NEWSLETTER FOR AUGUST 2010
It is always good to get away and relax, fire up the batteries and come back to the office with renewed vigour and excitement of the new year ahead.
August is often described as the ‘silly season' with not a lot happening. The month comes in quietly but after the A level results went public it has been mayhem. Silly season but not quite the way the newspapers might describe it!
With the severe lack of university places available this year those who did not quite receive their results needed for that place are looking for alternatives. Sadly with the economy doing no more than bumping along and the prospects of finding a job very slim then people are looking for alternatives.
We have found that people wanting to go on our paid placements has increased - this is part of an ongoing trend and I think this is going to continue until the economy does start to find some fresh impetus.
Added to this we have found that graduates are themselves not finding the job security they thought they might find with their hard earned degree.
It's an interesting time in the gap year industry...
But don't think I am in putting in my order for that new Ferrari...far from it. Gap years with Changing Worlds do cost money and there's the catch - how do people afford it when they have got no funds to do this sort of thing? A very difficult to question to answer and for those people who are earning the income they are reluctant to leave and say good bye to that guaranteed income stream.
I think this is another reason why the paid placements are more popular at present.
However I would argue that penny for penny, pound for pound, gap years can offer good value for money. Let's take a placement with us to say Kenya. The cost (with flights) is just over £3 000 for six months (around 24 weeks or 168 days) - that makes just under UK£18 per day.
Now try living in the UK on UK£18 per day - including accommodation and food.
You see my point.
Of course you could argue ‘well this does not include socializing and travel' - it does not. But this does vary from one person to the next and some of us socialize more than others.
Let's compare this with three years at an English university - I think I read somewhere that the average graduate is coming up with students loans in the value of say UK£25k after three years (1095 days).
Let's put that through the same equation and what are the (loose) calculations:
- just under UK£23 per day.
OK now you could argue that we are not comparing like with like - at university there are the opportunities to work in free time and in student holidays. However as I raised earlier there simply are not the jobs out there!
I am not suggesting for one minute that students should not go to university - far from it as it is one of the best experiences anyone will ever have.
It's food for thought and becomes even more poignant for graduates.
Your comments are most welcome...email@example.com
I hope you enjoy August's issue of our e-newsletter. It includes, as always, lots of feedback from participants from all around the World.
We are continuing to add to our blog with lots of interesting and thoughtful (and sometimes funny!) stories collected from all around the World. We do encourage past, present and future participants to engage in our blog that should as a useful reference source for everyone about volunteering, gap years, travel and Changing Worlds.
To access our blog do go to:
Comments are most welcome on any of our entries. Where participants from overseas make a contribution we will provide their e-mail address so you can contact them directly.
I am pleased to announce that we have now reached 2 000 fans. How good is that?...well done Craig for keeping the group vibrant and alive. If you want to join then do find us at:
www.facebook.com - type in ‘Changing Worlds' in to the groups field and become a fan!
I must admit it has taken Craig an incredible amount of patience to get me engaged with this form of social media. But now I am hooked...I love it and would encourage other people to get involved. It's the kind of thing that you can pick up and run with for a little while, then leave it and then come back to it. No pressure.
Also I learn so much about things as well - not just business related but on a personal level too where people are offering help and advice where they can. The beauty of Twitter is that you can take it or leave it and connect with people and organizations that are of an interest to you.
Do check us out at:
I hope to see you there sometime!
Jack in Yantai is always keen to tell me more about his exciting developments for gap year students and for those people who want to learn Mandarin.
How are you? Hoping all is well with you.
Here are the highlights and features of Chinese Summer Program 2011 for your reference. This Program is designed in far advance so that you will have enough time to preapre and launch the marketing strategy at your side. Hopefully you could start promoting ahead of time from now on. Early birds always catch the worms.
Chinese Summer Program 2011
Learning Chinese Mandarin and Culture Project
Dates: July 11 Monday to August 5 Friday (Four Weeks)
Courses and Contents:
Chinese Listening and Speaking;
Chinese Reading and Writing;
Tours and Visits to Chinese ancient relics and cultural heritage sites in Yantai.
Schedule and Timetable
4 hours per day, Monday to Friday
8:00am to 12:00pm
Program Placement Location:
Yantai University, China
Accommodation Residence: International hostel on campus in Yantai University, China.
UK£2 824 per person
Including the following:
The return-trip airfare from London Heathrow to Yantai in China
(we deduct UK£700 for those people who organize their own flights to Beijing)
Accommodation on campus for a shared twin room with all beddings, the simple furniture, air-conditioner, the private bathroom, TV, phone, internet access.
All textbooks, exercise books and flash cards,
Airport service at Yantai.
Local city tours upon arrival;
Program orientation and supervision;
24/7 emergency service in case of any need.
Certificate of Course Completion issued by Yantai University with credits transferable back to home schools.
One Chinese traditional calligraphy and one Chinese ink-brush painting as a gift package at program completion.
The Program Fee does not include the followings:
The visa application fee for entry in China;
Overseas insurance and medical cost if any;
Any other personal costs such as the busfare, taxi, phone bills and drinks etc.
Program is conducted on one-on-one basis by private tutoring with tailored courses specifically designed to meet the need and requirement of each individual candidate.
The dates for arrival and departure are flexibly designed as per the convenience of each individual candidate.
All candidates will need to apply for and obtain a tourist visa for entry.
Hoping this could be helpful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions concerning the Program.
Regards and best wishes.
If you would like to know more about the Changing Worlds teaching placements (in primary schools) in Yantai or would like to know more about the Chinese Mandarin courses then do access our website for further information:
My colleague Wilberforce who has helped us set up community sports and community placements in Uganda has recently been in touch.
Wilberforce seems to be spending more of his time in Sweden and due to the initial success of our programme in Uganda he has been thinking about the volunteer possibilities in Stockholm in Sweden.
Hello David hope you are doing well,
The outline of the projects are;
1.Schools project: The volunteers go to different schools and raise awareness of global issues like human rights, peace, poverty etc.
2.Film project: Volunteers help to teach youths of ages between 16-30 how to make movies, ( Capturing with the camera, directing, editing and producing the movies)
3.Music studio the volunteer will help in writing songs, and helping the youths to produce / Record their songs in the our local music studio.
4. Performance, Events and Concerts. After producing videos and songs in the studio volunteers together the locas can organise concerts to perform the songs and film festivals to show the movies produced to the community.
5. Teach music instruments and general music including singing.
6 Training football and physical education both in schools and community youth teams.
7.Creative club . Teaching people on how to start their own bussineses and how to put ideas on paper and implementing them.
8. Volunteer in the International school of sports and leadership. Volunteers can teach,or help in other practicle things like administration, preparing breakfast and meals for the students.
9.Poverty eradication programs. Volunteers can help in working with organising fundraising events to get funds that help projects like Malaria, HIV/ AIDS, Children and women in developing countries.
**Volunteers can always initiate projects that they feel are of significancy to the organization or the community in Sweden.
If you are interested and would like to know more then do drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and I can get you in contact with Wilberforce.
Aldo the Changing Worlds representative in Canavieiras in Bahia region of Brazil has been in touch to say that their new sports centre was now complete. How impressive is this? It took less than 12 months for planning, design and construction. What a huge difference this is going to make to the small coastal community who up until now had little or nothing!
Anyone interested in going out there to show the Brazilians how to play football??
To find out more about our work placements in Canavieiras then do look at the website at:
Travel insurance is a compulsory part of the travelling experience - we cannot let anyone get on board any aircraft going anywhere with out it. Its too risky!
At Changing Worlds we are not insurance brokers - and do not wish to be as we have found over the years things can get very complicated. However we are very happy to make recommendations to anyone who is thinking of travelling.
These three organizations provide a comprehensive cover and because we have got to know them over the years do know they support legitimate claims.
Mind The Gap Year Insurance: http://www.mindthegapyear.com/
STA Travel Insurance: http://www.statravel.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/uk_division_web_live/hs.xsl/travel-insurance.htm
I am told the blue option is the best option for gap year students and those wishing to volunteer on a work placement overseas.
Endsleigh Travel Insurance: https://travel1.endsleigh.co.uk/gap.aspx?icid=&CompanyID=&ReferralID=9099
Of course there are plenty of other options. Also make sure that your electrical goods (i-pods, cameras) are covered by the policy.
What we want to avoid is people taking out cheap insurance only to discover that it is inadequate for their needs.
The Year Out Group (to whish Changing Worlds are active members) has some sound advice at:
It pays to shop around!
I mentioned cost and it being hard to find a job and a reliable income stream earlier in this news letter.
Many people apply to Changing Worlds and the one big thing that puts them off is the cost.
People cannot understand why they need to pay to volunteer.
Like many other gap year organizations we have running costs - I would live to do this work for free as would our staff but this is impossible. We have an office to run and computers, filing systems, photo copiers etc to maintain and run.
Then we have the cost of the placements - flights, orientation on arrival to the country, a pre departure course and an active support network whilst overseas. Sadly these things do not come fro free. Unlike some gap year organizations Changing Worlds does include the rent as part of our package (This is not the case for our paid placements however!).
We do this because we do not want to be a drain on the resources of the school or the orphanage. We do not feel it is either fair or right to ask these institutions to pay for the volunteer's accommodation and food when they are strapped for cash themselves. We want to help spread the resources so that the institutions and the local community benefit.
That's why we do what we do!
Believe it or not but despite our hardships we are relatively well off compared with most people living on this planet and we feel the benefits of what we do should be spread evenly.
And no I do not drive a Ferrari - my T registered Renault clio does me just fine!
As I have mentioned in previous newsletters Changing Worlds is keen to help in fundraising.
We can help participants raise funds through some fun ways - have a look at this website for ideas:
Kelly has recently done some fundraising through a sponsored walk. Luckily she had a relatively sunny day and escaped the worst of the recent wet weather in Scotland.
Do contact Kelly to find out how she set it up:
If you would like to find out more about fundraising ideas then do let me know at email@example.com
Equally do contact our fundraising ‘expert' Chantelle Lesforis at:
Chantelle is now working part time for a cancer research trust in her home town of Chelmsford. They employed her because of her history of fund raising for Changing Worlds...how cool is that?
NEWSPAPER JOURNALISM IN INDIA
Rory went to work at the New Indian Express in Chennai. He worked there earlier this year. Rory was a brilliant volunteer and put in and gained so much from his experiences at the news paper.
Rory was keen to share some thoughts on living and working in Chennai. He writes:
"The block of flats is located in the North West quarter of the city called Mogappair .Along the street is everything you could ever need such as two coffee shops (both the Indian equivalent to Starbucks), a dry cleaners, two supermarkets, an internet cafe, a stationers and a bakers to name but a few. I sourced all of my food from the two supermarkets along the street which pretty much sell everything you could ever need On occasion however, I traveled further a field in search of certain specialist ingredients not available in the smaller shops. I found walking around the area was a good way to get your bearings and discover the shops and amenities available in the area. Thankfully there are a number of restaurants and take aways on the street which was a relief considering my cooking ability leaves something to be desired.
The apartment is basic accommodation but nonetheless has a fridge, hot water shower (not that you'll need it during the summer months), TV, gas cooker and a communal washing machine (somewhat of a rarity in a city with a limited water supply). Drinking water is also provided at the minimal cost of Rs. 25 for a big tank (like the ones that go in water dispensers) and this should last a flat of four about a week. The flat layout is spacious and each of the bedrooms are air-conditioned, an essential for the summer months. Each flat has 2 double bed romns. A small self contained kitchen with basic cooking facilities including electric stove and cooking also available and very useful.
Sharing with other Indian people was a great way to get to know the city and culture and it's important to have some local knowledge should you have any queries or need a translator. One great aspect of Chennai is that the vast majority of the population speak very good English, making asking for directions and getting around much easier.
The location is great for getting around also. With Mogappair being situated towards the outskirts of the city it is the last stop for Share Autos and subsequently the starting point for them. Share Autos are without a doubt the best way to get around the city as they are extremely low cost, maximum Rs 20 and very frequent. They differ from Autos (rickshaws) as they are a shared form a transport, in effect like a minibus that takes set routes around the city, stopping and dropping whenever signaled. Autos, on the other hand are individual modes of transport which will take you directly to your destination, in effect just like a small noisy taxi but will charge a premium. Auto drivers are notorious in the city for ripping off clients and will charge astronomical rates for unsuspecting tourists. It's advisable to avoid Autos at all costs however if there's no alternative then generally ask for Rs 50-30 less than the cost they present. I made good use of the buses during my stay and they come in particularly useful for getting to work. . In my experience bus conductors are always willing to help if asked and their limited English is usually enough to get by on."
If you would like to find more then do contact Rory at: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEEDBACK FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Ross has been back in the UK now for about three months. He went and completed a medical placement with us to Kumasi. He writes on his return:
‘My first three months at Aninwaah hospital were a real eye opener in to how the Ghanaian health care system operates.
I was both impressed with the level of care and treatment yet frustrated at the same time that the level of care appeared to correlate to the wealth of the patient!
On several occasions patients with cancer were denied an essential scan or operation and stroke victims denied a CT scan.
This mixture of feelings was all part of the experience and it made me appreciate the level of care given by the NHS (in the UK).
I witnessed everything from surgery to ward rounds, lab work to pharmacy. I learned a lot from the hospital placement and it has certainly prepared me for the clinical environment of medical school.
My remaining month at Asem Boys School also had mixed feelings. The age of the pupils (16-22 years) was much older than expected and proved a big challenge especially with discipline.
The rewards however were great. Giving them a taste of English, poetry mixed with African literature was something I enjoyed as much as the pupils.
My year also won an inter-schools soccer competition (4-1 after lots of practice!) refereed by yours truly!
Also do join the Kumasi Golf Club. Clubs can be rented at around UK£100 per year. Member ship is UK£150 for the year. Cheap!
Ross is now off to University College London to do medicine. We wish him luck. If you would like to find out more about his experiences contact Ross at:
You can also see some of his images at the Changing Worlds Facebook group.
Mark had completed his teacher training course and wanted to go off to South Africa to try some of his new found skills on the locals. We sent him off to teach sport in a primary school in Umtata in Eastern Cape. He writes on his return:
‘The school, Vela School, was a wonderful school. The headteacher was very friendly and made me feel a valuable member of the teaching team.The children are very happy and seem to enjoy coming to school to learn. They love to have someone new come in and teach them. I found the children very interested in life in the UK and always had very interesting questions to ask.
My host family were great and I was welcomed in to the family. They were very friendly and made my time out there better than I believe it would have been without them'.
Mark is now back and has a full time teaching job in the North East of England. If you would like to contact Mark and find out more about his experiences (and those questions the children were asking!) then do contact him at:
Jasdeep is on her law placement to India. She writes:
Yes ive been travelling with my boyfriend for a few weeks its been amazing, hes now gone back to Vienna so im travelling solo again. Im currently in Varanasi im due to go to rajasthan on Thursday for a few days and then going straight back to Chennai. Im gonna be back early than planned as i couldnt get tkts for some places. Im gonna speak to krish of where i can stay when im back in chennai as ive left MCCSS im just waiting to confirm my train ticket for Chennai so i can give him a fixed date.
Ive had an awesome time traveling, kerala has been the highlight so far its amazing, people are so nice there. Varanasi is a very old city so easy to get lost there, spending a lot of the time sleeping recovering from all the traveling in the south. Kinda cant wait to get back to Chennai, missing the heat lol.
Hope your having fun in England, my time is coming to an end here i really dont wanna face the 'real' world again.
If you would like to know more about the law placement or her travels then do contact Jasdeep at:
If you would like to know more about our law placements do log on to:
Carrie enjoyed her time in Masterton in New Zealand - she was there teaching. She signed up for three months but ended up being there for six! (at no extra cost). Carrie writes:
I don't know if you are aware but my time here in Masterton is coming to an end and I thought I would drop you a quick email with a bit of feedback.
Firstly, Henare and Susie Everitt have been excellent hosts and I cannot speak more highly of them. I was made to feel welcome from the moment I stepped in the front door and they have bent over backwards to support me and make sure I get the most out of my time here. They have been fantastic with practical issues such as meals and transport but more importantly I have felt like a member of the family and will be truly sad to leave. Unfortunately I have only heard from Anne Donald twice in the 5 months I have been here, through two brief phone calls. Luckily Susie and Henare have been totally fantastic and I have built some good friendships here so haven't needed any extra support but I wouldn't really have felt comfortable contacting her if I did, as she seems too busy. This is a real shame as I had a lovely first day with her after she picked me up from the airport and I was looking forward to catching up with her over my stay in Masterton. It hasn't, however, hindered my experience in anyway as I have had so much fun in Masterton and in all the other places I have visited in New Zealand. I must admit, I love this country! :)
Secondly, Lakeview school and all its staff have made my time in New Zealand not only fun but worthwhile. At the end of the school term in June I was offered a job there as a teacher aide to cover sick leave. That meant that instead of finishing there at the end of July as scheduled, I am due to finish at the end of August. I have spent almost 5 months at Lakeview and have enjoyed every second of it. The staff have made me feel like a part of the team and included me in all events during the time I've been here. The school has a wonderful vibe, and the kids are just great! I know Ed is keen to continue taking people from Changing Worlds and I am confident they will enjoy it as much as I have.
I finish at Lakeview in two weeks and I am moving to Auckland at the beginning of September to begin a new job that will take me through to Christmas when I return home to England. I know my experience has been quite individual to others, as I have been employed by the school, but I would highly recommend it so feel free to pass my email address on to anyone who is interested as I would happily answer any questions they have. A final thanks to you at Changing Worlds for setting me up with this in the first place and I wish you all the best for the future.
Well done Carrie. Since this mail I have been in contact with Ed the headteacher at Lakeview school who writes in reply to my mail:
We have enjoyed having Carrie at Lakeview. She is a superb young women who I believe will make a great teacher one day. We will miss her but hope that she might come back this way in the future.
We are very happy to have another volunteer here. They have all been very good and have added to our school.
Carrie can be contacted at:
Caroline had a mixed experience on her medical placements in India. She writes:
Just a quick email to fill you in. Unfortunately after being ill for the last two weeks I have finally made the decision to fly home early to re cooperate fully before university starts in september.
I have had a wonderful time in india between chennai and madurai. Even though being ill the whole time in madurai I have managed to see quite a bit and feel the whole trip has been worthwhile.
Krish has been a massive help especially today with trying to get me back to chennai for my flight.
I fly on tuesday morning and arrive tuesday evening in heathrow.
It was hard making the decision and it has taken a few days of deliberating but I think it is for the best.
Thanks for all your help in making my indian experience!
Caroline can be contacted at: email@example.com
(I have yet to hear from her on her return and hope she is now back to full fitness - more news to follow!)
If you would like to know more about our medical placements around the World then hit:
And finally from Matthew who is our first volunteer in Lugazi in Uganda. Matthew is working on a community music project in the town. He writes:
Hi David, in Jinja for the day snd wanted to email you to say that all is well over here, i am having a great time and the promise shown by some of the music club students has blown me away. I wanted to send some pictures but am unable to do so in this cafe but will do when i can.
I bought a local mobile phone out here but seem unable to recieve text messages from the UK on it although sending them to people in the UK works fine, is there a reason for this that you know of? code etc.
I hope all is well with you and changing worlds
Fortunately Matthew is sorted with his phone - I encouraged him to get a local SIM card! Also he has now managed to send me some fantastic photos...but more about this next month!