A Guide To International Volunteering


IVP would like to thank all the wonderful volunteers who have put a lot of time and effort into developing this new publication. Special thanks to Michelle Bastian for developing the concept and content. Other contributors include: Olga Enigk, Jennifer Bleazby, Melissa Cloney, Peter Durant, Shalini Kunahlan, Sharon Craig, Stacey Watson, Richard Hord, Henk Luf, Giovanna Gagliardo, Cybele Shorter, Rita Sofea Warleigh and Jules Andrews.
Some of the content of this guidebook has been published in other SCI publications including: The SCI North/South Training Guide, PVP Seminar Reports, Conflict Resolution: Best Peace Process in SCI, and SCI website as well as the various long-term volunteering guides.
The Guide to International Volunteering is available as a set of web pages by using the menu list on the left hand side of the page, or if you prefer you can download a PDF version of the last print edition produced in 2009 (5.86MB).


This is the first edition of A Guide to International Volunteering.
This guidebook will introduce you to the phenomenon of working for peace through the international workcamp movement. It aims to introduce IVP, its vision, goals and history and to prepare you to participate in any of the hundreds of volunteer projects around the world that IVP offers each year.
Inside you’ll find information about workcamps – what they are and what to expect, inter-spersed with stories written by volunteers about their workcamp experiences.

Three sections focus on important skills that will help you get the most out of your project – group dynamics, non-violent conflict resolution and democratic decision-making. Another two sections introduce a variety of perspectives on peace and conflict and global development. These sections will give you some background on the broader issues that lie behind specific IVP projects.

When you volunteer on an IVP project you will be working with people from a variety of countries and may be immersed in a new culture. To help ease the transition we have included a section on cross-cultural understanding. This section will be particularly important for those undertaking their first overseas trip or going into a country with a very different culture. It highlights specific issues that may arise during an IVP project with anecdotes from past volunteers. A brief chapter on environment and sustainability follows.
When you return from your project, you may be interested in becoming further involved with IVP. For example, we offer you the chance to develop important leadership skills through becoming a workcamp leader, to participate in international training, to gain committee experience, to leam newsletter production and obtain additional skills in general office management. These are just some of the exciting areas by which you can gain experience through volunteering with IVP.
We also offer long-term projects for volunteers with previous experience. The section on getting involved goes into this in more detail, including how to apply.

Some important things to think about when planning your participation in short-term workcamps completes this Guide.

Introducing International Volunteers for Peace

International Volunteers for Peace (IVP) is the Australian Group of Service Civil International (SCI), and a member of Network for Volunteer Development in Asia (NVDA). These are worldwide networks promoting peace and justice through voluntary work. We are a non-profit organisation that develops volunteer projects in Australia and offers Australians the opportunity to participate in projects overseas. IVP exchanges volunteers with organisations in over 50 countries with the aim of encouraging understanding among different peoples and appreciation of the problems communities face in their struggles for peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

Why participate in an IVP project?

Participating in one of IVP’s volunteer projects will allow you to connect with the world community through practical personal experience. Because IVP’s projects involve practical work with local community groups, you will gain the satisfaction of completing hands-on work that is of material benefit to the community you are working with. This can often be a very empowering experience, but it will also mean that you will be able to gain a personal perspective on how issues such as economic inequality, social exclusion and environmental degradation operate on a local level.

You will work with an international group, which provides a great opportunity for making friends with people all over the world. This is especially the case during an IVP project, where our volunteers not only work together, but also share cooking and cleaning duties, living space and recreational time with each other. Projects are also run democratically which helps volunteers build trust in each other and will enhance your group decision-making skills. This time together can help build a close-knit group. However volunteering with people from quite different cultures can also present challenges and frustrations. For IVP this presents one of the greatest opportunities of an international volunteer project – the chance to learn how to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and productive manner. So IVP projects not only provide practical benefits to local communities, they also allow our volunteers to practice living in democratic communities – where conflict becomes an opportunity to learn how to live peacefully with others.

The benefits of participating in overseas voluntary work don’t end when the project finishes and for some volunteers the experience of an IVP workcamp will signal the beginning of a life-long commitment to social justice and non-violence.
What does IVP believe?

Our vision is a world of peace, social justice and sustainable development, where all people live together with mutual respect and without recourse to any form of violence to solve conflict.
Our mission is to promote peace and intercultural understanding through volunteering and international voluntary projects.

– Believes that all people are capable of living together with mutual respect, and without recourse to violence to solve conflicts between nations, communities or people, working for the promotion of peace.
– Is Concerned for all people, and particularly for those who are victims of violence, as well as social, economic and political injustice or who suffer from hunger or disease.
– Supports action which encourages the development of a new way of living founded upon international solidarity, justice, mutual understanding, participation in policy making at all levels, and a respect for individuals as stated in the Universal Declaration of

Human Rights.
– Bases its work on developing peoples’ own initiatives to solve their own problems.
– Analyses and evaluates all work, taking into account both the local and wider contexts in which it is carried out.
– Organises voluntary service in co-operation with local communities in case of need, recognising the educational role of such service to encourage understanding and self-discipline. No work shall be undertaken which competes with paid labour, or causes strikebreaking.
– Spreads through the means of practical work, across the barriers that divide people, a new spirit that will render the concept of violence less and less acceptable, and the degradation of human dignity impossible.
– Promotes voluntary international service aimed at will fostering greater confidence between nations and eventually replace military service. Equally, in countries where compulsory military service exists, without the possibility of alternative service, IVP works for the realisation of such service for conscientious objectors.
– Takes Action that is appropriate, non-violent and international in situations of tension, war and injustice.
– Works for constructive changes in unjust structures that exist in society and that divide people from one another.
– Encourages and experiments in new forms of community life with the objectives of fostering tolerance and a questioning of our own attitudes.
– Acts as a catalyst, in a spirit of humility and compassion, for change within individuals and society.
(Based on the International Constitution of Service Civil International, SCI)