Projects Abroad Press Room: Backgrounder
Projects Abroad began in 1992 when a group of students in West Sussex wanted a break from study – known as a "gap year" – and approached their geography professor, Dr. Peter Slowe, about travelling and working in Eastern Europe. Dr. Slowe had difficulty finding any opportunities for this kind of travel combined with work experience, so he set about arranging for the students to teach English in Romania where he knew some fellow academics.
Until 1997 Projects Abroad was a small UK-based organization with just two part time staff sending university students to teach English in Eastern Europe. But as more and more students and professionals began to take academic and work-related breaks, and with many developing countries in need of self-funded volunteers, Projects Abroad’s organized volunteer programs began to grow around the world.
The UK-headquartered organization now has recruitment offices in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. With nearly 700 trained staff, more than 30 destinations, hundreds of project options, and nearly 100,000 volunteers from over 40 countries to date, Projects Abroad has become the largest international volunteer organization worldwide.
Projects Abroad in the Global Economy
Projects Abroad helps create local employment wherever it sends volunteers. The organization directly employs many people who live in these areas and also indirectly creates work through the services provided for Projects Abroad volunteers. Projects Abroad has also devolved various "Head Office" functions, such as management accountancy in Mongolia and design work in Mexico.
Because Projects Abroad works with local colleagues at all levels, the organization’s extensive network of local knowledge enables Projects Abroad to channel the skills of its volunteers to places they are really needed.
Flexibility and Variety
Projects Abroad volunteers can enjoy the flexibility of selecting a start date, end date, destination and project that best aligns with their schedule, interests, and qualifications. With a presence in more than 30 destinations worldwide and hundreds of projects covering 15 different fields of interest, volunteers have a variety of options.
Support and Safety Overseas
Projects Abroad cares about the safety and comfort of its volunteers. All volunteers are provided with comprehensive travel and medical insurance, and offices with full-time, paid and trained staff are available in every destination to ensure that volunteers are looked after and that each volunteer’s placement is running as it should. Projects Abroad staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The organization avoids placing volunteers in countries where there is likely to be political or social unrest, and remains in close contact with the State Department and with all embassies and high commissions abroad.
Interested volunteers will receive informative and helpful responses from Projects Abroad volunteer coordinators from the first time they inquire about a program. After being accepted into Projects Abroad, volunteers receive a personalized website called MyProjectsAbroad, which takes the guess work out of preparing for time overseas. In addition, Volunteer Advisors contact each volunteer to discuss all details of their upcoming travels, and are always available by phone or email to answer questions.
Projects Abroad volunteer positions are self-funded to ensure that organizations or individuals in the developing world don’t have to incur any additional expenses. Projects Abroad is able to secure excellent work experience placements for volunteers because it does not ask partner-organizations to cover any costs for volunteers. Projects Abroad does not receive any government funding or other outside funding.
The all-in-one price to volunteers includes the following:
- Airport pick up and drop off
- Travel insurance
- Medical insurance
- In-country induction with a staff member upon arrival
- Support and 24 hour back-up from both local and US/Canada staff
- Personalized MyProjectsAbroad page
- Pre-departure support from Volunteer Advisor by email and phone
- Visa support (if applicable)
- Necessary work-related transportation
Part of the Global Community
By going on a Projects Abroad placement, volunteers are joining a community of fellow volunteers and local people in developing countries - working hard, travelling and having a good time while achieving worthwhile goals.
Volunteers have the unique opportunity to live with host families and have a genuinely authentic experience and appreciation of the local region’s culture and people.
Continually Evolving and Growing Worldwide
Projects Abroad is truly global in its outlook, welcoming approaches from potential partners – schools, orphanages and hospitals for example – from across the developing world; wherever they are or whatever they do, Projects Abroad will try to meet their needs.
Similarly, Projects Abroad welcome ideas from potential volunteers. If a volunteer has an idea for a new program or destination, the organization will do everything it can to enable the volunteers to work in their own way.
Because of this, Projects Abroad is continually offering new opportunities, destinations and areas for volunteers to find a project that utilizes their talents to their greatest ability, while making a difference.