Projects are determined and directed by our partner communities and involve work that almost anyone can participate in; no special skills are required. Examples of past projects have included building a health clinic, renovating a youth center, planting trees, teaching in a primary school, and installing playground equipment. Projects may not be decided upon until shortly before the arrival of a GCN team. Volunteers should be aware that everything is subject to change. As worthwhile and fulfilling as the work you do will be, the true rewards come from the cross-cultural learning which takes place on these trips.
Although no special skills are required to participate, we believe everyone has skills--some yet to be discovered. Each volunteer contributes what he or she can. Expertise needed for a project will be provided by the local community.
Living conditions, terrain and the nature of work projects vary from site to site. In general, however, participants should be in reasonably good physical condition. If you have significant physical limitations, we encourage you to talk about your situation with GCN staff.
Yes. Emergency medical and evacuation insurance is part of the program fee for all volunteers at sites outside the U.S. and Canada. Check with the Center for Disease Control and your local travel clinic to find out about required or recommended immunizations prior to traveling.
GCN does not require any specific skills of its volunteers. We do, however, look for participants who are culturally sensitive, flexible, optimistic, willing to both share and learn, work well in a team setting, and above all, are open to new experiences.
We ask participants to be experience-minded, not project-focused, since the “work” is actually only one part of the experience and may not always go as planned! GCN's primary focus is cross-cultural exchange, not the work project, and flexibility is key!
All ages are welcome on family-friendly trips. For children under 8, please consult the GCN office. Certain sites are more conducive to having children than others. There is no maximum age – we just ask for each person, no matter the age, to consider the working and living conditions.
GCN absolutely welcomes families, and is a leader in family-oriented cross-cultural experiences. Most times children want to participate on the work project; thus we do not plan specific activities for children.
If the children are unable to participate on a project, the parents are responsible for seeking out alternative activities for the children in the local community. Generally, children are greatly welcomed and easily incorporated into the life of the host community, adding yet another dimension to the immersion experience. Join a scheduled public trip or customize your own family trip.
A GCN team consists of 6-14 participants, accompanied by a trained team leader. Expect an intergenerational team of participants, coming from the U.S., Canada, and other countries.
Lodging varies by site. Home stays with local families are arranged whenever possible. Local community centers or other community buildings have also served as places of lodging. Sleeping arrangements may be in beds, hammocks or on the floor.
Some sites have electricity and indoor plumbing; others may not. Meals are prepared either by team members or by a local cook. To allow for as much immersion and insight into the culture as possible, volunteers generally live as the local people live.
Yes. Generally one or three days are allowed for participants to explore and visit other places in the region. Participants are also welcome to do more extensive travel on their own before or after the GCN trip.
Our trips have no language requirement, although we do encourage participants to learn basic phrases to enhance their experience. GCN's team leaders also serve as translators when possible and/or necessary.
Generally, the team meets at the airport in the capital city of the country or state they will be visiting.
Upon applying for a trip, participants receive an orientation manual with information on the country or state and the village, along with a reading list, packing list and other health and travel tips. The orientation process will continue with on-site orientation and daily team meetings.
Applications are accepted until a team is full and are accepted on first come, first serve basis. It is important to plan early; this helps to ensure that you are placed on a team, and enables GCN to know early on that a team has the sufficient number of volunteers to send.
To reserve your place on a team, you must submit a completed application and $300 USD deposit. The $300 U.S. deposit is nonrefundable, transferable and must accompany the Trip Application and signed Trip Agreement per participant in order to be processed. (A $25 late fee will be added to the trip cost for any applications received within two weeks of trip departure date.) You will be notified once your application is received and accepted by GCN. If your application is not accepted, or if you are put on a wait list and are not able to participate, your deposit will be refunded. *NOTE: Please do not purchase any airfare until you receive confirmation from us, in the event that the trip is filled or trip dates vary slightly. Transferred deposits must be used within 12 months of the original departure dates.
International: Program fees include- airport pick-up and in-country transportation, hostel/homestay accommodations, most meals, cultural orientation and training, basic medical/evacuation insurance, contribution to community project, and project administration. Program fees do not include- airfare to/from host country, immunizations/vaccines, visas or entry/exit taxes, lodging/transportation/meals during free time.
Domestic: Program fees include- airport pick-up and project transportation, hotel, hostel or homestay accommodations, all meals, cultural orientation and training, contribution to community project, and project administration. Program fees do not include- airfare, travel insurance, resident permits and visas.
All program fees, including airfare, are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
When you participate you are donating your time and labor, but there are still costs associated with program development. GCN is a volunteer organization that is 100% financially self-supported through its trip revenue and individual contributions.
GCN is committed to maintaining low overhead costs while ensuring consistent, quality, safe and rewarding experiences.
GCN team leaders are dynamic, responsible individuals chosen for their leadership skills and willingness to facilitate meaningful experiences for others. Those who attend training will be better prepared to lead in ways that align with GCN philosophy, as well as respect and honor host communities’ needs.
No. GCN is a secular organization. We may, however, work with a group within the host community who has religious or government affiliation. In that case, we have made all efforts to ascertain and be assured that the host group works with all members of the larger community, regardless of religious or political beliefs and associations.
Absolutely! We encourage people to fundraise for their cross-cultural experience, and offer guidance on how to be successful at it. Getting others involved in your effort is yet another way to widen the network of global citizenry.
A cross-cultural trip with Global Citizens Network is an innovative experience that can be shared by and enrich any group, offering many opportunities for growth, cultural enrichment and team building. The opportunity for individual and group growth and benefit is endless. Select a GCN location or community that resonates with your group, and explore the possibilities.
Each GCN team is led by an experienced, trained team leader. GCN will make pre-trip preparations and send you an orientation manual, handle all in-country logistics, and facilitate nightly team meetings. Each GCN trip allows for some free time to explore the surrounding area, and has some flexibility in arranging certain dates for your group’s trip. Discounts are available for groups: groups of four, one person travels half price; groups of eight, one person travels free!. Team sizes are limited in some communities.
Many colleges encourage and support cross-cultural experiences by counting the project towards your academic program as an internship or independent study. Make sure to talk to an advisor to facilitate this process.
GCN is proud to collaborate and assist the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center(LAC) in meeting the increased demands for cross cultural volunteer experiences.
Ten continuing education unit hours per week can be earned by participating on a GCN trip. It will be necessary, however, for you to seek pre-approval by your local continuing education committee. CEU Certificates of Participation will be awarded if requested. Participants will earn their CEUs by developing skills in the following areas: Trip Preparation (accomplished through readings and orientation), Developing Cultural Competencies (accomplished through community interaction and project participation) and Self-Development (accomplished through journals, group meetings and discussions, reflections).
If you want to expose your children to other cultures in a way that is more real, in-depth, personable and memorable – by working in community with them rather than just traveling – this is the way to really learn about another culture.
We were exposed to something few of us get to experience. Most often we simply drive through communities. This time we got to meet and really get to know people, and they were so generous. We got far more out of the experience than we gave.
Kathy P., Rock Point, AZ (family of 4)
This was our best family vacation and a phenomenal experience. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to do this with my children. My children realized that although the people in the community we visited didn't have a lot of material possessions, they had some things we didn't. The community members were funny, loving and generous.
The group experience was what made it so great. The team leaders were remarkable. They never passed judgment and treated my children like full members of the group, so they acted that way. The experience made them more confident and more excited about taking other travel adventures.
Marcy G., Xiloxochico, Mexico (family of 6)
Volunteering in Tanzania was a life-changing experience that opened my eyes not only to the needs of our fellow global citizens, but also to the lovable and exhilarating culture of Bukoba.
Megan age 19, Bukoba, Tanzania
GCN wasn't just a volunteer trip but instead a life altering two weeks that helped me discover myself.
Shannon age 15, Bukoba, Tanzania
Our GCN sponsored program in Tanzania wasn't a vacation but rather a deeply moving experience our family will cherish for a lifetime.
Sean, Dad, Bukoba, Tanzania
Working side by side with my husband and children, helping, reaching out, and learning from people in a culture vastly different from our own together as a family was one of the most valuable experiences of my life. We are already planning our next volunteer vacation.
Karen, Mom, Bukoba, Tanzania
This experience changed all of us. Nothing can compare with it. It's made my kids into global citizens. Before we left for Kenya, I was concerned that my kids were getting spoiled, but the trip showed them how happy people were, even though they had so little by comparison. They also discovered how much more important it is to have experiences instead of things.
My kids are so mature now as a result of the trip. They have a new and broader world view.
Nancy F., Maili Tatu, Africa (3 time repeat participant with 2 kids)
I took each of my two granddaughters on a trip when they turned 13, as a rite of passage. It was tremendously bonding for us. It deepened our love and our relationship, but it also sensitized the girls to different cultures and helped them gain an understanding and empathy for others.
One of my granddaughters was extremely wary. She said, "I don't know how to do this and I don't want to be there." But by the end, she was begging to stay. She had formed some amazing friendships. It was quite a transition.
My advice to families considering this kind of trip is this: Even if you have some hesitation, trust that the experience will be transforming for your child and for your relationship with your child. My two granddaughters are totally different personalities, but the same positive transformation happened for both.
We had so many one-on-one reflective conversations about what we were experiencing and learning. It's a different and more intimate way of being with children.
The team members were incredibly kind to my teenagers. The leaders were such good role models -- caring and inclusive.
Meg V., Rock Point, AZ 2003; La Push, WA 2007
The truly amazing thing about this community is the pride, character, and sense of respect you feel being with them. They carry themselves with esteem. Being with them, you know they will not only survive, they will succeed, collectively using the resources available to them for the good of the whole.
Joyce, Pennsylvania; Kenya Participant
With the beauty, the simplicity, the strength and comedy of this place, each day becomes an adventure to be anticipated.
Gladys, Ontario; Kenya Participants
I learned much more that GCN is about the process of building long term relationships with communities, not necessarily about the process of "building!" It was truly priceless to be allowed to be on the 'construction site' with a bunch of indigenous people in Mexico. Tourists DO NOT get that opportunity-nor should they. We all believed WE TRULY MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
Diana, Colorado; Two-time Mexico Participant
I have just this last hour arrived back home after what can only be described as an experience of a lifetime, the people at Jampaling were wonderful and I return with a feeling of accomplishment, and everlasting respect for a group of people who work so hard with such limited resources to achieve their goals.
David, Ontario; Nepal Participant
As a GCN volunteer you expect to fill the role of giver, giving of your time, efforts, money and heart. During a recent trip to Nepal, I felt more like a wide receiver for a pro football team, with countless blessings being passed my way! It started before I even left with support from a bunch of people, some of whom I don't even know, my sponsors through fundraising.
Cherril, New York; Nepal Participant
A positive growing experience that will unfold as time moves on. I do appreciate the warm hospitality of the local Navajo people and thank them for all they did to open our eyes and heart to their life, culture and values.
Jerry, Minnesota; New Mexico volunteer
It has become the most meaningful thing I've experienced in my life. It was more than a casual cultural exchange. I never felt like a tourist - I felt like I was coming home.
Ted, New York; New Mexico volunteer
The trip to Rock Point was a wonderful experience for me. Our team really "connected" and are talking among ourselves of doing other trips together! We all agreed we haven't laughed and sung songs like we did there for a long time. The Navajo people are wonderful, and we were able to share songs, dinner with them and they with us. We were able to complete the projects they had for us and still have lots of time for culture exchange.
Lynne, California; Arizona volunteer
My goal was to get lifted out of my personal and professional rut, to have my head and heart spun around and to land more solid and grounded. For the most part this happened.
Nancy, Vermont; Guatemala volunteer
Because of a scholarship provided by Global Citizens Network, I was able to spend two weeks volunteering in Guatemala, in a rural village called Llanos de Morales. This was my second trip volunteering in a developing nation (I went to Nicaragua two years ago), but my first time working with GCN. My experience was unforgettable and I would recommend it to anyone!
The best thing about the trip was getting really close-up pictures of horses. The hardest part of the trip was leaving Chirapa
Tana-Isabel, Washington; Peru youth volunteer
I wanted to be "in the middle of nowhere" and enjoy it as well as learn about the Quechua culture. My comfort zone has expanded and I enjoyed getting to know the people!
The most inspiring moment for me was receiving a genuine Quechuan percussion instrument as a gift from the community. It showed me that the community valued my presence and it is something that I will never forget.
David, University of Minnesota Participant; Peru volunteer
As I zipped into my sleeping bag, I reflected on this totally crazy, awesome experience, and in many ways wondered how (why) we are having so much fun. This is -- by far -- the best trip we have ever taken as a family and perhaps even my best trip ever. Everything is an adventure. We are living it rather than observing it. Amy S., Chicago, Guatemala volunteer