Global Citizens Network


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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.

- Anonymous

What types of projects are participants involved in?

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.

I don't have any specific skills. What can I do?

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.

What physical considerations are there?

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.

Is emergency medical and evacuation insurance included?

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.

What traits make for a good experience?

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!

What are the age requirements?

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.

Can families participate?

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.

What does a typical team look like?

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.

Where do participants stay in the village? Where do they eat?

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.

Do participants have any free time to explore other places in the country or region?

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.

What if I don't speak the local language?

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.

Where does the team meet for the first time?

Generally, the team meets at the airport in the capital city of the country or state they will be visiting.

What type of pre-trip training is provided?

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.

How far ahead do I need to sign up for a trip?

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.

What does the trip cost cover?

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.

Why do I have to pay to participate?

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.

Who are GCN's team leaders?

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.

Does GCN have any religious affiliation?

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.

Can I fundraise for my trip?

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.

Can GCN arrange a group trip?

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.

Can I get college credit for my GCN trip?

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.

I'm a schoolteacher. Can I get continuing education credits for going on a trip?

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).