International volunteering changes lives

by Bill Crotty

student feeding elephant in thailand

Students who recently returned from an international volunteer program have said their lives were changed by the experience, and every hour on the hour, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at State St. Grill, the International Student Volunteers organization will be holding informational meetings for students interested in making the next summer a little more exciting.

“I traveled to Costa Rica in 2008 and it absolutely changed my life,” ISV campus representative Mitch Trevillion said. “I think all students should have the opportunity to travel and make a significant difference in communities and environments that need it most.”

The nonprofit organization sends students to seven different countries for volunteer work. The countries available through this program include the Dominican Republic, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Thailand.

Students who travel to any of these locations will spend their first two weeks working in hands-on projects for social community development, such as improving the quality of impoverished villages, building houses for refugees and teaching children English. Another project area is on conservation, in which students may work with endangered sea turtles, elephants and dolphins, ecosystem rehabilitation or environmental education.

Lauren Peterson, an SDSU student who went with the Australia program, said she would recommend the program to anyone.

“Traveling to Australia with ISV was the best experience of my life,” Peterson said. “We got to work in beautiful forests in Tasmania and see a ton of wildlife, explore Sydney, go white-water rafting and then scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Students may also apply to receive academic credit through independent study for their participation in the program, as there is a strong educational element throughout the entire trip.

ISV was started about 30 years ago, but has been taking students abroad for around 11 years. Its mission is “to combine education; conservation and recreation into the most incredible experience of a lifetime, while giving back to the local communities in the countries in which we are traveling.”

More information about the program can be found at isvolunteers.org.