inhabitants.

There I learned about water management, reforestation, ecological remediation, permaculture, community living… this list could go on for quite a while. I also had a heck of a time and shared many laughs (and some tears) with a quality of people seldom found in such numbers.

Auroville, the township of which Sadhana Forest is part, is also an astounding place. So much to learn, do and see.

If you want to learn more about how to reverse the damage we’ve done to our home, or want to renew your faith in and love for humanity, or just want to have a life-changing inspiring experience whilst learning about sustainability, Sadhana Forest is for you. And if the Caribbean is more your style, then check out Sadhana Forest Haiti.

Jah Bless,

Peter

This is one of Ecoteer’s projects which is free of charge. To know more about this forest rehabilitation project, go to Reforest South India.

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Rubbish collecting in MOP

In the month of March 2012, our volunteers from Teach in Borneo, Barbara and Katharina took the children for a walk around the village to clean up their surroundings!

Even though it was a sunny day, it was a fun day to clean up the village with kids holding big bags and filling them up with trash.

We hope that we could do this more often to instill the habit in the children and the community there to keep their village clean and nice.

Doing village clean up alone is never fun but when doing it with a group of friends, it is one of the best activities to do in the evening!

Katharina, one of our volunteers standing in the back row, third from the left.

Barbara, another of our long term volunteer taking photos of the kids!

Sunny Day! A good day for a village clean up!

The kids love to do something new everyday!

How cool is that when you see young children helping out as well =D

Ecoteer would like to thank our volunteers for organizing many of the trips and activities for the children and made this project a succesful project! Keep up the good work Barbara and Katharina!

Thank you Barbara and Toby for helping out in the HUTAN visit the to Melanking Oil Palm Plantation as well!

To know more about this project, go to Teach in Borneo Malaysia.

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Interview:Teach & Volunteer in China-Project Leader

An interview with the project leader from the organization that provides volunteering and teaching opportunities in several cities and rural area in China.


1. Could you give a brief summary about what Teaching and Volunteer in China is all about.

You will teach by your own or work with another volunteer in the class. Your lessons will be a combination of teaching from the standard text books and teaching lessons from your own creativity, which can be anything from your hobbies or interests to current affairs and local news as subject matters. Games always do extremely well too.
The vast majority of your teaching will focus on improving the students’ conversational language, familiarizing them with correct pronunciation and boosting their confidence. They are often exemplary at grammars of a language but have such little practice in spoken English, German or French that they make many mistakes. This is why you (volunteers) come in!

2. What is the level of support from the community towards your project?

We strongly believe in our mission to promote inter-cultural understanding between China and the rest of the world. Our program has grown dramatically in recent years as we have placed volunteers in Chinese schools in several different areas of China. The schools we work with have been carefully screened for suitability for our program. Those that have met our standards have entered into a professional relationship with our organization based on mutual understanding and respect. We try hard to assure the success of every volunteer’s placement, both from the perspective of the volunteer, and from the perspective of the school employing the volunteer.

Our organization has worked hard to successfully establish strong relationships with the schools and institutions that accept and welcome our volunteers. These institutions allocate important resources to provide a supportive and comfortable professional environment for the volunteer, one in which the volunteer can make the most of this special opportunity for cross-cultural exchange. Volunteers in our program are making an important professional commitment and are expected to fully dedicate themselves to their assigned tasks.

We always support the mandarin lessons, sightseeing during first week orientation.

3. What are the most interesting aspect of your projects? What do volunteers learn when they volunteer in your projects?

-The experience in class
-Responsibility
-Living together
-Differences between cultures ie: food
-Mandarin

4.What kind of volunteers are suitable for your project?

Anybody who are over 18 years old, lwould like to have volunteering and teaching experience in China, open minded, flexible, love to experience different culture and communicating with kids. The characters which we are looking for would be honest, kind and down to earth.

5. Anything else you would like to share with future volunteers?

-See and experience as much as you can, Shanghai is big, China is big.
-Be confident in class especially while teaching.
-Prepare your lessons well, which is very important.

This organization provides volunteering and teaching opportunities in China such as Shanghai, Suzhou, Zhengzhou and Mianyang.

To know more about other volunteering opportunities in China, go to Volunteer China.

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A memory from Venezuela

This was written by Eva an ex-volunteer who had participated in a community and conservation volunteering project based in Venezuela.

The 4 weeks I have spent at the project site have been a fantastic experience! I’m back in Denmark now, back to my “normal life”, my nice apartment and comforts, my busy social life… But thinking at the time at the foundation I can’t help smiling! It has been a journey for me.

I had one entire month vacation and I was looking for inspiration on how to spend it: I wanted to do something different, see something new and possibly give a meaning to that experience, so there I found the best project, just browsing the net: the website, the information, the places shown in the pictures: they all looked good, professional, well organized, so after some investigation I thought, why not? And I sent my application. So here I come! First time in South America and first time as volunteer!

When I arrived in Santa Elena (after an incredibly long trip) I was wondering where I was and trying to grasp what that was all about. The place was really beautiful, the nature and the landscape were breath-taking. The project site is really an amazing place for personal development: you can make what you want out of it! There are different options on the way you can contribute and my experience in the teaching and tutoring programs was really rewarding. Working with the kids had been good fun and I loved it when they expressed words of appreciation to our work and the fact that they enjoyed learning English and eager to try new things out. And when meeting them on the streets in Santa Elena and hearing “Hola Profe!!” I must admit that made me feel good!

The cooperative living part was the least easy for me, used to total freedom and independence, the life together in a shared space sometime was pushing my limits a bit. But the people I’ve met have definitely left a trace in me: Sarah, we arrived the same day and we bonded a lot and had great time together. Yunior, fantastic friend, my staying would not have been the same without him. We were the early birds of the project and it was nice starting the day chatting with you in the kitchen while preparing breakfast. And we had really good time playing pool and enjoying a Polar Ice. Kelvis, short but sweet, would have been fun if you could stick around a bit longer. Ruben, todo bello, the man full of resources.

Once we got to know each other better it was really good fun to spend time and have a laugh together. Andrea, it was great meeting you. And very encouraging to see that being a volunteer and working with NGO’s can be a truly professional experience, requiring the right background and motivation that can be closer to the world I know, and it is not only for idealists and visionary people that are trying to save the world before trying to save themselves. I think that the experience of being there and working with Manfred in the NGO management of the project will be brilliant for you and your future career.

Manfred, you are the men! I hope that your ambition of being dispensable at the project site will finally work (a bit at least) so that you will be able to take your well deserved vacation! I hope that the other volunteers will have the chance, as I did, to get to know you better and hear some of your stories. Your passion and dedication to the organisation cause are absolutely admirable and this world needs quite a few of your kind! I’ve been really impressed and inspired by your stories: your life and experiences, working with street children in Caracas, moving to Santa Elena, starting everything again from scratch… I hope you’ll have the chance to travel back to Germany with your gorgeous daughter, and give your mum the pleasure to meet her only grandchild. Manfred, take care, and thanks again for the experience!! A big hug to everybody!

Cheers Eva

Want to know more about this community and conservation project in Venezuela? Find out more at Ecoteer Volunteer Venezuela.

Interested to browse volunteering projects in other parts of the world? Try Volunteer in Malaysia!

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Help out in a Uganda Primary School

Moses is a teacher from the a primary school in Bujagali Falls Uganda, is a very dedicated teacher. Besides teaching the kids, he is very much involved in many things related to the community development around the school. Uganda as many people know, is a poor country with high cases of AIDS. Many of the kids who attend the school where Moses taught, are orphans as their parents were victim to AIDS. With that, many of the kids have little or no money at all.

Thus Moses with another 15 teachers form a volunteering project to provide for the children and community needs. Most of the children need books, stationary, uniforms but these are generally quite expensive so most of the children drop out from school not soon after they have joined. However this does not deter the teachers to make a difference.

Moses and his team of teachers form projects to help make their school and community environment a better one. The projects were successful with the help from local and foreign volunteers as well as donations.

Children could not concentrate in class because they have no breakfast and lunch, so porridge are provided to help with the children concentration. Now the school have a new kitchen thanks to the volunteers and more porridge can be prepared to fill up more tummies to make these children feel more energetic! The children now also have a room called ‘Library’. However more books of reading age 7-15 are needed to fill the shelves of the Library. But it is a good progress looking back from how the school started just from a few shacks.

Volunteers who had participated in this projects are touched by the dedication of Moses and his team of teachers put in to the projects. The ex-volunteers donated some money and with that Moses has recently put electricity, running water, showers and flush toilets in the volunteer accommodation so that the volunteers could have the benefit of this.

Currently in this project, donations are needed to provide the children with teaching and learning resources, three new classrooms, science equipment and raw materials to conduct basic experiments, cupboards and shelving, metal doors and shutters and second hand digital camera used as teaching resources.

Besides that, the girls are in need of sanitary pads because it is too expensive for the poor communities. Without sanitary pads, it becomes very unsanitary and disallow the girls to go out from their home during during their periods. Most of the time, the girls would be using water from the puddles to clean themselves because they have no access to nearby clean water sources. Thus sanitary pads would help them and reduce the unhygienic conditions.

Volunteers are welcome to join Moses and his team to help out in the projects to make the school and the community surroundings a better place to live in. More stories about this project at Success of Volunteers in Uganda.

Find out more about this project at Teach/ Help a variety of task to help develop a poor Uganda primary school.

Here is a video on the children singing the Busoga tribe national anthem before their school starts.

Want to find for other humanitarian volunteering projects? Find out more at Ecoteer – Humanitarian Projects.

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Ecoteer article in The Star newspaper!

The Star newspaper is one of the main daily newspaper read in Malaysia and today on the 17th of January 2012, an article on Ecoteer was published! Of course quite an amount of effort was put in to have this article published in a quite glorious manner.

Our two full paged article appeared in the Star 2 section paged 2 and 3 of this newspaper and hopefully it looks attractive and would inspire local and foreign tourist to opt for a low environmental impact holiday. The article included an introduction on how Ecoteer was found by Daniel Quilter, followed by the concept of Ecoteer and how this concept of volunteering while holidaying is quite foreign to Malaysian tourist.

The article also included some background stories about the community & conservation program and turtle conservation project in the lovely tropical island of Perhentians as well as the English project located in the palm oil estates of Sukau, Sabah.

Read the original article in The Star Online: Ecoteer – Vacation with a difference

Want to know more about green traveling and responsible volunteering? Find out more at Ecoteer: Travel With A Cause or drop us an email to inquire more about our projects at contact@ecoteer.com.

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Volunteer: Conservation of Amazon Community

The Ecuador Amazon rainforest is one of the Earth’s treasures, a highly biodiverse place and also the home to the Shiwiar people. The Shiwiar territory is one of the most pristine and isolated places in the Amazon forest and could only be reached by air transportation.

A hardcore nature lover could spend their whole day living in this jungle observing unique, wonderful or even weird creatures roaming around in the forest while enjoying the peace and serenity of this pristine undisturbed forest. Sadly the Ecuadorian government does not value the forest and indigenous people of the Amazon. Lands are being sold off to multinational companies for short term profits, destroying the fragile ecosystem and the negatively affecting the lives of the indigenous people.

With that, a natural instinct to protect ones home came to Pascual Kunchicuy from the Shiwiar tribe. An ecotourism project was set up to invite people to come and have a look at the Shiwiar people way of living. The money will then be used to purchase the forest land with the long term aim of protecting the forest.

Volunteers are welcome to experience their culture but at the same time volunteers would be helping out in tasks such as teaching English to the local tribes, construction, accountancy, floral and fauna studies, hosting tourist and many more.

Volunteers are also needed for the biodiversity research programme working in conjunction with local community projects. The expedition is a biodiversity research expedition working in conjunction with local community projects and research findings will help to more effectively manage and conserve this endangered habitat. Volunteers will be able to study rare and endangered species, hear the sounds of the Dusky Titi and Howler monkeys in the mornings while exploring the Amazon forest and learn a wide range of methods used in biodiversity research. It is the perfect project for nature lovers who are looking for green eco projects during their gap year, career break or just simply for the fun of it!

Interested and want to know more about this volunteer project? Find out more at Volunteer For The Conservation of Amazon Community.

This video shows what drives the Shiwiars to protect their forest and their future.

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Agro-ecological farm in Costa Rica

Our agroecological farm is located in San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica, near Dominical Beach. We are an Environmental and Conservation Project, or “School Farm,” with education as our top priority. At our farm, students, volunteers, and visitors can participate, learn and help.

We receive volunteers, students, and environmental interns locally and from abroad. Primarily we work with volunteer group organizations that are interested in environmental education, however all are welcome at our farm, from individuals up to large groups.

We are very interested in welcoming volunteers from your school, organization, or program and would encourage you to visit our Ecoteer page, volunteer farm Costa Rica for more information. There you will find a detailed description of our grass roots campaign and a summary of the numerous projects we are currently working on. Please feel free to share our mission and information with your friends, family, and co-workers to help us continue our environmental education. In addition to working at our farm, we also encourage our guests to visit the local sites including Dominical and Uvita Beach and Hot Springs and we are more than happy to organize guided tours.

We offer ideal opportunities for graduate students and researchers to extend knowledge, pursue specific interests, find field work or extend opportunities for thesis material. Undergraduate students who wish to pursue a career in conservation often need volunteer work and hands-on experience as a prerequisite. This experience is an excellent way to verify an interest in a specific field. We provide excellent opportunities for gaining experience and making contacts at the outset of a professional career in conservation. In addition, students with families are always welcome as we began as a family farm.

Our family believes the best way to preserve our Planet Earth is for everyone to become active and lend a helping hand to Mother Nature. We currently have major challenges, including green house gasses and global warming, ever expanding landfills, pesticides in our fruit, vegetables, and meat, and shortages of suitable drinking water to name a few. No matter what town, country or continent you live on, we must all live together under the same sun during the day and the stars and moon at night. If we all recognized the issues and started to change one bad habit at a time it would have an enormous effect on the planet immediately, but we all must work together. So start today and join us in our mission to change our planets course and educate future generations.

Thank you for your time and consideration from the Villalobos family and we look forward to hearing from you.

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Responsible Travel

There are numerous accounts of where tourism has destroyed the original reason why people came to the destination in the first place the opposite of Responsible Tourism. The natural progression for a tourism destination involves one of low impact moving into mass tourism then the demand from tourism destroys the main attraction. Examples include the Pyramids in Egypt which are eroding away due to tourists or the great barrier reef which is dying with a large proportion of the blame being laid at the feet of the tourists themselves.

So what is Responsible Tourism???

Responsible tourism is tourism that strives to minimize its impact on the environment, to respect local people and cultures, to offer economic benefit to local businesses and communities, and to provide a memorable experience for travellers and protects destinations for future generations. Using small-scale lodging, local transportation, supporting locally-owned businesses, and incorporating community-based ecotourism projects into tours are some ways travel can work towards sustainability.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) provides a conceptual guide for the sustainable development of all tourism:

Responsible tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.

The UNWTO provides further guidelines at unwto.org.

Ecoteer Responsible Travel endorses the Global Responsible Tourism Criteria, an international initiative to create a common understanding of responsible tourism. Four main themes drive the criteria: effective sustainability planning; maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community; enhancing cultural heritage; and reducing negative impacts to the environment. To learn more or download the criteria go to the Global Responsible Tourism Criteria website.

How is Ecoteer Responsible Travel practising Responsible tourism?

The Global Responsible Tourism criteria can be segmented into fours easy to answer questions. All Ecoteer Responsible Travel packages must adequately answer the following questions:-

1. Does the project have a clear aim?

Without a clear and concise aim a project will not be focused and ultimately fail to fulfill its intended purpose therefore making efforts by the project largely obsolete;

2. Does the package have a low tourist impact?

Small tourist numbers ensures minimized negative social and environmental impacts. The small group sizes ensures greater involvement and connection time per tourists with the local community and/or environment maximizing enjoyable, meaningful holiday experiences;

3. Does the tour package contribute to the local community?

With each tour locally owned accommodation and restaurants will be sought and a stated proportion of your fee will go towards the local economy ensuring your dollar goes to the hands of the people and animals who need it most;

4. Is there an element of environmental and/or cultural conservation?

On each tour you will be introduced, and where possible, asked to embrace the local culture of the people you visit, building an understanding and respect between the tourist and the host community. On many of the tours, particularly the voluntours, you will actively partake in social or environmental projects helping to conserve the culture and environment which ultimately are often the purpose of your travel in first place.

It is important to know that the projects associated with Ecoteer Responsible Travel are run 100% independently and Ecoteer Responsible Travel are providing them with the opportunity to be able to achieve their aim more efficiently.

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