About



“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” -Norman Vincent Peale

I was broke, out of school, and wanted to volunteer to learn more about some issues and zero in on my true passion in life. But I couldn’t find anything but “volunteer-cations” on the Internet – packages promising hopeful volunteer organization placements and alsoo fun side activities if they had $2000. IndieVolunteer was born out of a desire to showcase NGOs that do not charge volunteers and to write about important social issues as well as share independent travel experiences. I wanted to directly connect with NGOs and work with them only if I found their work necessary, sustainable, and deeply partnered with the local community.

I believe that the greatest education is the one that you create yourself, and that if you take charge of finding and connecting with great NGOs, than you will learn more about these organizations, certain social issues, and the international development world at large. Hopefully, your short or long term volunteer experiences will help you discover your passion for a particular field and you will enter this field with an understanding of the obstacles that both face NGOs and the ones that NGOs create.

Indeed, IndieVolunteer is about actively but critically engaging with the world and its problems. International development certainly has its obstacles, and part of solving those problems is thinking outside of the mindset that caused those problems in the first place. How can we think about new ways to solve the problem that gross inequality causes?  IndieVolunteer seeks to be a forum for political, cultural, and social issues. As it has been a journey for me to explore my interests and to learn more about what is going on in the world, IndieVolunteer can help you along your own personal journey.

IndieVolunteer is a space for active global citizens to come together and engage. Whether you want to discover your own personal passions, volunteer for the first time, do an exchange abroad, research development policy, are interested in a particular issue, or want to learn more about what’s going on in the social justice and development world today, IndieVolunteer will give you insider tips. IndieVolunteer also profiles young global citizens, and tells stories about movements, issues, and places.

So please share your opinion with me and others on this website. Also please do not hesitate to contact me via this blog, email (annphoebehao@gmail.com) or Facebook.

– Ani Hao

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

A mini-biography of the author compiled for a conference (Up the Rivers Endeavors Consortium)

Ani Hao is a twenty two year old student at the New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study, a feminist, and a writer. She is the founder and author of Independent Volunteer and Travel (www.indievolunteer.wordpress.com), a blog based forum for students seeking free volunteer opportunities with grassroots NGOs around the world.

Ani has volunteered and interned in a variety of social projects, such as mentoring at-risk female high school students in Los Angeles and tutoring child workers in Cuzco, Peru. She took two years off from university after her sophomore year at USC to learn about society and culture in Colombia, Peru, France, China,  Spain, India, Thailand, Cambodia, and Portugal where she began researching reproductive rights in Latin America, and the state of gender equality in different countries around the world. She was a UN Alliance of Civilizations Summer School Participant in 2012, and a two time Associate to the Up the Rivers Endeavors Consortium. She served as the Youth Moderator and one of the Youth Delegates for the International Youth Council at the 4th Annual United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Doha Forum. She also co-organized the 1st International Congress on Eradicating Child Marriage at USC.

Originally from New York City, Ani is currently studying modern languages, anthropology, and development. She speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin fluently, hopes to improve her Hindi, and learn Arabic. In her free time, she does freelance travel writing for Ethical Traveler and Go! Girls Guides.

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5 thoughts on “About

  1. Your point about volunteer vacations or developmental tourism is absolutely spot on because those are not real nor long term solutions to the kind of problems many in the least developed countries face. While good intentions are a great place to start, we need to find long lasting solutions that empower people. Grassroots development is needed.

    As Homer said in The Simpsons, Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Great work.

    – Bibhuti

  2. First I want to thank God and then I want to thank you for making this site. I have been looking for volunteer opportunities that are independent from the government, but I couldnt find any until now. Believe it or not, this is my first time hearing of “NGOs.” Im excited man. Thank you!

  3. I love your quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” As a woman who joined the US Peace Corps in her 50s, I can appreciate all the learning experiences you are having by volunteering. It’s a very special way to travel and learn about the world. I really wish I’d done it when I was your age. Then I would have had many more years of great adventures, though in truth, I’ve traveled a lot and regret very little. Still, I wonder sometimes what if I had done…. when I was younger? How would my life have been different? Keep up the good work, Ani.

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