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The Center for Global Education promotes international education to foster cross-cultural awareness, cooperation and understanding. Living and working effectively in a global society requires learning with an international perspective.

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Volume 1, Number 2, Spring - Summer 2000

The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) A Resource For Both Students and Education Abroad Practitioners

by Christine Victorino, Director, IVPA

The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is an alliance of non-profit, non-governmental organizations based in Canada and the United States, that are involved in international volunteer and internship exchanges. IVPA is a professional network that encourages excellence and responsibility in the field of international volunteerism and promotes public awareness of and greater access to international volunteer programs.

Among IVPA's members, there exists a broad array of international volunteer opportunities, ranging form short-term to long-term programs and in all parts of the world. In 1997, the first Community Service Around the World (CSAW) Conference and Opportunities Fair occurred at UC Berkeley. The Conference included public workshops and panel discussions such as "Volunteers in Africa: Good Intention to Effective Action," "The Inside Scoop: Personal Stories of Service Around the World," and "Getting There Airfares, Visas, Health and Assorted Travel Tips." Out of this first conference, representatives from international volunteer organizations saw the value of collaboration and resolved to create IVPA.

In 1999, the second CSAW Conference and Expo was kicked off by IVPA Day, which officially launched the association. IVPA Day consisted of professional development workshops in areas such as crisis management, under-representation in volunteering abroad, pre-departure and re-entry training, and cross-cultural understanding. Also included were roundtable meetings to discuss IVPA's future mandate and activities. Through the association, IVPA members could have a unified voice, leverage resources, and work jointly on projects. One of the main goals for IVPA in its inaugural year was to create a web site that represented the field of international volunteerism and to negotiate a cost-effective insurance program for IVPA members. The insurance program included options for travel and supplemental medical options for volunteers as well as international liability insurance for organizations. Since CSAW occurred in 1999, IVPA has completed its initial projects and moved forward on many new initiatives.

IVPA offers the comprehensive web site,, for individuals considering a volunteer program abroad. Users can search for a program that matches three criteria: region or country, length of service, and type of work. Program descriptions are available for almost 100 hundred different organizations. In addition, the web site offers valuable tips in areas such as fundraising and finding the 'right' program. Health and safety information can be found on the site at There are also some related resources with links on working abroad, studying abroad, and general information for people considering extended experiences overseas.

Over the past year, IVPA has become a leading voice for the field of international volunteerism. IVPA has set a list of Best Practices for international volunteer programs, created a list-serve for programs' staff, and collaborated on volunteer recruitment. IVPA has been instrumental in getting international volunteer programs greater exposure at regional and national conferences, print publications and with an upcoming PBS documentary. In 2000, IVPA will host its third conference, and it will focus on areas important to the field, such as improved training for volunteers, research on the impact of overseas programs, and managing risks abroad. As more and more individuals search for meaningful overseas experiences, IVPA hopes to continue providing objective and comprehensive information on volunteering abroad.

For more information on IVPA and its members, please refer to our website: or contact

Phone: 510-763-9206. Fax: 510-763-9290.

Christine Victorino is currently the Director of IVPA and has volunteered abroad in Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, and India.