There are so many factors that go into planning international travel – especially when you have meaningful travel in mind. Volunteering abroad is becoming more popular but too many people blindly spend money on international travel programs without really doing their research. Unfortunately, the lack of information and access to resources causes people to spend more money than they should and miss out on new opportunities and projects that might be a better fit for their interests and needs.
Local Berkeley residents have helped solve this problem! By becoming an active member in the online community Go Overseas, anyone who has been on a program abroad can leave reviews to help others choose their own abroad experience. First-hand reviews are a great insight to what you're getting into when choosing an international travel program. Reviews give potential travelers a look at positive and negative aspects of a program, specific details, and insider insights you can’t get anywhere else.
UC Berkeley student Sara Veliz volunteered for a month and a half in Cusco, Peru with Awaiting Angels and gave the program an 80% rating. Ratings are broken down into six categories: overall, impact, support, fun, value, and safety.
Describing it as “one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences” of her life, Veliz did an interview with Go Overseas in addition to leaving a review. She describes how she chose the program as well as her daily activities. Her experience volunteering in a medical clinic gave her the chance to try a little bit of everything – from administering vaccinations and medicine to cleaning and stitching injuries.
“This experience definitely gave me the confidence that I needed to secure my decision to pursue a career in the medical field. I love this sort of setting, and I am hoping to one day return to the clinic I worked at and be able to provide more help. I had such a positive experience while volunteering in this clinic, and know that this experience will shape my future and has impacted my entire view of the medical field,” Veliz told Go Overseas via her interview.
Elaine Andres is another great example of a Berkeley resident and UC student who has become part of the Go Overseas community to give back to the international volunteer community. Andres volunteered in Tanzania last summer. She had an unforgettable time and is even working with Support for International Change (SIC) and interning with Go Overseas now!
By leaving her review of her volunteer trip to Tanzania with SIC, Andres has helped countless potential volunteers and travelers make educated decisions of their own. Her review, which gave the program a 100% rating, also gave specific information that only past participants would have the knowledge to share.
According to Andres’ review: “In my village, I had an amazing home stay experience and I even cried when I had to say good-bye to my host mom. Living in the village with families made me feel so connected to the community. I became close with my family and my neighbors and their children etc. And because of it we all felt more invested in teaching HIV/AIDS [awareness] to them.”
Because users can choose to leave reviews anonymously, they can feel more open to leaving honest opinions on their programs. Another UC Berkeley student (anonymous user) volunteered in Peru as an intern with ProWorld and left the program a 60% rating referring to the program’s lack of engagement in communities. (However, each participant’s experiences are unique and ProWorld’s ratings for all internships abroad/study abroad programs and volunteer abroad positions have an average rating above 80%.)
No matter what kind of meaningful experience you are having abroad, leaving and reading reviews is a great way to share your experience and connect with like-minded travelers. By becoming involved with the Go Overseas community, these Berkeley residents are helping others make informed travel decisions and are spreading the spirit of responsible travel with individuals around the world.
Thinking of studying, interning, teaching or volunteering abroad? Browse thousands of program listings, reviews, interviews, and articles. Have you been on a program abroad? Leave a review!