World Unite! Volunteering, Internships, Cultural Travel

Volunteering, Internships and Intercultural Learning in Tanzania, Zanzibar, India, Morocco, Israel, Nicaragua, Bolivia, China, Japan, Ghana, Galapagos, Ecuador


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Baby Turtles Hatching in Zanzibar

Emily and Elisabeth are currently volunteering at the sea turtle sanctuary in Zanzibar. Last weekend they have been able to watch 75 new baby turtles hatching. Thank you for sharing your experiences and photos! 

The sea turtle sanctuary in Nungwi is dedicated to protect the endangered sea turtles in Zanzibar from extinction. From time to time, the sanctuary staff also collects turtle eggs and relocates them to a natural aquarium at the lagoon. The turtles are grown and finally released to the ocean. In the wild, turtles have a mere 1% survival rate from egg to sexual maturity, while at the aquarium the survival rate is much higher.

During my stay Zanzibar myself and some other volunteers had the chance to join a trip to Tumbatu island to look for turtle’s nests. The island is not accessible to tourists and it was a great honor for us to be allowed to go there.

We knew that nests are only found on very rare occasions and were therefore not expecting to really find any.

We reached an incredibly beautiful beach in Tumbatu and started to look for the nests. Our third try was successful! Since the nest was located close to the water we had to evacuate it and took it to the sanctuary.

The eggs were buried deeply and we had to carefully dig them out. Each egg was placed in a basin filled with sand. It is very important not to turn or twist the soft little eggs in order not to affect the babies. While digging the eggs out, some premature turtles already hatched so that we were actually able to welcome our first baby turtles which was incredibly exciting and, as I said, an extremely rare occasion for volunteers.

After having prepared all 75 eggs for the transport back to the sanctuary, on our way back we looked out for animals captured in fishing nets, but luckily we did not find any.

Only two days later almost all turtles had hatched and after 24 hours in the sand (during which the plastron has to close), the animals are now in the water. It will still take them some practice to get orientation in the water, but so far all 75 babies look quite happy.

It was an unbelievable experience to be part of such a wonderful phenomenon of nature.

You can find all details about this volunteering program on this link

 

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Crossing Boundaries Through Music: Anna’s Volunteer Placement at the Music Academy in Zanzibar

Our participant Anna-Katharina has completed a 6 weeks volunteer assignment at the Music Academy in Zanzibar. In our blog Anna-Katharina describes why besides musical experience she also gained a lot of life experience during her stay abroad: 

During August and September 2017 I did a volunteer assignment at the Dhow Countries Music Academy in Zanzibar Stown Town and had a wonderful time there that I will never forget. The staff of the academy and, above all, the headmaster are incredibly warm and loving people who have integrated me into their work straight away. Also, the students at the academy were very friendly and immediately gave me the feeling of belonging to the them and to the Academy.

I taught violin at the Music Academy and I will also begin to study violin at university-level in October 2017.

The way of playing music in Zanzibar as well as the local music style, differ greatly from the way I learned to play music in Germany. During my time in Zanzibar, I tried both to learn about local music and to teach European music to my students. The students were always very ambitious and I was able to observe an immense progress while I was there.

Since my stay was partly during the holiday season of the academy, when no regular teaching takes place, I participated in other activities and tasks at the academy as well and there was always something to do for me.

My favorite part was getting drumming lessons from a local student. I also got lessons in Taraab music, the traditional music style in Zanzibar. However, Taraab is very different from the Western notation system that I am used to and it is very difficult to play it perfectly.

Since there were unfortunately problems with my airline, I could not bring my own violin to Zanzibar and I instead borrowed a violin at the academy. My recommendation if you would like to bring a musical instrument to Zanzibar, is to choose an older instrument that you can then leave in the academy as a gift.

I am incredibly grateful for the vast amount of musical and life experience that I have gained during my time at the music academy. For all those who are interested in music, I highly recommend a volunteer assignment there!

Best regards,

Anna-Katharina, Germany

Would you like to be part of a musical exchange, share your musical knowledge with people from another country and in return learn about local music styles abroad? Find more details about this program here


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Hotel Jobs at a Ryokan – Working Holidays in Japan

Our participant André has recently completed his Working Holidays at a “Ryokan“, a traditional Japanese Hotel. In our blog, you can read about André’s experience in the land of the rising sun. 

ryokanheader

I came to Japan through a Working Holiday Visa which gave me the opportunity to work in a Ryokan in Nukabira for around 4 months. Nukabira is a small town in Kamishihoro in Hokkaido, 1 hour North from Obihiro. It is located close to lake Obihiro, surrounded by mountains. The region is famous for its hot springs, as well as for wintersports and it is also a huge conservation area, so that wild animals like deers or foxes could often be seen close to the Hotel.

The Ryokan is a family run hotel and I felt right at home straight from the beginning, thanks to the family’s hospitality and helpfulness. Despite my moderate Japanese skills, they allowed me to help in all areas of the hotel, from house keeping to preparing meals, helping with service and guest relations, for instance welcoming the newly arriving guests. Thanks to this, the work was always different and I have been able to learn a lot.

The owners were very patient and also encouraged me to speak to the guests, who were sometimes surprised about being welcomed by a non-Japanese staff but were usually open and interested. Whenever I needed any assistance, my colleagues would give me a hand.

I will never forget the trips in the surrounding area. The Ryokan serves both local and seasonal dishes, and whenever the weather and the flow of guests would allow it, we went out into the nature and collected a variety of the seasonal ingredients ourselves.

Last but not least I want to mention the centerpiece of the Ryokan, the three Onsen. The first one is a mixed bath outside; and then there is one for women and one for men inside the hotel.

I would also like to mention my accommodation at the Ryokan: Every staff member gets an own room and three meals a day.

There is also a small shop and a post office including an ATM. A bus departs from Nukabira four times a day (via Kamishihoro-shi to Obihiro and back).

I had a wonderful time in Nukabira and will leave Japan with lots of great memories and new friends. I am very happy and thankful to have been give this opportunity.

Best,

André, Germany

Would you like to work in a Japanese Ryokan as well? Here you can find all details about this job opportunity. 

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Wildlife Conservation in Kenya: Léa & Nadege’s volunteer placement in a National Park

Today’s report reaches us from our volunteers Léa and Nadege from France, who have carried out a volunteer placement at the Lumo Wildlife Sanctuary in Kenya.

We really enjoyed our placement at the Lumo Sancturary in Kenya. Our stay was perfect, we learnt so many things and we met great people.

All the staff at the sanctuary was really nice to us. We particularly enjoyed talking to the rangers about their lifestyle, their culture, the differences between our country and their country, etc.

We stayed at a volunteer accommodation in the sanctuary, in a room with two separate 2 beds, and there were also other volunteers staying at the sanctuary during our time. There were also Aafrican students wo were doing an internship at Lumo which was really nice, because they taught us a lot of things too.

There was a cook, who cooked for us everyday. We learned to prepare traditional Kenyan dishes from him which was really interesting.

There was a European shower and running water, although there was no hot water available (but it didn’t matter). When it was chilly, the cook just heated some water for us, so we had warm water to shower.

Everyone was so nice to us and we are still in touch with some rangers and the African students.

We want to thank everyone at World Unite! who helped us to find this place and to arrange this stay, particularly the World Unite! team members who assisted us when we were in Africa, especially Miriam (the local coordinator who took care of us during our induction and orientation in Moshi. At the beginning, we were a little nervous about traveling to Kenya by ourselves, but Miriam provided at lot of useful information and advice so there was nothing to worry about anymore.

We are really happy because volunteering in Kenya was just a great experience, and we think we will do it again one day. We would definitely book again with World Unite! Thank you all for enabling us this wonderful experience that we will never forget.

Kind regards,

Léa

Excited about joining a wildlife conservation program in Kenya? Find the details here

 


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Jil’s Nursing Internship in Bolivia

World Unite! participant Jil is about to finish her nursing internship at a hospital in La Paz, Bolivia. You can read more about Jil’s experiences abroad here: 

My time in La Paz is now coming to an end, and it’s unbelievable how many things I experienced  during my stay here. I immediately felt very comfortable at my host family and we did lots activities and excursions together in La Paz and the surrounding area.

Also the time in the hospital was an unforgettable experience. Right from the beginning I felt part of the team and despite my basic Spanish skills, none of my questions remained unanswered.

During the weekends I usually did tips and excursions to Coroico or to Lake Titicaca. Bolivia has so much more to offer than one can experience in just one month.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible and made my time here so special.

Best regards,

Jil, Germany

You are interested in an elective placement, medical volunteering, nursing internship or final year rotation abroad? Visit us on www.world-unite.net/en to learn more about our various options! 


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How can I get involved with the local community during my stay abroad?

As a volunteer or intern abroad, and with a creative drive and some self-initiative you can contribute to the local community of your host country in a variety of ways, even beyond the actual activities in your host organization. Here are some examples of previous participants of our programs:

From our point of view, the contact with people in your host country is one of the most enriching experiences during a volunteer placement or internship abroad: Through them, you will get to know the local way of working, communication and thinking and learn first hand what people in your host country are interested in, how they feel, how they act, and what moves them.

Here are some current examples of local involvement of our participants of our programs:

Children are often a door-opener to new cultures. The participants in our sea turtle and environmental protection project in Zanzibar have approached the community in Nungwi though local children and an afternoon filled with games and sports on the beach.

The concept is quite simple: volunteers and children paint pictures in the sand and guess the answers of each other’s paintings, both in Kiswahili and English. In the end, children and volunteers taught each other sports exercises.

What a great idea for both sides to learn a new language and a wonderful way to get involved with people in your host country!

Our participant Walter who worked as a volunteer at the Village Community Banks at Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, has also had a brilliant idea:

With his background knowledge in graphical design and finance, Walter did not only support his own volunteer project, but also designed logos for other NGOs or helped them implement their business plans:

“My time in Tanzania was both unforgettable and enjoyable – it was a blast! Although, I was only planning to work with KIVINET/VICOBA, I ended up working with about 6 NGOs; ranging from environmental related to educational. Ultimately, I worked on everything from business plan development to creating logos. Also, was able to secure some funds from US to buy school supplies for children and replace rusted/leaky roofs on the outskirts of Moshi. Sometimes I only slept like 2 hours in three days, but almost never felt tired due to the great atmosphere, African sun and the great people I met. I am still planning to do some work remotely and continue to stay in touch.“

We would like to sincerely thank Walter for his dedication and initiative!

What ideas do you have to contribute to your local community during your stay abroad? We are looking forward to your comments and suggestions!


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“… And things always turn out differently“ – Juliane’s volunteer placement as a teacher in Zanzibar 

Juliane from Switzerland volunteered as a teacher in the village of Muungoni in Zanzibar and provided us with a detailed report about her stay! In our blog, Juliane describes why she thinks that being flexible and adaptable is key during a volunteer placement abroad.

Arrival and first week

I have spent a total of 5 weeks in Tanzania and Zanzibar. During my first week I traveled Tanzania. Afterwards, I lived in the village of Muungoni in Zanzibar for 4 weeks and volunteered as a teacher at the village school.

To sum up my trip to Tanzania: Beautiful sceneries, a colorful and diverse culture, a red clay soil and lush green landscapes – Tanzania is a wonderful country for travelers! A two-day safari took me to the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. At these National Parks you can watch all kinds of African wildlife: Elephants, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, hippos, rhinoceroses and even lions.

I truly recommend doing a safari in Tanzania!

For me, the Maasai people were particularly fascinating. On the one hand, many Maasai still life a very simple and traditional life. However, you will also see many of them already using smartphones or riding modern bicycles on the road, which I often had to smirk about.

On the photo you can see some Maassai kids at Ngorongoro National Park. 

Massaai Kids

I highly recommend everyone to travel Tanzania! Tanzania is an incredibly beautiful and extremely friendly country with a stunning nature and wildlife, and a fascinating culture.

By the way, you will meet volunteers from all over the world at many locations in Tanzania and I think that Tanzania is an excellent choice for volunteering, simply because there are so many things to do and to explore (Kilimanjaro, Safaris, Maasai, Katzensprung to the borders of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda).

Arrival in Muungoni (Zanzibar)

I traveled from Arusha to Daressalam by bus and from there to Zanzibar by ferry. The bus ride from Arusha to Dar-es-Salaam takes around 12-14 hours, depending on the traffic in and around Daressalam, and costs about USD 15. If left Arusha early in the morning at around 06:00 and arrived in Dar at night around 07:00. I spent the night in a hotel near the port to catch the ferry to Zanzibar on the next morning.

Despite the long journey I have enjoyed taking the bus because I got to see lots of stunning landscapes during the ride. However, for those who prefer a more comfortable trip, I recommend a flight from Arusha to Zanzibar.

In Zanzibar, I was picked up by Abdi (World Unite! coordinator) who took me to Muungoni where I was warmly received by Mr. Mohammed (project coordinator in Muungoni) who also introduced me to the village.

I really liked the village and being somewhere in the middle of a tropical forest, as well as the humid and warm jungle-like climate. It felt just right to be there.

My accommodation in Muungoni

My accommodation is a pretty and quite spacious cottage with a thatched roof, consisting of 3 rooms: A bedroom, a functional bathroom, and a living room with tables and chairs. Of course, the standard is rather simple, but there is basically everything you need. Compared to most of the villagers’ houses, my accommodation is a fairly comfortable place to stay.

The bathroom has a western toilet, sink and shower. There is even running water, although it might happen that there is no water at all during some days. If that’s the case, Mr. Mohammed will usually bring me water for showering in buckets. Since the water pressure is usually low, I shower by scooping water out of the bucket, which is surprisingly easy for me. I find these kind of showers just as refreshing and efficient as regular ones!

My accommodation in Muungoni

My first days in Muungoni 

I was unfortunately not able to start my teaching placement during the first as Eid-al-Fitr celebrations (fast breaking festival at the end of Ramadan) were taking place and the school remained closed. However, I had the great opportunity to be part of Eid!

On the first day of the 4-day festival, a huge celebration was held on the premises of the village school, including an acrobatic show.

Eid-al-Fitr celebrations after Ramadan

I particularly loved how people dressed up during Eid: Everyone was wearing breathtakingly beautiful clothes, especially the children: Magnificent colors, white veils, and all children and even the newborn babies wear strong eye makeup (which I needed to get used to first, but somehow looked quite pretty).

The festival took 4 days in total but on the following days celebrations were limited to the evening hours, when people would meet up in overcrowded festival tents to watch music and theater performances as well as comedy sketches.

Beach day and snorkeling trip

During my first week in Muungoni I also spent 2 days at the beach in Jambiani where I did a snorkeling trip. My friend Ali joined me on the boat, and although he can not swim I think that he still enjoyed the trip. A wonderful day that I will never forget!

 

The children in the village

The children in the village are absolutely heart-warming. I don’t have any words to describe the feeling when I arrived at the school everyday, and a crowd of around 100 children was running towards me, excitedly shouting „Hello, hello, hello, hello, how are you, how are you“.

The girls in Zanzibar already wear veils from quite a young age. This may appear strange to us (at least it did to me when I was still in Switzerland), but the veils are absolutely pretty and the fabrics are airy and light and you don’t have to worry that the children might be very hot.

Kids at Muungoni Nursery School

School trip to Stone Town

We also arranged an excursion to Stone Town for the 100 children attending Nursery School. The means of transportation were something quite in need of getting used to, since theoretically not even half of the children would have fitted into the bus from my point of view. However, I was absolutely amazed and touched how uncomplicated and adaptable the children are here. 2-3 children squeezed in one seat and yet not a single one of them was crying or complaining, some of them even sleeping when standing.

“There are worlds in between them and the children in my country. I think one of my key learning experiences from this journey is that nothing about human behavior is „naturally given“ but rather learned and a matter of adaption, even the need for food or for safety. “

 

Furniture for the Nursery School 

A very special moment for all of us – and probably a significant moment in the history of the nursing school in Muungoni – was when the furniture sponsored by Heike (World Unite! volunteer) was finally set up in the classrooms.

Before… 

This is how the rooms looked before: The children sit on the floor in the classroom.

… and after! 

The new furniture has arrived and I suggested to arrange the tables this way instead of in rows.

It was so adorable how the children naturally accepted the new tables and chairs just as if that was most ordinary to them.

Teaching

Since my main task here is teaching, I would like to add a few words about this topic.

Although on arrival I was assured that I would not have to teach independently on my first day of school, but would rather observe and help, this was not the case when I arrived in class on Monday morning.

All 100 children had been put into one class, eagerly awaiting me, including the teacher who just said: “Karibu! You teach, welcome!“

My protests and explanations that I had not been expecting to teach on my first day remained unheard and I finally taught and improvised a lesson for 100 children between 4-6 years, sitting on the ground and enjoying school incredibly much!

This is how the everyday life looks like here: Things will always happen differently than what you might expect. People often don’t make any plans reaching far into the future and if so, the plan might still be subject to change. 

Teaching methods

The children here almost exclusively learn through verbal repetition in chorus. I am currently trying to change this structure bit by bit by teaching them to answer the question „What is that?“ (by pointing at something that they already know the word for in English. i.e. colors).

All in all, it can be said that I had to completely change my teaching style compared to what I do in Switzerland. But I am enjoying my time here and have a great time learning and adapting to the local teaching styles.

Doctor’s visit in Muungoni

I have also kick-started some smaller projects during my time here, including the sorting and distribution of donated materials, and in addition, I was focusing on a health care aspect, meaning that I was having an eye on sick children.

After I had noticed a boy with a worrying skin rash, I decided to organize a doctor’s visit in the village.

The majority of the people in Muungoni largely live with very little money (self-supporters through agriculture and farming), and thus many people can’t afford to see a doctor, or only so if there is no other way. Amon the children, infectious skin diseases are common and they are just rarely taken to a doctor.

Together with Ali we went to a hospital in Stone Town and consulted with a dermatologist. I asked him if he was willing to come to our village for a visit to treat all children of the nursery school who were in need for medical treatment. Only two days later, a visit set up for a flat rate of USD 200 (considering that the Doctor treated around 70 children, that was a very modest rate!).

 

 

Learning Swahili 

I am constantly trying to improve my Swahili skills. In Muunogni it is a huge benefit if you speak at least some words in Kiswahili. The more, the better, because most people do not speak English in the village. Also, people will always be happy if they notice that you are eager to learn and can communicate at least with basic words and phrases.

Leisure time & friends

The people in Muungoni are absolutely friendly, curious, communicative, and very hospitable. When I walked through the village, I heard the children shout my name every few seconds.

I was touched deeply by the fact how much people in the village seemed to trust me. Sometimes I got the impression that they thought I knew everything better and did everything right and I realized that they valued my opinion a lot. Likewise, I always tried to anticipate or to ask them for their opinions.

It is important to bear in mind that the trust people showed me in Muungoni is an expression of the postcolonial relationship between black and white people. This relationship has a significant impact on everyday life, and I will come up with further explanations on this topic in my next post.

On this last photo you can see me, my friend Ali and his sweet daughter. 

 

Ali, his daughter and I