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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Conscious Travel: How to slow down your travel pace

Whether it is the desire to see as much of a country as possible in only a short period of time, or the habit of planing your free time as efficient as possible: there are many reasons why we sometimes fail to consciously experience our travel destination. Do you want to immerse into the local culture and learn more about the country and its people on your next trip? This blog article advice on slow and conscious traveling!

 

Have you ever returned back home from a trip and thought about all the fantastic things you have experienced while abroad? You will surely look at the photos taken during your trip. Suddenly you ask yourself: The woman in the colorful dress, who collected seagrass at low tide on the beach, what will she use it for? The children who always greeted you in the street from afar – what does their school look like? The man next to you on the bus who helped you to get off at the right stop. Where was he traveling to?

What does it mean to travel „slowly“ and „consciously“? The answer is simple: you choose your own pace!

As travelers we all have our own ideas about how much time we want to spend in one country and how we want to spend it. However, for many travelers, it is their contacts with local people and their culture that make the journey a special experience.

If you feel that you lack the connection to local people and their culture during your travels, this is a good opportunity to make your journey slower and more conscious!

Every week, we will provide advice about slow and conscious traveling here:

# 1: Take your time!

Instead of traveling to another location every day and spending every night in another hostel, spend at least three days in one place! In this way you automatically decelerate your journey. You do not have to set yourself the goal of traveling the whole country in three weeks. Your travel experience can be just as intense and exciting when you spend three weeks in just one place. It also gives you the opportunity to meet people on-site – be it a friendly conversation with the man who runs the fruit stall on the street corner you pass every day or an invitation to a local family‘s home.

Traveling slowly and consciously will give you more time to perceive your surroundings and to get to know them better. Allow yourself to absorb and process all the new impressions in your destination. In this way, you are not only much more likely to have the opportunity to mingle with local people, but also to learn from these experiences!

#2 Stay with a local host family!

Staying with a host family is probably the easiest way to get in touch with locals in your travel destination! Not only will you see and experience how people live but there are also the little things you will notice: How often do the neighbors come to visit? Do they bring something to eat or will family and friends often cook together? How do the family members greet each other? What do the family members do for a living ? Where do they buy their groceries? What does the family do together in the evenings?

However, it is not just everyday family life that you will learn about – moreover, host families are inexhaustible sources of local knowledge when it comes to cultural norms, habits, or values.

You can book accommodation with host families on various online platforms. In addition, there are travel agents who can organize this for you. An alternative option are online networks, where people offer free accommodation for travelers in their home.

#3 Volunteer, intern or work abroad!

Whether a Working Holiday abroad, an internship or volunteer placement in another country: Working and volunteering abroad gives you numerous insights in how the locals pursue their jobs, how they interact with each other, how they combine their personal and professional life, what matters to them and many more.

Work & Travel, internships or volunteering abroad give you the opportunity to really get to know a country from an inside perspective. You work with local colleagues and get to know new ways of communicating and working.

In many countries around the world there are opportunities to volunteer, do internships or even work for a while.

World Unite! can assist you in finding suitable options. Visit us for inspiration on your conscious stay abroad!

#4 Meet up with locals!

 

With the help of several applications, you have the possibility to meet locals for a drink or walk. There are various Apps which allow connecting travelers to locals. Many locals are interested in showing you around, inviting you to a family dinner or practicing their language skills.

Next week’s post will be about which means of public transport can contribute to a sustainable travel experience!

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Media and Journalism Internship in China – Amalia’s internship experience in Beijing

Between the golden times of an empire and a futuristic city: Amalia from Italy spent two months in Beijing, where she completed a media and journalism internship. Read more about why Amalia wants to return to China soon again after her internship. 

When I graduated from High School I was, as it happens to many, very confused about my future and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Just one month before the start of the semester I decided to major in Chinese and Chinese Culture at the University of Venice.

This was an improvised decision and the fact that I had no particular interest in China beforehand didn’t really make the best student out of me right away. 🙂 Although during three years of University I had grown a wider interest for everything concerning China I still had not developed a real connection to it.

That’s why I decided that I had to travel to China and discover it for myself.

Many of my fellow students did exchange semesters at Chinese universities but I knew from their stories that they mostly spent time with other foreigners.  I wanted to have an experience where I could be part of the Chinese everyday life and not somewhere on a “Foreigners in Beijing“-Party.

When I found World Unite! I knew that it was what I was looking for, not only did they help me to find an internship that was suitable for me but they also provided me with what I needed, especially because it was my first time in the country and I didn’t know what to expect. I vividly remember when I was waiting at the Maan Coffee shop at the airport for Alex, who is the coordinator in charge for interns in Beijing, to pick me up.

At that point I was a little scared, I had no idea what was going to be outside the airport. What if China was going to disappoint me? When Alex arrived, everything was easiy all of a sudden. We took a cab and there I was right in the middle of Sanlitun, a modern and fancy area of Beijing. This was also the area where I was going to live for 2 months.

To get to know each other we ate some noodles, Alex provided me with a Chinese SIM card, and then we took a bike (believe it or not, bike sharing is BIG in China right now) to get to the subway Station, so I could navigate my way around.

On my first internship day, Alex accompanied me to my internship placement and introduced me to my new colleagues. I was an intern at “Pandaily” a small Media company or more specifically  a “Tech Media Start Up”, my colleagues were all young, full of energy and creative. I was lucky to work in such a friendly environment.

Sometimes I would get frustrated because my Chinese was just not good enough. Actually I even realized that it was pretty bad. Most of the time I wasn’t able to understand important parts of a conversation and during meetings I had to ask my colleagues for translations all the time. It is tough to sit in a room without having a slight idea of what is going on around you. But everyday I picked up some more words and started to feel more confident, I even started to attend Chinese lessons twice a week. I really needed to practive my conversation skills, since at my University I had gained mostly written skills and in China I finally had the opportunity to put my language skills to practice.

I made new friends, Chinese friends and also other foreigners. I talked a lot and was excited about what each day would bring, and totally fell in love with Chinese food.

Two months just passed by so fast that I didn’t even have time to get homesick or even to feel some kind of culture shock that everybody always talks about. In Beijing there is optimism, there are opportunities and it feels like it is somewhere between ancient golden times of an Empire and a futuristic gigantic city. But at the same time it is a place where people sit together and share their food from the same bowl and that’s something that I can’t wait to go back to.

Read more about Amalia’s internship here.

 


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Sea Turtle Conservation & Recycling in Zanzibar

Melanie from Germany tells about her volunteer work in our sea turtle conservation and recycling project in Zanzibar!

My time in Zanzibar was amazing. My volunteer project did not only allow me to work with the turtles, but also gave me an insight into life in Zanzibar. The sea turtle sanctuary in Zanzibar is located on a beautiful beach: Everyday I enjoyed gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, turquoise blue sea and white sand. However, it is important to remember that many local people live a very modest life and have to make do with very simple means. My advice to future volunteers is therefore to familiarize themselves in advance with the reality of life in Zanzibar.

My tasks in the turtle sanctuary included to change the water in the pools of the baby turtles everyday  and to clean the shells of the big turtles. In addition, the sanctuary treats sick turtles until they are well enough to be released into the ocean.

In addition to working in the sea turtle sanctuary, volunteers have the opportunity to support a recycling project. With the help of volunteers, Lisa, the project coordinator, draws attention to the waste disposal problem on the island.

After volunteering, I traveled the island for another week.

I am very grateful for my stay and the time on site and can only recommend the experience!

Kind regards,

Melanie

Here you can find all information about Melanie’s Project.


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Reading & Afternoon Care for Children in Nicaragua

Gioconda Belli, Ernesto Cardenal, Ruben Darío or Sergio Ramírez: Many important writers come from #Nicaragua! Do you love reading and would like to share your passion for books with children and young people? As a volunteer in the Minibiblioteca, a mobile library in the colonial city of León, you help to animate people to read! Here you can read the review of Anna from Munich. 


I am Anna, twenty, from Munich and spent nine months in Nicaragua working on the Minibiblioteca project. I had an incredibly good time there that I will never forget.

Anna, have you been able to speak Spanish before traveling to Nicaragua?

Since I went to Nicaragua without any knowledge of Spanish, my first were exciting and sometimes challenging. But the Nicas were all very nice and I communicated with hands and feet. I was very happy about having decided to take 2 weeks of Spanish lessons at the
beginning. I learned a lot not only about the language but also about the culture. Over time, my Spanish got better and better, through the daily life, my host family and, of course, the time I spent in the project.

What were your tasks in the project?

My tasks in the project were a little different than expected, but I nevertheless I liked it very much. I have been mainly involved in childcare and the afternoon care of about 30
children (6-12 years old), a side project of the Minibiblioteca.

What was a typical daily routine in your project?

The children come to Center after school to do their homework. Usually, we first do a short short meditation / relaxation exercise with them. During their homework time, we would usually take a short break to serve the kids a small snack since the children do not always get something to eat at home. When everyone has finished their homewerk, we would start with the afternoon program. Volunteers can individually contribute to the program depending on their interests and may carry out own workshops with some of the children.

The Minibiblioteca offers a wide range of activities, among them English lessons, handicrafts, gardening, reading club, ballet, flute lessons, theater, chess, traditional dance, science experiments and math games.

I gave a workshop on recycling several times a week. We made handcrafts with recycled materials and I also tried to sensitize the children to environmental issues and to explain aspects of environmental protection in a vivid and exciting way. I also prepared and realized some of the other workshops together with the team. In general, I supported the team in everything they needed help with: courses, worksheets, planning, organizing and carrying out projects, tidying up and cleaning the center.

How was the cooperation in the team on site?

The staff and the Project management of the Minibiblioteca are all very nice. I felt like an important part of the team, participated in all meetings and felt very welcome at all times.

During my time in Nicaragua I learned a lot from the lovely children (although sometimes working with them can be quite exhausting) as well as from the staff. I was so sad to say goodbye to this wonderful country and to its great people at the end of my stay.

What did you do in your free time?

Apart from my work in the project, the time in Nicaragua was great! I often spend the weekends on the beach with fellow volunteers or with explored the country by taking a bus somewhere. I have made many great friendships with locals, other foreign volunteers and my host family.
Do you miss Nicaragua now that you are back home?

Now that I’m back, I miss so much about Nicaragua, for example, the Comedor around the corner, where we ate regularly or bought a bag of freshly fried Platanitos (plantains) on our way home, climbing volcanoes, enjoy salsa dancing in the bars as well as „bolsitas“ (frozen water ice from small plastic bags), or hitchhiking back home from the beach on an old pick up truck.

But most of all I miss the lightheartedness, the stress-free life and the warmth of the people there. Many of them although they own very little, always share everything with you.

It is impossible to summarize the nine months in such a short text, but in the end it was a wonderful experience, full of precious moments that I will never forget.

Warm regards,

Anna (Germany)

Read more About Anna’s Project here.

 


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Education, Art & Tourism Development in Zanzibar

Jördis from Germany volunteered in the Mother Nature Conservation Camp in Zanzibar for two months. She brought her skills as an artist into the design of the village school and a local pottery initiative. Here you can read more about her experiences:

I spent a wonderful time volunteerig in the Mother Nature Conservation Camp in Zanzibar. It was one of the best decision in my life to go there and to use my skills as an artist to design the local school facade of the nursery school in Kitogani. To work together with the school kids and to show them how to use their creativity was one of my biggest pleasures.

I also was happy to cooperate with the local pottery women where I gave a workshop to create little clay turtels as tourists gifts to support a local turtle and tortoise conservation program. There was the chance for me to support the local cave tourism as well as getting a deeper understanding in traditional plant medicine.

 

 

In total I learned a lot about the local culture, ways of life and traditions and I found a new family here. I am glad that World Unite! gave me the possibility to work closely with the local people and to support their projects and I would like to say thank you for that. I hope we will stay in touch and work together again at some time in the future!

All the best,

Jördis (Germany)

Read more about the Mother Nature Conservation Camp here.

 


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Waste Recycling Workshop at Village School in Zanzibar

Lisa, our coordinator for environmental conservation and recycling gives you an update about the recent activities in our sea turtle conservation and environmental education Project in Nungwi, Zanzibar. 

Hello from beautiful Zanzibar!

Did you know that we are following a community approach here in our Sea Turtle Conservation and Recycling Project? This means that we are trying to work with the village community of Nungwi to promote environmental conservation activities.

In our project we recycle garbage and make useful objects out of it. However, in order to avoid waste, it’s important that even the youngest members of a community can acquire knowledge and information about waste, waste separation and how to avoid waste. Therfore, our volunteers have come up with a special idea: From now on, we will regularly offer waste prevention workshops at the non-profit village school in Nungwi. The school is for cildren between three and six years.

In our first workshop, our volunteers and a teacher informed the kids about waste separation. Unfortunately, there is no functioning waste separation system on Zanzibar and often garbage is simply burned. The aim of our workshop was to teach the children why we should separate garbage to protect our environment. Meanwhile, our volunteers prepared a garbage separation system in the schoolyard, and then collected and separated garbage together with the children. We separated residual waste, recyclable waste (such as bottles) and compost waste.

We were pleased to see that many of the older children were able to apply what they had learned directly and assisted their younger classmates in the waste separation. In order to ensure the sustainability of our initiative, in the future we will regularly hold environmental education workshops at the village school. If you have ideas for workshops and want to get involved – Karibu!

Best regards from Zanzibar,

Lisa

Read more about our sea turtle and recycling project on this link.

 


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Ayurveda Internship in Jaipur, India

Do you want to travel abroad and gain new experiences for your job? Johannes from Germany is a physiotherapist and has completed an internship at an Ayurveda clinic in India to learn more about naturopathic treatment methods. In our blog, he talks about his experience. 

 

Johannes, tell us about your Ayurveda internship in India!

My internship was a great experience and everybody here took care of me. At the Ayurveda Clinic, the staff members shared their Chai Tea with me on a daily basis, and two of the staff members always translated for me, so I could talk to the patients, since not everyone here speaks English. Thus, I have learned a lot about the procedures in the clinic. I also learned a lot about the culture and the treatment methods: I feel I gained indepth experience in the field of naturopathy and how to produce ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, nothing is wasted!

What was your best experience in Jaipur?

One of my favorite memories is my visit to the Taj Mahal. I also visited many temples and forts in my free time. The buildings are very impressive.

What has left a special impression on you during your stay?

I will always remember the friendliness of the people. I got the impression that everyone around me was always trying to help me. During my entire stay I did not meet anybody who was in a bad mood. I felt like I was in good hands in a big family where everyone cares about everyone.

Would you recommend World Unite! to others?

Yes, World Unite! and the local coordinators in Jaipur are great and literally took care of everything. If you have problems, you can always contact the staff. Thank goodness I did not have any.

All in all, my stay was great and I wouldn‘t want to miss this experience!

Best regards,

Johannes, from Germany

Read more about our internships in India on http://www.world-unite.de/en!