In 2000, new development partnerships were established in India, Romania and Ukraine – all centering primarily on support and care for impoverished, disabled, abandoned and homeless children in rural communities. The poorest of the poor – these are the faces which inspired Global Volunteer’s founders 15 years earlier. In 1999, we celebrated a significant milestone: 15 years of international service partnerships amidst a growing field of “volunteer vacation” options! Given world events that, combined, threatened to forestall our consistent growth (Y2K, embassy bombings, global pandemic), Global Volunteers overcame each potential setback and persevered in the increasingly challenging field of volunteering abroad.
Much of Global Volunteer’s effort in 1999 was ramping up for one of the most ambitious worldwide celebrations of service attempted in 15 years: The Millennium Service Project. As Americans shared an anticipation of the “Best New Year’s Eve Ever,” 15 new host communities throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico prepared to host inspired volunteers who had committed – some as early as two years before – to mark the turn of the millennium 2000 in an act of service. Having earned special consultative status with the United Nations – Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Global Volunteers’ unique grassroots connections were seen as effective avenues for local leaders to access the international arena. We were honored to be among only a very few U.S.-based NGOs identified to play this role, and have devoted our service program efforts to align with the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which unite nations to overcome global poverty and disease in eight critical areas by 2015. Further, we continue to follow the recommendations of ECOSOC, to help “promote higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress; identify solutions to international economic, social and health problems; facilitate international cultural and educational cooperation; and encourage universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
In 2002, Global Volunteers and the Sino-American Society, embarked on “Project Peace,” a joint effort to build a technologically advanced school and library in the remote village of An Shang, China – an emblematic plan in the months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In memory of An Lin, our Chinese host’s daughter, Project Peace was dedicated in 2005. A child-sponsorship program was initiated the next year to provide additional funding to enable hundreds of village children to attend this wonderful new school. In 2003, we accepted an invitation to serve a picturesque, romantic community in Hungary, where volunteers teach English to enthusiastic, creative youth and young adults. Over time, working with several native English speakers for many weeks each year – year after year – the students gain confidence and agility in using the English language.