WWOOFin’ It: How To Volunteer at Sustainable Farms All Around The World!

WWOOF

I’ve been working hard to try to find affordable volunteer programs for young folks.  Somewhat surprisingly, most coordinated programs involve a hefty fee for the volunteer to participate.  This is usually because the program organization fields year-round staff and support personnel.  They also need to pay to advertise their programs, and they sustain a lot of related costs such as transportation and office overhead.  Other than the Peace Corps and its ilk, inexpensive volunteer opportunities have been few and far between.  Until I heard of WWOOF, that is.

WWOOF
Bucolic, no?

What is WWOOF?

WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable, global community.  As a volunteer (or WWOOFer as we call them) you will live alongside your host helping with daily tasks and experiencing life as a farmer.” – wwoof.net

Although you will not be paid, you do receive free room and board as well as the opportunity to get to know fellow participants from all over the world!

WWOOF
Meet some awesome animals, too 🙂

The program was founded in 1971 by a London secretary looking to take an active break from smoggy city living.  WWOOF farms, located all throughout the globe, seek help with a variety of sustainable living tasks.  You can choose to collect honey, feed farm animals, harvest crops, bake bread, build yurts, or so much more.  There’s really no limit as to what you can do as long as an organic farm has a need for it!

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Let the World Be Your Classroom! Discover Project World School

Are you or your teen looking for a fun study abroad program that kicks international education up a notch?

Bolivian bridge Project World School
Bolivian bridge

I recently heard from the folks at Project World School (http://projectworldschool.com), who wished to make me aware of their program offerings for this website.  It sounded like an intriguing organization, and as a former travel agent and educator, I found that the words “World” and “School” placed next to each other made me sit up and take note “real quick”!

 

Hands-on, Global Learning

I suppose the most concise way to describe PWS is to say it’s a temporary, international, hands-on learning opportunity for young people.  Several distinct learning communities form from the unique global classroom experiences that the folks at PWS carefully plan; six such communities are planned to come together in 2018 alone.  These overseas retreats, which each last from approximately two weeks to a month, have been offered each year since mother and son team Lainie Liberti and Miro Siegel founded the organization in 2011.

Participants are, by and large, “unschooled” or homeschooled teenagers and young adults.  The program could also be attended as a sort of way station to augment a young person’s gap year between high school and college.  Since a participant can apply up to age 25, this would even be a great program for recent college graduates.

Project World School

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Get Your Feet Wet! Start Teaching English With No Experience or Training

In An Introduction to Teaching English Abroad, I gave readers a broad overview into becoming a traveling English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor.  It’s a fun and profitable way for young, and not so young, people to see the world!  You work where you want and teach who you want.  Your work will pay enough to cover basic living expenses, although in some locales lucky ESL teachers are able to sock away a significant sum of money.

I always encourage readers to do their research into the infinite possibilities!  One thing you will have found perusing the job boards is that some schools will pay your transportation to the location, maybe help with accommodations… that kind of thing.  These are serious expenses that you should take into account when you make the decision to teach abroad.

Financial Considerations to Ponder

Wallet Teaching English with no Experience or Training

What about the myriad other expenses you won’t get reimbursed for, though?  Obtaining a passport will cost over a hundred dollars.  Any required visa?  You will probably have to pay for that, and they aren’t cheap, either.  What kind of wardrobe will you need given the climate (political and/or religious, not just temperature) you are headed to?  How will your in-country transportation be taken care of?  Will you be able to, you know, eat?  And when you have the time to travel around the area, will you have enough savings to enjoy yourself?

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An Introduction to Teaching English Abroad

Dear American/British/Australian reader:

What if I told you that you carry something incredibly valuable with you wherever you go?  Something that people all over the world pay legit amounts of cold hard cash for?  And no matter what you do with it, no one can ever take it away from you?

Did you have any idea what your English fluency could do for you?

Believe it or not, your native fluency in English can be your ticket to a rewarding international lifestyle.  Millions of people worldwide are desperate to learn or improve their English-speaking abilities.  It goes without saying that English is the lingua franca, or language used, of international business, arts, sciences – just about everything.  In this 21st century global economy, it’s mandatory for the world’s movers and shakers to speak English!

Teaching English Abroad

Share Your Knowledge Anywhere You Go

What can you do that’s so profitable, then?  Help these world citizens master their English language fluency.  If you have a hankering to make a good international living and get to know interesting people and cultures, this may be your dream job!  Other than in western Europe, which has an ample supply of nearby Brits at its disposal, Americans are welcome to teach our language legally in almost any friendly country worldwide.

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Terra Incognita No More – Come Work in Australia!

Australians take their tender years very seriously.  About one in four secondary school graduates postpones entering college and participates instead in a gap year, which often involves foreign travel. Their government encourages youth to spend time volunteering overseas.  According to their website, “At any one time there are about one million Australians living and working overseas.”  Australia, which upon its discovery was deemed Terra Australis Incognita, took little time to overcome its relative isolation.   “Incognita” no more, it was important to make a name for itself and get along well with other peoples.

As part of its drive to welcome intercultural diversity, it’s hardly surprising that The Land Down Under encourages youth from other countries to stop by.  Ambassadors up to the age of 30 are welcome to hang an entire year on the island continent.  After all, who would realistically fly halfway around the world to spend a mere four-day weekend in the large and beautiful land of Oz?

Kangaroo Australia
You think you’ll ever leave, punk?

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Let Italy Melt Your Heart for Art!  Arts Study Abroad

Passionate about the Arts and Humanities?  Care to spend a summer in magnificent Italy with several like-minded high school and college students?  Check out Spoleto Study Abroad, a unique, inspiring study abroad program for Youth dedicated to the Arts!

Vocal and Chamber Musicians, along with Photographers, Visual Artists, Moviemakers, Drama Enthusiasts and Creative Writers, are invited to spend a three-week summer cultural and educational whirlwind in central Italy’s historic community of Spoleto.  2018 marks the program’s 20th year sharing the superlative cultural treasures of Italy with promising young artistes.

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Safe Travels – At Home and Abroad

 

Safe Travels … for everyone?

While researching my post on Semester at Sea, it came to my attention that the program of shipboard instruction has suffered the devastating losses of a handful of students throughout its 44 year history of hosting more than 60,000 scholars. Delving further into the study abroad phenomenon, and as a former exchange student myself, I wondered how dangerous this path was. I was pleased to ascertain that, according to Mary Beth Marklein in the December 3, 2012 edition of US Today, the vast majority of students who study abroad each year — nearly 274,000 students in the 2010-11 academic year — return unharmed.

I spent my school year abroad in Torreón, a city of about half a million souls smack in the middle of northern Mexico, back in the mid-80s. At the time, the most dangerous thing that happened to me was a bad bowl of ropa vieja. Montezuma’s Revenge didn’t kill me, but while I suffered from it, I kind of hoped it would.

Enter the Narcotraficantes

Nowadays, sorrowfully, Mexico suffers from the real danger perpetrated by the drug trafficking cartels. In July of 2010, 17 innocent partygoers were senselessly murdered in my beloved Torreón. According to the Guardian, as of 2010, narcotics-affiliated killings among Torreón’s population averaged three per day.

It’s enough to make you want to crawl under the covers, isn’t it? The world, with some few exceptions, happens to be a dangerous place. Period, end stop.

Back in the late 90’s, I was intrigued to pick up and read a fascinating volume by Robert Young Pelton entitled The World’s Most Dangerous Places (1997 ed).  Sections on mercenary warfare, illness, landmines and more within the tome competed for my attention alongside its chapters specifying the dangers within far too many nations of the world.  Yes, Mexico was listed. YES, THE UNITED STATES was listed.  Moreso than if it had been a work of fiction, I could not put down this book.

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Bon Voyage! How to Cruise your way to a Spectacular Education

All aboard, current and future college students!  Did you know there is an exciting way you can travel the world, keep up with your studies and pay little, if anything, for the privilege?  Now that the weather is getting colder, I’ve been doing some wishful thinking about taking the family on a balmy Caribbean cruise.  Sailing on board a humongous boat with hundreds of other people and visiting exotic ports of call reminded me of a college friend who did just that — all while still keeping up with studies in school.

Semester at Sea sail
Cruise ship wake

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HS Junior? Study STEM for very pfew pfennig!

In your teen years you’ve no doubt thought about college a LOT.  In addition to what and where to study, there’s the dilemma of how to pay for it all.

Rumors have been swirling around my house that college is free in Germany.  Having a glorious time paying off my own grad school student loans, I tried to force encourage my son to consider a good, FREE, German college education.  Sadly he doesn’t cotton much to learning foreign languages.  Oh well.  If you’re not scared of a little German (English is a Germanic language, after all!) and wish to pursue opportunities to study STEM at a world-class institution – for VERY low cost – you must consider Germany!

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Why not Au Pair? Part Two

Do you (Child) care? Why not Au Pair?!” Part One” continues, below:

Research Time

Once you feel confident that you are adaptable, responsible, and open-minded, and that you out care Mary Poppins herself, sit down with a laptop for a good long while and google “Au Pair” abroad.  If there is a country you are especially interested in, add it to your google search.

 

bureaucratic red tapeThere are many companies that will happily help you jump through the bureaucratic red tape in order to get yourself situated with a promising family.  They all charge different fees and make varying promises to you.  With some thorough research and help from a trusted adult, you should be able to narrow down the choices to one or two organizations to pursue further.

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