At the same time, Global Volunteers’ office staff expanded to meet the growing program demand. The position of Volunteer Coordinator was developed to respond to prospective volunteers’ inquiries and help them select service opportunities suited to their skills and interests. This period witnessed the “volunteer vacation” concept emerging into the mainstream. A major sign of the growing acceptance of international volunteer service by “average” individuals was the ground-breaking partnership of Global Volunteers and Elderhostel of Boston, then the largest US organization providing ongoing learning opportunities for American seniors. Through Global Volunteers’ initiation, exclusive teams of adventurous, mature adults were introduced to short-term service on selected teams in Indonesia, Poland and Italy initially. The program extended to additional countries in future years.
Meanwhile, within the media, Global Volunteers obtained prominence with CNN appearances, feature articles in major nationwide newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and in the first edition of Volunteer Vacations. All helped to stimulate the general public’s imagination about personal peace-waging and the needs in host communities worldwide.
Because of this heightened global awareness and personal response, Global Volunteers’ outreach greatly accelerated each year, with three new development partnerships established annually. By the end of 1998, we were offering service programs in 12 new countries: Russia, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, Greece, China, Turkey, Ecuador, the Cook Islands, Ghana, and Ireland.
When the U.S. trade embargo against Vietnam was lifted in 1994, Global Volunteers immediately established a partnership with PACCOM and Mekong Delta communities in southern Vietnam to help construct school facilities and teach conversational English.
In a continuous endeavor to wage peace by enhancing international understanding and addressing cultural stereotypes head-on, Global Volunteers’ Board of Directors accepted invitations to establish service programs in southern Europe. The first team to this region was sent to Spain in 1994. Three new “firsts” were established in 1996.
– Turkey was the first Moslem country in the middle east region to host Global Volunteers teams.
– Ecuador was the first service program engaging doctors and nurses in providing critical health care for disabled children.
– And in China, Global Volunteers was the first nonsectarian American volunteer organization to work in the country’s heartland in 50 years.