1. Applications Now Being Accepted for May-August 2017 Departures! Apply Now
  2. Applications Now Being Accepted for May-August 2017 Departures! Apply Now

ISV Mission Statement

ISV's mission is to support sustainable development initiatives around the world through life-changing student volunteer and responsible adventure travel programs designed to positively change our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

ISV takes safety seriously

ISV takes safety seriously
ISV has been recognized for leadership in Best Practices for Safety and Risk Management and was asked to be a guest speaker on the topic at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference in Beijing, China.

Our commitment to the safety and well-being of every volunteer takes top priority in the planning and operation of each program.  From the time you apply, until you return home, ISV has policies and practices that create an environment for the safest experience possible. No other organization can match ISV protocols for safety, and we have made this an essential pillar of our professional standards for facilitating volunteer and travel programs abroad.

Our risk management practices are governed by our Global Risk Management Plan (available on request) which outlines ISV’s risk management priorities and responsibilities, including but not limited to: pre-departure preparation of volunteers, medical screening of applicants, site inspecting and risk assessing all project sites and tour operators, in-country office assistance, 24-hour emergency support, and First Aid certification of program staff, who are also trained to assess and manage risks on site. In addition, each host country has an Emergency Response Plan in the unlikely event of a serious emergency.  

Thousands of volunteers participate in ISV programs each year, and our staff are trained and experienced in responding to incidents and emergencies abroad. ISV will not conduct a program or activity that we believe will jeopardize the safety of any person.

ISV Field Staff ?

ISV is committed to running programs that prioritize safety. This includes the screening, selection and training of our field staff (project and tour leaders). All field staff must submit a criminal background check and provide proof of first aid certification as part of the selection criteria for the role. Field staff are trained thoroughly in safety, risk management, ISV policies and procedures, and emergency response. Every ISV project and tour leader knows that their number one priority is the safety of each participant, and we work closely with our host organisations and tour operators to hold each party accountable for providing a safe program environment in which volunteers can thrive.

In-Country Offices and Support ?

In-Country Offices and Support ISV has offices for every major host country where we operate volunteer and adventure travel programs. In the event of an incident or accident, our offices provide immediate support to our program staff and volunteers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. An ISV Country Coordinator in each host country directs the program, assesses local conditions, makes important risk management decisions, and oversees ISV program staff. 

In addition, the Country Coordinator is often supported by a Project or Tour Manager as well as Administrative or Logistical Coordinators. In the event of an incident abroad, our Country Coordinator will work with the ISV outbound offices (e.g. USA, Canada, UK, Australia, etc.) to assist with logistical issues such as flights, passports, visas, and to communicate with a participant’s emergency contacts if required.   

Volunteer Projects ?

Volunteer Projects Each project (site and activities) is assessed prior to the arrival of any ISV group in order to minimize safety hazards and eliminate potential high-risk activities. ISV project host organizations follow a formal assessment process and complete the ISV Safety and Risk Assessment form prior to the start of each project.

ISV Project Leaders and hosts review the risk assessment process with all volunteers upon arrival to the site. Furthermore, volunteers are provided with appropriate protection and training in the use of tools, equipment and other health and safety concerns, such as the location of nearest medical facilities. Every day, volunteers receive a safety briefing, and can feel confident to carry out their tasks in a safe environment.  

Adventure Tours ?

Adventure Tours Country Coordinators and Tour Managers are responsible for site inspections and assessing  every activity included in the ISV Adventure Tours. The tour accommodations, activities and itineraries are carefully chosen to be safe, challenging, and fun. Activities are formally risk-assessed and we ensure our operators are reputable, professional and maintain high safety standards.  

ISV reserves the right to change the tour itinerary, activities or accommodations and will organize contingency plans for each day's itinerary, should an activity need to be changed due to unforeseen circumstances or safety reasons. Tour Leaders provide relevant local safety information in their daily presentations as well as practical information on what to wear, bring and how to behave so that you can challenge and enjoy yourself in a safe manner.  






Travel/Medical Insurance ?

Travel/Medical Insurance Obtaining Travel/Medical insurance is an essential part of international travel, and is a mandatory component of participation in our program. Every ISV volunteer is required to show proof of Traveler's Insurance no later than 65 days prior to departure. 

Ideally, each insurance policy should provide coverage against unforeseen medical care, emergency evacuation, cancellation, lost or stolen belongings (i.e., passports), flight cancellations and lost luggage.

Volunteers should ensure their policy provides coverage against potential injury from the activities listed as part of the ISV program. In most of ISV’s outbound offices, ISV has worked closely with an insurance provider to customize an insurance plan appropriate for our programs and activities which is then offered to volunteers.

Medical Matters ?

Medical Matters As part of the ISV Application process, all volunteers must report existing or known injuries, illness, allergies, conditions and medication(s). Information must be complete, up-to-date and accurate.

All volunteers are encouraged to consult a medical doctor or travel clinic well in advance of their departure. ISV provides each volunteer with a comprehensive Travel Manual which includes information and recommendations regarding immunizations specific to their host country.

Volunteers are provided with the location and details of the nearest medical facility for each volunteer project and tour destination, as well as emergency contact information for the appropriate ISV offices (at home and abroad). In the case of illness of injury overseas, ISV staff will ensure that appropriate medical attention is received.

Due to the design and nature of the ISV program, volunteers are encouraged to attain at least a moderate fitness level prior to departure in order to maximize participation and enjoyment throughout the experience. 

High School Programs ?

High School Programs ISV has successfully run programs for high school (under age 18) participants for a number of years in multiple countries.  To manage risks, ISV implements a much higher staff to volunteer ratio of approximately 1:5 on project and 1:10 on tour.

Depending on the project, these staff may include elected High School teachers or experienced ISV leaders from the host country. The projects are also supported by host organization staff and the tours by our local tour operators, increasing the level of supervision. “Free time” is managed differently between the regular program and those for high schools; there are no “free days” on the high school programs (replaced by planned excursions) and ISV leaders provide clear guidelines for volunteers to spend other free time. There are also evening curfews for high school groups. 

Overall, the program creates a positive space for young adults to grow their confidence and challenge themselves in a safe environment. 

"This was my first time traveling abroad. I felt so comfortable and safe throughout my entire ISV trip. ISV totally prepared me for what to expect both on my project and on my tour and the leaders were always looking out for me. Thanks ISV for giving me the confidence to travel overseas and step outside my comfort zone!"

~Danielle Mascarenas, University of Southern California

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