“Be prepared”

General Impression

Overall Rating:    4 / 10

The program was not what I expected.

First, I was not working as part of a team. The first week of my program I was with one other volunteer. The second week I was with another volunteer. People who sign up for this program should understand that they might be working on their own.

Second, the organizers expected me to go to a different NGO everyday. After three days of this, I told them that I wasn't going to continue my participation because I was unable to build any meaningful connections or be of any real value if I had to go to a different place everyday. They then agreed to have me volunteer at only two organizations.

Third, there was no clear guidance as to what I was to do at each NGO. At one place I was expected to just observe and the teacher clearly did not appreciate having volunteers drop into her classroom. At another place I was in charge of a class of 20-25 kids with no instructions on what to do. I had to make it up as I went along.


I loved Istanbul. It was a very welcoming city. The public transportation was great (as long as you had a good app to navigate a myriad of options) and the food was delicious and inexpensive. As a woman traveling on her own I always felt safe.

Project & Staff

The organizer, Ozman, tried very hard and I appreciated her efforts. However, I don't think she understood the motivation for someone like me participating in this program. Also, the last two days of the program I was quite ill.


1. Be prepared to be on your own. You might not be joining a team of volunteers.
2. Make sure you are comfortable navigating around the city on your own. Transportation around the city is not provided. Make sure you have Google maps on your phone and make sure you will have cell service in Istanbul.
3.If you want to work at just one place for your two weeks, tell them before you get there.
4. Come prepared with lesson plans and and material for teaching children ranging in age from 6-13 who speak very little English. You will have very minimal assistance in the classroom, so unless you are an experienced teacher of ESL you will have a hard time. Coming prepared with some games, some videos...will make it easier.
5. Invest in a good pair of earplugs! The hostel where you will stay is conveniently located and clean, but it is located in a busy section of the city and the street noise is incredibly loud until 2 or 3 am.