In 1992 Global Service Corps began working with Global Routes, a program with ten years experience organizing international service programs for high school and college students. As the adult division of Global Routes, GSC started coordinating short-term projects in village-based sustainable development. In December of 1993 seven participants flew to Costa Rica on GSC’s first project, a rainforest preservation and beach restoration program. Since then, GSC participants have worked with ten different Costa Rican communities in such fields as organic gardening, teaching English, health programs, sustainable development, and rainforest preservation.
In 1994 Global Service Corps expanded to include two projects in Kenya. Our biointensive gardening project began when participants went to the Mumias region to teach villagers this more productive form of small-scale agriculture. Through the continuing efforts of Kenyan villagers, aided by GSC participants, the number of gardening beds in the region was increased by almost 2000. We also began a medical project to address the health needs of Kenyan villagers. This program became a health education project focusing on prevention of local diseases and specifically on AIDS education. The two projects evolved into the Community Self-Help Program in Eastern Kenya, in which participants provide assistance on both HIV/AIDS prevention and sustainable agriculture projects.
We initiated a program in Thailand in 1995, teaching English and helping villagers on community projects in the Lamphun area near Chiang Mai. GSC also sponsored a program in Guatemala in 1996.
In August of 1995 Global Service Corps became a project of Earth Island Institute (EII), founded in 1982 by David Brower, the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club. EII is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit umbrella organization that sponsors more than 30 environmental and social projects, from the International Marine Mammal Project to the Baikal Watch Project. Since partnering with EII, GSC has been able to expand its staff, programs, and membership base.
In 1998 GSC launched its college internship program, and in 2001 an agreement was reached to provide academic credit through the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany. In 1999, GSC was honored to establish a relationship with David Brower and the Brower Fund to collaborate on the Global CPR (Conservation, Preservation and Restoration) Program. In 1999, GSC moved its Thailand Program to the Kanchanaburi region west of Bangkok working with a local hospital and the Ministry of Education on programs focusing on education, public health, and cultural immersion.
In 2001 we launched our HIV/AIDS and Sustainable Agriculture program in Arusha, Tanzania. The first group of HIV/AIDS participants began their project in June 2001; the Sustainable Agriculture project began in September 2001.
In 2005, GSC Thailand expanded its program and began collaborating with Greenway Thailand in the Singburi and Lopburi areas of Central Thailand. The expansion also included a weeklong orientation program consisting of Thai language lessons, an introduction to the Thai culture, English as foreign language training, and an overnight Buddhist temple experience.
In 2007, GSC in collaboration with Programs for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) launched the pilot ‘English for Life’ summer program bringing HIV/AIDS prevention and education training to nearly 300 secondary school students and 45 teachers throughout Thailand. And in 2009, GSC launched the Buddhist Immersion-EFL program allowing GSC volunteers to become immersed in the Buddhist culture, while providing a much needed service to the wat (temple) by teaching English to novice and visiting monks. GSC also launched a separate paid teaching program through its partnership with Greenway.
2007 also marked an important development for GSC in Tanzania as we welcomed Erwin Kinsey as our Tanzania Director of Operations. Erwin recently retired after 30 years in Tanzania with Heifer International as the Tanzania Country Director and more recently Africa Development Director. With his many years of experience in Tanzania and Africa, Erwin’s work expands and diversifies GSC’s reach and provides GSC programs and participants significant professional international development expertise. GSC‘s office in Tanzania provided ample space for all staff members, including a conference-training room. This facility provided a lovely space to welcome volunteers and community members alike.
Programmatically, the summer youth day camp program expanded to include year-round peer education programs. The HIV/AIDS program continued to expand providing prevention training, counseling and testing to rural populations. In collaboration with local partners, GSC’s International Health Program also expanded to include a telemedicine project where GSC participants lend support to area hospitals working with this new technology. And the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Program began a program to assist its trained farmers groups in marketing by helping initiate an organic certification program in the Arusha area.
In 2008, GSC launched its Service-Learning Programs in Cambodia with the assistance of Dr. Susan Hagadorn the first Cambodia In-Country Coordinator. Taking the best practices from the organization’s Tanzania and Thailand Programs, GSC established programs focused on working with Cambodia’s most vulnerable populations.
The HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Program that was operating as a part of GSC’s Thailand Programs is now being adapted and implemented in Cambodia. Volunteers also have the opportunity to work in the fields of international health, orphanage care and teaching English. Sophy Tun and Sophak Touch joined GSC’s in-country staff in 2009 to assist with volunteer placements and orientation. Sophak is now acting as the Cambodia In-Country Coordinator.
In 2009, GSC significantly expanded its food security and HIV/AIDS prevention work in Tanzania through a three-year community development project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. GSC’s programs in Tanzania now have the resources to provide trainings not only to groups in Arusha, but to the most underserved populations in rural villages.
In 2010, through an additional three-year grant from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, GSC continued its rural development trainings in HIV/AIDS awareness and food security. GSC’s Tanzania office moved to a larger facility in Arusha to accommodate the increased predominantly Tanzanian staff. The surrounding fertile land serves as the space for three demonstration plots, which are used to train volunteers on the newest sustainable agriculture techniques.
In 2011 a 15-week 15-credit semester program was launched in Tanzania, in collaboration with GSC’s long-standing academic partner UAlbany SUNY (State University of New York).
In 2012, after five years leading the GSC-Tanzania Program Erwin Kinsey took a new position to develop an African regional resource center working with ECHO, Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. In April, Max Church became the new GSC-Tanzania Country Director. Max was born in Africa of American missionary parents and received his secondary school education in Africa. After completing his undergraduate degree in the U.S. in Business Administration, Max worked in the private sector in Haiti and the U.S. Max has his Masters degree in International Development and returned to Africa as a Development professional where he had been working in three African countries over the past 12 years as Country Director of ADRA.
In 2013, GSC’s second 15-week 15-credit semester program was launched in Cambodia in collaboration with UAlbany SUNY. Dr. Susan Hagadorn, a professor and Assistant Dean at Pannasastra University in Cambodia teaches these classes along with a team of PhD students. Pannasastra University is the only university in Cambodia that teaches all of their classes in English. Also in 2013, as the two Tanzania rural development three-year grants successfully concluded, GSC successfully won a sub-grant from FINTRAC as part of the Tanzania Agriculture Productivity Program.
In early 2014 GSC shifted all of our Asia Programs to Cambodia where there is a greater need for community development assistance, and no longer works in Thailand. Also in early 2014 our Tanzania Country Director was replaced by a Management Committee, supported by the local Tanzania Management Team. This Committee worked closely with the GSC Executive Director and the stateside Tanzania Program Director.
In May of 2015, GSC graduated from its project status with Earth Island Institute to become a free standing project of GSC International, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In September of 2015, GSC concluded its work in Tanzania and provided support to a group of GSC-Tanzania managers to carry on the work under a new local NGO. In October, Rick and Maxine embarked on a planning trip to Cuba to investigate the feasibility of launching a service-learning program in Cuba. They were welcomed by Cuban officials and encouraged to develop an English training program with the University of Matanzas.
In January of 2016, Rick and Maxine lead a pilot project trip in Cuba including a new GSC Cuba in-country coordinator and 7 volunteers. Following a very successful experience with local Havana supporters and University of Matanzas staff, GSC began preparations for an ongoing service-learning program in Cuba. Unfortunately, the Cuban government decided not to allow US organizations to work directly with institutions of higher learning in Cuba. So along with a number of other organizations planning to work with Cuban universities, GSC was unable to continue this work. We will see what the future brings in Cuba-US relations.
Over the course of the development of GSC, the organization has benefited from the efforts of regular as well as volunteer staff members. Volunteers and interns have assisted GSC with office administration, research, project coordination, in-country logistics, accounting, promotion, electronic communications and general support. One of the major reasons for the initiation of this organization was to provide opportunities for adults to become more actively involved in addressing our many global issues. GSC will continue to emphasize volunteer and intern participation, both at our headquarters office and in the field as opportunities become increasingly available.