Meet Damien! And learn why he believes in volunteering responsibly

We are proud to introduce our first Learning Service Ambassador! Damien has always been interested in volunteering abroad and like us, felt there was something missing: a focus on learning about a community before serving them.


“I went to India when I was 16 with my Indian friend and his family and I realized how much I actually had to learn before I could really help,” Damien told us.


He has since been involved with EIL Ireland, a nonprofit organization providing intercultural learning opportunities through study and volunteer abroad activities.


“They have been a fantastic organization, opening my eyes to how we can really understand poverty and international development,” Damien explained.


Currently, Damien is the president of Trinity College Dublin’s Amnesty International society and is a part of EIL Ireland’s Development Education team, which educates the public about global and local issues and encourages global citizenship.


As a Learning Service Ambassador Damien hopes to promote the “learning” lifestyle.


“I think the whole system and way of thinking about volunteering abroad needs to change. At the moment it is not encouraging sustainable development. I would really like to get involved in putting it back on track – to empower communities, to get people learning and make sure there is sustainability and accountability.”


Want to learn more about Damien and the amazing work he is doing? Check out his blog post on Comhlámh, an organization dedicated to fostering good practice and critical engagement in volunteering and action for development.


If you are interested in joining Damien and the Learning Service Ambassador team, fill out this short application.

Volunteer Responsibly via Comhlamh

Volunteering abroad has become a craze, particularly for college students, over the last ten years. With a globalizing world, young people in Ireland are feeling more and more of a responsibility to serve in the majority world.


College students from all over the country have packed their bags and jetted off to faraway countries for an intercultural volunteering experience. Damien MacThomáis is one of these students. Here he reports on his experiences with Learning Service.


Continue reading on the Comhlamh blog!

We need you: Be a Learning Service Ambassador!

We need you!


The second video in our “Know Before You Go” series goes live this week and we need your help spreading the word. After we launched the contest last week we received a lot of feedback asking how you can be involved so we created the Learning Service Ambassador program.


We are looking for 10 students, recent graduates, or passionate volunteers who are interested in creating conversations around responsible international volunteering. The Learning Service Ambassador role includes working with our team to promote the video contest, engage in online conversations around service, and work with a global team to help spread some valuable learning material around the world!


To apply to be a Learning Service Ambassador:

  • Fill out a short application
  • Join our team conference call for 30 minutes if you are able (20 Jan – time TBD based on location of callers)
  • Commit to a role on the team helping to spread the Learning Service material (Minimum 1 hour per week for the next six weeks)

Interns who successfully complete their commitments will:

  • Get the experience of being part of a dynamic international team
  • Receive a letter of reference based on their performance (for all who complete the tasks they commit to)
  • Get to promote valuable learning materials to their peers and beyond

Join us if you are interested in shaping global conversations around responsible international service! Apply by January 17, 2014.

Rethinking Volunteer Travel via PEPY

Thursday, January 2014
by Amy McLoughlin


International volunteering has grown in popularity, and with so many people going abroad to “serve”, we worry that we are often forgetting a really important step: we have to learn before we can help. If we don’t research our options thoroughly, understand the context and culture of the communities we visit, and ensure that our skills and experience match the needs, volunteering can be wasteful, and at worst, cause a lot of harm.


PEPY, and our friends at the Learning Service, are promoting a movement of learning, designed to better prepare young people about to travel abroad for the first time, and travelers of all ages looking to give back through their time, with the skills and mindsets they need to be of “service”, not just for a few weeks on a volunteer trip, but for the rest of their lives.


Read more on PEPY’s blog!

Test your responsible volunteer knowledge and win prizes along the way!

We think volunteering is great, but we’re also convinced it could be done a lot better!


In summer 2013 we launched this website full of information, insights, and resources that better educate would-be volunteers about the impacts of their volunteering decisions – both good and bad – which will better equip them to put their good intentions to good use.


To continue engaging the volunteer travel community we created the “Know Before You Go” video competition. Starting January 7th we will release a new video each week along with a single-question quiz. After watching, viewers who answer the question correctly will be entered in a drawing for a pair of KEEN Shoes or Eagle Creek Pack-it Cube. When the last video is released, those who’ve correctly answered all six questions will have the chance to win a three-day trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia!


The contest starts on Tuesday, January 7th so please spread the word. Be sure to join the challenge too, you wouldn’t want to miss the chance to visit Cambodia!


For more information and contest updates follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!