Name, Age: Earth Hasassri, 21
University, Major: UC San Diego, Physiology & Neuroscience, and Psychology
Type of Work: Medical/Public Health, Environment/Conservation, Education, Infrastructure (building houses, roads, wells), Community Development, Childcare, Human Rights
Region: North America
Length of stay: Less than one month
Tell us about the nonprofit/social business you work for:
ProWorld, Urubamba, Peru (http://www.proworldvolunteers.org/) – My experience here wasn’t a very great one. The volunteer project was good, but the logistics and organizational structure lacked experience and expertise. They need to work on more strategic planning before I would give them another shot.
Cross-Cultural Solutions, Puriscal, Costa Rica (http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/) – Overall good, but very pricey. I can understand because they have a great structure and good communication. However, they are definitely a little more voluntourist-y than I would like. The community interaction was very minimal and it’s very difficult to see the sustainability in their work.
Damar Services, Inc, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (http://www.damar.org/) – One of the best organizations I worked with. They work with children and adults with behavioral and developmental disabilities, and I strongly believe in their mission and vision. They have a very high success rate (96%) of helping children with Autism live more independent lives and I can clearly see how they work with the public system to make what they do sustainable in terms of policy change.
Casa Familiar, San Diego, California, USA (http://www.casafamiliar.org/) – They work with migrant and border issues. I really enjoy their organization and how much they try to outreach resources to their target population.
How did you find your position?
School resource and personal connections
What’s your typical day like?
4 – 6 hours of work per day, doing various tasks
What kind of people do you work with?
ProWorld – Young orphans and victims of domestic violence local to Peru. I want to warn people against working with orphans unless it’s a longer term commitment since orphans already have issues surrounding attachment and separation. If a short term volunteer were to make an orphan happy, they would relive the same pains when the volunteer leaves.
Cross-Cultural Solutions – Younger, elementary school children who were Costa Rican.
Damar – Children and adults with behavioral and developmental disabilities who come from all over the US.
Casa Familiar – Migrant and refugee populations, mainly from Mexico.
What are your living accommodations?
Hostel with ProWorld, volunteer house with CCS, hotel with Damar
What do you do in your free time?
Share a favorite memory or story from your experience!
What inspired you to do this kind of work? If you are taking a gap year, what motivated you to do that?
Wanderlust and active citizenship
How are you financing your time?
crowd-sourced fundraising, scholarship from school
What kind of special skills do you need to do your job?
Do you feel like you are making a positive, critical impact on the global community?
Only with Damar I was. I feel that it’s very difficult when working with non-profits to make a positive, sustainable change unless both top-down policies from the public sector as well as bottom-up efforts in social movements or behavioral changes are pushed for.
What have you learned about the nonprofit and social business world in your experience?
That change mostly happens on an individual level, and that can turn into a collective social movement if organized well enough.
Do you think you make a unique contribution to your organization as a young person? Is your perspective or approach different from others?
Yes, and I hope so.
How do you see this experience fitting into your long-term goals?
Made me more understanding of how social issues are intertwined and permeate within each other.