Volunteer

Top 10 Reasons to Try Experteering
Monday, February 22nd, 2016

When you look back on your life will you regale your friends and grandchildren with “that month you were slightly more productive at your corporate job”…or that time you “helped a Brazilian non-profit save a virgin rainforest from a logging company”?

Are you an engineer, lawyer, graphical designer, or IT professional thinking about taking a Career Break? Now you can finally volunteer in your area of expertise around the world!  Experteering allows you to make the most of your career skills by volunteering for causes that matter to you, while exploring exotic places in ways most travelers could only dream.

Enter our Experteering Contest
Enter our Experteering Contest
Use your professional skills on your career break! Sign up to win a MovingWorlds.org membership in partnership with Meet Plan Go, and Experteer around the world for FREE. Make your career break count.

Here are ten of the many reasons you should seriously consider Experteering for your next adventure.

1. Travel the world

experteering volunteering

See Experteering Opportunities around the world.

Finding a project in one of your bucket list countries will allow you to combine two of the best experiences: travel and making a difference in the world. Experteering gives you the reason and road to get the places you’ve dreamt of exploring.

2. No donation required

While volunteer opportunities like building a house or volunteering at an orphanage can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, Experteering rarely costs any money at all, and some even provide travel stipends. MovingWorlds’ organizations desire your skills and passion much more than your money and connects you to immersive local experiences in exchange for your skills.

3. You will make lasting change

No matter what your skill set, from accounting to graphic design to finance to copywriting to social media to engineering to blogging, you can help make an organization stronger than you found it. MovingWorlds has a multi-pronged approach to help you make the most of your Experteering opportunity, and removes any unnecessary stress from the process.

4. Cultural immersion

experteering volunteering

Integrate with the local community! Photo by MovingWorlds.org

Unlike a traditional vacation or even a backpacking trip, you will be fully immersed in your destination. You will get to know your local grocer, barista, bus driver, and co-workers and undoubtedly be welcomed into the community. It’s the fast track to truly “live like a local!”

5. Build your resume

Anyone who has been on a job interview in the last 10 years knows that it’s all about differentiating yourself from the other candidates. Come to the table with a unique and memorable story…and what better story than your experience Experteering half-way around the world, making a positive change while honing your various skills.

6. Make wonderful friends

Experteering and volunteering are naturally self selecting, so you will be interacting with like-minded folks who love travel, altruism, and thinking outside of the traditional social confines.

7. Change things up at work/life

Sometimes a little stir of the pot will bring out a bunch of new flavors, and life is no different. If you are going to work thinking “what am I really achieving here, am I making anyone’s life better selling more X, Y or Z?” then maybe it’s time to try something fresh and fulfilling.

8. The gift that keeps on giving

experteering volunteering

Work with business peers in other countries. Photo by MovingWorlds.org

When you realize that your skills can make a supremely positive change on an organization, and you get to explore a fascinating region of the world, you will want to repeat the experience. The good news is MovingWorlds allows you to sign up for unlimited future projects, without any extra admin fees.

9. Learn a language

You will have the opportunity to practice the region’s language as much or as little as you wish, and undoubtedly come away with improved communication skills.

10. Life is short. Carpe Diem. You only live once. Follow your dreams.

The list of clichés could go on and on…and you could share them all on your Facebook wall, pin them to your Pinterest inspiration board…or you could put a plan in motion to make your dreams your reality.

 

*CONTEST* Meet Plan Go is giving away a MovingWorlds membership to someone who would like to try Experteering in 2016. If you are interested you can enter the contest here.
Meet Plan Go & MovingWorlds March Giveaway

If you would like to learn about the opportunities available for career breakers, simply visit the MovingWorlds website, enter your skills and the regions of your world you would like to visit. There is no cost to browse the website and review the numerous opportunities, and the projects do not require any monetary donation. The only cost is a one-time administration fee when you decide to start an application so that the MovingWorlds team can guide you through the Experteering process and provide you personal support as you need it (and even that is discounted for MPG members at checkout). If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!

– Mike Howard, Mike@MovingWorlds.org
Ambassador, MovingWorlds.org
Founder, HoneyTrek & RTW Packing List

 

Need help planning your career break trip? Check out the following articles and resources:

MovingWorlds March Giveaway
Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Enter to win a lifetime membership to a network of free, life-changing volunteer opportunities

Meet Plan Go & MovingWorlds March Giveaway
What is MovingWorlds? If you’re looking to make a real difference on your next trip, and you don’t like the idea of having to pay to “volunteer,” then it’s the perfect time to check out MovingWorlds.org. MovingWorlds connects people who want to travel and volunteer, with social impact organizations around the world. They selectively source and qualify social impact organizations working in the field so you can be confident your skills will make the most impact. “Experteers” have access to MovingWorlds exclusive training, resources, and planning guide to help ensure safe, high-impact engagements.

See our Top 10 Reasons Career Breakers Should Include Experteering in their Itinerary

What is this giveaway? Meet Plan Go has partnered with MovingWorlds.org to share the awesome work they are doing in the volunteering space around the world. They have given us one Full Membership (with unlimited phone support) to giveaway to the Meet Plan Go family. See Terms and Conditions

Explore MovingWorlds.org: If you would like to check out the various opportunities on MovingWorlds, they have provided us a link that allows you to review the complete details on every single opportunity they have available (and if you don’t see the perfect opportunity, they will reach out to their global partners and find one that fits your criteria). Follow this link, http://MovingWorlds.org/MeetPlanGo, click “Join Now” on the top right, and you will have unfettered access to the site, and never be asked to pay a thing until you find the perfect opportunity (and when you do find that perfect opportunity MPG members simply pay an administration fee of $112).

volunteer experteer

How to enter this giveaway:

  • Meet Plan Go will be giving away one full MovingWorlds Membership PLUS additional support to someone who is interested in volunteering in 2016 (value: $300)
  • Everyone who would like to enter should email Mike@MovingWorlds.org with the following:
    – Your First Name, Home Country & the Email you used in your MovingWorlds profile
    – Link to your favorite 1 (or) 2 MovingWorlds “Experteering” opportunities
    – A few sentences telling us why you would like to volunteer for this organization in 2016
    – Confirm that, if you win, you are willing to share your experience with the Meet Plan Go audience via a few blog posts
    The email you send will earn one entry in the contest, and is mandatory for anyone who wishes to enter
  • Optional: If you would like to earn a second entry in this giveaway, post a tweet with a link to the MovingWorlds opportunity you are interested in. You can say whatever you wish, simply include the link to the project and mention @MeetPlanGo & @Experteering in your tweet.
  • Optional: If you would like to earn a third entry in the giveaway, head over to this Facebook Post, and leave a comment that includes a link to your favorite MovingWorlds opportunity, along with a few sentences about why you want to Experteer there.

Deadline: On March 31st 11:59 PM EST . We will add each entry that meets the criteria (including each Twitter & Facebook entries) on their own row in an excel file, and use Random.org to randomly choose the winner. Winner will be notified by email (via the email address that was used to make the first submission) within five (5) days following selection of Winner.  Once the winner accepts, we will mention the winner on social media for both Moving Worlds and Meet Plan Go.

Please read all Terms and Conditions prior to entering.

Questions: If you have any questions about MovingWorlds or this contest please email Mike Howard, Mike@MovingWorlds.org

Volunteering in Dangerous Places: Beirut, Lebanon
Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Without a doubt, Lebanon is one of the most complex countries I’ve visited. On one hand, you have the cosmopolitan capital, complete with a seaside Corniche, trendy restaurants, high-end shopping, and colorful street performers. On the other, Lebanon offers a glimpse of an ancient rural life that still exists throughout much of the Middle East.

About a year and a half ago, I was invited to Beirut to work with the nonprofit organization Baladi. The organization is dedicated to preserving and promoting Lebanon’s heritage to youngsters by encouraging students to learn about their country’s cultural diversity and works to foster mutual understanding between communities. Baladi sees Lebanon’s shared culture as one way to peacefully address regional conflict.

For my Lebanon visit, I accompanied my close Egyptian friend Inji, whom I met volunteering in Cairo the year before. She introduced me to her friends and colleagues in the country. I was most grateful for this personal introduction to a fascinating country.

In addition to the diversity of landscapes, I found the people and the cultures of the region incredibly absorbing (justifying Baladi’s great pride in their indigenous communities). Here’s a snapshot of my impressions during my short time spent in this most remarkable country.

City Life in Beirut

While staying in Beirut, we shuttled between our apartment in the city’s center to the suburban residence of Joanne, Baladi’s founder and CEO. It was here in Joanne’s home that we did the bulk of our volunteer work of providing philanthropic business development and fundraising advice. (Nonprofit development is my profession in the U.S., and I often provide pro bono consulting during my overseas volunteer stints.)

One of the advantages of meeting in a private home is the ability to see a modern-Lebanese lifestyle up-close. Our friend Joanne lived with her extended family in a stylish apartment with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. I got the chance to meet her charming husband and her children.

I especially enjoyed meeting Joanne’s mother. Our conversation was a bit stilted, with Joanne translating for me, but upon my departure she gave me a blessing to protect me during my onward travels. Looking back, I credit these heart-felt good wishes as one reason I survived my 2-year journey relatively unscathed.

As peaceful as the Beirut suburbs are, the reality of the country’s ongoing political conflict is never far away.  During our city stay, there were three incidents that reminded me I was in a country that continues to experience deep and long-running political tension:

  • – After dinner one night, Inji and I were walking back to our apartment we heard a series of loud shots. We were uncertain if the noise was fireworks or gunshots or an incoming missile. We took cover under an apartment overhang, just to be on the safe side.
  • – Driving to meet a potential donor, we made it through the city in record time. The reason? Traffic was light because there was a bomb scare. (I, of course, was wondering why we were still out and about when everyone else had retreated inside.)
  • – While strolling through the winding streets, Inji pointed out the main headquarters of Hezbollah, a Shi’a Islamic militant group and political party which is based in Lebanon. I kept my head down and eyes averted as we walked past the guards stationed outside.

Road-Trip Lebanon

After a few days of intense work, Joanne arranged for several of her Baladi guides to give us a 2-day tour of northern Lebanon as a thank you gift. This was an extraordinarily generous offer, and I cherished the opportunity to be shown the country by these trained historians and local experts. Highlights included:

  • Bekaa Valley:  Here we visited a Druze temple, came across an itinerant Bedouin family living out of a wagon, and hiked through the fertile valley observing the natural wildlife and beauty of this biblical valley.
  • Baalbek: Formerly known as Heliopolis during the Roman period, Baalbek is an extremely well-preserved example of a temple compound from these ancient Roman times. Baalbek is also a Hezbollah stronghold, as evidence from the black flags and pictures of Syrian President Assad lining the streets, political murals on the walls surrounding the Roman ruins, and loudspeakers blaring revolutionary music outside a Lebanese military base.
  • Mount Lebanon: This mountain range which includes the highest mountain in the Middle East is covered in snow 4-6 months out of the year. I admit, I was dumbfounded to still see traces of snow on the ground in June. The mountains are also the known for their famous groves of cedar, Lebanon’s national symbol.
  • Maronite Village: We spent the night here in a village nestled high on the mountains. In the morning we visited several ornate orthodox churches and observed the caves carved into the rugged mountainscape that were sanctuaries for monks seeking complete solitude. With more than 3 million Maronites (about 22% of the population), Lebanon retains a distinctive Maronite character.
  • Tripoli: The country’s second largest city, Tripoli was founded as long ago at 12th century B.C. and has a large Sunni majority (as evidenced by the preponderance of abayas and head scarves worn by the women).  It was here that I had the best meal of my entire 2-year trip, a hand-made feast of full of lively mint and lemon flavors.

Quintessential Volunteer Experience

Even though the country might be in the midst of fluctuating degrees of conflict and unrest, it still provided me with a wonderful volunteer experience.  In fact, as I look back, my quick trip to Lebanon was the ultimate volunteer experience, affording me the opportunity to:

  • – Do some good by lending my business development skills to a worthwhile nonprofit doing important work on conflict reconciliation in the region.
  • – Visit and learn about a country I wouldn’t have necessarily traveled to on my own.
  • – Benefit from a personal tour of the country to see first-hand the richness of the culture and the physical beauty of the landscape.
  • – Make friends with local Lebanese, providing me with a window into their lives and some insight on the challenges they experience each day.
  • – Push my limits of where I felt comfortable in terms of physical safety and erode some lingering stereotypes about Arab countries.

Volunteering in Lebanon opened up a new frontier for me and helped me put into context the struggles that we hear so much about through the news. I consider myself truly lucky to have had this wonderful volunteer experience.

To read more about volunteering and travel in Lebanon, check out the following articles:

A former finance executive, Erin Michelson is now an “Adventure Philanthropist,” who recently completed a two-year global giving adventure, visiting all 7 continents and exploring 60 countries. Volunteering with global non-profit organizations along the way, Erin helped build a house in the Philippines, a well in rural Uganda, and a library in northern Laos, sponsored secondary school education for a young woman in India and helped provide self-defense training for young girls in Israel.  Read more about her experiences on Go Erin Go or follow her on Twitter @GoErinGo.

Photo credits: Lebnen18, all other photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

Preparing to Leave as an International Volunteer
Monday, November 1st, 2010

International volunteering is something many career breakers are interested in doing. And we are no strangers to the experience! Between the two of us (Michaela and Sherry), we have volunteered abroad in Peru, Thailand, Nepal and India. And we’ve discussed how to choose the right volunteer program for you. Now that you have – how do you actually prepare for the experience? Jane Stanfield, of Where Is She Heading, shares some advice with us.

Phase one is complete. You have decided which volunteer project will benefit from your enthusiasm, expertise, and time. Congratulations!  Take a short breather because you are about to enter phase two – preparing to leave.

TELL ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE what you will do, where it is, and when it will happen. Help them imagine it by giving them glorious details of what you will see, hear, taste, and smell. Describe what it will be like to do the work and how wonderful you will feel upon completion. This is done, of course, in a non-smug way because your intention is not to instill envy, but gain enthusiasm for your volunteer work.

CREATE YOUR TO DO LIST of everything that needs to be accomplished, not only before you leave, but also while you are abroad. Decide how you want your affairs handled.  Immediate family can do many of the items if you are only gone for a month. If you will be gone for an extended period however, you may need a team of people to keep your home life rolling while you are away.  As this topic is covered in detail through the Briefcase to Backpack program, I suggest a preliminary list of topics to be considered:

  • Job
  • Legal issues
  • Bills
  • Insurance
  • Mail
  • Home – Possessions, Pets and Plants
  • Car
  • Special Events
  • Commitments to others.

Brainstorm other issues specific to you and your trip with your family.

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Career Breaks that Give Back
Monday, April 5th, 2010

Carolyn Lane is the founder of the non-profit organization Dog Meets World and she’s changing people’s lives one picture at a time. Armed with tools, a little stuffed dog and a portable printer, her Phodographers travel around the world providing kids and parents photos of themselves. A rare treat in these people’s lives.

We typically talk about career breaks as pausing your career to travel and volunteer and participate in activities that interest you. Carolyn is not the typical career breaker, but she has taken these three important elements of a traditional career break and put them together in a groundbreaking idea to make the world a better place. She left her stable career behind to pursue creating a volunteer opportunity around travel.

I had the opportunity to speak with Carolyn about her efforts to bring photography to all corners of the world.

You decided to take a very unusual career break in order to travel and give back. Can you tell us what you did prior to your career break? My eclectic career has spanned from being a research scientist to most recently the Director of Discovery Montessori School.

How did you decide to take the career break leap and pursue your goal?
I returned after 12 years to again head the nonprofit Montessori school which I had co-founded in 1990 and guide it through a growth period. I indicated to the board that I would not be the next long term director but would prepare the school for the future, so I already had an inkling of wanting to do/create something else as part of my life’s work. So after 3 years as the head administrator I resigned to make space to create what would become the Dog Meets World project, which at the time was just a collection of loose ideas.

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How to Choose an International Volunteer Program
Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

You’ve decided to incorporate some aspect of volunteering into your travels – now how do you choose the right international volunteer program for you? One of the biggest benefits of volunteering abroad is the opportunity to learn and experience another culture. So much of the travel experience is take-take-take and for many that rarely even involves a genuine cultural exchange.

But by including volunteering as part of your travels, you’re able to immerse yourself into a culture and give a little something back as a way of saying thanks. When I decided to take a career break in the summer of 2006, I knew that I wanted to include volunteering into my experience. And there were many factors that I considered that helped me decide what program was best for me. (more…)

Peru: Cusco
Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

In 2006 I took a career break and volunteered in Peru for the summer.  This was the first time I really spent an extended amount of time in one place, and the experience was amazing.  The culture and people of Peru touched me in a way I never expected and this led me to my next job at Cross-Cultural Solutions.

For many years, Peru has called me – whether it was the spirit of the Incas, the mystery of Machu Picchu, or the magic of the Quechuan smile, I needed to answer the call.  In the summer of 2006, I did just that. But unlike other travels, where I tried to see and do as much as possible – never staying in one place for more than a few days – this time I wanted to have some roots.  I really wanted to immerse myself in the culture; experience life as the locals; and maybe pick up a bit of the language.

Cusco was the perfect place.  Chosen as the capital of the Incan Empire for a reason, Cusco has a spiritual essence that can’t be explained – it can only be felt.  But if I was going to take so much from this beautiful culture, I also wanted to give something back.  And that’s when I found Peru’s Challenge.

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What to Do: Volunteer (CCS Thailand)
Monday, December 15th, 2008

“You can travel as much as you want and go wherever you want, but you may not find a more likeable people anywhere.  In their culture there is no hour for the dour and they go the extra mile with a smile.”

– Pacific Perspectives with Tom Plate, Asia Media Online

I have not come across a better statement when describing Thailand and its people.  I have had the opportunity to travel to Thailand on three separate occasions, and each time I have found this thought to be true.  The Thais are so proud of their culture and so honored to share it with visitors that you can not help but fall in love with their hospitality and their warmth.

For a year I had the opportunity to prepare volunteers for their Thailand experience through Cross-Cultural Solutions.  After many years of traveling, it was only in 2006 that I decided to combine my travels with volunteering, and did so in Peru.  Upon returning, I wanted to help others discover the wonders of combining traveling and volunteering, and found that opportunity with CCS.

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