Interntional program offers life-changing experiences

Each year, interested students all over the world, from universities and colleges in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., travel to other nations to take part in environmental and humanitarian programs geared to bettering our world.

The program that provides students with this life-changing experience is a nonprofit organization called International Student Volunteers (ISV).

UAA was fortunate enough to have ISV Campus Representative, Juan-Pierre Rossouw, visit campus and share information with students on the application process and past experiences of students all over the world who have taken advantage of this experience.

“I’m a big believer that students should go and do things overseas, because you get that life-changing experience,” Rossouw said.

Though the application process is not as long and tedious as similar programs, ISV only accepts students who they feel will make a significant difference and are willing to learn about new cultures, languages and customs.

Language experience is not required, and interested students’ majors or courses of study will in no way affect their acceptance into the program. However, only 50 students are selected each departure date, making the application process competitive and acceptance permanent once a student commits and pays their deposit.

After students fill out a short application with desired dates and location of travel, ISV responds about a week later with their response, which states whether or not the student is accepted. Once the student’s contract is completed and the deposit is paid, ISV will pick one of the student’s selections of location and date and will then confirm with them if the time and place is acceptable.

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Students may work with their advisors to arrange earning credit while taking part in ISV’s program, but availability varies with each student and is not dependent on ISV. Students may also customize ISV’s programs to fit their own needs. Students may also spend two weeks of their time overseas doing volunteer work and then use the rest of their trip for personal use, like vacationing.

Prior to departure date, ISV offers students who are traveling to South American countries with a five-day Spanish course that includes salsa-dancing classes after the tutorial sessions. Programs after the departure include the Galapagos or Peru Excursion for students traveling to Ecuador and the Fiji excursion for those going to New Zealand and Australia.

People of all ages may take part in ISV’s program and do not have to be students. The minimum age is 18, and there is no maximum. Rossouw spoke of an 83-year-old woman from Phoenix who recently applied in one of ISV’s humanitarian programs with her main goal being that she only wants to help others and make a difference.

“Everyone can make a difference,” Rossouw said, urging that all ages, races, degrees and nationalities are accepted to promote diversity and a variety of cultures within the program.

Over 20 applications were submitted Friday night by UAA students, but Rossouw mentioned that in other universities as many as over 100 can be turned in. Many students attended Rossouw’s presentation and he mentioned that it was a successful turnout.

When asked about the presentation, Thomas Harris, a UAA junior, replied, “It was really good. [Rossouw] made you excited to want to go to these countries. He made it hard to choose.”

Harris’ first two choices were South Africa and Australia, but he said that all of the programs sounded desirable.

Rossouw mentioned two students on campus he knew of that took part in ISV last year. They traveled to New Zealand and Ecuador. New Zealand programs focus on environmental volunteering projects, while Ecuador programs focus on humanitarian issues and work with the people of the country.

Students who have traveled with ISV in the past have described the program and what it entails as life changing and an unforgettable experience.

Interested students can learn more on ISV’s website at or can contact Juan-Pierre Rossouw at [email protected]