How to Travel the World and Do Good at the Same Time [Q&A]

10 Good Questions with Christian Clark from Projects Abroad.

Jun 29, 2016
Christian Clark with children at daycare in Thailand (courtesy of Projects Abroad)

Christian Clark with children at daycare in Thailand (courtesy of Projects Abroad)

There’s nothing quite like that first travel experience - heading to a new country and taking in the culture, the sights, the smells and the people. Couple that special vibe with the will to do good, and you’ve got the best parts of Christian Clark’s job at Projects Abroad. In action since the early 1990s, the volunteering organization encourages young people to volunteer for worthwhile work in developing countries. The global team’s end goals is for volunteer work to become the norm.

Clark, the deputy director for the US office, tells Goodnet about Project Abroad’s impact and values in this week’s 10 Good Questions.

1. What is your organization’s mission?

In short, our mission is to encourage young people to travel to do good, and in turn inspire others to do the same. Someday we hope that all young people will be able to have positive travel experiences like this and help make the world a more understanding place.

2. What makes you guys different from the rest?

The four standout reasons are flexibility, variety, experience, and support. Projects Abroad has hundreds of ongoing projects in about 30 countries, available to all ages all throughout the year. We want to make sure everyone’s unique individual talents are put to use in a setting that can cultivate and benefit from these talents. Our nearly three decades of experience and hundreds of directly-employed support staff make this possible.

3. What three words describe your organization?

Only three? I was actually asked recently by a colleague what one word describes Projects Abroad and I answered flexivariexperisupport! If I had to choose a real word it would simply be yes: yes, you can do this; yes, it is worth it; yes, Projects Abroad can make it happen.

Christian Clark participating in release of marine life to support conservation efforts in Thailand (Projects Abroad)

Christian Clark participating in a release of marine life to support conservation efforts in Thailand (Projects Abroad)

4. What inspires you?

Seeing a young person experience a new culture for the first time. My favorite experiences with Projects Abroad have been helping with our High School Special programs, especially when the students arrive in a new country for the first time and are simply fascinated. Everything they see is new and exciting and positive. Everyone only gets to have a first travel experience like this once, but seeing others go through it and remembering what it is like always inspires me.

5. Who's your favorite good doer figure?

My parents. They taught me to put helping others before personal interests. Now working with Projects Abroad, I have found a way to do both at once!

6. What is the best part about your job?

I help enthusiastic and inspired people have amazing experiences traveling to help communities in need on a daily basis. Need I say more?

7. How do you measure success within your organization?

There are a lot of ways we quantifiably measure success, through management plans and databases of progress to ensure volunteer contributions are not lost and programs are making an impact. Personally, I measure success in personal growth and every individual’s recognition of the good they have done for themselves and others. Statistics and progress may be quantifiable, but good is not. If someone joins us and is able to recognize they have done good and had a positive impact on themselves and others, that is a success to me.

Clark visits schoolchildren in Nepal (Projects Abroad)

Clark visits schoolchildren in Nepal (Projects Abroad)

8. Facebook or Twitter?

I support face-to-face communication above all else. No experience is more valuable than personal experience.

9. What do you want Goodnet users to know about your organization? 

No matter your interests, skills, schedule, or means, there is a role for you volunteering abroad with Projects Abroad. Please contact us to find the right fit.

10. How can people get involved?

Reach out to us at info@projects-abroad.org or 888-839-3535 and we will help you chose where you want to go and what you can do there. After that you can apply online at www.projects-abroad.org to get started.

As well as managing Goodnet.org, Elana writes happy headlines with a particular focus on yoga, meditation and family matters. She has a background in online journalism and web content.

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