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Operation Groundswell is a non-profit organization that offers alternative travel opportunities for youth. We aim to build a community of "backpacktivists" that are socially, environmentally and politically aware of their impact in the communities they travel to and live in.
Why choose Operation Groundswell? Our organization was founded on the principle that we were going to be different. Unlike most travel volunteer organizations, ethical travel is at the crux of our organization's philosophy. Here's what sets us apart…
Unlike many 'voluntourism' organizations that create development plans and enforce them throughout the developing world, we forge partnerships with local non-governmental organizations and charities and work with them on community-requested projects. For us, responsible volunteering is all about reciprocity.
We do not go into a community with the expectation or hope of being saviours and solving all the problems. There is no such thing as eradicating poverty in six weeks. But we can serve and contribute to the communities that host us with open arms and learn from them.
Bottom line? No make-work or take-work projects. We aim to support organizations that exist before we arrive, that appreciate our support, and that will continue to do work long after we leave.
PLANNED DAILY EXCURSIONS:
Our Programs Director works closely with each of our program leaders to organize a thoughtful itinerary for every day that you are traveling with Operation Groundswell. Treks through mountainous regions, bike rides across the savannah, meetings with local advocacy groups, comfortable homestays, delicious local dishes…all of these daily details are planned and arranged for you. Critical to our success has been the development of fully integrated and meaningful programs.
With a passionate and innovative team of program leaders scattered across the globe and a carefully crafted core curriculum, Operation Groundswell takes experiential learning to a whole other level. Our programs focus on a number of different issues including human rights, environmental sustainability, education, leadership, international development, fair trade, and so much more. Program leaders facilitate workshops and discussions that challenge participants to think critically.
Our programs are intentionally designed to uncover the intricacies and on-the-ground realities of each region we go to. Participants eat local food, use local transportation, learn the local language and even stay in urban/rural homestays. At OG, we believe that immersion builds cultural competency and empathy, which is a key quality in all global citizens.
A close-knit group of 8-12 individuals on every program allows for the perfect blend of intimacy, flexibility, and challenge. Traveling in a group setting allows us to confront ourselves in a way that can't be replicated by a solo experience. We hear varied perspectives, learn about ourselves, and together create a shared experience beyond compare. Because really, no one else will ever quite know what it's like to sit on a 15-hour matatu ride squished beside 12 other people – except for those 12 other people!
Our goal is to facilitate experiences…not manufacture them. Our dynamic program leaders prepare volunteers for self-sufficiency by showing them how to thrive in a new country during the first five weeks of their time there. The Independent Travel Time (ITT) component of our programs gives participants the opportunity to put their newly developed skills to the test and explore the region in their own way.