Have you read your Project Overview yet? You know, the document that explains your project which ISV talks about all the time in our materials and send you about 30 days prior to your departure?
Are you “too busy”, “have exams”, “moving house”, or is it “too long” or “too detailed”? You can’t afford NOT to read it. I know it’s over 10 pages (even with all the pretty pictures), but I promise you it will be your well prepared and super excited for your trip. It’s not an essay or a piece of literature you have to memorize. I can guarantee you that our very busy ISV Project Managers would not have spent so many hours preparing them if they were not essential documents for you.
Please, take 30 minutes of your life and find out what it is you’re actually going to do, why it’s important and other things you need to do or know before you depart.
It’s not just because it tells you what to pack (specific to your project, location, climate and tasks). It’s not just because it tells you where you’ll stay, what you’ll eat, where the nearest medical clinic is, or even what your free time options are… This is a critical step of your journey that you have to take in order to be ready for the experience of a lifetime.
Starting with your Project Overview, get ready to learn like crazy about: your country’s culture, sustainability, global issues, conservation, development, poverty, tree planting, health issues, language, responsible tourism, you name it! In order to be ready for your trip you should read your Project Overview by following these easy four steps.
- Step 1. Learn about the project you’ll be doing: why we chose your host organization to partner with, their goals, the project’s tasks and goals, what prior ISV groups did and why it all matters.
- Step 2. Make a list of any important details you come across; maybe for your project you need a special immunization, or rubber boots, work gloves, mosquito repellant (!), or items for donation. Maybe there’s no phone or internet service on your project (may want to warn family and friends you will be incommunicado for two weeks). Or maybe you’ll realize that you haven’t told us about a recent medical condition (which can be crucial information when traveling overseas).
- Step 3. Get so excited you feel like you’re about to burst! Of course, we want you to be excited, but we also aim to be as realistic as possible to set your expectations – the work and climate might be challenging, etc. Patience and a positive attitude are going to be required, but come ready for this and you’ll thank yourself for the best volunteer experience possible.
- Step 4. Be flexible. Although you’ve read all the information about the project, one thing ISV can’t do is promise that some of the details won’t change. We work with each host organization to ensure the details are as up to date, accurate and current as possible – however, the Project Overview is finalized over a month before you arrive and things can change sometimes. i.e. If the group before you worked faster or slower than anticipated, your work tasks might change slightly in response. Perhaps the materials don’t arrive on time, or heavy rains change the construction plan. We ask you to roll with it- we’ll have a Plan B and we’ll always do our best to make your time as effective as possible.
It’s too important for future volunteers NOT to read the Project Overview. So go on, grab a latte and read about your project (before you get on the plane!). I promise you it will not be time wasted and you’ll be glad you did.