In 2011 I participated in a volunteer project in Philadelphia in which an international team with members from France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Turkey and the United States helped with renovation and construction tasks. Additionally, we participated in several cultural activities and at the end of the project some of us went to visit New York and Boston. Let me share with you my experience as well as the application process, and how to participate in other volunteer projects around the world.
1. The Project
a. The place and the team
Most of the time we did renovation tasks in the First Colored Wesley Methodist Church and the Community Education Center headquarters building. Our team leader was Ron from the United States and we were nine participants: Antoine from France, Lino from Germany, Debora and Lorenzo from Italy, Ahn, Caroline and Jhon from Korea, Dilara from Turkey and me from Mexico.
During the project we had renovation tasks in the Church and Development Center but we also enjoyed cultural visits in the city, learnt from each others cultures with international nights, chilled at the rooftop of the house, went shopping downtown, swam in the local pool, and took advantage of the weekends to go to a Baseball Game and visit Atlantic City.
We helped painting, repairing broken windows and doors, cleaning, and in general just fixing any construction defect of the Church and Development Center.
We had the chance to visit several places in Phily and between these places we went to Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were signed. This place is considered UNSECO World Heritage Site.
c. Free Time
Each night was the turn of a different country. The participants gave a presentation and cooked typical food.
Chilling in the rooftop
The house where we were staying had a very cool rooftop with an awesome view from the city. It was particularly good because it had an inflatable pool!
Downtown was only 10 minutes away by bus so some us us took advantage of that and went shopping to the malls.
Swimming in the local pool
Nearby our house there was a local pool which we visited a couple times because the weather was very hot.
d. The Weekends
We had two free weekends and the first one we went to Atlantic City and the second one to a Baseball Game.
This was a great way to have fun as a team. We went so see the casinos and then we had lunch at the beach, played volley ball and chilled while taking the sun.
This was the first time in my life I assisted to a baseball game and I had tons of fun with the team.
2. Additional information
The project took place in Philadelphia, in a neighborhood which was around 10 minutes aways from Downtown by bus.
The team was staying in a a house which was very simple but comfortable.
Food was provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each person cooked its own breakfast and lunch but dinner was usually cooked by the members from each country to taste traditional plates.
At the end of the project some of us took advantage of the proximity to New York City and Boston ato visit both places.
3. Application Process
Start your application
This project was offered by the American organization Volunteers For Peace. You can apply depending on your nationality in these ways:
a. If you are from Mexico
I participated through Vive Mexico, which is a placement company, or in other words, a company that acts as an intermediary taking a fee (1,700 MXN, approx. 83 USD) to place you in the volunteer project. You can go to its website and see its complete list of volunteer projects around the world.
b. If you are from other country rather than Mexico
You can look for a placement company in your country, look for it here: How to find paid volunteer projects abroad
None. Accommodation and food provided but you need to pay for your airplane ticket to Philadelphia.
4. How to participate in other international volunteer projects
There are volunteer projects in many countries all around the world. Some ask for a participation fee but others are paid, which means that you’ll only have to pay for your airplane ticket to get there and you’ll be provided with free accommodation and food.
You can read the post How to find paid volunteer projects abroad to know in which websites you will find databases containing all these projects and also you can read about my experience volunteering abroad in these posts:
In the Volunteer Abroad section, you can find more experiences of volunteer projects abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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