What’s a United Planet Quest like? Authentic, immersive, transformative, and comprehensive are a few words our alumni use to describe our Quests. We could try and tell you how it is, but we feel our alumni can do it best. Below are just some of their most recent United Planet reviews.
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Before I traveled to Peru, I was very nervous. Mostly because it was my first time traveling to a country where I knew absolutely nothing about the native language. I was also nervous because everybody scared me about living at 11,000 feet of elevation in Cusco, Peru. However, traveling to Peru taught me a very important lesson about how easily humans overestimate their concerns and fears. I learned Spanish very quickly because I was 100% in it mentally and after my body adjusted to the high altitude, I even played soccer! Sometimes you just have to jump in and that’s really what I did – even when we went whitewater rafting. The hospital experience was fantastic once I found a way to ask the questions I had and push past the language weakness. Another important lesson I took away from Peru was how much people love a person’s curiosity and effort to become one of them – by pushing yourself to speak the language, eat the food, and respect their values. Will I do a United Planet Quest again? Absolutely!
I never would have imagined that this experience would have changed my life so much. Being able to see a different part of the world and engage in a different culture was beautiful every moment of every day. The struggles that we faced made me realize a new aspect on how to handle situations and learn from them. I have found my passion to serve others and see the world.
My experience was incredible and so far exceeded my expectations. In the short time that I was in Ghana, I felt completely immersed in the community, I was able to enjoy local tourist sites, I felt very independent, and I had excellent communication with my country coordinator… I felt so immersed in the culture and got to experience different excursions and tasks. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Between the beauty of Peru and the kindness of the people both in the United Planet program and in my project, I cannot truly state one single thing that was the best part of my Quest. I think that is because United Planet gave me the opportunity to find a home away from home in Cusco, working with children and meeting people through my Spanish school. I have thought a lot about how the time I spent in Peru has changed me. And I have come to the realization that I live now without stress. In Peru, there was no emphasis on time or punctuality, which although is a wonderful attribute, is handled differently in America. The atmosphere of “let it be” or “take life as it comes” was surprisingly liberating after leaving a country where bills, student loans, and keeping up a job to help with those things is so stressful. Living without worry came easily in Cusco, and I am finding that I brought a bit of Cusco back with me in how I now interact with the world.
What I enjoyed most about my Quest in Ecuador was getting to know so many genuine, compassionate and kind people throughout my trip. From the pre-departure support in Boston, to the Country Coordinators, to other United Planet volunteers, to tour guides, to local Ecuadorians, and, last but not least, my host family, I was touched by such a warm and collaborative environment overall, and I had never experienced such a beautiful thing on such a large scale before.
United Planet was able to help me overcome my nervousness about traveling to South America for the first time. The pre-departure support I received from the Program Coordinator was very helpful to calming those nerves. I felt a lot more comfortable with myself traveling alone, learning the local language (which I was a beginner in) and interacting with the locals and learning cultural experiences. The Quest helped me experience Ecuador in a way I never would have before. [It] helped me become more adaptable, confident, patient, and increase my problem-solving skills. I enjoyed every moment there and would absolutely volunteer with United Planet again.
WOW! Truly an unforgettable experience. Volunteering in Peru far exceeded my expectations…. I took Spanish classes every morning and my teacher was so nice and understanding. In the afternoons, I volunteered at an orphanage. I was only there for a week and did not think I would make an impact on the children but bonding with them was the best part.
I experienced a completely different culture and lifestyle. It made me realize that there is so much more in the world than Boston…If I were to go back and do my Quest again, there is not a thing I would have changed. The experience itself changed me for the better.
The best part of this experience was seeing the happiness and smiles on the faces of the community members we were helping. Those moments were priceless and really affirm the reasons for why it is so important for people to become aware and get involved with community service domestically as well as internationally. This experience was one of the best parts of my college experience and I gained new life-long friends and memories that I will cherish forever.
This Quest has been exciting, challenging, stressful, eye-opening, rewarding, and an unparalleled adventure. I loved the people. One of my projects was teaching at a very poor school so it could be extremely challenging at times, but I grew stronger and learned the language and was so proud of the students when they could speak in sentences and play games using English. I loved being with a host family and being involved in their lives and activities.
United Planet has provided me with an experience that changed my life. The staff were kind, supportive, and encouraging throughout my whole trip. They have helped me to become a lifelong partner in global connection and international outreach. There are no words to describe my appreciation and gratitude.
I can’t even begin to put into words how incredibly thankful I am for this opportunity. This experience had taught me many life lessons and has made me view life differently. It also helped me be more open minded. Volunteering my time in the community for that short time will not only have an impact on the lives of the children I worked with, but it will forever have an impact on me. I learned new things about myself. My favorite part of the trip was working with the children; rather if it was reading English books or playing games or making bracelets or participating in the level 2 English class discussions…it all helped me realize how such little actions can have huge impacts on their lives. I learned about the Tanzanian culture first hand. I really enjoyed living the life as a local. It really helps you get the full effect of how their life really is. My host family was so welcoming, and my host brother became one of my best friends. I built so many new friendships. I strongly encourage you to take a step outside your comfort zone and experience life outside of your country. You won’t regret it!
I have always been bothered by people who come back from life changing experiences and simply say “it can not be put into words”, but I am beginning to understand where they are coming from.
I am a new graduate Registered Nurse from California. I felt a comprehensive volunteer project would be an outstanding opportunity to not only gain some experience in my profession, but to help a healthcare clinic deliver necessary care, and become more competitive during my job search. I also wanted to live abroad, practice my Spanish, and travel – I feel that I accomplished all these things, and made some awesome friends in the process. I learned that traveling the world to volunteer as an RN is something I want to continue to do in my nursing career, with organizations like United Planet.
I had a very enjoyable experience in Kathmandu, Nepal. The best part I loved about Nepal were the people there. Despite the relatively challenging living condition, all people I met in Nepal were so lovely, nice, sincere, and so satisfied with their lives, especially the children in the orphanage. I just could not help falling in love with the children – they were cute, happy, smart, free of sorrow; their bright eyes and warm smiles had driven away all of my sadness. I enjoyed every moment playing with them, studying with them, seeing them making fun of each other and laughing. I could tell that they also liked me very much – on my last day, one of the boys came to me and gave me a paper rose, a paper butterfly and a greetings card with a poem written by himself, which touched my heart very deeply. I really hope I can have the chance to see them again.
I walked away with tears in my eyes because I was so upset to say goodbye to the children I had met while in country. Knowing I was able to make such an impact in such a simple way of giving back to the community makes me want to continue to give back in every way I can. I was able to immerse myself in the culture of Peru and I am so incredibly happy to say I enjoyed every part of the culture. Despite lack of running water at times, I felt as though the community welcomed our entire group immediately. I enjoyed educating the children, as well as playing with them as often as possible. On the last day of our volunteering, we ended up at a site that we were not originally scheduled to work at. After a medical screening with an in-country doctor, we realized one of the boys had a serious life-threatening infection with only two hours left of his life. With our help, we were able to get the boy to a private hospital where he was put on antibiotics and is now able to live a happy and healthy life. This specific boy, in addition to all of the other children we worked with has made a serious impact on my life and I will never forget the amount of satisfaction I felt after helping these children. I know that I have just reached the tip of the iceberg, but I plan on continuing my service to others in both my community and abroad.
Teaching is an amazing experience because you learn so much about yourself while doing it. In fact, I think participating in the China Summer Quest has secured my decision of becoming a teacher. Furthermore, the people you meet are all amazing.
I could not ask for a better way to spend three weeks. The people you meet and the adventures are unlike anything you could ever imagine. It exceeded any expectation of mine. The combination of learning Spanish, volunteering, and experiencing the culture of Peru made it an unforgettable journey. It has definitely made me want to travel more!
My experience teaching and playing with the kids made me realize that I am going into the right profession: teaching. I will strive to lead a life of service, not to just volunteer. I want to serve others and myself in all that I do. My United Planet experience helped me realize this.
It was an amazing experience; definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. I appreciated the mix of language and cultural immersion, living with a host family, local volunteering, and sightseeing. My favorite part of my Quest was working with my children at my volunteer project…I really felt like I was making a difference.
This experience was unlike anything I’ve ever taken part in before. I got the opportunity to immerse myself in an entirely different culture, world, and continent. My favorite part of my Quest was how open, respectful and grateful all of the members of the community that I lived in were. They all thanked us for our time, constantly mentioned how much we were impacting them even in just a short period of time, and really made us know that we were appreciated. I also loved that I got to start learning a new language. It was definitely challenging having the language barrier there and not a lot of people around that spoke English, but it forced me to critically think and try to communicate with others who do not share a common language.
My biggest regret was that I did not make my trip longer. Costa Rica was amazing! I loved every second with the kids. I felt a connection to several of them very quickly, and they reciprocated as well. I made great friends and connections with the other volunteers, which was the biggest and warmest surprise of all. It was so nice to meet people from around the world and different circumstances. I got to travel some and see and do new things. I went to the most beautiful beach, Uvita, and the ‘whale’s tail.’ It is this part of rocky beach that sticks out into the ocean that we walked on and out to at low tide. It was amazing. We also went to the river and went swimming in the pools under a waterfall surrounded by deep jungle! I slid down the waterfall a few times; it was incredible. I went zip lining in a jungle the day before I left. It was gorgeous and unlike anything I have ever experienced. We had the most fantastic time repelling down waterfalls, hiking, and riding long lines high through the trees. I ended up doing every single thing I hoped for and had listed in my head before going. It solidified some life goals and ideas I have been developing for a while now. I am so happy and for the first time in a long time I am really excited about the unknown future. I can’t wait to see where this life goes.
China Summer was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever taken part in. I met so many wonderful people and learned a lot about myself as a person. The hardest part of China Summer was saying goodbye to the school, to the kids, and especially to all the other volunteers, whom I feel I now have an undeniable and special connection with. I feel certain that I will take part in the China Summer program again in the near future.
United Planet has helped me connect more with my Chinese roots and led me to mature in my own life by introducing me to students with whom I’ve forged connections that transcended age and background.
Fantastic experience. Great support and help throughout the whole process. Going to Nepal was a culture shock for the first few days but after that it was such an amazing experience. My host family was better then I could have ever imagined and all the children at the orphanage were so sweet and loving. This experience will forever be close to my heart, and I hope I can continue to visit the orphanage on a yearly basis.
The China Summer program might be the most unforgettable experience in my life. I need to thank my students for teaching me about life and give me such valuable memories.
The community welcomed me with open arms. Our host family was excellent, they did not speak English but somehow we still managed to communicate and I have been in contact with them regularly since my return. The staff at the school also welcomed me with open arms and were always available to answer questions, and share part of their culture and daily lives…It was the people I met along the way that made my experience.
Once again, China Summer has made my summer unforgettable and has made me longing for more! China Summer never fails to make me forget about all the troubles at home and the preoccupations that come with life outside of China Summer. Every year, I am still amazed at how this program can bring around twenty American and Chinese volunteers who are from different backgrounds and all have different personalities together to all be friends. What makes the trip so remarkable and memorable are the relationships built with the students, the local residents, and the other volunteers.
There is nothing greater then learning and growing from others. This entire experience I believed I was going to go help these people and better their lives. In fact they helped me and bettered my life.
Fe Yunca Puncu in Cai Cay, Peru is ran by people filled with love, life, and hope for their community and the world. They are people I look up to and I only wish that I can be half as amazing as they are because if I am I know I can make a difference. The knowledge I have gained through this experience cannot be sought after in books. This experience will forever stay with me not only through memories but in my heart through the love I received from everyone I encountered.
I absolutely loved where I volunteered, so much that I hope I can go back again. The people and kids where I worked were so wonderful, and I loved that I was completely immersed in Spanish the whole entire time. I felt like I was really able to get to know a lot of the kids, and the only bad thing was that I had to leave.
My volunteer Quest was a rewarding and eye-opening experience. While some of the cultural and language differences were confronting at times, I believe being placed outside my comfort zone was an invaluable part of my experience.
The trip is not only based on what you do but who you do it with. My experience was made amazing by the people I was surrounded with and United Planet. Going to Romania was amazing, a short two week trip that will be the start to the rest of my life.
The Quest was an unforgettable experience. The host family was supportive, and they helped me adjust to the new culture. I was able to practice my Spanish and learn about the culture.
Volunteering in Romania was definitely the best experience I’ve had so far in my life. By working at the orphanage, I gained independence and responsibility. It is impossible not to love these kids, and I believe that I will go back some time soon.
My alternative break in Romania has been my most cherished memory in college so far. All of my experiences that I have made and shared with other engineering students have been unforgettable and truly amazing. This trip has inspired me to want to keep traveling and exploring different parts of the world, and to learn more about different cultures every chance that I get.
My host family accepted me into their home as one of their own. We truly became a family during the year I spent with them. I was expected to be at all family events and they even took me on vacations with them. This gave me a chance to really get to know the Costa Rican culture at home. They helped me tremendously with learning Spanish also.
My Quest to Peru is an experience I will never forget. It opened my eyes to see things farther than my own community, and brought a new perspective on life, that otherwise I would not have gained.
My Quest was one of the most horizon-expanding experiences of my life to date. I would definitely consider doing another Quest with United Planet and discovered that I have a passion for going abroad and immersing myself in other cultures.
My time in Tanzania was everything I hoped it would be. The people were amazing and the children and teachers I worked with are unforgettable. At first, I was overwhelmed by the language and hustle and bustle of the city. But after only a few days, and with the help of my phenomenal host family, I felt as though I belonged there. The only thing I didn’t like about Tanzania was having to leave!
The clinic I volunteered at was by far the biggest thing that I took from my Quest. The children taught me just as much, if not more then I taught them. Working there everyday was the definition of cross-cultural understanding. Each of the children impacted my life in a different way and I will forever be grateful for everything United Planet gave me the opportunity to experience throughout my Quest.
The whole experience was incredibly rewarding and having support from start to finish was very reassuring especially going somewhere like Nepal on my own. I would love to do another quest as i learnt so much for this experience about another culture and more importantly about myself.
Volunteering in Tanzania absolutely changed my life! Working with children every day who want nothing more than to learn and for you to teach them was the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything and I already miss my host family!
What I enjoyed the most about my trip was getting all of the hands on medical experience with kids that previously had very little healthcare. I enjoyed seeing their faces that were filled with joy and excitement and the feeling that what my fellow volunteers and I did made a difference.The impact this trip has had on my life is irrevocable, being able to do some real good in this world is a rare occurrence and to be a part of it was amazing. Being able to help men, women and child that truly need it and leaving them with supplies to continue taking care of themselves is something I will always remember.
While I volunteered at Centro de Salud Ttio, I learned so much about the Peruvian subsidized healthcare systems, since the state hospitals are a hub for the state insurance. Everyone I talked to, whether it was a doctor, a secretary, or even the patients themselves were willing to share about their experience and knowledge with the system–so much so, that I was able to put together an entire research paper with my findings on the system and ways in which people think it could improve. I couldn’t get over how most everyone I encountered open and willing to share. They really offered me a window into their culture and their experience.
Everything that I experienced on this trip, exceeded all of my expectations. I don’t think there was a single moment where I wasn’t enjoying myself or experienced boredom. Because of that I feel that China Summer has been the best summer experience I’ve ever had.
I found the trip to be such an eye opening experience. I’ve traveled to other countries before and seen areas stricken by poverty, but being integrated with the people and directly helping them offered a whole new experience. Children were lining up to get their fingers pricked for blood glucose levels just because they wanted to get a band aid. Things like that are so eye opening. It felt amazing to help people. We saved the life of a young boy who would not have known he was dying of an infection if we hadn’t gone their to volunteer. Situations like that really put things into perspective.
I have never fallen in love so hard and so fast as I did with my host project in Romania, from the moment I got out of the car I knew the four weeks I would be there would be the best four weeks of my entire life, and I have not only United Planet for that but the volunteers I shared a home with, and the wonderful staff of project. Coming back home was the hardest thing I had to do, in Romania I now have a family I love and care for as much as my family here. Words cannot describe my happiness and gratefulness for getting the opportunity to meet people that are so incredible.
It was really lovely. I left wishing I had more time…I thought the extra opportunities volunteers were supplied with were really great, though the best part was definitely the people I met, my host family and the men I was working with at my project. I found myself noticing my comfort zone expanding, as I gained friends, knowledge, and experience in where I was, what I was doing, and what I wanted to be doing. It was a really great experience to be working hard at something, feeling unsure and a bit overwhelmed, but just keeping chugging along, and letting life take you as it would.
If I got the chance to go back, I would take it in a heart beat. Never have I felt so close to people and with a culture in those two weeks. Thank you United Planet for a great experience.
I loved meeting the kids and getting to interact with the families in our neighborhood. It was great that we stayed in a non-tourist area so we could get a more authentic feel for our country. The most difficult part was adjusting to the cuisine and helping children in need of medical attention. I’ll always remember this trip and the way it changed my view of the world.
For those of you who think “this is just another orphanage project” everyone’s experience is different and until you work in one you can’t understand truly how rewarding and life changing it is. The kids taught me so much about what family really is. In the houses they all love each other, the mothers treat the kids like they are their own, the kids are like real siblings, and they fight just like a real family too. I feel so grateful that I was able to spend four weeks with the kids, laughing and playing, and honestly just being there for them. That’s what volunteers go to do, to give whatever they can. All the kids want is someone to love them and being that for them is something I’ll never forget.