Building Communities and Friends

Volunteering is something i’ve always felt as a rewarding gift you can give someone else and yourself. In Jessica Courtney’s “Volunteers for Peace: Making Travel More Meaningful,” she takes a look at the organizatoin Volunteers for Peace. Volunteers for Peace is a inexpensive travel oppotunity for any adult who wishes to make a difference at any location around the world.

They offer placement in more than 3000 projects, often referred to as work camps, in more than 100 countries every year. VFP also organizes 50-60 service projects in the United States each year. Some of the most popular destinations for volunteers in 2007 included Italy, France, India, Thailand, Kenya and Vietnam. Many different kinds of work are available, including environmental protection, working with children and orphans, and historic preservation, to name a few.

Hogar Urpi provides shelter for boys who have been abandoned by their families, or who have been removed from their homes by the state. “Our goal was to do activities with the boys that would be something they could use in the future,” said Chang. “Something that would help them in a long-term way.” The program lasted two and a half weeks. Each day Chang arrived at the home around nine in the morning to help the boys with homework, get them ready for school, and engage them in planned activities, such as English lessons, cooking, gardening, athletics, circus activities, and photography.

Laurie Eggett Goundeiah participated in her first VFP project in Bojnice, Slovakia in 2004. The goal was to improve the landscaping at Bojnice Castle. “I decided to volunteer abroad with my first work camp in Slovakia because I had frequent flyer miles I wanted to use, but didn’t have any friends with the financial means to travel with me,” she said. “With Internet browsing I found the Volunteers For Peace website and realized it would be a good way to travel alone. I would be involved with people there, in a meaningful project, and have food and boarding for two weeks for only $250.”

Goundeiah was glad that the project allowed her to understand the conflict. “My eyes were opened to things outside my safe and happy life in America,” she said. However, her favorite part of both projects was meeting the other volunteers. “I have made friends from South Korea, England, France, Slovakia, Belgium, Italy, Palestine, Hong Kong, and Jordan,” she said. “They have been lasting friendships.”