Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization that operates 17 volunteer programs in 15 countries around the world, is expanding volunteer opportunities by launching its China program located in the outskirts of Beijing.In a recent Travelocity poll 38 percent of respondents stated that they plan to dedicate at least some portion of their vacations in 2008 to volunteering.
The new program supports the nation’s only nonprofit middle school aimed at improving the lives of the children of migrant workers. The plight of the children of migrant workers is worsening as China’s booming economy is luring millions of people into cities from the countryside. Regulations mandate that Chinese citizens receive official permission to move from their registered region of the country, or they lose basic social services upon relocating, resulting in the creation of a generation of children with no access to public education or health care, many of whom live in substandard, makeshift housing. It is estimated that there are more than 150 million migrants in China’s urban centers.
Globe Aware volunteers help with everything from improving school conditions, teaching life skills, helping with English classes, and supervising recreational activities. The first program at the school was quite a success, with one volunteer, Colleen from Chicago, commenting:
“These teenagers started their day at 5:30AM and had classes until around 8:30PM ...they were extremely motivated, kind and looked after each other. They come from circumstances that are unimaginable, but yet they all had smiles on their faces and were thankful for being able to go to school everyday. On numerous occasions they told us that they have dreams ...to go to high school and the university. It was a pleasure to be there and I felt honored to be in their presence everyday. We were able to help teach them English, but they taught us more than they will ever know. We had such a great experience with Globe Aware, we hope many people take advantage of the opportunities Globe Aware has to offer.”
The program fee for Globe Aware’s one-week China program has been set at $1,380.00. This fee covers all onsite food, project lodging, onsite transportation, planned cultural activities, bilingual coordinator, medical insurance and project materials. The cost of airfare is additional, but project-related expenses, including airfare are generally tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
There is also good news for those interested in volunteering with this or any volunteer program offered through Globe Aware but cannot pay the necessary fees associated with the trip. Online travel agency Travelocity offers a limited number of grants to qualified people who wish to help others through volunteering in other parts of the world, but do not have the financial means to take a volunteer vacation. Travelocity awards two grants (up to $5,000 each) per quarter to customers and one grant per quarter to employees.
“We want to give people who are passionate about helping others a little freedom from the financial constraints of taking a volunteer vacation,” said Amy Ziff, editor-at-large for Travelocity. “We think that volunteering while on vacation is one of the best ways to truly experience a destination in a life-changing way, and by giving these grants we are ensuring that more people have the means to help out around the world.”
Applicants can apply for the Change Ambassadors Grant either as an individual or as part of a team. Each grant will fund up to $5,000 for the transportation to, as well as the cost of, any trip organized by one of Travelocity’s volunteer travel partners for individuals or groups deemed worthy based on the merit of their applications and their ability to meet the grant requirements. Additional details and instructions to apply for the grant are available at www.travelocity.com/travelforgood. All grants are subject to terms and conditions, which are available on the site.