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Global Ambassadors Summer Program

Dear readers,  It’s been a busy first two months of our Global Ambassadors Summer Exchange Program but we couldn’t be more excited to share a little bit more about the program with you. Our summer program consists of small group workshops, one to one exchanges, and fundraising to support our Guate Groundswell program.  SMALL GROUP …

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Introducing the SOS Global Ambassadors: Meet Group 6!

Dear readers, As we kick off our Global Ambassadors Summer Exchange Program, I am so excited to introduce to you our new SOS Global Ambassadors who will be participating in online exchanges and supporting SOS throughout the summer. Meet the SOS volunteers of Team 6: Shela Lamug  Shela is currently in her first year of …

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Introducing the SOS Global Ambassadors: Meet Group 5!

Dear readers, As we kick off our Global Ambassadors Summer Exchange Program, I am so excited to introduce to you our new SOS Global Ambassadors who will be participating in online exchanges and supporting SOS throughout the summer. Meet the SOS volunteers of Team 5: Emily Addison Emily is currently studying Computer Science and Chemistry …

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Introducing the SOS Global Ambassadors: Meet Group 4!

Dear readers, As we kick off our Global Ambassadors Summer Exchange Program, I am so excited to introduce to you our new SOS Global Ambassadors who will be participating in online exchanges and supporting SOS throughout the summer. Meet the SOS volunteers of Team 4: Kimia Jafar Zadeh Kimia is currently in her second year …

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Introducing the SOS Global Ambassadors: Meet Group 3!

Dear readers, As we kick off our Global Ambassadors Summer Exchange Program, I am so excited to introduce to you our new SOS Global Ambassadors who will be participating in online exchanges and supporting SOS throughout the summer. Meet the SOS volunteers of Team 3: Nick Phillbin Nick is currently studying to get his Masters …

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Introducing the SOS Global Ambassadors: Meet Group 2!

Dear readers, As we kick off our Global Ambassadors Summer Exchange Program, I am so excited to introduce to you our new SOS Global Ambassadors who will be participating in online exchanges and supporting SOS throughout the summer. Meet the SOS volunteers of Team 2: Vanessa Vuong  Vanessa is currently in her second year of …

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Introducing the SOS Global Ambassadors: Meet Group 1!

Dear readers, As we kick off our Global Ambassadors Summer Exchange Program, I am so excited to introduce to you our new SOS Global Ambassadors who will be participating in online exchanges and supporting SOS throughout the summer. Meet the SOS volunteers of Team 1: Daniel Dunn  Daniel is currently in his third year of …

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Durham College Storytelling Workshops in Las Arrugas

Hola amigos, Durhan College along with the Journalism – Mass Media program proposed a semester-long Faculty-led Classroom Abroad. The project was led with collaboration between the Journalism – Mass Media program and Students Offering Support (SOS), specifically Guate Groundswell youth mentors in Las Arrugas, Guatemala.  Students in the Journalism – Mass Media program hosted virtual …

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Carleton Storytelling Workshops in Cotzal, Guatemala

Hola amigos,  COVID 19 has changed our lives and priorities. Before the pandemic, students in Canada had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala to work on different projects and to experience what the life of our Guatemaltecos youth is like. This year, following international and national restrictions, to avoid the spread of Covid 19  we …

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SOS Alumni: Kari Griffore on Fundraising

Dear readers,  This week, I got to sit down with SOS Alum Kari Griffore to talk about her past experiences with SOS and her most recent fundraising efforts to support the community Chuacruz, Guatemala.  Kari was president of the SOS Windsor Chapter and traveled to Chuacruz on an outreach trip in August of 2018. There, …

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Girl’s Rising Gender Equality Workshops Update

Hola amigos,  Goodbye February, welcome March! March is officially the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For me it is a beautiful month with the mix of cold and warm days, sometimes seeing snowstorms and sometimes seeing it melt all at once. Meanwhile, in Guatemala, the temperature also fluctuates significantly at this time …

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Flip the Script Exchanges

Dear readers,  It has been three weeks since we’ve wrapped up our Carleton exchanges with our youth mentors from Guatemala and I am so excited to share with you a little bit about our time together.  For one full week, the Carleton students and youth mentors met regularly every morning to immerse themselves in the …

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February Program Update

Welcome February; our second month of the year, and also a very important time in Guatemala.  In February, the popular festivals in Guatemala are divided into several dates: February 20 is the day of the Marimba, a musical instrument that is the country’s national symbol. February 26 is the National Cultural Heritage Day. On this …

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Flip the Script

Dear readers,  My name is Jensen Arsenault and I am the program coordinator for online exchanges.  I began my journey with SOS in September 2020, developing a curriculum focused on cultural competencies that would serve as a set of pre-exchange modules before students participated in online exchanges. This project felt like the perfect opportunity to …

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Guate Groundswell: January Recap

Hola amigos, After a well-deserved break for our local and international team in which everyone had the opportunity to spend time with family and celebrate December festivities, we came back fresh and ready to start coordinating our first activities. We concluded the month of January. The beginning of the new year and the time to …

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Guate Groundswell Mid-Term Results

Dear readers,  2020 was undoubtedly a year of challenges and growth for many, not only did we have to adapt to the “new normal” but we also had to act in situations that in one way or another resulted in doubts, sadness, and uncertainty for the future. In the same way, we also had experiences …

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Dedicated to Building Sustainable Communities

In the blog Summary of the Guate Groundswell Program, I briefly mentioned the workshops that have been implemented within our communities in Guatemala. These workshops help our young leaders to develop life skills that complement the support provided to their academics. Today I want to tell you in more detail about those workshops. I’d like …

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Mundo Possible-Rachel Now in Cotzal

Last week, our communities of San Felipe Chenla and Ojo de Agua had the great opportunity to take part in Rachel’s training with Mundo Possible.  But, you may wonder,  what is Rachel? Rachel (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) is a portable, battery-powered, device that contains copies of educational websites in an offline …

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Summary of the Guate Groundswell Program

In my previous blog, I talked about myself, and the experiences that contributed to my professional training in the field of community outreach. Today I want to share with you a summary of the activities. Both the small and great achievements that we have experienced so far in the Guate Groundswell Program. If you are …

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Meet Laura, Guate Groundswell Program Coordinator

Dear Readers, I am Laura Barbosa. In July I started in the role of Program Coordinator of Guate Groundswell helping to support the local Program Officers (Isabel, Noe, and Antonio) who are leading the initiative in each of our three partner communities in Guatemala. For this first post, I wanted to introduce myself and what …

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COVID-19 Update

Over recent weeks many campuses have announced an increase of online-focused models of class delivery for the Fall, along with the implementation other social distancing restrictions. Meanwhile, there will be significant barriers to international travel for the foreseeable future. Both these factors will require SOS to adapt many aspects of our usual practices locally at …

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Part-time Positions Available with SOS HQ

Thanks to support from the Canada Summer Jobs program, SOS is preparing to hire a number of part-time positions who will be part of our National HQ staff team in the months ahead as we adapt to the changing environment presented by Covid19. The posted positions include: Digital Exam Aid Program Coordinator (apply by June …

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Our Response to COVID-19

Hi everyone, As you are all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing operational disruptions. As schools and governments continue to take proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus, we wanted to let you know what actions we at SOS are taking to ensure smooth continuity of our operations. The well-being and safety of …

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Connecting Canada’s colleges and universities to the #GlobalGoals

In recent years, SOS has helped build strategic partnerships with Carleton University, the University of Toronto, and Durham College to plan customized experiential learning trips with our local partners in Latin America. This collaboration is part of a growing wave of partnerships between SOS and post-secondary institutions to help connect students to the Sustainable Development …

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Addressing Education Challenges in Rural Guatemala

The Mayan village of Las Arrugas, Guatemala, is one of 100 communities that SOS has been working with throughout Latin America to support Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education, since 2008. The Poqomchi indigenous population that forms the majority of Las Arrugas’ population has suffered from many traumatic and devastating effects from the Guatemalan Civil …

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Resources and Tips to Make Your College or University Life Easier

Your first year of college or university might be the scariest, but there are plenty of ways to prepare yourself for the change of scenery, change in workload, and change in lifestyle. Check out helpful resources and tips from current and previous students below! These resources and tips are mainly for first year students, but …

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Minute School Challenge

Every time an individual from your university joins Minute School for either a free or premium account, your Chapter earns a point in the Minute School Contest. Whoever has the most points as of December 31st will earn additional contributions to their Chapter Revenues, plus you’ll be helping your friends by connecting them with additional …

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Update on the Ongoing Emergencies in Nicaragua and Guatemala

Dear SOS Community, In recent weeks our partnering organizations in Nicaragua and Guatemala have been experiencing exceptionally difficult circumstances as a result of two different scenarios. In Nicaragua, at the end of April 2018, policy changes to the Nicaraguan social security system led to demonstrations and protests that are still ongoing at this time. There …

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Community Profile: Los Limones, Nicaragua

SOS’s Executive Director, James Arron, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations and communities in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in March 2017. When Eddy began teaching in Los Limones 19 years ago, he supported the whole community of 72 students, teaching grades one through six simultaneously, all within a single classroom. It seemed superhuman to me, though …

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Community Profile: Las Escaleras, Nicaragua

SOS’s Executive Director, James Arron, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations and communities in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in March 2017. As we arrived to Las Escaleras we were greeted by a few dozen people lined up outside the school. There were hand-drawn Canadian and Nicaraguan flags adorning all angles of the hilltop school. I looked …

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Community Profiles: Ciudad Vieja & San Lorenzo del Cubo Part II

Laura Viselli, SOS’s Director of International Programs at SOS, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations in Guatemala in October 2017. My second Experience Guatemala tour and second experience in Ciudad Vieja and San Lorenzo del Cubo was a combination confectionary making tour in Ciudad Vieja and a coffee tour in San Lorenzo del Cubo. Despite …

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Community Profiles: Ciudad Vieja & San Lorenzo del Cubo Part I

Laura Viselli, SOS’s Director of International Programs at SOS, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations in Guatemala in October 2017.   Ciudad Vieja and San Lorenzo del Cubo are both a short bus ride from Antigua. Ciudad Vieja is closest, but the total distance is no more than 20 minutes. San Lorenzo del Cubo is …

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Community Profile: Santa Apolonia

Laura Viselli, SOS’s Director of International Programs at SOS, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations in Guatemala in October 2017. Santa Apolonia is relatively short drive from Guatemala City. On the way there we battle heavy traffic and turbulent roads, but it isn’t anything that Edil cannot handle. In the front seat Sheily runs through …

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Partner Profile: Niños de Guatemala

Laura Viselli, SOS’s Director of International Programs at SOS, spent 10 days in Guatemala visiting partnering organizations in Guatemala in October 2017. The morning I meet with Niños de Guatemala (NDG) for the first time is also my first full day in Antigua. Prior to my arrival Antigua was described as the must see destination …

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Partner Profile: SEED Alliance

Laura Viselli, SOS’s Director of International Programs at SOS, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations in Guatemala in October 2017. I meet Edil from SEED Alliance for the first time outside of Casa de Los Amigos, in Guatemala City, our hostel for the night and a favoured accommodation for SOS volunteers. After a quick intro …

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Five reasons you’re going on an Outreach Trip

By David Venn And there I was, still so young and naive that buying textbooks with the intention of actually reading them was about as conscious a decision as willingly sporting Osiris’ was. First-year university is the cat’s hairball of life. It’s soft, cozy and deceivingly cute. But also has hair in weird places, probably …

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Working Together for a Better Future: CSR at Prophix

By Sally Lu, Business Analyst, Prophix Software Inc. The author of this post participated on a SOS Outreach Trip to Pueblo Viejo, in Nicaragua, in April 2017 with fellow Prophix employees. This post is the last installment of a three part series on how your professional career does not signal the end of your volunteer career.  …

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Where We Began: The Journey of CSR at Prophix

By Sally Lu, Business Analyst, Prophix Software Inc. The author of this post participated on a SOS Outreach Trip to Pueblo Viejo, in Nicaragua, in April 2017 with fellow Prophix employees. This post is the second installment of a three part series on how your professional career does not signal the end of your volunteer career.  …

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Doing Good for You and Your Company: The Benefits of CSR

By Sally Lu, Business Analyst, Prophix Software Inc. The author of this post participated on a SOS Outreach Trip to Pueblo Viejo, in Nicaragua, in April 2017 with fellow Prophix employees. This post is the first installment of a three part series on how your professional career does not signal the end of your volunteer opportunities.  …

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Partner Profile: ANIDES (Asociación Nicaragüense Para el Desarrollo)

SOS’s Executive Director, James Arron, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations and communities in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in March 2017. The story of Gloria and her team unfolds gradually over the course of our 3 days together. The long drives through the highlands give us plenty of time to get to know one another. There’s …

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Country Profile: Education in Nicaragua

SOS’s Executive Director, James Arron, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations and communities in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in March 2017. Schoolhouses marked with blue and white stripes cover Nicaragua. The design is now standard on all new builds. But there are still classrooms of different colours leftover from an era prior; the age before the …

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Community Profile: Pueblo Viejo

SOS’s Executive Director, James Arron, spent 10 days visiting partnering organizations and communities in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in March 2017. The school in Pueblo Viejo had a lively feel to it as we arrived. Students had just ended their classes for the day and there seemed to be a couple hundred of them exiting. A …

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The Travel Supplies You’ll Regret Leaving at Home

The scariest part of travelling may be your inability to bring every comfort of home along with you. SOS provides participants with a detailed list of the essentials you’ll need on your Outreach Trip, but the list below explores items that previous SOS volunteers have found useful. Polaroid camera A polaroid camera is a a …

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What Should I Look For When Choosing a Volunteer Organization?

Have you ever started looking for something before knowing exactly what it was you wanted? Say you are looking to buy a new cell phone. You check the websites of popular service providers, talk to friends and family for recommendations, check manufacturer websites, and read online reviews of different devices. You realize you have a …

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What Do I Need to Know Before Volunteering Abroad?

With over a decade of experience facilitating Outreach Trips, Students Offering Support has received a wealth of tips and tricks from our past volunteers. This is knowledge we want to share with potential volunteers like you! Before the Trip Past SOS Outreach Trip participants always tell us: ? I wish I did more research!? . …

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What Are the Benefits of Volunteering Abroad?

Students currently attending post secondary institutions are living a very important period in their lives. Millennials are said to be troubled by academics, corporations, policy makers, and media outlets alike. They are addicted to social media, in debt, unable to afford housing, and growing up through years stricken with environmental degradation and political strife. However, …

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The Best Ways to Learn a Foreign Language

Learning a second or third language is a great skill to have, and although it sounds daunting – don? t fret. You already learned one- remember? Think about how long it took you to learn your mother tongue. First things first; you will not learn another language simply by hearing others speak it. Participating on …

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8 Ways Volunteering Can Land You Your Dream Job

Opportunities to travel, volunteer or intern abroad are everywhere.  It’s easy to see why when you recognize that the benefits of international travel experiences are more than a vacation. They’re life changers. The appeal of travel often lies in learning about a new place, experiencing the culture, the food, or just the idea of getting …

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How to Volunteer Abroad for FREE

The costs associated with volunteering abroad can be a very overwhelming. You truly want to make a difference, but don? t know if you can pay for your accommodations, food, transportation, and logistics. The best way to minimize the costs of your volunteer experience is to confirm your placement early, and then do everything you …

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5 Reasons SOS Is the Club to Join

By Joy Orande, SOS Marketing Intern Summer 2016, Brock University September marks the start of a brand new school year, and maybe you would like to do some things more differently this year than last. It could be trying a new fitness class, setting a new goal such as learning how to cook, raising your …

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On Measuring Impact, Not Distance

By Fiona Wong, Outreach Trip Participant, Santa Apolonia, Guatemala, May 2016 Before I left for Guatemala, there was a lot of talk about “impacting” the local community through our outreach trip. I had the intention of creating a positive one, but I didn’t think the “impact” of a school kitchen would extend beyond the local …

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The After-Effect Of A SOS Trip

By Harshiya Thevarajan, Outreach Trip Participant, Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala, May 2016 After volunteering in Guatemala for 2 weeks, the next couple of weeks in Canada were pretty tough. These are some of the things that I learned when I came back from my SOS trip. A SOS trip will make it feel foreign to wake …

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Take nothing, but pictures; Leave nothing, but footprints

By Alex Isa, Memorial University, Trip Participant, Pavones, Costa Rica, May 2016 I was asked to write a post about my experience in Costa Rica with SOS and try to put it into a small blog entry. This is probably one of the hardest things I have had to write and I’ll try to explain …

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The Impact of a SOS Outreach Trip

On March 16th 2016, months after our August 2015 Outreach Trips, SOS Head Office received the following email… “The SOS trip was the best 2 weeks of my life. I literally think about the kids, family, and all the workers I had a strong bond with once a day. Before work and after work I …

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The Real, Hands On Experience of SOS Outreach Trips

By Olivia Brown, Trip Participant, Los Trozos, Honduras, February 2016 This past reading week, I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras with a group of Carleton students to assist in the construction of a vocational training centre. Our team had met during a few pre-departure and team bonding activities, but I would have never …

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14 days. 336 hours. 20,160 minutes in Pueblo Viejo

By Jessica Guthrie, Outreach Trip Participant, Pueblo Viejo, Nicaragua, May 2015 I used the journals that SOS provided religiously. I wrote in mine several times a day to ensure that I would not miss any moments in the 14 days we were in Pueblo Viejo, Nicaragua. Each minute in this country presented itself with a …

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52 Life Lessons Inspired by My Outreach Trip

By Stefanie Cepuran, SOS Outreach Trip Participant, Ovejeria Larama, Bolivia, May 2015 · Do not take anything for granted. EVER. · Why complain? · Smiles, laughs and sports will always be universal. · Presence > Presents. Always. · You can have fun without Wi-Fi and electronics. · Chase your dreams- first for yourself and second …

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Measuring Our Impact: Successful Short Term Volunteering with SOS

How can volunteers make a meaningful impact in two weeks? The benefits of volunteering abroad have been a focal point for academic research and cultural debates for over a decade. A key question within the debate is if short term volunteering generates lasting change within the communities they work in. Many volunteers interested in SOS …

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Generation – Y – Participate on an Outreach Trip?

Students currently attending, or having recently graduated, post secondary institutions are living a very important period in their lives defined by many attributes. Millennials, or Generation Y, are said to be troubled by academics, corporations, policy makers, and media outlets alike. They are said to be addicted to social media, in debt, unable to afford …

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Stop and Smell the Roses

By Rebecca Paddock, Wilfrid Laurier University Trip Participant, Los Trozos, Honduras “Stop and smell the roses”… I never quite understood that quote until I went on an SOS outreach trip this past August. Roses are beautiful, but who really has time during their hectic day to pause everything and enjoy a small piece of nature? Those …

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What a Smile is Worth

By Dorothy Soares, Ryerson University Outreach Trip Participant From May 1 – May 15, I had the opportunity to join SOS on an outreach trip to Pueblo Viejo, Nicaragua. This trip exceeded every single one of my expectations and every moment spent was an experience. Our project was to help build a new kindergarten classroom …

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go and the People You’ll See

By James Martin, SFU Trip Leader, Tecpan, Guatemala  I recently returned home after an amazing trip to Chajalajya, Tecpan, Guatemala. The trip was everything I could have imagined and so much more. It is definitely an unforgettable experience that I highly recommend.  During our stay we helped complete a new kindergarten classroom that was desperately …

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Defining Community in Nicaragua

By Queen Jacques, Carleton University Outreach Trip Participant In  the month of February 2015, during my one week study break, I got the chance to participate in the most amazing adventure in the world. It may not be on everyone’s to do list, but it certainly was on mine. As a university student trying to …

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Handprints in Guatemala: Reflections from a Trip Leader

By Berlin Capalad, UBC Trip Leader, Las Arrugas, Guatemala Our last day in Las Arrugas was spent saying goodbyes, shopping for school supplies, and finishing the last few things on the library. On this day, there were two moments that really humbled me. At first being a Trip Leader for me was simply a position …

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Give Meaning to the Stamps in Your Passport: Travel Abroad with Purpose

By Laura Viselli, Wilfrid Laurier University Trip Leader, San Rafael de Coronado, Costa Rica My shoulder relaxed, my fists unclenched, and a huge sigh of relief left my lips as I saw our group’s final piece of luggage descend from the luggage carousel in Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José. Trivial feeling? Perhaps. But …

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From Friends to Family

By Marco Lot, University of Windsor Trip Participant, Cerro Blanco de Sanarate, Guatemala During my Outreach Trip with SOS not only did I gain a new life experience, but a whole other family. My GuatSquad! As I walked on the plane with 18 other people on our way to Guatemala, I knew there would be no going back …

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Kindred Spirits: Thoughts of Love to Laguna Seca

By Maggie Chan, University of Windsor Trip Participant, Laguna Seca, Nicaragua Sometimes, I feel as though I can’t quite explain in words the experience that was Nicas 2014. It’s hard to believe that it happened about half a year ago. Amazing is a good adjective, but I feel as though it still doesn’t cover the …

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What the Village Taught Me

Guest Blog Written by Heather Donkers, Queen’s University (Outreach Trip to Bolivia) A trip like this was something that I had wanted to participate in since a time way before I was even legally allowed to travel on my own. I wish that I had some sort of story to tell about what inspired me …

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Project Spotlight: An Eco-School in Guatemalan Highlands

At SOS, we get most excited about projects that address multiple issues through creativity, kindness, and local involvement. Given this, we have recently been BUZZING with excitement as the eco-school project in Guatemala has been completed. It is now with great excitement that I write a project spotlight for this truly incredible team initiative. Last …

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All that really matters

 Guest Blogger, Mario Salvador (University of Windsor, SOS volunteer) It’s a long road to get to the Outreach Trip.  And it’s almost always longer and different than what you expected. Being a part of the leadership team for Windsor SOS for three years, I’ve walked the path twice.  It took us two years to raise …

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Ten Ways International Travel Can Benefit Your Career

 Guest Blogger, Camaro West (Outreach Director, 2012-2013) It seems like opportunities to travel, volunteer or intern abroad are everywhere.  It’s easy to see why when you consider the benefits of international travel experiences are more than vacation; the opportunity to leave your home and see another part of the world can offer so much to …

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Bottle Schools

In just over a month, we, SOS volunteers led by our partnering organization Pura Vida, are going to build two classrooms out of recycled garbage in Guatemala. Cool, right? The sexiness of the idea is obvious. Important is how this flashy idea translates into having significant impact in the community of Los Naranjales.  An Outreach …

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