Here is a solid vacation idea: Global Volunteers can engage your teen and your parents in something truly meaningful.
If you ask most teens where they’d like to go on vacation, they’ll tell you they want to go to Hawai’i to lounge on the beach. Ask mom and dad and they’ll tell you they want to get their kids away from narcissistic tanning and ogling other teens in bikinis and board shorts and into more industrious pursuits. The Global Volunteers program is an idea on which teens and parents may agree.
Non-profit Global Volunteers has been sending volunteers around the world for almost 20 years, and its excellent international service program is especially well-suited for families with teens and preteens. With work sites in over 21 countries, participants might help care for street children in India, teach English to Greek school children on the island of Crete, or help build a community center in a Tanzanian village. Global Volunteers maintains partnerships in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America and the South Pacific.
All of the Global Volunteers’ host communities have asked for their help, and volunteers work side-by-side with the local people making the experience a cooperative one as well as highly constructive.
Victoria Van Valer of Northern California had traveled with Global Volunteers on her own to a remote village in southern Italy to teach English. The experience was so powerful that the next year she scooped up her two daughters, Quinn, age 13, and Maro, 11, along with her nearly 80-year-old mother, and traveled to Costa Rica.
Three generations worked together clearing brush, laying bricks to build a community center, painting a medical center, and even picking coffee. The family plans to repeat the experience to a new destination this year.
When Rebecca Wilson of the Boston area traveled to Romania with her husband and two children, ages 13 and 17, they worked with failure-to-thrive infants and toddlers in a village hospital. Most of the patients had been abandoned, and with only four staff members to meet all the needs of more than 30 children — feeding, changing, laundry, etc. — the youngsters spent too much time sitting in their cribs. The Global Volunteers team took the babies on walks, fed them, played with them, and generally gave them the kind of nurturing that was missing from their lives. Rebecca’s 13-year-old daughter has asked to go back again this summer.
Global Volunteers sends out over 150 teams each year, and both international and U.S. trips are available. Volunteers pay all program-related costs, which covers food, lodging, project materials, transportation in the host community, and the services of a team leader. Airfare is not included, but all fees are tax-deductible. For more information, contact their office at Global Volunteers or by calling 800/487-1074.
As the trend in voluntourism grows, new opportunities for all ages — and for families together — to “do good ” will emerge.
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