Philadelphia Women’s Journal

Sherman Mills

From our archives: The Philadelphia Women’s Journal published a story on Cosmic Volunteers in October 2008:

Travel with a Conscience

As an alternative to scratching travel plans, people of all ages are increasingly finding value in affordable, international volunteer programs.

For a safe, all-inclusive, well-prepared journey, travelers turn to Cosmic Volunteers for an enriching, life-changing experience. Spending time immersed in communities abroad allows volunteers to participate in humanitarian and environmental projects.

Volunteers benefit from experiencing diverse cultures, taking part in important social and ecological work, and having an experience increasingly important to businesses that like to see such initiatives on employee’s resumes.

Cosmic Volunteers is a US-based non-profit organization that offers volunteer and internship programs abroad in China, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Peru and Vietnam.

The business sets itself apart from other organizations by offering a unique combination of affordable program fees, trustworthy staff and advisors, and diverse programs.

With home offices in Philadelphia, Cosmic Volunteers sends hundreds of volunteers abroad each year to volunteer and intern at schools, hospitals, newspapers, orphanages, HIV/AIDS clinics, women’s groups, and other organizations who ask for assistance.

Cosmic Volunteers was founded in 2000 in Philadelphia by Scott Burke who volunteered as a teacher in rural Nepal. Cosmic Volunteers began by offering programs in Nepal but has since established ongoing programs on several continents.

Volunteers are mostly from the US, Canada, and Europe, and come from all walks of life, ranging in age from high school to retirees. Most programs do not require special skills or experience, just an open mind and a desire to reach out to those in need in non-western countries.

The program fees cover volunteers’ meals, accommodations, orientation, most in-country transport, and 24/7 guidance and support provided by program coordinators in each host country. The program fee also covers the continuing costs of recruiting volunteers, producing literature, answering phone calls and e-mails, developing the Web site, and preparing volunteers for their trips.

The program’s staff has been on-the-ground in all program countries, as volunteers, students, and interns, so they can answer pre-trip questions, provide in-country support with confidence, and be with the volunteers every step of the way.

After graduating with a B.A. in Literature from Franklin & Marshall College, Philadelphia native Burke spent more than 10 years working in the information technology field. He started Cosmic Volunteers after volunteering for three months as a teacher in rural Nepal in 2000.

Since that Nepal trip, Burke has visited most of the countries where he now offers programs. He has met with local coordinators, visited project sites, stayed with host families,and done volunteer work, all the while gathering as much firsthand knowledge as possible about the cultures and living experiences for future volunteers.

Sample Host Countries:

Ghana
Cosmic Volunteers’ most popular host country is Ghana. Volunteer programs in Ghana include teaching English, working at orphanages, volunteering at hospitals and clinics, HIV/AIDS volunteering, coaching sports, journalism, and the new “Two Week Winter Break Program.” Free time is spent learning about the local community’s elaborate festivals, crafts, contemporary arts, music and dances, unique architectural styles, and natural and herbal medicine. Ghana is an extremely safe country, free of any political strife and hassle-free for foreigners, with local people who are very friendly and welcoming to foreign visitors. There are even direct flights from New York and London.

Guatemala
Guatemala offers volunteers the special opportunity to help local communities while becoming immersed in the culture of Latin America. Volunteer programs in Guatemala include teaching English, ecology projects, and environmental education. The rural area of San Andres is an ideal environment to learn and practice Spanish as well.

Kenya
Volunteering programs in Kenya immerse volunteers into the rich and varied culture of Kenya. In Nairobi volunteers live and work in one of Africa’s largest cities. In the Rift Valley, volunteers live and work in Maasai tribe communities — a truly African experience. Programs also take place in Ngong Hills outside of Nairobi and Kakamega in western Kenya. In both locations, volunteers experience life in rural Africa while doing orphanage, teaching, and HIV/AIDS volunteer work.

Cosmic Volunteers is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, with all program fees tax-deductible for US taxpayers. It is not affiliated with any government or religious organization and receives 100% of funding from the program fees.

Cosmic Volunteers is headquartered at 3502 Scott’s Lane, Sherman Properties in Philadelphia.

Call toll free at 1-888-717-0721 or visit online at www.cosmicvolunteers.org.