Exciting New Gap Year Destinations with United Planet in Asia, Africa and the Pacific

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United Planet launches four new gap semester or year destinations in South Africa, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia

United Planet is pleased to announce four new gap semester or year destinations, including South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia. All of these destinations offer affordable volunteering opportunities for six months to one year. Two start dates are offered each year in both January and September to accommodate school and university schedules. However, United Planet gap year volunteers come from all age groups and walks of life. For $231 per week, United Planet provides full training, volunteer support, housing, food, and insurance coverage.

A long-term volunteer experience is vastly different from a backpackers' tour of distant continents, a structured work experience, or a study abroad program. This is a great opportunity for North Americans to discover the world and immerse in a new way of life. Volunteers gain unique perspective through full immersion in a host family and local work experience.

Sarah McPhillips, who spent six months on a gap year program with United Planet in 2009 after graduating high school, says her time in Ecuador was "a life changing experience. Living and working there gave me purpose and I walked away from this experience with so much more understanding and confidence." Sarah volunteered in a small village about an hour outside of Quito at a children's orphanage and daytime drop in preschool.

"The people I met including host family, friends and students were all so loving and encouraging that it was impossible to not feel like I had a second home. United Planet and all the staff were so supportive from beginning to end to try and find the best program. I definitely chose the right one," added Sarah.

A United Planet Gap Year Program

Partnering with the International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) Federation, United Planet creates customized volunteer abroad trips including home stays, language immersion, and valuable work experience in over 30 countries from six months to one year. Founded after World War II as part of an international reconciliation program between the United States and Germany, ICYE is well established in the field of cultural exchange.

South Africa

From world-famous vineyards to miles of coastline, bustling cosmopolitan cities, desert, mountains, wildlife parks and more, South Africa draws visitors to a wide variety of locations. While South Africa's economy is booming from wine and gold exports, high poverty levels and AIDS infection rates still plague the nation. As a volunteer in South Africa, you can support health and education initiatives aimed at raising the local standard of living.

South Africa's first Volunteer Centre (originally Voluntary Aid Bureau) started in Cape Town in 1979, as a project of the International Year of the Child. This office opened in 1980 and was at first run entirely by volunteers. Placements are located in and around Cape Town, South Africa. For example, at the Heaven Night Shelter in Cape Town, South Africa, volunteers assist in vocational training (such as computer skills) and workshops for the homeless. The project runs and sells products from their organic garden and sewing or candle making projects.

Australia

A multicultural society, Australians are also well known for their quality of life. 60% of its 22 million residents live in large seaside cities and many Australians consider surfing a national hobby. Join us for sun, sand, surf, seismic waves, wine, wallabies, the wild outback and more. As a volunteer in Australia, you'll gain an insider's perspective of the culture.

ICYE's Australia office was recently opened by Michelle Bateman, a long time former Director of ICYE NZ who has moved to Perth. Michelle is excited to start receiving volunteers in projects around Perth. Volunteer placements include human rights projects working with local indigenous community and immigrant families or projects conserving Australia's unique wildlife. In Ningaloo Turtle Program in Exmouth, Western Australia, volunteers work to help preserve marine turtles habitats and to educate visitors and public on conservation efforts.

Philippines
Known as a top diving destination, the Philippine archipelago encompasses over 7,000 islands and an abundance of wildlife. With 87.6 million citizens divided into over a hundred ethnic groups, the Philippines is amazingly diverse. From diving to wildlife spotting, colonial history and more, the Philippines has much to offer the visitor. By volunteering in the Philippines you can experience its legendary hospitality and many cultural, culinary and coastal delights.

Volunteer placements include resource centers which serve to grant low-income children access to quality reading materials and education activities not available to them in the public schools. Volunteers take part in various reading programs, art workshops and storytelling sessions designed to equip the children with life skills and values formation.

Indonesia
Spices, sun, stunning vistas and an abundant variety of cultures, religions and languages make Indonesia soul food for the senses. The largest archipelago country and the most culturally diverse, Indonesia's national motto is "Unity in Diversity." By volunteering in Indonesia, you can experience the many intricacies that make this country unique.
Placements include volunteering at a rural government funded health center which supports family health or assisting teachers at special schools for children with disabilities. These students usually have few to no chances to meet and live with people from other cultures.

For more information on all of United Planet's gap year destinations, please visit: http://www.unitedplanet.org/gap-year

About United Planet
United Planet is an international non-profit organization with 501(c) 3 status, based in Boston, MA, which offers volunteer abroad programs from one week to one year in over 40 countries worldwide. To learn more, please visit us at: http://www.unitedplanet.org

Contact:
Amanda Massello
Marketing and Communications Manager
United Planet
media (at) unitedplanet (dot) org
1-800-292-2316

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