Start With Your Campus Resources
UC Davis offers a wide array of community engaged global learning opportunities specifically for UC Davis students. Exploring these is an important first step as these programs may be well-aligned with your needs and your academic plan and schedule. Below are some on-campus resources.
Student-run clubs are another way to get involved with an international service project or to help fundraise for communities in need abroad. Some examples:
- AIESEC Davis
- Children of Tomorrow
- Circle K International
- Engineers Without Borders
- Global Medical Training
- International Veterinary Outreach
- Lions International
- Operation Smile
Explore Off-Campus Resources
You should always do your own research to compare the programs available to you so that you feel confident that the program you select is worth the cost and services they are providing you, and that their values are in line with yours (see below for questions to keep in mind when exploring community engaged learning programs).
There are several good search tools that offer listings for community engaged global learning programs. Use these to identify programs that you can vet using the questions below. These sites may include reviews or other information, but as with anything, you will need to obtain answers to the questions that are important to you as everyone’s experiences are very different. Below are some useful search engines:
- All for Good
- Californian’s For All
- International Volunteer Programs Association
- Things to Keep in Mind about Fee-Based Programs
Learning about the Organization’s History and Track Record
● When was the organization founded? How long have they run programs with a volunteer component?
● How many volunteers have they placed over the years?
● Is it exclusively a student program?
● Where do volunteers come from?
● How long have they operated in the country and city that you are considering?
● Where is the organization based?
● Do they have a social media presence? Photos of previous volunteers, blogs, etc.
● Can I talk to alumni/references?
● Is this a faith-based organization? If so, am I comfortable with that and able to work collaboratively regardless of whether their religious affiliation and values are in like with my own?
Understanding the Placement Process
● What is the placement process? Does it entail paperwork, an interview, etc.? How should you prepare for this process?
● Will I be applying to specific positions or a general area of service?
● Who coordinates the placement matching to local partners in the host community? Who will you work with onsite?
● Will I be the only volunteer at my site or are there usually multiple students at each site? If so, how many? How many students are usually in this country/city at the time I want to go?
● What language level, if any, is required? How does level affect my placement options?
● Are there physical fitness requirements?
● What are my options for duration of the placement?
● Is there a guarantee of placement (and in your desired field)? When should I expect to hear about my placement?
Assessing the Organization’s Support and Accountability
● How are projects developed? Are projects created by local community members or by the placement organization? Are projects long-term and sustainable or one-time activities? Do they reflect needs identified and generated by the community?
● What meaningful projects will I be asked to complete? Do you have examples of past volunteer placements?
● How are my funds distributed? What percentage of my fees go toward logistics and what goes to the local organization?
● Is there a solid team behind the nice website?
● Do they have direct relationships with the supervisors in the volunteer organization?
● Will you have a dedicated point of contact when in-country who is available 24/7?
● What are their health and safety protocols? Who would I contact in the event of an emergency?
Clarifying Program Features, Cost & Logistics
● When is an application fee or deposit due? Is this refundable? When is the total balance due? What is the cancellation policy?
● What is the total program cost for what I am seeking? What is included in that? What are my additional expected expenses beyond that cost (e.g. airfare, meals, local travel, etc.)?
● How does the total cost of participating on this program compare to the time and cost of finding and coordinating a volunteer experience independently?
● Can I use financial aid? What scholarships do they have available?
● Does the provider help with the visa process? What visa is required? Will they assist with the visa process or will I do this on my own? (If you are not a U.S. citizen ask how your visa requirements may differ)
● Is housing included? Where is it located, and what are the housing options? How do the options affect cost? Will I be living alone, with a family, or with other students? Are the students local or other students from abroad? How are homestays approved?
● What happens during the preparation stage? How do you get information and advice before you depart? How will I be prepared for adjusting to the local community and culture?
● What is included in the orientation when I arrive abroad? How will I be introduced to the local community and volunteer organization?
● What happens after the program? Is there an alumni network to tap into after your program?