Editor’s Note: Chelsea Seifert will travel to Cambodia and volunteer with EDventure while writing about the organization’s on-the-ground work. Check #trackchelsea to cyber-follow her on this trip!
Around the globe people step forward to offer help and make the world a better place and EDventure International aims to do this by providing volunteer programs to hone leadership skills and provide assistance to communities.
EDventure International is a volunteer organization that works in local communities in four countries: Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia and South Africa. The organization’s founders, Christy Nichols and Jamie Christopherson, created EDventure International in 2011 to continue personal growth through volunteering.
“We both come from teaching backgrounds and having years of teaching and traveling under our belts, came together to create leadership volunteer programs,” Nichols said. “These programs combine our traveler expertise, our passion for teaching and our desire to combine these passions within country communities we have developed relationships with and wish to assist in developing educational initiatives.”
The goals of EDventure International are many, said Nichols. With an equal focus on the selected communities and the volunteers doing work, it is Nichols and Christopherson’s hope that both parties are positively impacted. Nichols and Christopherson believe the leadership potential in youths can be directly exerted towards the needs of a community.
“First, we aim to empower individuals to truly realize their own potential to really make a difference,” Nichols said. “In addition, we truly believe that there is a lot of good to be done. Whether it’s in a dusty classroom, a Costa Rican beach with nesting sea turtles or an elephant sanctuary, we are here to help.”
One of the greatest aspects within EDventure International is the focus on education. The “ED” in the organization’s name represents the educational component. All participants of the volunteer programs develop global leadership skills through four perspectives of ability: personal, social, organizational and cultural.
Each aspect is both interdependent and connected, according to Edventure’s website. Through development workshops, each volunteer is encouraged to strengthen inherent skills that can be used in all aspects of life. This growth allows each individual to utilize what he or she is learning for hands-on practice.
Nichols made it evident that the true mission of EDventure International is best expressed through the personal experiences of the participants and program facilitators rather than fliers or the Internet.
Each program is unique an unlike any other. These four countries were chosen because of the previous relationships that were developed with the community leaders.
All four programs have the commonality of teaching the local children where learning and education is the main focus. In addition to time in the classroom, each program also has another feature that makes the EDventure even more fulfilling.
In the Costa Rican EDventure, participants get to experience the process of nurturing and monitoring endangered wildlife, such as sea turtles, to help protect the species from problems such as hunting, habitat destruction and illegal pet trade. They are later released into their natural environment.
While in Cambodia, participants will experience a wide variety of culture immersion activities. These activities include visiting the temples at Angkor Wat, walking the local markets and watching Apsara dancing traditions. Before the activities are had, the volunteers get to work alongside local workers called mahouts and elephants at an elephant sanctuary.
Volunteers in South Africa seek to improve communities that need a greater quality of life. This could include projects that provide socioeconomic development through education, health, infrastructure or supporting local businesses.
The EDventure in Thailand too has an elephant component but volunteers also get to assist in improving the educational environment and helping build new school facilities.
All programs have multiple facets where each participant helps improve local communities, and at the end, the participants wil have spent a week being fully immersed in the country and experiencing the cultural components.
The future for EDventure International is bright as the relationships between the communities and EDventure International staff and participants only grows as programs continue.
“We are working very hard to solidify our current relationships within our program locations to improve and sustain the impact of our projects,” Nichols said. “Also, we want to expand through the connections we continually develop, whether that be through the communities in which we work, the incredible individuals we have on our programs or through broadening our project locations by adding additional countries.”
Anyone can be involved with this wonderful organization. All it takes is an application that can be filled out online at EDventure International’s website.
To see all of the work that’s being done around the world, follow EDventure International on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
All photos and video courtesy of EDventure International.