Stephanie Heiken's blog

Stages Of Culture Shock And The Mystery Of Acculturation

December 28, 2012

Whether you are volunteering, traveling, or studying abroad for any length of time, you will most likely encounter culture shock at some point.  Here is a look at what you will be feeling during each of the stages.

Excitement/Honeymoon Phase:

You have just arrived and are ready for adventure.  Everything is new and exciting, and you wish you had an eternity to live and learn in your new environment.  Small differences in customs seem insignificant and you can see no potential problems.

Withdrawal/Frustration Phase:  ...

Dar Al Ayatam Al Islamiya, The El-Hibri Foundation, and Youth Welfare in Lebanon

December 26, 2012

Peace, education, justice, and the welfare of youth have long been recognized as the foundations of a thriving society. While conflict and poor economic conditions have left many in a sense of hopelessness in the Middle East, two great organizations have provided relief and promoted peaceful solutions in Lebanon and the U.S.: Dar Al Ayatam Al Islamiya and the El-Hibri Charitable Foundation.

Here is a look at the great work both do individually, and perhaps more importantly, what they do together!

Dar Al Ayatam Al Islamiya

The Social Welfare Institutions in Lebanon was...

All About Literacy Volunteering

December 17, 2012

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.—Frederick Douglass

According to UNESCO, global illiteracy hovers at approximately 1 billion people, two-thirds of which are women. While acknowledging the correlation between income and illiteracy, in 2012 this statistic has driven countless volunteers to promoting literacy both in the U.S. and abroad. Volunteers and development experts alike have agreed that the key to solving many of the world’s socioeconomic problems begins with addressing the need to build a more literate adult population.


Two Volunteering Opportunities In Morocco

December 13, 2012

Located in the hub of three worlds, Morocco is part of Africa, the Middle East, and just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Europe. While this has promoted some degree of cultural diversification and an outlet for modernity, today Morocco is ranked 130th on the UN’s Human Development Index, making it one of the least developed countries of the world.

Volunteering opportunities in Morocco exist all over the country, and many organizations have identified three main areas of concern: language acquisition, poverty reduction, and women’s empowerment.


Volunteering In Animal Shelters At Home And Abroad

December 11, 2012

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ---Mahatma Gandhi

Can you honestly say that you don’t love animals? Neither can most people, which is why volunteering in animal shelters is one of the most popular forms of service both domestically and abroad. No matter what area of the world, shelters rely on volunteer assistance to improve the living conditions of the animals they house. Whether sifting through files or developing an exercise regimen, volunteers improve the lives of the animals they work with in unimaginable ways.


Volunteering In South America

December 06, 2012

South America is a popular volunteer abroad destination for a variety of reasons. Recent political stability and a surge in development programs coupled with beautiful scenery, diverse cultures, and an increasing number of volunteer programs available make South America a perfect volunteer destination. Improving your Spanish speaking capabilities is also a bonus, as many organizations do not require Spanish, but encourage it and provide lessons!

If you’re deciding whether or not to volunteer in South America, take a look at the different opportunities you have available to you...

We Are All Just People: An Organization Dedicated To Providing A Human Quality To Holiday Assistance

November 29, 2012

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.—Albert Pike

According to a Census Bureau report in September, over 46 million Americans are impoverished. While this number represents a much smaller percentage of the total impoverished population compared to other countries around the world, poverty in the U.S. exists and the realization is often striking. While living conditions are quite different from some of the most remote parts of the world, poverty at home should not be ignored. No family...

How To Receive Academic Credit For Volunteering Abroad

November 27, 2012

Pairing volunteer work abroad with academic courses, such as choosing to do an Alternative Spring Break, taking a Gap Year, or going overseas to volunteer in the future, can be an effective resume builder as well as a means for gaining that extra bit of academic credit you have been putting off.

Here are some steps to keep in mind in order to maximize your academic credit potential while considering volunteer options abroad:

Research Potential Volunteer Programs

Do research on the types of volunteer work you are interested in doing and how they relate to your field of...

Volunteering With Alternative Break Programs: 7 Common Questions Answered

November 22, 2012

The term alternative break is a well-known buzzword in the volunteering arena. But what is it exactly? Below are some of the most frequently asked questions answered!

What is an alternative break?

An alternative break is a short volunteer trip (typically seven to 15 days) where volunteers are able to engage in predetermined service projects.

Who goes on alternative breaks?

Typically college or university students looking for an alternative to traditional “party trips” for their fall, winter, spring, and even summer breaks. Alternative breaks...

Volunteering Abroad Opportunities In Mexico

November 13, 2012

Home to 113 million people and the most populous Spanish speaking country in the world, with a history dating back tens of thousands of years including some of the most advanced ancient civilizations, Mexico is perhaps one of the most diverse countries in the Americas.

Today Mexico has one of the world’s largest economies and is an emerging power with democratically elected public officials, a prime example for developing states around the world. Mexico is also one of the most diverse countries in the world, with climates both temperate and tropical; the country consists of...