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GIVE: A Volunteer Experience For The Planet

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

If you’re looking to have an exciting adventure, do some good, and you’re interested in saving the environment, look no further than GIVE. GIVE stands for Growth International Volunteer Excursions and they offer students the chance to volunteer in four amazing countries; Nicaragua, Thailand, Loas and Tanzania. You can stay from as little as 2 weeks to as long as 5 weeks if you sign up for the pre and post two-week adventures.

I volunteered with GIVE after my first year of University in the beautiful central-American country of Nicaragua. Known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, it is also the second poorest country in Central America. What appealed to me about volunteering with GIVE was the message of environmental sustainability they shared across all of their trips. They are not the volunteering type that just goes into a poor community and gives out handouts, assuming they know everything.

The creator of GIVE will go into every community and ask them what they need, and will bring in volunteers to work under local people in creating new resources for their community. In Jiquilillo, on the West coast of Nicaragua, they helped the community build a secondary school which teaches vocational skills like fishing and hospitality. This school was built entirely out of plastic bottles by locals and GIVE volunteers, as plastic pollution was a huge problem on the beaches of Jiquilillo.

When I signed up for my GIVE trip, I had no idea what to expect; I stepped on a plane by myself, not knowing anyone, and headed to Nicaragua. Within an hour of arriving I had befriended two amazing girls who were my roommates the whole of our trip. The project we worked on was building more houses for local people whose homes had been destroyed by rising sea levels. We also had the opportunity to help teach English to students of all ages at the local extra-curricular school.

Every night after a long day of volunteering, our amazing guides (shoutout to Tony and Jake!) would sit with us and talk about how our volunteering was not just assisting the local people, but meant that the community would be providing itself with necessary resources. Everyday I learnt something new, and everyday my perspective on the environment was altered further.

The second week we travelled to a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea called Little Corn Island. A beautiful, magnificent island that was being damaged by rising sea levels, this meant that houses were being destroyed. Here I learnt more than I could have ever expected to about our use of plastic, and how problematic waste is for small communities.

The community on Little Corn Island threw all their rubbish into a huge container, which was sent to the bigger island and burned. I learnt how important it was to not just recycle but reduce the amount of plastic we use, because the damage of global warming and pollution was most clearly being felt by the smallest communities.

It wasn’t all hard work and education though; GIVE trips offer amazing adventures like sandboarding down an active volcano, snorkelling and scuba diving in the Caribbean Sea, and surfing lessons in the Pacific Ocean. You also make amazing friends for life (shoutout to Shelly and Sharon – the best roommates I could have ever asked for!)

Going on a GIVE trip is the most exciting and rewarding thing you can do with your summer, and it is educational in the best way. That was the most surprising thing to my friends and family; how much I had learnt when I came back and how it has forever changed the way I view plastic use and environmental issues.

One final lesson I learnt from my GIVE guides which I continue to share is ‘Vote with your dollar’ (but £ works the same). This means every time you spend a pound, think about where you’re spending it. This means things like spending money in local coffee shops – and just local shops generally! Avoid buying products in plastic packaging, and always choose a package-free alternative where possible.

Every time you spend a pound on organic food, you are telling the world that you want farmers to grow healthy and safe food. Every time you spend a pound on something fair-trade, you are fighting poverty.

For more information about GIVE and the programs in other countries check out their website:



All images writer’s own

I'm currently a 4th year student at The University of Nottingham studying American Studies and English. Last year I was on exchange at The University of Western Ontario in Canada. I love reading, I'm an absolute book-worm and will read anything and everything and I'm a huge Shonda Rhimes fan.
Emily Talbut


I'm a third year English student at University of Nottingham and when I'm not working or writing, I'm probably watching a Disney movie or listening to one of their soundtracks! I'm a Campus Correspondent for HC Nottingham and generally write about food, travel, and the food I've experienced on my travels!