Participants will spend focused time in three distinct areas of Lebanon, and will be volunteering with local organizations, engaging in tours, and attending presentations (related to culture, volunteerism, politics, and migration (both emigration and immigration). There will also be free time to interact with other participants in the group and a few opportunities to explore a given area on your own or with others in the group.
The program lasts for 3 weeks (21 days) from June 25th through July 16th. This will include 7 days in each of the three distinct areas represented by the three base camps.
English is the primary language of the program, but we will try to accommodate those whose native language is French, Spanish, or Portuguese and will provide translations from Arabic into English when needed. Knowledge of Arabic will be useful, though not needed, and there will be some basic Arabic language sessions during the program.
This program is open to youth of Lebanese descent, who are between 18 and 30 years old, who have lived most of their lives outside Lebanon, and who are either current university students, university graduates, or high school graduates who are about to enter a university at the end of the summer.
The Heritage Volunteer Program is run by the Learning to CARE Institute (LTCI), under the leadership of Dr. Patricia Nabti. Dr. Nabti is a cultural anthropologist with a focus on the Arab World, whose thesis was on Lebanese migration worldwide. She has taught at both Stanford and the American University of Beirut, and has been a faculty lecturer for more than a dozen Stanford Travel/Study tours to the Arab World. The Learning to CARE Institute is a social venture registered in Lebanon (S.A.R.L.) which provides training and consulting on all aspects of volunteerism, and which will begin its EcoVolunTours program with this first session of the Heritage Volunteer Program.
To register, please click on the register link here or at the top/right of the page.
We encourage participants to arrive before the program begins so that they get over any problems of jet lag, or to stay after and explore Lebanon. Since we cannot arrange for participants to go to the towns and villages of their heritage, it would be great if they can save time to do that as well, before or after the program. We will not be able to organize or facilitate any additional accommodations or tours, however.
This program, due to its targeting of youth of Lebanese heritage, aims to connect participants with their heritage while promoting volunteering within Lebanon. Additionally, this program will immerse participants in the culture and history of Lebanon, provide extensive opportunities for interaction with the Lebanese population, and provide meaningful opportunities to contribute positively to Lebanese society.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to signup and be informed of program updates.
Our Heritage Volunteer Program is the only program that centers on immersing participants of Lebanese heritage in an authentic Lebanese cultural experience through learning, volunteering, and touring the country. Our three base camps give participants the opportunity to get to know the three major geographic and cultural components of Lebanon – the mountains with their traditional villages, the central valley that is the agricultural heartland of Lebanon, and the urban coastline. In addition, it is our hope that participants will come from a broad range of countries and cultures worldwide who share an interest in learning more about their heritage through a fun, educational, and meaningful experience.
The program will have a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 30 participants from outside Lebanon along with up to 5 youth interns from Lebanon, and two staff of the Learning to CARE Institute. We decided on this size as optimal for social interaction, accommodations, and transportation.
Participants will be selected to assure as much diversity and balance as possible in terms of gender, age, and countries of residence. All applicants will need to fulfill the criteria of being between 18-30 years old, having some Lebanese heritage, and being current university students or graduates – students who have just completed high school and are about to enter college are also eligible, as long as they meet the age requirement. They will need to note on the application that college or university that they plan to attend in the fall.
Applicants will receive a response within 10 days after their application has been submitted. In order to have the group be as diverse as possible, we will accept no more than five participants from any one country before the deadline of May 10, putting any others from that country who qualify on the waiting list. Those on the waiting list for this reason will be processed immediately after the deadline. If spaces remain after the waiting list has been processed, we will have a rolling acceptance policy to accept all those who qualify on a first-come, first-served basis.
A common conception is that by volunteering your time, you are able to forgo, or at least minimize, the costs associated with voluntouring. The accommodations, meals, transportation, touring, training, and other costs of the program, however, come at a considerable cost. Organizations in Lebanon that have volunteer opportunities have limited budgets which cannot be used to cover any of those costs since they must be used on the projects they are involved in. They would prefer to engage local volunteers for whom they do not need to cover any additional costs rather than pay the costs of a volunteer from abroad. On the other hand, they appreciate the value of having both local and international volunteers, and welcome the help that volunteers from abroad can provide.
Applicants will receive a response within 10 days after the application has been submitted. They will then have seven days to submit their acceptance and arrange for the bank transfer of the $500 deposit to hold their space.
In order to have the group be as diverse as possible, we will accept no more than five participants from any one country before the deadline of May 10, putting any others from that country who qualify on the waiting list. Those on the waiting list for this reason will be processed immediately after the deadline. Applications may be accepted after May 10 on a space available basis. If the deadline has past, you may contact the Learning to CARE Institute to inquire about space availability at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Learning to CARE Institute strongly supports efforts to make facilities throughout Lebanon more accessible. Unfortunately, the country still has serious accessibility problems. Many of the places the group will be staying and touring are not accessible by those in wheelchairs or who have other serious difficulties with mobility. We recognize this as a serious problem so that in the future, we hope to have a special tour that is wheelchair friendly.
For other disabilities (vision, hearing, etc.), please let us know ahead of time what they are so that, together, we can accommodate them in the best way possible.
Voluntourism is new way to explore the world that is growing in popularity. As the AmaTierra Foundation in Costa Rica explains it: Where traditional tourism caters to travelers who seek to experience the best a destination has to offer, Voluntourism fulfills a tourist’s desire to make a lasting positive impact upon the local population and community. Voluntourism provides much-needed services while offering a very personal cultural exchange, creating long-lasting ties between foreign tourists and local community members.
Eco-voluntourism takes this a step further, by seeking to minimize the environmental impact of those on tour by staying in eco-friendly accommodations, consuming locally produced food, minimizing the use of plastics, and otherwise following the guide to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle throughout the tour. In addition, at least some of the volunteer opportunities are selected to contribute positively to the environment.
We hope to also have participants calculate the carbon footprint of their travel to Lebanon, as well as other aspects of the ,and facilitate their buying carbon offsets to neutralize the negative impact of their trip on the environment.
This is a non-smoking trip. Smoking will not be allowed in any of the accommodations, in restaurants, on the buses, or in any public facilities. Those who smoke, will need to do so outside, and will need to be very careful that they dispose of their ashes and cigarette butts in an eco-friendly way. Please bring something with you that you can use for this purpose in places where no appropriate facilities (ashtrays, trashcans, etc.) are available.