Want to go? Make sure you know

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Photo: TripAdvisor.com

International travel often sounds exotic. Foreign lands! Fascinating people! Wild, different scenery!
Add to this the gratification of doing good for people and working with locals, and the prospect of an international volunteer program can sound irresistible.
Which is a good thing: Many of us have time, energy, talents and goodwill to share with people around the world. But before you set out, rucksack in hand, for that wild, inviting world abroad, you must do your homework.
Here, courtesy of the International Volunteer Programs Association, are some questions to ask before you commit to an overseas volunteer assignment. For a full list of questions, see IVPA's Web site:
Staff

1. How many full-time staff members do you employ? With how many of these people will I come into contact during my program?
2. What are the roles of the full-time staff positions at the program where I will be volunteering?
3. Will I have a bilingual staff member on-site and available to me in person at all times?
Accommodation

1. How and how often is the accommodation selected and monitored?
2. What type of security is in place overnight?
Contact
1. How will my friends and family contact me if there is an emergency at home?
2. How will I contact my friends and family if I have an emergency during my program?
Organization
1. How long has the organization been conducting programs?
2. How many people do you send each year?
3. Does the organization hold current and adequate domestic and foreign liability insurance?
Do you have a story of a surprise - good or bad - you encountered on a volunteer program? Please share!

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