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A look at OG’s 2013 programs!

Check out our 2012 programs video here.

Check out our track record.


  • 96%- Alumni that would recommend OG to a friend.
  • 9/10 – Average overall score participants gave their programs
  • 9/10 – Score our 2013 alumni gave our programs regarding “value versus cost”
  • $181,815.00 - Amount fundraised in 2013 by OG participants to support our local in-country partners


Here’s what our alumni have to say.


- James (Haiti 2012)Shortly after arriving to Haiti, I became friends with some of the most amazing people ever and my life took a turn. I fell in love with Haiti and I really cared about the work that we did, why we were doing it and who we were helping. I felt proud and accomplished at the end of every work day, which is a big deal to me.

When we weren’t working, I eventually found myself doing things I’d never dream of doing before. Whether it was riding the top of a bus at high speeds along a curvy mountain road, having a Haitian graduation, or having crazy dance contests on a roof, my adventure had everything I could ask for...with a little bit extra.

I really wish that everyone in the world could have such an amazing experience and have their eyes opened like I did.

- James (Haiti 2012)

- Tayler (Haiti 2012) Robert Kennedy once said, “All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.” Operation Groundswell gave me the opportunity to face that challenge, to take on the difficulties of our time in a way I had never even dreamed of before.

I left for Haiti hoping to do good, hoping to have an adventure, and not really knowing what to expect. In Haiti, I worked on the Ubuntu Blox project, helped out elsewhere when I could, and experienced, and I mean truly experienced, Haiti, both its highs and lows, its beauties and scars. My time there passed, and I left Haiti having done some good, having had an adventure, but still really not knowing what to expect, because things were different for me now.

I left Haiti with a new way of living, a new fire and passion to take on difficult challenges of our time, and it makes me come alive. What an uncommon opportunity, to discover your passion on a “summer trip”, but here I am, completely submerged in my new way of life.

- Tayler (Haiti 2012)

- Natalie (Haiti 2012)Everyone should experience an OG trip. My summer in Haiti far exceeded any expectation that I had. I met awesome people, worked on meaningful projects, developed a deeper understanding of the country and learned more - especially about myself - than I ever could've imagined.

- Natalie (Haiti 2012)

- Gillian (Middle East 2012)My time with OG was amazing. The trip is a great balance between helping, exploring, and learning about the community. The leaders know the region and are great guides and friends. The volunteering projects we participated in were meaningful to the communities we stayed in, and our travels were educational as well as fun.

The most impressive and lasting memory I have from OG are the learning activities our trip leaders created for us. The lessons helped participants critically look at the situation we saw in the community and our role.

Out of all the volunteer trips I've been on, this has been the only one that allowed us to question our motives and actions - and the willingness to do so shows how much OG cares about the quality and intention of their programs.

- Gillian (Middle East 2012)

- Hannah (West Africa 2012)I loved the on-the-ground nature of my Operation Groundswell trip.

With OG you are not getting a censored version of the places you are visiting.

You learn, smell, see, and truly feel and experience what it means to be where you are. My trip taught me new things about myself, backpacking and what it means to be a traveler. Months later, I’m still talking to the friends I met, thinking about the memories I made, and missing the wonderfulness of Ghana."

- Hannah (West Africa 2012)

- Agatha (West Africa 2012) Something unforgettable happened to me this past summer. This authentic, amazing, unique thing was my trip with OG to Ghana where I spent 6 wonderful weeks taking in the sights, smells, and most importantly, the people. The beautiful residents of Ghana welcomed us with open arms. They invited us into their lives without hesitation and became our teachers. Teachers whom I can wholeheartedly say allowed me to learn more in 6 weeks than I have in my first 24 years.

I can truly say that I lived and breathed the culture and through OG was introduced to the luminosity that resides in the charming country of Ghana. This is the kind experience you get with Operation Groundswell… an experience that is real, enriching and inspiring.

- Agatha (West Africa 2012)

- Chelsea (East Africa 2012)Being an African Studies minor, I have wanted to travel to Africa for a long time. When I found out about Operation Groundswell, I jumped at the chance to go on their East Africa trip. After applying to other programs and searching endlessly for trips/internships in Africa, I am glad I held out for Operation Groundswell. It was the perfect balance between volunteering and adventure; between traveling and living within local communities.

The projects we worked on were sustainable and lasting, and as a participant you knew that you made an impact on a community, even after you have taken the long plane ride home.

It was everything I had dreamed of and more. Thank you OG!!

- Chelsea (East Africa 2012)

-Kelsey (West Africa 2012)OG trips allow participants to completely emerge themselves in the culture they travel too.

It was truly a life changing experience! I was able to build relationships that will last a lifetime, not only with my fellow OGers but with members of the communities we traveled to. I learned so much about myself, and have fallen in love with Ghana!

I would recommend an OG trip to anybody looking for adventure, volunteer experience, education about a magical country, and just the experience of a lifetime!

-Kelsey (West Africa 2012)

- Marsha (India 2012)Flying out to Delhi last May, I felt as though for the first time in my life, I was about to have an experience that could be an unbelievable disaster. There were in fact, some “disasters” – puking off the side of a mountain; getting lost in an absolute downpour; being turned away from an NGO I had hoped to work with; walking around for hours looking for a place to sleep; trudging through melting ice at 5200 metres. However, these were not real disasters of course - they were the moments where I found and brought to life extremely special parts of myself.

If I had been traveling with an organization that never allowed me to enter into real and authentic situations (in other words, situations when you feel like crap) I would have been able to go to India without really entering the country at all.

Traveling with OG made me drastically reassess what I would consider foreign. Were the welcoming and loving people who let us live in their homes foreign? Of course they weren’t. Were all the different religions and cultures we snuggled up with foreign? No. They were different than anything I had ever encountered, but they were not - as the word foreign connotes - strange. If it was not for OG, I would have never left the realm of thinking of the “wide world” as a scary thing that had to be approached with great hesitation.

It’s been said many times many ways, but OG is a family – believe it! And just like with family, once you’re in there’s no going back.

- Marsha (India 2012)

-Anik (Peru 2012)When I was in Peru for 6 weeks I felt like I was a part of something great. Visiting the communities in Peru made me realize that you can be very happy with very little and everyone we met made us feel very welcome.

Another great part about OG is Independent Travel Time (ITT). At first I was apprehensive to travel on my own because I had never done it before but our trip leaders prepared us well. I felt safe and confident the whole time. ITT was a great introduction to traveling on my own.

I recommend OG to anyone who has never travelled alone before or to anyone who wants to make a difference in a community in another part of the world. The way Operation Groundswell explores a country is unlike any other organization.

-Anik (Peru 2012)

- Lindsey (East Africa 2012)My summer with OG East Africa completely changed my view of international aid and development, while also showing me exactly how traveling the world should be done. Having never "backpacked" anywhere before, I was a bit intimidated by the idea, but it turned out to be the best six weeks of my life (bed nets, limited water, and all!). Not only do you get to learn about local conditions, but you will live as one with the community.

I boarded the flight home with a journal of memories, a smile on my face, and the knowledge that I would always have an OG family to reminisce with and visit. Stop dreaming about doing something amazing, and stop stumbling over the awkward "fun fact" question when it's your turn, and join a trip now! It'll be the best decision you've ever made, and you'll have more fun facts then all of your friends combined.

- Lindsey (East Africa 2012)

- Kate (East Africa 2012) My experience in East Africa with Operation Groundswell was authentic, educational, and truly the best thing I’ve ever done.

It was the perfect balance between travel, adventure, education, and volunteering; it pushed my boundaries and allowed me not only to see how local people live, but also to experience it first hand.

My trip leaders weren’t there as tour guides; but experienced and passionate young people who made us feel comfortable in a foreign country, and taught us all the tips and tricks we needed to travel independently. OG upholds it’s original principles in authenticity, value, ethics, fun, education, and learning on a global scale. The experience has been infinitely valuable personally and professionally.

OG is a family and as a participant you instantly feel like the newest member: From the interview, to post-trip reunions you have the organizations full support. If you’ve always wanted to travel and volunteer internationally, quit making excuses and do it with OG: you will not regret it.

- Kate (East Africa 2012)

- Pranavan (Middle East 2009)OG has allowed me to see parts of the world with an underlying purpose that has helped open my eyes to the truth of what actually goes on at the community level. Providing the opportunity to live, breathe, eat, play and work with locals offers an experience like no other. OG has stuck to its founding principles and is truly the best way to travel on a shoe-string budget.

"OG is so much more than your average overseas volunteering organization."

- Pranavan (Middle East 2009)

- Hannah (West Africa 2012)Before I left for the West Africa trip, I was trying to figure out how to cram 6 weeks of stuff I thought I needed into one backpack. I was scared, didn't know what to expect and pretty convinced I was going to be very homesick very soon. Little did I know that I would fall in love with Sandema's red dirt road, the friendly people, the beautiful communities, have a whole new perspective on life and never want to leave.

Although it was challenging at times, OG gave me an experience of a lifetime: running a girls leadership program, learning how to travel consciously and adventurously, and no matter what, enjoying every moment of it.

- Hannah (West Africa 2012)

- Keegan (West Africa 2007)My trip with Operation Groundswell was exactly the sort of adventure I was hoping it would be. It was tough, challenging, exciting, rewarding and absolutely foreign to me. The type of people that go on the trip are interesting and unique and are sure to teach you a lot. Also, the people that you meet and experiences that you have while abroad will undoubtedly be some of the most memorable of your life.

I am so glad to have gone on this trip because it was an opportunity to see a part of the world that I would have never traveled to, to experience some adventure and excitement, all while making a difference.

"I would definitely recommend Operation Groundswell to anyone who wants to learn more than they can imagine."

- Keegan (West Africa 2007)

- Caitlin (West Africa 2010)OG has given me the opportunity to experience things that I would have never been able to see otherwise. I was able to meet great people, try new things and learn about a new country. I loved being able to immerse myself in the culture and being able to really see the country for myself. It was unlike anything I've ever done before and it went beyond anything I ever could have imagined.

"It was unlike anything I've ever done before and it went beyond anything I ever could have imagined."

- Caitlin (West Africa 2010)

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I left Haiti with a new way of living, a new fire and passion to take on difficult challenges of our time, and it makes me come alive. What an uncommon opportunity, to discover your passion on a “summer trip”, but here I am, completely submerged in my new way of life.

- Tayler (Haiti 2012)

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