Volunteering – a unique travel experience

Volunteer travel is a unique way to see the world. It’s also a great way to take home from your travels so much more than just snapshots and souvenirs. Voluntourism is, perhaps, the latest branch of ecotourism, but the two still differ markedly.

Whereas the former seeks to make a positive mark on the places it allows people to visit, the latter seeks to simply minimise its impact. You could say that one tries to talk and engage with its destination whilst the other seeks to shrink into the background.

Voluntourism allows people from all walks of life to contribute to making an exceptional difference to the life of communities, or the environment of destinations, all over the world. It does this in a safe, responsible and supported way. Volunteers can enjoy an exciting travel adventure abroad while they learn new skills and engage in vitally important environmental and community projects.

Opportunities

There are endless opportunities for voluntourism in far-flung locations across the globe. You can choose to volunteer on projects involving teaching, care work, community initiatives, medical schemes, archaeological digs, conservation, human rights, business, journalism and many other fields. You can also choose to volunteer from as little as two weeks up to several months.

Archeological dig continues to discover new artifacts on USACE construction site in Wiesbaden

As a volunteer you will engage with a local community in a unique way and often live with local families. You will get to see a side to their life that is completely inaccessible to the average tourist who simply passes through rather than pitches in.

What volunteers say

Specialists, such as Projects Abroad, have been offering opportunities for volunteers for more than 20 years, so you can be sure of the validity of the organisations they work with and can hear from former volunteers about the experiences they’ve had.

One thing that clearly comes through from stories told by volunteers is that no matter how much they gave to the work they did they still felt that they’d taken home even more. Without even including the benefits to the projects and communities you work with, here are some of the benefits for you.

A sense of balance

One of the more obvious benefits of volunteering is the chance to do something to help a cause, place or people you feel passionately about. For some it may simply be a sense that they are very fortunate to live the way they do and a chance to give something back to society as a way of balancing the scales.

Unique experiences

As a regular tourist there is only so much you can see or do. You are unlikely to be able to care for young lion cubs in South Africa, live with nomads in Mongolia or join an archaeological dig on Inca sites in Peru.

International and Haitian volunteers worked together to dig the drain
New skills

Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills, try out a new field, gain experience in an area of work and make your CV stand out from the crowd. Picking up a language is also a fortunate by-product of spending time abroad with a local community. In fact, many volunteer projects will build in time for you to learn the local language.

New friends

As a volunteer you are never alone. You will meet and befriend locals but also work closely in an international community of volunteers. With new friends all over the globe you’ll have your next few holidays already wrapped up!

See the world differently

The voluntourist has the unique opportunity to see the world in a different way. After their adventure they are also likely to see the world differently, having learnt how others live and really experienced a culture and place rather than just scratched its surface.

Resource box 
Why I chose to volunteer abroad
Student article from the Guardian

Voluntourism
Explore this useful resource on all things voluntourism

The benefits of volunteering
Consider the many benefits of volunteering

where in the world would you like to volunteer?
South America
India
Africa
Eastern Europe
China
  
pollcode.com free polls 

5 things that make Canadians great dates

If you’ve had the pleasure of dating a Canadian, you’ll know why they make such terrific partners. From eligible men in Montreal to fun-loving Kamloops singles, these fun-loving Northerners are wonderful company, have a great range of interests, and are affectionate to boot. They’re also very polite, which makes them perfect for bringing home to your parents, but they’re confident, which means they’ll chat you up no matter where they meet you. Here are five reasons our Canuck brothers and sisters make terrific dates:

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They’re fun to be around

Canadians are a whole heap of fun to be around, infusing their dates with great company, hilarious stories and a good-natured sense of humor. They’re self-deprecating and able to laugh at themselves, which makes spending time in their company lots of fun.

They have a wide range of interests

Canadians are interested in lots of different things – from hockey to hiking and everything in between. Canadians sure do love their sport, so while you may not get anything out of your man or woman during a Maple Leafs or Senators game, they’ll talk happily about the subject (and many other things) once the game is over. Canadians also have a love of art and culture, with some of their bigger cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver home to some of the greatest cultural institutions in the world.

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They’re very polite

There’s an old joke that seems to reflect Canadians’ well-behaved nature:  How do you get twenty drunken Canadians out of your swimming pool? Answer: You say, “Please get out of the pool.” It’s true that the people of the Great White North are especially polite, which makes them not only terrific dating material but also means you can confidently bring your boyfriend home to mom or dad, safe in the knowledge that they’ll show up on time, bring flowers and clean up after dinner. Awwwwww.

They’re confident

When it comes to dating, we all know that confidence is king. It’s much easier to date someone who is sure of themselves, and Canadians tend to have that inner confidence. They’re also great at chatting up new people, whether they’re in a bar, at the gym or even just on the street. They’re even confident when it comes to online dating sites: eHarmony Canada is home to many thousands of Canadian singles looking for their next great relationship.

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They speak the world’s most romantic language

It’s commonly known that French is the world’s sexiest language, and Canada is a bilingual country where many people speak French. So whether you’re holding hands through the cobbled streets of Quebec city or strolling through peaceful Montreal, you’ll hear this romantic tongue being spoken fluently and easily. 

Resource Box

Hockey Canada
The official guide to hockey in Canada.

Tips for dating a Canadian
Glamour.com’s online guide to dating in Canada.

The Best 30 Things Ever to Come from Canada
A fun guide to some of the best things to come from the Great White North.

Holly Johnson:

I hope they are found safe and well…

Originally posted on Metro News:

A forecasted break in the weather could be the best opportunity for searchers to find a group of Canadians missing in Antarctica.

Steve Rendle of New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre said skies were expected to clear in the area Saturday morning local time — Friday afternoon in Alberta — which could allow rescue teams to fly over where the plane owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air is believed to have gone down.

The Twin Otter began transmitting signals from its emergency locator beacon early Wednesday. Aircraft tried twice to spot it in the mountainous area where it went down but failed due to heavy, low cloud.

If the weather clears, Rendle said they hope to establish a base of operations at a runway and fuel depot located at the Beardmore Glacier, about 50 kilometres from the presumed crash site.

From there, helicopters would be dispatched to search for the craft.

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Safety tips for snowmobilers

One of the best ways to discover the beautiful landscapes of Canada is to travel by snowmobile. You get to see the countryside while safely seating on a bike instead of walking in the snow and getting cold. You can in fact go to place that wouldn’t be accessible by foot. But a snowmobile isn’t a car and because you are going in the wild, there are things to respect to ensure your safety.

Before and during the journey

Snowmobiling is considered to be a sport, and as such can be dangerous. Precautions must be therefore taken to keep yourself safe and this has to be done when you are on the trail as well as before you set out. The most important step of all is to inform someone of what you are going to do, whether you have a final destination or where your journey will take you. Estimate your time of return or arrival so that someone knows when you are late. Check your snowmobile before leaving and service it regularly, wear appropriate clothing, and carry first aid and survival kits with you.

When you are on the trail, stay on it, and on the right side. Always try to ride on a trail, and within your capabilities. If you are travelling at night, slow down and avoid road shoulders.
Canada is a great place and going around the countryside on snowmobile is always a unique experience, so keep safe to enjoy it completely.

Squamish – Canada’s first rock climbing destination

When thinking of Canada, rock climbing- or more specifically bouldering (climbing short problems without ropes)- probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But if you were to go to Squamish, on the West Coast, to the north of Vancouver, in the summer, you would find dozens or more of climbers attempting to climb rocks in the neighboring forests.

Squamish

Many factors contribute to make this town and its surroundings one of the best bouldering place in North America. First, the temperate climate and the fact that the boulders are always in the shade allows climbing in the summer. Indeed, as bouldering involves short but intense efforts, heat isn’t a good thing. The friction is also greatly reduced on the granite when it is hot. There are also so many boulders that you can find over 2,500 problems to climb, with a potential for more to be added.

Climbing for all in beautiful nature

There are so many different types of problems that everyone can find something to climb, whether you are an experimented boulderer or a novice, whether you like hard problems or are looking for nice lines to climb. The vibrant community of climbers makes the place a pleasant spot and some people set up camp for the whole of the summer.

Bouldering

The West Coast of Canada is also a beautiful mountain environment, with lush forests and a scenic estuary. Squamish has everything climbers want, a lot challenging problems, a pleasant social environment, and beautiful natural surroundings. This is a great way to discover Canada and be active during the holidays.

Cleaning up the Niagara River

Originally posted on reeves report:

Niagara River © RokaB - Fotolia

Niagara River © RokaB – Fotolia.com

The Niagara River has come a long way since the 1980s. One would still be advised not to drink the water, swim in some of the public beaches or eat the fish you reel in, but the latest report on the remediation plan reveals a river recovering from decades of abuse.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Niagara River Remedial Action Plan, first agreed to in 1987, a report from Niagara College engineering professor Anne Michaud outlines the steps taken to improve the river on both sides of the border.

The action plan consists of two separate but connected strategies from the Ontario and New York State governments to clean up the heavily polluted river.

And the results have been impressive. Despite the cautions listed above, since 1987, there has been a 99 per cent reduction in 18 pollutants discharged from Ontario municipal and industrial…

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Christmas in the Distillery District

Holly Johnson:

This is one of the best things about Toronto at Christmas time.

Originally posted on Sweet Spell Bakeshop:

The Distillery District was full of people in festive spirits, all excited to partake in the Toronto Christmas Market. Held annually in the weeks leading up to Christmas, this free event is inspired by old world European traditions, with some modern twists. It showcases different food and drink as well as handcrafted goods and live entertainment.
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The Distillery District could not be a more perfect place to hold this event.The Distillery District is a national Historic Site with an incredibly rich history. The site was once The Gooderham and Worts Distillery, and represents the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.

In its time, The Gooderham and Worts Distillery played an important role in the growth and wealth of both the city and nation. In addition to various involvements in real estate and banking, the company at one time contributed more to Federal coffers than…

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