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Raleigh International

About

Expedition is a unique mixture of impactful projects, personal discovery and true adventure.

It brings young people together from all over the world to create change. Change in the communities you work in, change in the environments you live in and change in yourself. It’s a volunteer experience you will never forget.

Live and work alongside local communities in Costa Rica, Nepal and Tanzania. Help find solutions to tackle some of the world’s problems together. Take on new challenge and learn skills that will stay with you for life.

Website
Founded
1984
Headquarters

52 Horseferry Road
Third Floor, Dean Bradley House
London
SW1P2AF
United Kingdom

Volunteer Abroad this summer!

Make a difference and volunteer in Nepal, Tanzania or Costa Rica for 4, 5, 7 or 10 weeks with Raleigh International. Visit our site to learn more about your next big adventure. We're just a quick call or email away if you have any questions.

Reviews

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Sophie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I first heard about Raleigh International through school and as soon as I decided to take a gap year following school, I knew I wanted to embark on a Raleigh expedition. It was the best decision I have ever made!
Spending 10 weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with Raleigh allowed me to experience new cultures, learn valuable communication, problem solving and organisational skills and meet a whole host of people I would never otherwise have met. To say that I was taken out of my comfort zone during my expedition would be an understatement- a Raleigh expedition will completely propel you from your comfort zone!!! From reinforcing paths and fixing bridges in the heart of a national park to making dream comes true for the local people with the addition of a gravity water system to hiking across breathtaking landscapes, every day on Raleigh is different. Some days will be harder than others and everyone will likely be affected by illness and feeling home sick at some point but the support and safety in place mean that sooner rather than later you will be feeling elated and in awe of the experience you are living! The projects take venturers and volunteer managers off the beaten track and allow you to experience parts of the country you would never be able to experience if you were travelling on your own or with a tour company. In addition the projects present the unique opportunity to live and work alongside local people to contribute towards the UN sustainable development goals.
I had always been very shy and reserved at school and I lacked a significant amount of self confidence but following my Raleigh expedition I arrived home a completely changed person (for the better!). Although vastly different it equipped me with so many of the skills I needed to completely my pharmacy degree and go on to begin my career as a pharmacist and I’m sure the same would be true regardless of the sector that you go on to work in. I guarantee you will absolutely not regret choosing Raleigh International.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Embrace every moment- take pictures and live in the now. Use your time on Raleigh to reflect on the things that matter and to grow yourself as a person- write in a journal, say yes to any new experience, put maximum effort into every project but most of all; don’t forget to look up and realise where your are! Costa Rica is full of some of the most amazing landscapes and people you will ever see or meet and you will sorely miss them when you are back home!
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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This experience for me came when I needed it the most. The experience in leadership and team work that I gained on expedition I could take with me back into my day to day life.
The friendships I built through out this trip were life changing everyone had a different impact teaching me something new and helping me develop as a person. I felt safe though out and all of the instructors where amazing. The amount of effort put in to make sure we were safe and enjoying are experiene was above and beyond what I expected. I pushed my self mentally and physically at times especially during trek. However your group was always there to support you though the tough days and where there to celebrate the wins. Would definitely recommend Raleigh international (I want to do it all again)

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Ella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Undertaking a 7 week expedition with Raleigh to Costa Rica and Nicaragua was the best thing I could have done with my year out. It not only gave me the chance to give back in some way and create lasting positive change, but also took me on a journey of personal development.

I lived and worked alongside the community of Los Llanitos in Nicaragua, to help them create a 7 km gravity-fed water system. Being fully immersed in the life of a rural Nicaraguan community was one of the best parts of my expedition, allowing me to build friendships and learn about a completed new culture, diversifying my knowledge and improving my Spanish to no end!
Although one of the most challenging experiences of my life to-date - expedition helped me develop a new confidence and willingness to challenge myself and others everywhere I go. I would recommend Raleigh expedition to anyone.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for the full 10 week expedition - wouldn't want to miss a thing!
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James
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I'm not sure I really knew what I was letting myself into when I signed up for a Raleigh Expedition. However, what I can say is that I definitely didn't expect the most memorable experience of my life so far. I contributed to something genuinely meaningful - whilst part of an incredible, internationally diverse team of other young people. Not only that, it felt adventurous, fun and it created a change within me - it made me who I am today. Costa Rica and Nicaragua were incredible countries to visit. Seeing the issues they face with my own eyes, and working collaboratively alongside volunteers from those countries really opened my mind to what you can achieve together. Nothing is impossible. I can't recommend this programme highly enough. If you do it, I think it's likely it will be a turning point in your life, just as it was in mine.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future volunteers on a Raleigh Expedition: don't count the days, make the days count.
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Sally
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

For our project we were based in a rural village which took 2 hours from the nearest road to walk there - it was one of the most remote places I have been and staying with local families in their homes was truly amazing. Despite the fact that we didn't share a common language we formed a close bond with our family as we got by on a mixture of Nepali and English words and a large amount of miming!

Being able to be part of the water and sanitation project which Raleigh was carrying out there was such a privilege. The village had limited access to water and the construction of a new water system meant that they had a more reliable source of water. The construction of new tap stands and toilets also meant better access to facilities in the village.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make the most of every day - it goes far too quickly!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Miguel De Palma

A staunch advocate for adventure, Miguel believes exploration is the best way to learn about yourself while also learning about others. Finding global common ground is the foundation for a brighter future.

man standing on mountain

Why did you choose this program?

I sought to immerse myself in a completely different style of living. Having never visited East Africa and learning unique facts about Tanzania's history and culture, it was a place I wanted to see for myself.

The Raleigh programs focus on sustainable development through young people, who I believe are the sole determiners of the future we will have globally and therefore the most important people to inspire and mobilize into making a difference beyond their immediate surroundings.

The incentive that all the programs are delivered with the consultation and approval of the communities that will benefit from them, made, the prospect all the more genuine and alluring; promoting achieving success collectively, while immersing in a new culture promised to have a profound experience on my development and that of all those around me involved in the program.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Once signed up, Raleigh provide an extensive information pack with everything I needed ahead of the expedition from vaccination requirements to travel and visa advice, and a fundraising guide and packing list.

Raleigh also has dedicated volunteer coordinators who support you all the way through to departure. I also attended a development event for a weekend, where I was trained on things like the challenges and realities of going away, on what my role would be like and also got to meet fellow volunteers who would be on the program with me, which was comforting when I got to country to see some familiar faces.

Upon arriving in Tanzania, there was an induction period at the base of operations where I was trained extensively on many things -- life and culture of Tanzania, health and safety procedures, cultural sensitivity, safeguarding -- which all left me in a very confident position to be in a duty of care of young people while on program while exercising my volunteer manager role.

On my own, I organized my fundraising initiatives, my flights and vaccinations and sourced my kit ahead of the expedition. On the program, the fundraising covered my food, accommodation, insurance, and travel in country while on the program.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Primarily, to embrace it, to make the best of it because it does go quickly. Be open minded and flexible because you gain so much more perspective on people and situations when you really give yourself the chance to understand them. Be brave in the face of challenges; overcoming them is the best feeling.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

There was no average day or week; it is fast paced and easy to love. Coming into contact, first person, with the work Raleigh does and everyone involved and facing the enormous responsibility I had to contribute to its success was such a driving force to my focus.

I was primarily at field base (which boasted an impressive backdrop of a cluster of mountains behind it, which you can explore) as a communications officer, turning content into blog posts about the expedition, which had a flexible 9 to 5 framework, and the nature of the work required me to travel to projects for days in order to collect material from communities and the volunteers.

I saw a lot of the country, I visited all the projects and it was adventure at every turn, changing according to requirements, always offering opportunities explore and learn while making an active difference.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest concern was immersion and seeing poverty to such a degree that it would make me miserable and angry, and I would take that back at the end of the program somehow.

My assumptions were dissolved when I was welcomed into the homes of people who were happy and eager to share what little they had. There was no misery and no anger, just an incredible focus on generosity and amenability, which was profoundly humbling. I gained perspective on this way of living, which I admire and value, because I stepped out and chose to see and experience it for myself.

What is your favorite story from your time in Tanzania?

I can share one memory that I will never forget, not because it was inspiring or life-changing, but actually on the account of how much I laughed at that moment. I went on a project support visit with some fellow volunteers to a village called Iyegeya, in the district of Mufindi, located around 1600 meters altitude. It's quaint but surrounded by really breathtaking landscapes.

At our homestay, on the first night, we were welcomed by the baba (father) and mama with a nice meal of wali na maragi (rice and beans), after which we stayed up fairly late working in the living area. At around 11 pm, our hosts began playing this tune, from their room next door, which I can only really describe as a mixture between some horrendous game show theme and Mario Kart music. On a loop. For what turned out to be the whole night.

We didn't know why or what, but rather ironically, we didn't want to disturb or impose on our hosts. So instead, as we lay on the mattresses on the floor, curled up in our sleeping bags and before putting on our headphones for the night, to drown out the sound, we cried with laughter at how absurd, after a long and draining day of work, this whole situation and choice of playing music was. The next day we asked our baba what was up with it, and he just shrugged, smiled and went, "I like music."

He didn't play it again the next night, but all the way to the end of the expedition we recalled it and still laughed our heads off.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Hanna Spencer

Job Title
Digital Marketing Manager
Hanna grew up across New Zealand, Australia and America, moving frequently with her parents' work. They believed in travel as part of a rich education and traveled extensively both locally and internationally. They taught her about social injustices, poverty, history, and other issues in the places they visited. She has visited 46 countries and counting, whilst managing a marketing career and life in London. Her travel-education will continue, meeting the family in China later this year, where her parents are currently working.
Hanna Spencer

What is your favorite travel memory?

When deciding where to go on holiday, a travel agent took our brief for a mix of adventure and relaxation and suggested Borneo. The beauty of the place and education in conservation was a revelation.

I spent a month in Sabah (coincidentally where Raleigh operated for some years). My boyfriend and I heard that David Attenborough got his initial inspiration from climbing Mt. Kinabalu. Expecting it to be somewhat of a romantic stroll, we were surprised to be traversing across a granite rock face to reach the summit, from 2 am with head torches. Meanwhile, to our amazement, the nimble guide was literally sprinting up and down in falling-apart croc shoes!

We visited Orangutans in the wild, went to a turtle conservation island, on a jungle river canoe safari and went diving in clear blue waters, learning a lot about conservation (and its challenges) along the way. Already well traveled, the adventure and education on conservation was amazing.

While on the island, we were approached by a school to volunteer for a few weeks. It was a challenging experience not having the right resources to teach, especially with the older children who needed more advanced learning. I'd always donated or volunteered in some capacity, but that's when I became more aware of the need for organized volunteering. By volunteering for an organization such as Raleigh, you are provided the resources you need to make an impact, and ensure your time is well spent.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Raleigh is an organization with a wonderful sense of community, kindness, integrity and general warmth that makes it feel like one team. Once you join Raleigh, you are a part of something long term. The investment of my time is the biggest I can make, and working for an organization that makes me feel valued and is good for my wellbeing is important. I have enjoyed this change from corporate working into an organization that I believe in and where we create impact and positive change.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

My boss met his wife on Expedition and I have heard a lot of similar stories. He's since been on Raleigh Expedition about 10 times, including 4 times as a Volunteer and was a Country Director for many years. "There's something about meeting someone with similar life values who cares about the same things." They are now living in London with their two children after traveling the world, but he has told me a lot about his treasured small moments on Expedition, and how much perspective he gained each time he went.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Raleigh Expedition is the only program that teaches young people leadership skills across the community, environmental and adventure projects. You will see the holistic view of the community. Projects are always evolving, so it's great to arrive with a certain degree of the unknown and roll with it. The cultural experience of getting to know people within small communities rarely visited by tourists is something you'll never forget.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Raleigh focuses on impacting long term change with a holistic view toward the communities that they work within, and as a volunteer, you will experience this. You aren't attending as a tokenistic gesture: you are working on projects that really change the lives of the people in the country that you'll be working with. Because the programs and people are always evolving, no two experiences are the same. Going on the program is a life-changing experience. It changes your perspective and gives you a sense of leadership, community, service and cultural awareness that is unique to Raleigh.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Part of the reason why our programmes are constantly evolving is that we work to the needs of the communities that we work in. We have offices in every country so we can work as a partnership. Raleigh has the utmost integrity. We do what we say we'll do. Safety is our biggest priority on the programme and we look after our people. We have highly invested staff that believe in our programmes, and since Expedition has run for 35 years, it is tried and tested.

More Interviews

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