Using Webinars to Train Volunteers for International Work

Training volunteers with webinarsToday’s post is provided by Kait Yankello is the Senior Program Coordinator at United Planet. Kait is a ReadyTalk power user and member of Summit Club, ReadyTalk’s advocacy community.

As a non-profit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, United Planet provides culturally immersive volunteer abroad programs that promote cross-cultural understanding. Because we accept volunteers from countries around the world, we rely heavily on the use of technology and new ways to train and engage volunteers before they depart for their volunteer “Quest” in-country. Webinars are one such way that we are able to accomplish this: United Planet uses ReadyTalk to provide pre-departure webinars to volunteers who will soon be traveling abroad.

Traveling to a different country can be a bit nerve wracking and we want volunteers to feel as prepared and comfortable as possible before departing for their Quest. Our pre-departure sessions are one such way that we provide training and useful information to volunteers who will soon be experiencing a culture entirely different from their own.

Each month, United Planet provides anywhere from 2 to 4 pre-departure sessions, with varying dates and times, allowing volunteers to register for a session that is convenient for them. Led by myself, and two other Program Coordinators, the sessions cover a range of topics such as tips for adjusting to a new culture, how to access money while abroad, and ways to stay healthy and safe while in-country.

At the scheduled time, volunteers are asked to log-in and view our online presentation while also dialing in to the audio portion and speaking with the Program Coordinator leading the session, as well as the other volunteers. This is a great way for volunteers to hear the questions that others are asking and perhaps connect with those who will also be traveling to the country where they will soon be volunteering.

Not only does ReadyTalk provide a platform for providing pre-departure trainings, it allows us to connect to individuals from all over the world. Regardless of where a volunteer is located, they are able to easily join a session and instantly be connected to other volunteers from all over the world. Through this, we already begin to see cross-cultural relationships being formed, even before a volunteer has departed for their Quest abroad!

ReadyTalk also incorporates key features that have made our webinars more successful. First, ReadyTalk provides the option to include online polls into the sessions, which provides a more engaging and interactive experience for our participants. Rather than merely listening to the presentation, volunteers are able to provide their own feedback, answer questions based on information provided in the session, and learn more about the other volunteers through these polls. We have nothing but great things to say about this feature!

Additionally, the online chat option is also regularly used by both presenters and participants throughout the sessions. Throughout each session, volunteers regularly turn to the chat feature to ask questions as they arise. Further, not only do we, as the presenter, have the option to chat to all participants at one time but each individual participant as well. This is something that we use frequently and makes communication between presenters and participants that much easier.

Overall, United Planet is extremely happy with our experience with ReadyTalk. Our pre-departure sessions run seamlessly, making it that much easier for volunteers to feel comfortable and prepared for their time abroad. Thank you, ReadyTalk!

Kait Yankello is the Senior Program Coordinator at United Planet – a non-profit organization based in Boston that provides culturally immersive volunteer abroad programs. Kait regularly uses ReadyTalk webinars as a way to provide pre-departure training to volunteers before their volunteer experiences abroad.

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