High School Community Service & Volunteering Programs Abroad

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A Guide to High School Community Service & Volunteer Programs Abroad

High school is a time to challenge yourself, break out of your comfort zone, and open your eyes to the world around you. Teens are often inspired to do community service, whether they are looking for the opportunity to make a difference or to boost their college resumes. But, our local communities are not the only ones in need of volunteers. High school students can do community service abroad, experience life in another culture, and grow as individuals, while positively impacting the lives of others. What are you waiting for? Find the perfect high school volunteer program abroad for you today!

Why Volunteer Abroad in High School

Teens choose to do community service abroad for a variety of reasons. For some, it just feels good to give back, and for others, it is a new and exciting way to learn. While many high schools offer local community service programs, it is important to remember communities around the world are looking for helpful hands, too.

As a high school student, volunteering abroad will be an adventure. There is nothing like fully immersing yourself in a new culture and experiencing a new way of life. It puts your own high school experience into perspective, and you will see your own challenges and successes through a new lens. Volunteering abroad in high school will give you the opportunity to engage with locals through various community projects. From working at village preschools in Ghana to conserving turtle habitats in Costa Rica, you will gain a unique experience that will quench your thirst for adventure, help you break you out of your comfort zone, and force you to grow!

High school volunteer abroad programs will offer teens the opportunity to make a difference. What better way to spend your free time than traveling the world with meaning! There are many programs that take high school students to countries that are struggling socially, economically, or politically. Through building community centers in Peru or working at elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, you will positively impact lives and witness firsthand the difference you make to the locals.

Volunteering abroad in high school will transform you into a leader. While civic engagement anywhere will help you grow, international community service for high school students will force you to become more open-minded. Teens will gain real-world experience and broaden their perspectives by embracing international communities.

Not only will volunteering abroad give you the opportunity to think more about potential college majors and career goals, but you will also become more valuable and attractive to colleges and jobs by adding international community service to your resume. And if that’s not enough, you’ll have the opportunity to practice being self-sufficient while away from home before college, and Mom and Dad can practice having an empty nest!

Locations

There are numerous countries across the globe in need of helping hands, so high school students can travel to almost every continent to make a difference. The most popular locations for teens to volunteer abroad vary depending on safety. Most high school volunteer programs will take students to developing countries that will benefit greatly from volunteer assistance, while also offering a safe and stable environment for teen volunteers. After all, we don’t want to worry Mom and Dad! 

Costa Rica. This Latin American country is small, but it offers an incredible outdoor adventure for teen volunteers. Costa Rica is known for its rainforest environment and its abundance of waterfalls, lakes, and deserted beaches edged by a jungle full of colorful toucans, sleepy sloths, and playful monkeys. Locals, called “Ticos,” will embrace high school volunteers and introduce them to their belief system of “Pura Vida,” or “Pure Life.” Teens can volunteer with turtle conservation or English teaching, and in their free time practice Spanish, go swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, or just relax on the beach. 

Ghana. This English-speaking country is one of the safest and most stable African countries, making it an ideal location for high school community service projects. While Ghana is quickly developing, the country still needs volunteers, especially in the fields of education and health care. Teens will fall in love with the vibrant cities, coastal beaches, and African wildlife. No true Ghanaian experience would be incomplete without a visit to Mole National Park, where teens can come face-to-face with iconic African wildlife, like baboons, elephants, lions, and giraffes; just don’t get too close! 

Peru. Teen volunteers will have opportunities to make a difference all the way from the top of frozen Andean mountains to the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Peru needs volunteer help with community development projects, as well as healthcare and education related placements, and locals will welcome high school students with open arms, making their gratitude known. During free time, students will be able to explore bustling cities, ancient ruins, and green valleys. Teens will love Peru’s delicious food, from Amazonian chocolate to fiery chili. Volunteering in Peru in high school is sure to be an adventure! 

Thailand. Not only is Thailand a top tourist destination, but there are also endless volunteering opportunities in this developing country, from working in orphanages to helping conserve elephant habitats! Volunteering in Thailand as a high school student offers a unique experience, mixing education with fun. While Bangkok is the country’s capital and most famous city, there are many other fascinating cities that are waiting to be explored. For example, head north to Chiang Mai where you can wander the city markets, chat with Buddhist monks, and take a short ride to the jungle hills to check out some of Southeast Asia’s famous wildlife.

High School Volunteer Opportunities

When choosing a high school volunteer program abroad, students have to take several things into consideration. Program lengths span from a week or two, to several months. So, you need to decide if you are looking for a short trip abroad over spring break or if you would rather spend your whole summer volunteering in a different country? It all depends on what you want to take out of the experience!

All high school volunteer programs abroad will have a required program fee, which grows steeper for longer programs. These fees usually cover all general expenses, transportation, food, supplies, and accommodation. Some program fees will include admission to monuments and national parks or special excursions as well. While program fees are expensive, you can still make your trip happen through fundraising or by applying for scholarships.

Accommodation will be provided for high school volunteers. Some high school volunteer opportunities will offer a “team house” for teens to stay in with their program leaders and fellow volunteers. Others will break groups into smaller ones for homestays, where high school volunteers will stay with local families. While team houses build a strong community between volunteers, homestays offer a true immersion into the new culture. Students will have the opportunity to practice language skills with locals, although fluency in other languages is not required because all leaders will speak English.

High school volunteer opportunities range from environmental sustainability to education to healthcare to construction and community development. No matter your interests, you will be sure to find a high school community service project abroad that is perfect for you!

Benefits & Challenges

Lifelong Friends. There is no better way to make friends than throwing yourself into a place and an experience that is overwhelming and new to everyone involved. Whether you make friends with other volunteers or with locals, you will be sure to bond quickly with others over your shared experience, and many times you will meet the most interesting people who you may not have befriended at home.

Resume Booster. College admissions is extremely competitive, and there is no doubt adding international volunteering to your resume will make you a more attractive candidate. It will set you apart from other applicants, and can even trigger the start to a captivating college essay.

FOMO. Most high school community service trips abroad will coincide with school holidays. Teens who choose to volunteer abroad will be giving up that time spent at home with family and friends. Being in a different country, especially an underdeveloped one, will often cause culture shock and homesickness. You may have a fear of missing out at home, but know that your experience abroad will be totally worth it!

If you have the opportunity to do community service abroad in high school, take it! It may seem scary at first, but volunteering abroad in high school will be fun and rewarding. You will experience life outside of your high school, meet interesting people, and it will make an extremely positive impact on your future!

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A Guide To
High School Community Service & Volunteer Programs Abroad

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