"I'm sure when I ponder my life experiences, during the twilight of my years, I will regard my six weeks in Thailand as six of the most sensational weeks of my life... I traveled to Thailand hoping for an enriching experience. What I found exceeded my wildest expectations."
Chris Cox, International Health Program, Thailand
There is no doubt that an experience volunteering abroad can be significantly more enriching by understanding the cultural and local traditions, lifestyles and needs through the eyes of someone living within the local community. The pairing of GSC volunteers with local counterparts is another way GSC differentiates itself from other volunteer abroad and service learning programs. In Tanzania and Cambodia, the experience of GSC volunteers is greatly enhanced by their daily interaction with local counterparts. Volunteers and counterparts--whether a nurse at a hospital, a teacher at a school, or a college-bound translator at one of the day camps--build mutually beneficial, and often long lasting bonds of friendship. GSC has developed a cadre of counterparts that are strongly committed to helping volunteers integrate into the local community and understand the cultural and technical aspects of their service project.


Counterparts for volunteers in the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Nutrition Education Program are students on their way to or already attending college. These counterparts join the volunteers in every aspect of their project work, including the orientation and training sessions. In the shadowing portion of the International Health Program, counterparts are Tanzanian doctors and nurses. Counterparts for volunteers in the Sustainable Agriculture Program are GSC Tanzanian staff trainers with years of experience and strong connections to the rural communities where volunteers work.


Cambodian counterparts for volunteers in the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Program are NGO leaders in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention, and teachers working in international secondary schools. International Health Program counterparts are medical personnel and staff members of local non-profit organizations that have teamed up with GSC to provide aid to appropriately meet the needs of the community. Teachers in schools involved with GSC's Teach English Abroad Program also serve as counterparts, as well as orphanage staff members with the Orphanage Care Program. These local counterparts are an integral component to all four programs, providing instruction and support to volunteers with the knowledge and insight of a local community member.

In Tanzania and Cambodia, counterparts assist volunteers with obtaining local transportation, finding the best local restaurants, learning local language phrases, meeting community leaders, and giving tips about and often participating in social activities. Counterparts play a vital role in providing a true cultural immersion experience while helping to insure that the volunteers' interaction with and service to the community is appropriate and effective.