On Thursday, Sept. 22, Reach Out Volunteers held an information session at TRU in the Campus Activity Centre. Lexie Tintor, an Ohio native working as an international travelling ambassador for Reach Out, came to campus to talk about the different programs available and the opportunities available to students.
“There are three projects in Cambodia, one in Peru and three in South Africa. All of our projects are grassroots projects, so they are designed to have an immediate impact and improve the standard of living for either a family, a community or wildlife in need,” Tintor said.
Tintor is a recent college graduate who first found out about the organization through the info sessions she now runs.
“I found out about Reach Out the same way the students here are, which was about two years ago. Fall of my senior year they came to my school, just like this, and I went to an info session and I was sold. I went to Cambodia two weeks after I graduated and it is by far the best thing I have ever done,” Tintor said.
Many students have concerns with the cost involved in volunteering with companies like this. Reach Out’s programs can cost upwards of $1,300 plus the cost of flights. Tintor acknowledges that as a student money can be tight, but adds that Reach Out will help attendees fundraise their trip.
“College students are broke. I was a broke college student when I went. The fee goes to every single building material needed for your project. We bring that ourselves because obviously there are no Lowes or Home Depots. It goes to jobs for the locals who work alongside us every single day, who keep us safe, who get us what we need and maintain everything after we go. It goes towards all of the accommodations we stay in. It goes to all of the food we eat, and we even eat out a lot at different family-owned restaurants in the city and things like that. Then it goes to all the fun stuff we do. You don’t need your wallet the second you land – everything is covered,” Tintor said.
Although volunteering is the core focus of these programs, it’s not all work and students get to indulge themselves in the culture and community.
“Like [in Cambodia] it goes towards your scuba diving licence that’s included in the program fee cost, in Peru we go zip lining through the mountains, and in Africa we go diving with dolphins.”
Anne Terwiel, chair of the tourism management department at TRU, said that these types of experiences can be amazing, but that students should proceed with caution.
“It can be a really great thing depending on the organization that you go with, depending on the experience that you have and where you go.”
“It can be life changing. There are some very reputable organizations out there doing some really great things in places that really need help,” Terwiel said.
“There are also some organizations that are basically charging a lot of money for students to go on half a volunteer experience and the other half might be considered more of a vacation. My advice is that students check out the organization that they are going to be working with really carefully.”
Reach Out Volunteers has mostly positive reviews on the website GoOverseas.com, a website that lists and reviews similar abroad programs.