Globe Aware, a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back.
Globe Aware has been featured and profiled in numerous news outlets, among them: CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, NBC Today Show, NPR (National Public Radio), Newsweek, Budget Travel, Travel&Leisure Magazine, Men's Fitness, Toronto Globe and Mail, and many others. Globe Aware has also been the subject of several major documentaries, among them a 9 part series titled Journeys of the Heart shot in high definition chronicling a group's developments in their Care for Cusco program. This series, produced by Concrete Productions, runs on the Dish Network's Equator Channel. Another documentary on Globe Aware was produced by Asterisk Productions called Vacations from the Heart which aired several times coast to coast in Canada on the Global Network and in the UK. Asterisk is a world renown production company with a special interest in social and environmental issues, for more on their inspiring work.
Every activity in which they engage is intended to accomplish one of two things: promote cultural awareness and/or promote sustainability. For them the concept of cultural awareness means to recognize and appreciate the real beauties and real challenges of a culture, but not to change it. The concept of sustainability is to help others stand on their own two feet; to teach skills rather than reliance.
Chosen projects meet several key criteria: safe, culturally interesting, genuinely beneficial to a needy community, and involve significant interaction with the host community. Globe Aware reviews volunteer feedback on a weekly basis to incorporate changes, and continually meets with the communities to monitor and review projects. Simultaneously Globe Aware organizes several optional cultural excursions throughout every program, designed to highlight local culture in a way the typical tourist can rarely experience. The organization has no political or religious affiliation.
Volunteers help to empower the host communities in creating renewable, sustainable programs. While Globe Aware's financial assistance benefits the community economically, it is actually the involvement and collaboration between the volunteers and community that is the greatest mutual benefit. Globe Aware is not a foundation that focuses on giving out charity, but rather an organization which focuses on creating self reliance.
They feel it is of supreme importance to respect the culture and heritage in which the volunteer is working. The goal is not for volunteers to change the host communities, but rather to help them in the needs that the host community has identified as important. Those who will enjoy the experience the most are those who bring an open mind and willingness to help. The natural, healthy exchange of ideas and opinions leads to a mutual understanding of cultures.
Unlike a regular vacation, during which you may spend a good deal of time on a tourist bus and in lines at museums, their trips allow you to learn things such as how to cook local cuisine, sing with local school children, work side by side on local community projects. Few vacations provide a way to bond so closely with local cultures in so short a time. The experience will likely change how you see the world.
Together, Globe Aware's founders have been arranging cultural missions for 15 years in developing nations and organizing volunteer missions since 2000. The first programs were run in Peru and Costa Rica, with several in Asia to follow.
Locations are chosen based on a huge number of factors, but generally are communities that are safe, genuinely needy, organized (in terms of proper NGO status), with significant cultural differences from the typical North American lifestyle, and willing to accept their involvement. Their nonprofit status was recognized in 2003.
In addition to being granted not-for-profit status by the United States Internal Revenue Service, Globe Aware is also registered with The Texas State Attorney General's Charities Bureau which is responsible for supervising the activity of charities to ensure that their funds are properly used.