This is an attempt to loosely define some volunteer guidelines to assist both volunteers want to help on OLPC projects, and people trying to manage volunteers. It will hopefully ensure expectations on both sides are reasonably in line with reality and ensure that volunteers have a good time. Please contribute to the page to help others have a good experience with and as volunteers!
It is important when considering being a volunteer that you understand why you are volunteering and what you want to get out of the experience. This will help you ensure you come away happy and satisfied with the experience. Ensure your expectations align with what you are volunteering for and that you maintain good communications with the project leader. Volunteers should expect to put in at least a week on any given deployment, as a few days here or there end up being potentially troublesome for the project leaders. Volunteers should expect to work up to a normal work day (7-8 hours) and 5 days a week, however volunteers should also ensure they talk to project leaders and make time to see the area (particularly in a new country or location), meet the locals and enjoy the experience of helping the community they are deploying too.
All volunteers should take photos, keep reasonable documentation of their activities, and where possible involve the locals in their work to assist with knowledge transfer, particularly with passwords and any technical documentation needed.
Project leaders should ensure their volunteers enjoy the experience, after all, they are giving up their time, and earning capacity to help you achieve your project! Make sure you have regular volunteer events (dinners, a party/social evening at the end of the project) and keep them well informed of what is going on and what they should be doing. Ensure you maintain a reasonable set of work commitments per volunteer, and don't work them too hard!
Ensure you collect photos, documentation and do a project overview/report when you have finished. Make sure you thank all the volunteers and other stakeholders both while on location, and after the project in your report. Documentation should be put on wiki.laptop.org or the local equivalent as soon after (or during) the project as possible to ensure details aren't left out.
Some projects will be able to help fund volunteers, and some won't. As a general rule if your project can afford to fund travel expenses for volunteers (flights, potentially accommodation) then that really helps support volunteers putting in their time and expertise to your project. Volunteers should expect to pay for daily costs and meals. Volunteers shouldn't be volunteering to get a free trip to a new place, but rather to help take OLPC to children who need it, so be open, chat to your project leader, and enjoy the new experience.
How can you help?
Many skills are needed for successful deployments, including technical skills, teacher training, documentation and project management just to name a few. Deployments also need just additional hands to help with physically unpacking laptops, rolling out power, and simply taking instructions from the project leader, so don't worry if you don't have anything specific to contribute :)