A Parent’s View: Mother of Megan Baker – South Africa
1.What were your initial concerns when your daughter suggested volunteering abroad?My initial concerns were which country she would be going to, in terms of her safety and her ability to communicate. I also didn't know anything about Projects Abroad, as there are quite a lot of companies that do these sorts of things and I have never had any experience of them before. The fact that she was young and would be travelling alone, including a connection in Dubai, was also a worry!
2. How did Projects Abroad handle your concerns?I read the leaflets and brochures that Megan brought back from the Higher Education Fair, and they were quite informative. She also started talking to other people who had been, this was helpful as they were people of a similar age who had experienced what she was going to do.
3. Did you have enough phone or email contact with the office staff prior to applying for the project?Yes although we had more email contact once she had applied as we thought of more questions to ask.
4. Before applying did you attend one of our Projects Abroad events whether that be a webinar or organised event?Megan attended the online webinar and was able to ask questions to Projects Abroad staff directly. We both went to an Information Evening which I found very interesting, informative and reassuring. I was particularly pleased that although it meant going to South Africa rather than Ghana (which had been the original plan), she was going on a project specifically for younger people. I felt that this meant that she would be more supported whilst she was out there, because of the fact that she had a planned timetable and people that would be with her all the time.
5. Did you feel reassured that your daughter could reach support from our staff throughout her time overseas?Yes as we were given lots of contact details before she went, so the names, numbers, and job titles of the staff at the office.
6. Did you find that your daughter had enough opportunity to contact home whilst away?Yes she was able to ring me several times so I felt that there was enough contact and that I would be able to contact her if I needed to.
7. Whilst away did your daughter have any issues which you needed to get involved in and if so how was this resolved?There was one big issue, her layover in Dubai was supposed to be one hour but it turned into a whole day as the flight had been overbooked and so there was no seat for her. I was in contact with the office to tell them what had happened and they made arrangements to tie in with when she would be arriving – 24 hours later. I spoke to Flora (one of the local team) who sent me regular texts and emails, which I found very helpful.
8. How did the trip affect your daughter? For example has her experience helped secure a job or university place?Well Megan is now studying law at university, including human rights. The trip obviously widened her experience generally, as she was learning about human rights, which was very interesting as well as being the real deal, as where is better to learn about human rights than South Africa. She has now been able to bring that experience into her studying environment.
9. Knowing the process of application, volunteering and on the return to the UK is there anything else that Projects Abroad could do to improve the service?I felt that there were no problems with her experience.
10. Would you recommend Projects Abroad to a friend?Yes as I felt it was well organised and that she got a lot out of it. She was able to do a variety of things whilst she was there, in terms of learning and seeing the city and the countryside. She also met people from lots of different countries, and it was generally just good for her to have experienced something so different to living in England.