Student Volunteer Abroad Programs

The world is waiting for you. Don’t just travel, travel with meaning. Imagine spending a week during your spring break, J-term, or summer vacation as an international volunteer – experiencing the world and making new friends all while helping others. Hundreds of students choose to volunteer abroad with Global Volunteers every year. Why?

Global Volunteers offers the opportunity to connect with like-minded, motivated and compassionate people from all over the world on the best volunteer abroad programs available. You’ll find people of all ages and from all walks of life uniting to help children and families around the world. When you step out of the classroom and push yourself outside of your comfort zone as a student, you will find different perspectives, be inspired to learn about new cultures, languages and ways of thinking – all of which will change your own mindset and course of life.

With over 30 years of development expertise and experience in organizing volunteer abroad programs, you can expect to gain on-the-ground experience and understanding on life-changing work projects – directly serving youth and families.

Where can I volunteer abroad as a student?

Students can choose to volunteer in 17 countries including, Greece, India, Peru, St. Lucia and Tanzania – for one to three weeks. Depending on your appetite for adventure, you can choose from programs close to home, or volunteer programs abroad in a community unseen by conventional tourists.

Student Volunteer Abroad Programs with children

Each service opportunity has its unique appeal. So wherever you volunteer, the experience will deepen your perspective of the world and your place in it.

When can I volunteer? What time of the year?

Student volunteer abroad projects are available year-round. So whether you are looking to travel during spring break, J-term, summer vacation or gap year, count on us to maximize your contributions.

If you know what season you want to volunteer abroad but aren’t sure where, this blog post is a good place to start: Best Volunteer Programs – By Season.

What type of volunteer projects can I help with?

The type of work you will do depends on (1) what our host communities have requested from us and (2) your interests and skills. Global Volunteers’ unique philosophy of service requires volunteers to work at the invitation and under the direction of local community partners – and one-on-one with local people. While remaining faithful to our philosophy of service, we will also do our best to tailor to your preferences.

Global Volunteers offers various volunteer projects ranging from Teaching to Childcare, Labor to Healthcare. We’ve highlighted some of our most popular volunteer projects for students, so keep reading to find the perfect project for you…

Teaching Projects

Assist local teachers in one-on-one and small group settings – in subjects like math, science, nutrition, reading, computer literacy, geography and the like. Or, use your native understanding of the English language to create lively lessons to help students with their conversational English skills.

Student Volunteer Abroad Projects in Tanzania

Childcare Projects

Offer the “extra” attention at-risk children crave and deserve – Stimulating, nurturing, feeding, and playing with babies, toddlers and pre-school children.

Student Volunteer Abroad Programs in Peru

  • Childcare service program locations: Cook Islands, Ecuador, India, Peru, RomaniaSt. Lucia, and Tanzania
  • Volunteer duration: Volunteer for one to three weeks, programs start on select Sundays and Saturdays year-round (depending on the service program location)
  • Program fees: From $1,995 to $3,095 – depending on the service program location and duration. Tax-deductible fees include food, accommodations, ground transportation, team leadership, project materials and program coordination.

Medical and Health Projects

Assist with non-invasive procedures such as blood pressure checks, Diabetes screening, eye exams, and more. For nutrition majors: Establish, plant, maintain and harvest school and household gardens, teach healthy meal planning and food preparation to students and families.

Student Volunteer Abroad Projects in Ecuador

  • Medical and health service program locations: Cook Islands, Cuba, EcuadorIndia, MontanaPeru, RomaniaSt. Lucia and Tanzania
  • Volunteer duration: Volunteer for one to three weeks, programs start on select Sundays and Saturdays year-round (depending on the service program location)
  • Program fees: From $1,045 to $3,195 – depending on the service program location and duration. Tax-deductible fees include food, accommodations, ground transportation, team leadership, project materials and program coordination.

Construction Projects

Help with painting, repairing, building and landscaping community facilities which support children’s growth and development.

Student Volunteer Abroad Projects in St. Lucia

  • Construction service program locations: Cook Islands, Costa RicaCuba, EcuadorIndia, MontanaPeru, RomaniaSt. LuciaTanzania, and West Virginia.
  • Volunteer duration: Volunteer for one to three weeks, programs start on select Sundays and Saturdays year-round (depending on the service program location)
  • Program fees: From $1,045 to $3,195 – depending on the service program location and duration. Tax-deductible fees include food, accommodations, ground transportation, team leadership, project materials and program coordination.

(You must be 18 years or older to volunteer independently on our volunteer programs. All minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.)

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Alternative Spring Break Volunteer Programs

Instead of sitting on a couch, binge-watching Netflix and ordering pizza for an entire week,  imagine spending your spring break contributing to meaningful projects, developing unique friendships with people from around the world, and experiencing a new culture. (Sounds great, right?!) Grab friends, family, or classmates and prepare yourself for one of our life-changing alternative spring break volunteer programs.

Continue reading to learn about five popular spring break volunteer locations…

Costa Rica Alternative Spring Break Program

Alternative spring break volunteer program in Costa Rica

Join us in Costa Rica for an adventure in service! Plant a garden, paint a classroom, clear forest trails in the cloud forest region, teach conversational English, and motivate a student. Your contributions in Costa Rica as a Global Volunteer change lives in many ways. (Plus, the Costa Rican cuisine is simply delicious!)

Cuba Alternative Spring Break Program

Alternative spring break volunteer program in Cuba

As a Global Volunteer in Cuba, you promote civil society, support the Cuban people, and enjoy the true culture and daily life of Cuba – all in one or two weeks! Our community partners in Havana and Ciego de Ávila welcome you into their communities as family. This is the best way to experience and learn about this fascinating country.

Peru Alternative Spring Break Program

Alternative spring break volunteer program in Peru

Offer comfort and compassion to impoverished and abandoned youth on our service-learning program in Lima, Peru. You may never again feel so loved and appreciated! Other project opportunities include: English teaching, repair and maintenance, early childhood education, nutrition education, health care and hygiene education, tutoring numeracy and computer literacy.

St. Lucia Caribbean Island Alternative Spring Break Program

Alternative spring break volunteer program in the Caribbean

Our community partners in Anse la Raye, St. Lucia welcome you into their community centers, schools, homes and churches. Help primary school students with numeracy. Care for and stimulate children 1 to 5 years old through arts and crafts. Paint and help repair community buildings. And so much more! Plus, there is ample time available on evenings and weekends to enjoy this Caribbean island’s crystal-blue bays and soft sand beaches!

USA West Virginia Alternative Spring Break Program

Alternative spring break volunteer program in USA

You don’t have to jet-set across the world to be a Global Volunteer. Serve here in the U.S. on our alternative spring break program in West Virginia. Work one-on-one with children, teens, and adults on labor, education, and cultural projects – as a cherished volunteer in Appalachia.

Still not convinced?

Since 1984, we’ve engaged thousands of students in measurable and effective service-learning opportunities. Check out these reviews from previous student volunteers to read what they have to say about their experience. (In addition, you can choose to volunteer in any one of our 17 countries year-round – during summer vacation, J-term, or gap year!)

Request a free e-catalog below!

Stop dreaming. Start going.

Request a program catalog here or by calling 800-487-1074.







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Arizona High School Students in Costa Rica

A team of 34 Arizona Fountain Hills High School students and chaperones united with Colegio students on Global Volunteers’ high school group volunteering program in Costa Rica. Working together, they carried out maintenance on the forest trails on campus – an outdoor classroom at this ecotourism-focused school, shared the “pura vida” culture in Monteverde, learning about commonalities in their teen lives. The students cleared the forest floor to maintain the walkways and create new pathways, shoveled and bagged gravel, and delivered it to the places where we the trails needed it. The group was surprised by how much they were able to contribute to the labor projects, and how much they learned about different work styles and expectations. Ticos (Costa Ricans), they said, balance exertion and rest – and don’t fall victim to unrealistic time pressures.

Read an expanded post by the students in Costa Rica.

Kiley, Fountain Hills High School senior,  elaborated:

“This experience gave me a better sense of empathy and a solidified understanding that the way things work can be very different and still be 100% right… it becomes much harder to dehumanize a culture when you immerse yourself and see the people as people who are similar to those you know.”

A highlight was some dancing in the school gym. The high school students mixed, enjoyed salsa music, and practiced Latin dance steps with each other. They also were intrigued by the ecological diversity of the Monteverde region – observing (and sometimes capturing!) critters of all sorts – some exotic, some common – frogs, birds, insects,  beetles, porcupines, snakes, two-toed sloths, and a kinkajou (an arboreal nocturnal mammal).

These images from Fountain Hills’ High School group volunteering in Costa Rica captures the students’ service, learning, and free-time experiences. Costa Rica was the school’s second group volunteering program with Global Volunteers. Read more about Fountain Hills’ high school volunteer abroad program in St. Lucia.

 

Interested in learning more?

The next step is to chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators about opportunities for a high school group volunteering in Costa Rica (or in one of our other 16 volunteer program locations). We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance, and other program details. Let the adventure in service begin!

Chat online about high school group volunteering in Costa Rica

CUB1606G1 Ella Lemke with Arelia and Carlota IMG_1841Journal by Ella, Cuba Global Volunteer and Blake School Student. 

Today, we finally discovered the true meaning of “bailar”, what it really means to dance. Through learning the contagious salsa which I have no doubt we will be teaching family and friends back home, learning the conga and the cha-cha, listening to the never-ending party outside our window, and practicing our salsa on the street corner before bed, it makes it even harder to say goodbye to this beautiful place. After witnessing large groups of people dancing to the DJs on every street corner, and seeing a six year old shaking her hips better than I can, I’d say we’ve made a mutual agreement to bring this energy back with us to the United States.

From a full day of dancing to music everywhere I turn I have to say I am in awe of this country Hopefully, after next week’s lessons in Havana we will be able to salsa in our sleep and when we return to Ciego de Ávila, Yadi won’t be able to tell us “we have no moves.”

Bennett, a Global Volunteer in Cuba and Blake School student, discovers that making friends in Cuba comes easily with shared interests and activities.

Friday was truly something to behold. From working in the fields, alongside friends, to tutoring a group of four Cubans who collectively spoke only a small sliver of English, I personally found Friday to be a day of profound delight and wholesome joy.

handshake in cuba

Bennett and Sonia learn the Salsa – Cuban style – at the Moran Theater.


As a group, we watched Dion hit the dance floor not once but twice in a state of pure disco frenzy. At the same time, we also waged volleyball war in the river and enjoyed a wonderful improvised performance by two Cubans in the community center.

When I reflect on it, there was absolutely no one moment that wasn’t filled with mind-blowing enrichment and reward. For at the end of the day, what I learned more than anything is that we Cubans and Americans aren’t that different. We may be separated by 100 miles and two distinct cultures, but we nonetheless share our humanity and our love for human life.

Would you like to make new friends through a student service-learning experience?

Visit Global Volunteers’ student volunteering webpage to learn more about life-changing volunteer experiences worldwide. Or, chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance and other program details.

life-changing volunteer experience

Meanwhile, you can learn more from other student volunteers on Global Volunteers programs in Cuba.  Start with this journal entry : “What does a day of service-learning in Cuba look like?”

learning about Cuba

Brendan and new friends in Ciego de Avila, Cuba.

Learning About Cuba:  Reflection by Brendan, Cuba Global Volunteer and Blake School Student. 

Surprises  – little moments of life can brighten our day when we least expect it, or can change our world view. Yesterday was a day of surprises – of finding fun and enjoyment in pulling weeds, in learning so much from simply talking to a young man about the most basic of things, in extending my arm a little too far during a magic show, and…you know the rest, or being totally amazed by a country that not too long ago I knew nothing about. But as cliche as it may sound to rave about my experience abroad, the greatest surprise of all is that every good thing you hear about Cuba is really true.

Reflections on a handshake in Cuba by Michael, Cuba Global Volunteer and Blake School Student.

Oh, a handshake! The simplest connection that humans can make. Those from different languages, races, cultures, and worlds are able to feel an instant connection. What becomes even more special is the catalyst that the handshake can produce. The reaction of mixing ideas and cultures. To see this new light of something you didn’t know existed.

handshake in Cuba

Mike and classmates with Yunior, Anyelo and Javier in Cuba.

So… What is a handshake? The beginning. The base. The foundation. Everything that whatever the “next” is built on. Even the smallest things make a huge impact in the handshake phase: a smile, conversation, interaction. Being nervous is merely a symptom of this start. Making the most of it is imperative to success. They might not understand the words from your mouth, yet the words your actions speak can change everything. So yes, this is our first full day in a world no American can fully understand, yet. So primarily, we – as two universes (America and Cuba) – are still having our handshake. Recognizing this fact can produce the future in a new light. Oh, a handshake in Cuba!

Do you seek a transformative student service-learning experience?

Visit Global Volunteers’ Student Volunteering webpage to learn more about life-changing volunteer experiences worldwide. Or, chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance and other program details.

life-changing volunteer experience

Meanwhile, you can learn more from other student volunteers on Global Volunteers programs in Cuba.  Start with this journal entry : “What does a day of service-learning in Cuba look like?” 

High School Volunteer Abroad

Searching for summer, spring or holiday break service-learning programs?

Look no further than Global Volunteers’ life-changing, world-changing high school volunteer abroad program. Global Volunteers excels in high-school service-learning opportunities. This is because the long-term community development projects students work on are directed by local leaders, managed by development experts and completed by working hand-in-hand with local children and adults. Over three decades, we’ve engaged thousands of students in projects to help children on six continents reach their highest potential.

High School Volunteer Abroad in Tanzania

As Global Volunteers, students obtain “hands-on” educational, cultural, and occupational experience unavailable through a cultural or study tour. Students who cite their service with Global Volunteers – Granddaddy of the volunteer vacation movement – on a college application or resume are recognized as driven, culturally aware leaders.

Much can be learned from Arizona’s Fountain Hills High School volunteer abroad experience. In the past few years, nearly 60 Fountain Hills students served with Global Volunteers in St. Lucia and Costa Rica. While others chose the beach or pool for their spring break,  the Fountain Hills students transformed their good intentions, curiosity, and adventurous spirit into genuine and useful assistance.

Fountain Hills High School Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica

In addition to volunteering, the Fountain Hills students also experienced the cultural and natural attractions of the host country – visits to coffee farms, wildlife walking tours, exploring the local beaches, plus more. We have you covered if you’re searching for a meaningful, educational, and fun service-learning program!

What type of high school volunteer abroad projects are available?

The type of volunteer work students can do depends on (1) what our host communities have requested from us AND (2) the preferences of your group. Global Volunteers’ unique vision and philosophy of service require volunteers to work at the invitation and under the direction of local community partners – and one-on-one with local people. While remaining faithful to this philosophy of service, we will also do our best to tailor to your preferences.

In many cases, the students in your group may have a mixed skill set. This is wonderful! We allow our volunteer groups to work on a variety of projects – some students can teach conversational English at the local secondary school while the other students head off to a construction project on a local building.

High School Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica

Where can high school volunteer groups serve?

We can accommodate a high school volunteer abroad group on almost any of our 17 service programs around the world: China, the Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, India, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Lucia, Tanzania, the United States, and Vietnam. Just let us know where, and we will do our best to make it happen!

The length of your stay can be between 1 and 4 weeks, with free time in the evenings and on the weekends. That’s when you will be able to add cultural activities and excursions!

What about funding? How can my school afford this?

The lessons learned and the skills gained through participating on a Global Volunteers service-learning program are unique – they’re hands-on and cannot be replicated in a classroom. Many states value these opportunities for their students, and do their best to ensure they’re affordable for all. Global Volunteers’ programs meet the requirements for service-learning credit programs.

The State of Arizona’s Department of Revenue provides a full credit to tax-payers who make a contribution to a public school for support of these types of extracurricular activities or character education programs. Because our service-learning fees qualify as an approved educational program, this credit covers the cost of students’ participation! Click here for details about “Credit for Contributions Made or Fees Paid to a Public School.”

Why choose Global Volunteers? We’re serious about service.

High School Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica

Global Volunteers pioneered short-term international volunteer programs in 1984 – mobilizing volunteers on sustainable community development projects around the world. To date, we have engaged over 32, 000 volunteers in 34 countries. Our educational partners choose us because:

  1. We adhere to a strict “Safety trumps everything policy.”
  2. Our international development focus ensures the integrity of our work.
  3. We commit to lasting partnerships with local communities.
  4. We help students achieve their learning objectives through authentic community experiences.
  5. Our volunteer satisfaction rating exceeds 95%.

THE NEXT STEP!

Get inspired with this volunteer-created video from our India service-learning program, visit our Student Volunteering website page, and then chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators about our high school volunteer abroad opportunities. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance, and other program details. Let the service-learning adventure begin!

Chat online about High School Volunteer Abroad opportunities

Family volunteering in Romani

When 14-year-old Cassi Kay volunteered in Romania with her grandmother, Shirley and Aunt Colleen, she wasn’t aware how that experience would impact her future education. Her essay, “My Epiphany, “ submitted with six college applications, helped secure six admissions. Here is Cassi’s story:

“I was fourteen when I discovered what so many search for their whole life; the meaning of human existence. When I graduated from 8th grade, my grandmother took me on a trip to Romania to volunteer with mentally handicapped children living in an orphanage. There I learned so much about myself and humanity, that I will never be the same.

My heart dropped and butterflies filled my stomach as I thought about my trip. Although I was very eager to start my adventure I was also very confused as to what it would entail. When people asked me about my trip, I would respond with a generic smile and express the expected excitement…secretly I was terrified.

Could I break a baby? Was I still a baby?

What is in Romanian food? Does the movie Taken reflect international travel?

A multitude of questions spun through my head as nausea permanently settled into my stomach; that is until I saw the kids. After surviving the 16-hour flight and orientation, we walked over to the orphanage.

Sweat trickled down my forehead; a response to both the heat as well as the fear. This is where I received the worst welcoming imaginable as we were introduced to Maria-Cleopatra, who suffered from hydrocephalus. The volunteers were all told that the doctors had tried every surgery possible, but unfortunately there was nothing else that they could do for her.

I was taken aback. What happened to the usual “Hello. How’s your day?” I became grateful for the welcomes we received back home. I desperately wished Maria-Cleopatra wasn’t in the situation she was; but the naive child that I was needed that “welcome.” I realized instantly why I was there and subsequently why we are all here: To support. To believe. To love.

Family volunteering in Romania

Grandmother Shirley with Ion in Romania

Every child at that orphanage had a challenge every day that they fought to overcome. Our job was to support them in their struggle to succeed. To teach them that believing in their aspirations was instrumental in achieving them. Most importantly, to show love and let it be known that they and we are never alone.

After my trip, people always asked about my experience. I responded with an enlightened grin, understanding now that life is not solely about the pursuit of accomplishments, but an appreciation for every experience we encounter.”

Interested in volunteering abroad with your teenage children?

Visit our Volunteer as a Family page to learn more about family volunteering opportunities worldwide, or request our family volunteering tip sheet using the form below.

Send me a family volunteering tip sheet.

Request a program catalog here or by calling 800-487-1074.








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Testimonials about Serving and Learning in Monteverde

After spending a week serving and learning in Monteverde, this group of 30 high school students, one alumnus, one valiant teacher, and two parents from Fountain Hills, Arizona shared these parting thoughts:

“We end the trip with newly developed friendships and newly sculpted leg muscles. Although saying goodbye to these friendly ticos was difficult, we will continue to communicate as a team and with the people we met. With a new-found respect for U.S. privileges, we go back to the States with a new perspective on life. From the start of our service at Colegio, we encountered numerous obstacles that brought us all out of our comfort zones. From carrying rocks from one end of the trail up to the other to communicating with local people, our team accomplished our goals with positivity. We were able to accomplish our team’s assignment of completing trail maintenance with Global Volunteers, learning the culture of Costa Rica, and better understanding our goal of sustainability.”
– Josh, Siena, and Reilly

“These trails serve to teach the students at Colegio about the native flora and fauna of the region. Students studying ecotourism and rural tourism have to learn to identify species and name them in Spanish, English, and by their scientific name. After a week of hard work of volunteers from Arizona alongside students from Colegio, the trails look amazing! New rock, metal edges, brush cleared. The students and teachers at Colegio are so happy with how the trails look now!”
– Maggie Bjorklund, Global Volunteers Costa Rica Country Manager and Team Leader

“Many of us feel that we have a new understanding of what sustainability is. It was not about becoming utterly independent in a self-contained system, but that working together as an individual, contributor, but also in a community and global way. ‘There are no passengers on spaceship Earth. We are all crew.'”
– Fountain Hills student group

“¡Vinimos, Vimos, Servimos!”  (“We came, we saw, we served!”)
– Tim and Leah

“We thank Global Volunteers, Maggie, and Diane who led our serving and learning in Monteverde. We want to thank the community of Monteverde and Colegio students and profes (teachers). We want to thank Darwin at the Hotel 1915 and Anthony, Tatiana, and family at The Mar Inn Bed & Breakfast for being gracious hosts to our loud and crazy group. We want to thank our FHUSD leadership for supporting trips such as this. We want to thank every member of our family and friends who made a tax credit or personal donation to make our service adventure possible.”
– Fountain Hills student group

Experience learning and serving with your students in Costa Rica!

Learn about serving in Costa Rica with Global Volunteers on our Costa Rica volunteer page. Or, read more about high school group volunteering in Costa Rica here.

Need more guidance?

We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance, and other program details. Let the adventure in service learning begin!

Chat online about volunteering abroad