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Global Citizens Network

What to Expect?

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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

Living and Working in Your Host Community

Part of your adventure involves experiencing a different culture, with very different ways of living. Accommodations are often modest, and the routine of daily life is typically slower than the pace Americans are accustomed to. Living conditions vary, depending on the site. This chart can give you an idea of which sites may be best suited to your interests and comfort level:

Family Friendliness

Global Citizens Network only partners with host communities that value families. Families with children are welcome on any of the trips. However, we also rate each site for family-friendliness based on criteria like travel time, terrain, living conditions, medical facilities, school breaks and more. You can find the ratings for each volunteer site in the chart above. Those rated as “high” will be particularly appropriate.

Lodging

GCN offers three types of lodging. The kind of lodging available varies from site to site.

  • Homestay: Live with a host family in the community and witness firsthand daily customs and home-cooked meals. Homes are typically small, with simple furnishings.
  • Group stay: Men and women stay in separate buildings or homes.
  • Communal stay: The entire team stays together in a community building or eco-hotel.

Typically, you’ll sleep on a bed or on the floor with a bedroll. Families are most often housed together, and children under 18 are always housed with at least one parent. Groups frequently opt for a communal stay.

Typical Foods

We encourage all participants to eat the locally prepared food. The standard fare may get repetitive for young children, however. If you are traveling with your family and you think your child may need alternative options during your stay, we indicate whether a store with staples (peanut butter, bread) is near the site. If not, you may bring your own child-friendly snacks. Ask your team leader to recommend appropriate items before departure.

Amenities

Sites have either indoor facilities (running water) or outdoor facilities (bucket baths). For longer trips, participants usually have the option of spending a night or two in a nearby hotel with showers and indoor plumbing. See the table for information on the availability of plumbing, electricity, cell phone reception and internet access at each site.

Participant Work Projects

It is not always possible to know exactly what kind of project the community will need help with until the team arrives. However, the host community information table indicates the type of work typical to each location. In all cases, GCN works under the initiation and direction of the host community. If the project involves building, participants should be prepared to help hammer nails, install pipe and handle a paintbrush; if the project involves installing an irrigation system, participants could be asked to clear fields and dig with shovels, etc. On rare occasions, the project is unknown until arrival. In such case, please be prepared to be as flexible as possible as GCN and community identify the best option for that group’s stay.

Physical Considerations

The safety of trip participants is GCN’s priority. GCN takes precautions in order to maintain the safety and health of trip participants. Food is prepared under GCN-specified conditions, even when using local cooks. Team leaders purchase bottled water for participants and carry over-the-counter medications that might be needed. In case of emergency, all sites rated as “high” or “medium” on family friendliness are near a major city where medical facilities are available. The Center for Disease Control or a local travel clinic can provide information on precautions and immunizations specific to each country. Consider this information before traveling.

Language

Participants need not be familiar with the local language of the community to volunteer with GCN, greetings and pleasantries in the local language can enhance the experience. Team leaders or leaders in training to Latin American countries do speak Spanish.

Please feel free to contact us at 800-892-0022 for further information about site conditions or with any questions or concerns. You can plan a trip here.

GCN Insurance

As part of your program fee, emergency medical and med evacuation insurance is provided for all GCN trip participants traveling internationally. GCN purchases this insurance from Core Travel Insurance. Trip participants have the option of upgrading their coverage by going to coretravelinsurance.com.

 Coverage details are made available to enrolled participants

Note: Pre-existing conditions, mental illness and pregnancy are not covered.

Medical Conditions & Special Needs

Traveling abroad can be a stressful experience that may exacerbate a medical condition. It is important that the GCN Team Leader who travels with the trip participants is aware of any medical conditions or special needs a trip participant may have. For this reason we ask trip participants to indicate on the trip application any medical condition of which GCN and the GCN Team Leader should be aware.

All allergies, dietary needs, medications, etc., must be managed by the trip participant. Family stay placements are not based on consideration of medical or dietary conditions.

GCN reserves the right to cancel a trip participant who does not disclose a medical diagnosis on his/her trip application or whose medical condition or special needs cannot be accommodated appropriately on the trip; cancellation fees apply.

Zika virus (2016)

Given the concern that some of our travelers have expressed about the Zika virus outbreak, we felt it was important to provide you with more information concerning how it may affect your program.

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and in some, but not all cases, produces mild symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Very rarely are symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have recommended that pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant take special precautions since it is suspected to be the cause of severe birth defects in babies born to mothers who contracted the virus while pregnant. You can find more information about the virus on the CDC website: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information.

Xperitas recommends that everyone traveling to Latin America bring their own insect repellent and apply it often – always after sunscreen. Wearing loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants is also an effective way to avoid bites.

The safety of our travelers is always our top priority and we regularly monitor the CDC and U.S. Department of State for updates on traveler health and travel alerts and warnings. Xperitas also has a cancellation protection policy in place that takes effect when the U.S. Department of State issues an official Travel Warning against travel to any country listed on your itinerary. The conditions required for this policy to be in effect have not yet been met. At this time Xperitas programming for 2016 will progress as usual. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Our regular cancellation policy applies to all cancellations, Zika-related or otherwise
  • The medical evacuation coverage provided to all Xperitas travelers by Core Travel Insurance does not respond to epidemic or pandemic disease, nor do the plan upgrades available through Core Travel Insurance.
  • We recommend that any participants who are concerned about traveling abroad purchase additional trip cancellation insurance that provides coverage for any reason.

We hope you find this information helpful. The safety of our travelers is of utmost importance to us, and we will continue to closely monitor the Zika situation.