Frequently asked questions
To help teachers and overseas agents prepare groups for an educational journey to Indochina and beyond, we have compiled a list of FAQs. We hope you find this useful and if you have any further questions please get in touch today.
Buffalo Educational Travel is a specialised team of award winning destination management company, Buffalo Tours. BET works with schools, universities, charity challenges, corporate groups and the ‘curious at heart’ of all ages, to create unique educational, service learning and incentive experiences. Our dedicated team of educators, development specialists and travel experts operate with compassion and ethical professionalism to provide you with the rarest of experiences throughout Indochina, Thailand, Burma and beyond.
BET provides educational travel in historical, natural & culturally significant locations through service learning, cultural exchange and outdoor education.
Our work achieves three main purposes: Win-Win-Win, Transparency and Inspiration. As a for-profit company working in some of the poorest regions in Asia, Buffalo Tours believe responsible travel is an effective tool for poverty alleviation, cultural preservation and environmental protection. We also believe responsible travel promotes powerful experiential learning opportunities. In this way we create a win for students, a win for schools, and a win for our host communities.
Transparency is the foundation of trust and successful win-win-win. We are committed to transparency in all dealings with partner communities, organizations and project donors to create trust and success. In this way we ensure 100% of client donations go directly to the project. There are no management or administrative fees taken from client donations.
Inspiration can change our world. We believe our job is to help people see the world through the eyes of another. That’s why BET offers an innovative range of community-based experiences and development projects that place you in uniquely experiential situations.
The BET team offer our client three unique advantages: Project Management, Facilitation, Local NGO & Community Networks. BET provides professional project management services that allow our clients to effectively contribute to the economic and social development of communities they visit. Project management services are conducted as part of overall tour operation overhead as Buffalo Tours contribution to community development. In this way we ensure that 100% of client donations go directly to the project. There are no management or administrative fees taken from client donations.
BET has a team of experienced facilitators to help groups achieve their curriculum and organizational goals. Facilitators run a wide range of activities and challenges that fit within a group’s travel itinerary. Activity themes include leadership, team building, environment, poverty, well-being and personal growth.
BET has an extensive network of local NGO’s and community groups in all the countries we work. This network allows you to find educational travel destinations that inspire and transform, while kee
You can expect that at least three or more of our five ethical codes on any BET program; poverty alleviation, cultural enhancement, environmental protection, community involvement, and learning opportunities.
- Poverty Alleviation: Travel that empowers the host community to reduce poverty through economic and noneconomic benefits for ownership, income generation and improved education and health care.
- Cultural Enhancement: Travel that instills pride in the host community by providing respect and encouragement for the dynamic growth of local customs.
- Environmental Protection: Travel that offers sensible alternatives to local impacts by providing guests with options for carbon, energy and waste reduction.
- Community Involvement: Travel that allows guests in-depth interaction within a community to create new perspectives of our world through the eyes of their host.
- Learning Opportunities: Travel that creates learning opportunities that directly support a school, university or organisation’s learning objectives.
We are proud of our guides and facilitators. They are all fluent English speakers and have wide ranging experiences. All guides are fully licensed and first aid trained. The guides work closely with a facilitator to ensure your students accomplish their learning goals.
Yes. However, you must be willing to financially support the project. Financial assistance is provided only after a participatory needs analysis / decision making process identifies the best possible project to support the community’s self-reliance and capacity.
This is not ‘freely given’ charity as the community also provides a proportion of the resources (i.e. labour, management, local materials, land). This can be difficult and time consuming for us to determine and negotiate but if they do not contribute to the project they will never feel ownership. A community can only become stronger by struggling, and facing adversity. An empowering project facilitates this as students and community members work together.
A lot! Typically students can expect tasks including light carpentry, digging, carrying supplies, mixing cement and brick work. As students have a wide range of skills and energy we will also work with teachers to integrate their students with any part of the project cycle:
- Identification/Preparation: BET Community Facilitators work with various stakeholders including government, civil society, community, and development agencies to help identify and prepare feasible projects. Community meetings are participatory in design to ensure a wide range of options / concerns are heard. Women, youth and elders are encouraged to attend all meetings.
- Implementation: BET projects are implemented to try to match client’s schedule and itinerary within a project time-line. Implementation time generally ranges from two to five months depending on the type and nature of the project. A work-breakdown structure (WBS) is prepared for work periods to list all jobs, materials and tools to be done by volunteers.
- Evaluation: After the project is completed, BET Community Facilitators visits the site together with key stakeholders to evaluate the project’s success. BET Community Facilitators will also meet with community members to conduct focus-group assessment of impacts. During this visit photos will be taken to provide clients and participating volunteers an assessment of their donations and efforts.
The donation is entirely up to the capacity and generosity of the giver. In the past school groups have typically donated $2000 USD. Donations though depend on the capacity of the students and have ranged from $500 to as much as $5,000. As many of our projects can cost upwards of $20,000 USD, we link several school groups to work on various stages of one project. By working together a group of schools can achieve much more than they can individually.
Maybe. Schools tend to travel at the same time. In the rare case we have two schools working on a project at the same time, our project managers schedule activities to limit interaction. That means one group may work on construction in the morning while the other is on a local school visit. In the event that two school groups are on the same construction site at the same time, once again our project managers plan work tasks in separate areas. This ensures the work site is not overcrowded and each school achieves their unique service learning goals.
NB: to ensure uniqueness of experience, if there are more than one school group in an area at the same time we schedule activities separately, stay in separate village, meals are separate, etc. In all ways we limit any interaction to maintain a feeling of uniqueness.
Maybe. Projects are implemented only after a participatory needs analysis / decision making process identifies the best possible project to support the community’s self-reliance and capacity. For a school to have its own project they must be willing to 100% finance the project and commit to multiple years of service in order to reach completion. Regardless, when joining with others to achieve a larger project, each school is given a unique goal. Students therefore feel the double thrill of accomplishing their own unique challenge and contributing to a much larger project!
Typically in a village homestay. We work closely with community leaders to select homes of respected families that can meet basic standards (toilets, private bathing area, etc.). At the homestay we provide clean bedding, mosquito nets, etc. All homestays have fire extinguishers.
No. At the homestay we provide clean bedding, mosquito nets, etc. Regardless, some people prefer to have their own bedding. If this is what you prefer and can fit it in your pack – by all means.
If asked we will try, but we will only request permission from authorities to stay in schools when they are not in session (schedules vary country to country) and if they have adequate toilets and water supply.
No. Meals will be eaten together as a group in a central location. This allows us to ensure quality, hygiene, and cater to any special dietary needs (allergies, vegetarian, etc). It also allows teachers to monitor and connect with students. It finally allows students a relaxed time to debrief and process their experiences. It is also important to not interfere too much with the daily schedule of our hosts who may eat very early!
No. Homestay families are paid to host you. Typically they are the wealthier in the community. Other families would like a homestay but cannot meet basic standards. So a few families do not receive all the benefits, we instead suggest giving any such gifts to the community as a whole so they can share in a more equitable way.
Yes. We work closely with community leaders to ensure an equitable distribution of benefits. Typically, each day you are in a village you pay into a community fund to support all families. Also, during your visit you will be directly employing a wide number of people: cooks, drivers, dance performers, craft teachers, cooking teachers, local guides, rafting guides, etc. In this way your visit maximizes the benefit throughout the community.
Yes. A risk assessment covering all activities and evacuation procedure is provided.
Yes. BET has a wide variety of educational travel programs in significant historical, natural & cultural locations and will work with teachers to help identify and meet each school’s curriculum goals.
As each school program is unique, so too are the tours and costs. As a rule of thumb programs cost between $90 and $150 per day per student, and vary greatly due to number of students, length of program, educational services required, type of sightseeing and accommodations provided.