Should Volunteering develop or not?

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Should Volunteering develop or not?

You are welcome to express your understanding of this issue and make some comment concerning its future perspectives. My e-mail address:

It is known that we are going through very difficult situation due to the funding cuts every year and due to the fact that some of the educational advising centers have no funds at all.

Unfortunately for advisers, many US Dept of State educational advising centers are understaffed and overworked, and budgets don't allow for staff expansion in most cases. Some centers have well-developed, publicized internship/volunteer programs that offer training and "work" (perhaps without pay but with meals and public transportation included) opportunities to visiting study abroad students studying in a specific country or city. Other centers would like to recruit US students studying in their countries but don't always know where to find them. Still other centers desperately need additional help but due to logistics, especially if they're located within the US Embassy building like most Offices of Public Affairs (former USIS), may not be able to get security clearances for temporary staff. And some centers exist ENTIRELY on volunteer staff and support due to no budget allocations at all!
I know from my own experience as the Director of American Educational Information Center that when you are interested in something you are organizing, it is not a big deal to attract people to the center activities. We incorporated volunteers into different facets of our center, depending on the time of year, the volunteer's interests and skills, and our needs.
Volunteers assist in developing/maintaining office databases; help students do searches on the web; participate as panelists in pre-departure orientation sessions for departing international UGrads and Grads; participate in various outreach presentations that advisers do at universities/schools on topics as UG/Grad admissions, US higher education, etc; organize or participate in presentations on specific topics such as "how to write an undergraduate essay". "how to develop a research proposal/personal statement", "the study of engineering/law, international relations/clinical psychology/etc in the US", and much more.
So the role of the volunteers is of primary and crucial importance for all of us. The alumni of the American Educational Exchange Programs who could become the real volunteers of our centers play very important role in our development. We are helping them to adapt to the situation after coming home back and they are supporting the center organizing different activities in the center.

At the NAFSA Conference In Philadelphia in 2001 I made a presentation of the report devoted the issue how the American Educational Information Center in Tomsk Russia use the offered support of alumni and other volunteers of the local community to promote the work of the center. This report was done and had the analysis of the work done by other NIS centers Again I would

like to thank all those who answered the questionnaire.

During the OSEAS -EUROPE Conference in Cyprus in 2001 I made the report of the work experience with alumni-volunteers in Center. Thanks to advertising this work we could join together with the advisers from Europe Ivana Puljiz, Educational Adviser, SRC - International Educational Center, Zagreb, Croatia and Rasa Antanaviciute, consultant, Educational Advising Center, Vilnius, Lithuania, and submit a proposal for the NAFSA workshop concerning the issue of volunteering and this time it is planned to give a qualitative analysis of the work done in this direction. The new questionnaire is been prepared. It will be sent soon and we would ask all

advisers to answer the questions and give some ideas about their understanding of this very issue.
I'm sure other advisers have even better examples to share. Therefore, I'd appreciate it if OSEAS advisers would take a minute to respond to the following series of questions regarding the use of volunteers in your overseas advising centers and answer the questions suggested in the questionnaire given below.

In addition we could suggest the OSEAS Forum-discussion with US based colleagues concerning the volunteering issue with its specific details in Europe.

The discussion could include the idea of incorporating volunteers (study abroad students or visiting international education professionals and local community source (US Educational Exchange Program ALUMNI for that matter) into various activities in OSEAS advising centers.
We would like to attract those who are interested in this very issue to see the site.

There is a lot of very important information on this site. We could get the experience of 40 years of Community Section fruitful activity in NAFSA.

Yes, they celebrated their 40 anniversary last year and I was lucky to be present at this ceremony and to try to understand the work they organized. Some time passed and now at distance it is possible to analyze all the work done at the NAFSA Conference and share some of the experience with you.

Those who are interested in getting some additional information or who is ready to discuss some issues concerning the volunteering work in general and the peculiar details, are welcome to write a message to me( My e-mail address is or to the professional who have been working in this direction for years and are real experts in what they are doing.(See the addresses at the end).

These are not only words it is really so, during the NAFSA Conference I had a chance to work with them and to get their supervision, to become the part of their family and it is a great honor to represent OSEAS.

I'm sure other advisers have even better examples to share. Therefore, I'd appreciate it if OSEAS advisers would take a minute to respond to the following series of questions regarding the use of volunteers in your overseas advising centers:

2002 Questionniare TO OSEAS & US Side ADVISERS:


Deadline is February 25, 2002.
1). Does your center use volunteers?

Yes ___ No ___ (If not, please explain why not.)

2). Would it be helpful if COMSEC (NAFSA's COMMUNITY SECTION members) would contact you directly or post on the COMSEC listserv any announcements they have regarding potential volunteer students/scholars who may be spending time in your region?

Yes____ No ____

3) Where do your volunteers currently come from?

(please check all that apply)
a. US students on study abroad programs in your country? ___

b. Visiting special guests/professional contacts? ___

c. Local American High School students? ____

d. Local US Embassy dependents? ____

e. Local community? ____

f. NAFSA colleagues? _____

g. Visiting US Fulbright scholars/students in your country? ___

h. Returning local students? ___

i. Other? (please, describe) ___
4) How do you advertise or let people know about your volunteer program? (ads, flyers, outreach presentations, word of mouth, liaison with local study abroad reps, other?)
5) What sort of internship opportunities do you offer volunteers?

6) Do you offer training to volunteers? (In house, virtual, for how long?)
7) What projects or programming do your volunteers take part in your center?
8). What is the length of VOLUNTEERING( in per cent?)
- some hours a week;
- some hours a month;
- some hours a year.
9). How do the VOLUNTEERS start their work in the center?
Please in details.

10). Do the VOLUNTEERS get any kind of orientation to start the activity?
YES _ NO___ (If YES, please, specify.)

11. Do the VOLUNTEERS submit a written report about the activity they

YES __NO___ (If YES, please, specify.)

12. Do you maintain the VOLUNTEER file ?
YES__ NO__ If YES, please, specify( What kind of information do you keep track of?) .

13. Do you inform VOLUNTEERS regarding all the activities in the Center?
YES __NO___ (If YES, please, specify.)

14. Do you include the VOLUNTEERS in the mailing list of the center news?
YES __NO___ (If YES, please, specify.)

15. Do the VOLUNTEERS feel that their work is appreciated or not?
YES __NO ___ (Please, specify).

16. Are there any opportunities that are provided for the VOLUNTEERs’ professional development ?
YES___ NO____ (If YES, please, specify.)

17. Do you suggest evaluation forms to VOLUNTEERS after completing any activity?
YES__ NO___ (If YES, what kind of questions do you ask?)

18. Are the VOLUNTEERS requested to do any written evaluation of the activity?
YES___ NO___ (If YES, please, specify.)

19. Is the work of VOLUNTEERS acknowledged?
YES ___NO___ (If YES, please, specify.)
20. What kind of acknowledgement do you use? Please, specify.
21. Are the Volunteers often publicly acknowledged for contribution of time,

energy, abilities?

YES___NO____(If YES, please, specify.)

22. Do VOLUNTEERS benefit from participating in any activity?
YES __NO__ (If YES, please, specify.)

23. Do you know VOLUNTEERS' interests and abilities?
YES__ NO__ (If YES, how do you get the information?)

24. Are you making the best use of VOLUNTEERS?
YES__ NO__ (If YES, please, specify.)

25. Do the VOLUNTEERS take part in developing and carrying out all the activities of the Center?
YES __NO__ (If YES, please, specify.)

26. Do the VOLUNTEERS participate in the decision making process?
YES __NO___(If YES, please, specify.)
27. Are the VOLUNTEERS encouraged to take leadership roles in planning and implementing any ideas?
YES __NO__ (If YES, please, specify.)
28. What are the most effective ways to recruit the VOLUNTEERS? Please,


29 Are you planning to promote the work with VOLUNTEERS in your Center?
YES__ NO__ (If YES, please, specify.)

Overseas advising centers offer so much activity and diversity that most volunteers/interns will find a way to contribute their talents and grow professionally. COMSEC could tap into this extraordinary network and contact overseas advising centers for specific information on how their students/scholars traveling outside the U.S. can be of assistance and learn more about cross cultural skills, and education from an international perspective, in the process. That is why it is very important to share the experience we have in order to help those who are at the beginning.

As for me I think that the more I know the more I need to know. If you could write a short article on what is going on in your center concerning the volunteering work, we could submit a detailed report on this issue at NAFSA Conference in San Antonio.
Thanks for supervision to Evelyn Levinson, Jane Dunham and all COMSEC LEADERS!
Thanks to all of you for your attention and your answers to the suggested questions.
Warm regards,
Lyubov .


American Educational Information Center

US State Department Supported

Tomsk, Russia
OSEAS Liaison to NAFSA


Internet Center for US Educational Exchange Programs Alumni

IATP, Supported by Project Harmony Inc., Moscow



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