Dancing Around the World

Dancing is one of the many unique ways to express yourself and your culture.

Flamenco is a dance that originates from southern Spanish region of Andalucia and is well-known in Seville. This unique dance has been around for about 400 years and used to be a dance for the poor, which usually included the Gypsies, Moors, and Jews in the 16th century. Typically a woman dances, while a man plays the guitar and sings. Today the songs can either be dramatic and forceful to express a protest or dissatisfaction, or lighter to show happiness or a sense of humor.

Khon is one of the six traditional dances from Thailand, in which the dancers wear masks and elaborate costumes. The story told through dance is based on the Hindu Ramayana epics from India and is depicted as a drama as the performers act and dance. While they dance, a chorus sings to create a narrative for the audience to follow since the dancers cannot speak. Originally, only men were allowed to participate in the dance and it was held in a royal court, but now women are also an important part of the dance that now takes place on a stage. Some of the sets of characters: male, female, demons, celestial beings and monkeys.

In Brazil, the fast paced couples dance called Samba originates from the 16th century when Brazil was a colony of Portugal. The slaves that were brought over from Angola were told they couldn’t worship their own gods by their Christian Portuguese masters. After awhile, the Portuguese became suspicious of the slaves dances and tried to outlaw the parties where they gathered to dance. Today, Samba is a national symbol of Brazil, most common in the Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo region. It is a typical dance during Carnival and is well-known throughout the world. The music is typically composed with drums and guitar.

There are many unique dances around the world. So next time you travel, make sure you make some time in your agenda to see the dances live or even take a class.


Why You Should Stay With a Host Family

When most people travel abroad, they stay in hotels or resorts and don’t get the chance to immerse themselves in the culture of the country they are visiting. If you choose to do a World Endeavors intern, study or volunteer program that offers a home stay with a native family, you will have the opportunity of a life time. Here are some reasons a home stay is such a great experience.

1. The family will most likely cook local and delicious food for you daily.

2. In some cases they might even do your laundry for you!

3. You can ask them about their culture and gain an understanding of your surroundings and why people have certain customs or how they came about.

4. You can see how people live day-to-day.

5. They can make suggestions for local places to eat. This will give you a chance to go to these places and mingle with the locals.

6. If there are any interesting places to visit in the area, such as caves, beaches or castles that not many people know about, they will probably give you tips on where it is and how to get there.

7. If you have doubts about how to do daily tasks in a foreign country, especially one that speaks a different language, such as catching the bus or setting up your cell phone, they will also be able to help.

8. It’s nice to have a home away from home in a foreign country. Often, you will be able to do activities with them or go on trips with them.

9. You can stay in contact with the family after you leave. This may increase your chances of going back to visit!

10. You can greatly improve your language skills if the family doesn’t speak English.

Winners of the World Endeavors Volunteer in Thailand Contest


World Endeavors is pleased to announce the winners of our Volunteer in Thailand contest. Many great ideas were submitted, and selecting the recipient of the full scholarship and the nine recipients of the partial scholarships was not easy. We received well over 100 great ideas and thousands of thoughtful comments in response to the three questions we posted.

And now, the winners of the 2009 World Endeavors Volunteer Trip to Thailand are:

Full Scholarship:

Tom Mitchell

Partial Scholarships:

Ashley Elgatian

Jessica Gorman

SarahJean Harrison

Andreas King-Geova

Teresa Ng

Laura Palmer

Joylani Shibata

Liza Smirnoff

Kristy Wilson

How the Winners were selected:

Our selection process weighed the number of votes received, the quality of the contributor’s response, and the quality of the comments received. As stated in “The Challenge” directions, receiving the greatest number of votes was not the only criteria used to select scholarship winners.

We feel that through this process we have identified a team of volunteers who will make the most of the opportunity to contribute to and learn from our local community-based volunteer program in Thailand.

In the end we were truly inspired by the enthusiasm, creativity and initiative put into this contest and for that we want to thank all of the contributors. We sincerely hope that the contributors for whom we were not able to provide a scholarship will continue to work to make a difference, both in their home communities and around the world.

Summer 2008 World Endeavors Photo Contest Winners! Category: Places

Thanks to everyone who sent in photos for the summer 2008 photo contest. We got some great shots, and it was hard to choose the winners (so we cheated and picked two for each category!). These photos will be featured on our website, www.worldendeavors.com. To see more World Endeavors photos, check out our new World Endeavors Flickr account.

Here are the winners – drumroll…

For the Places category:

Mehrdad Pourzakikhani, World Endeavors Thailand, June 2008

Reclining Buddha - Mehrdad Pourzakikhani, World Endeavors Thailand Health Care Volunteer, June 2008

Sunset over Mole National Park - Sookyung Shutoff, World Endeavors Ghana Youth Soccer Coaching Volunteer, June 2008

Sunset over Mole National Park - Sookyung Shutoff, World Endeavors Ghana Youth Soccer Coaching Volunteer, June 2008

Summer 2008 World Endeavors Photo Contest Winners! Category: People

Thanks to everyone who sent in photos for the summer 2008 photo contest. We got some great shots, and it was hard to choose the winners (so we cheated and picked two for each category!).  These photos will be featured on our website, www.worldendeavors.com.  To see more World Endeavors photos, check out our new World Endeavors Flickr account.

Here are the winners – drumroll…

For the People category:

Kim Reeves, World Endeavors Ghana volunteer, July - August 2008

Kim Reeves, World Endeavors Ghana Health Volunteer, July - August 2008

Vanessa Bezy, World Endeavors Costa Rica, May-July 2008

Vanessa Bezy, World Endeavors Costa Rica Sea Turtle Project, May-July 2008

World Endeavors Summer Photo Contest

Hello to all of our World Endeavors volunteers, interns, and students going abroad in spring/summer 2008!

We are excited to have participants in 16 countries this summer – Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Spain, Italy, England, Ghana, Thailand, China, Nepal, India, Guatemala, New Zealand, the Philippines, France, and Jamaica! With so many incredible people abroad doing so many incredible things, it would be a shame to not have a way for you to share all of your experiences with each other. And so…

I am excited to announce the first ever World Endeavors Summer Photo Contest! This contest will be a way for all of you to share what you’re up to, as well as to show off your photography skills. We will be collecting photos in 3 categories:
People – Photos of you, new friends, host families, people you work/volunteer/study with, etc.

Landscapes – These can be urban or natural – scenes from the cities, towns, and rural areas where you’re living and traveling.

Food – Who doesn’t love food pictures? I want to see typical meals from your countries, scenes from produce markets, and all of the crazy new things you’ve been brave enough to try (or at least brave enough to photograph!)

Email your pictures to us by July 10 (so you’ve got a few weeks to get out there and take some photos!). You don’t need to submit one for each category – just send in what you’ve got.

I will post all of the submissions right here on this blog, and then you will have a chance to vote for your favorites. The winning photos in each category will be featured on our website!

So if you’ve got some great pictures already, send them in, and if you’ve been shy with the camera so far, get out there and get some great shots! We can’t wait to see what you’ve got.

Volunteering in Special Education

We are proud to offer our volunteers many unique programs- and some of the most meaningful ones, to us, are our Special Education volunteer opportunities. Children and adults with disabilities in developing countries often are considered ‘second class citizens,’ not receiving the same access to education, economic opportunities, or transportation as people without disabilities. By teaching English, providing skills training and special tutoring, or just by being a friend, international volunteers can help. While these programs present special challenges to participants, the volunteers who do participate have a deeply meaningful experience.

In Ecuador, volunteers can work with children who have Down’s Syndrome, as well as blind and Deaf children.

In the Philippines, World Endeavors offers a program providing skills and computer training to young Deaf adults.

In Thailand, volunteers can work at an orphanage that focuses specifically on providing care to children with developmental and physical disabilities.

In Jamaica, volunteers can provide extra tutoring to Jamaican adults hoping to get into college during the July “Fast Track” program.

Opportunities may exist in other countries, too! Let us know if you have a specific interest. The best thing about Special Ed programs is that our volunteers consistently find that they have more fun, more connections, more meaningful experiences, and more friendships than they had ever thought possible. The biggest beneficiary of the program might not be the Deaf teenager you tutor in keyboarding or the blind child in Thailand – it may very well be you.

Our programs in Special Education always need another volunteer, so don’t hesitate to apply!