High School Community Service & Volunteering Programs Abroad

Back to Programs

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!


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!

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
High School Community Service & Volunteer Programs Abroad


 Explore Community Service & Volunteering Teen Travel Programs


This listing has been saved 21 times

SPI High School Italian Language Immersion in Tuscany

In the heart of Tuscany and a short distance from Florence, Siena is one of the major cultural centers of Italy, making it a perfect destination for SPI Study Abroad’s Italian program! The region is rich in history as Etruscan, Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance influences are visible everywhere. SPI Siena program participants will study the Italian language, culture and history, while experienci...


This listing has been saved 1 time

Westcoast Connection | Thailand Summer 2018

Embark to Southeast Asia with Westcoast Connection! Participate on meaningful community service projects and adventurous travel across Thailand. Students are engaged in rewarding service opportunities with children and animal conservation centers, both of which cultivate a deeper understanding of this beautiful nation and its people. You will have the chance to visit the canals of Bangkok and f...


This listing has been saved 12 times

High School Volunteer and Adventure Experience in Thailand

Experience a side of Thailand that many tourists miss out on when you join up with a team of under 18 volunteers. Based in the picturesque town of Phang Nga, you will be contributing to various sustainable construction projects, while learning the local language and exploring the boundless natural beauty the country has to offer! Specifically designed for volunteers between the ages of 15 -1...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Global Education Squads in Guatemala!

Squads Abroad empowers youth organizations around the world to improve health and educational outcomes. Our model matches teacher-led Middle and High School groups with community driven sustainable initiatives. Global Education Squads are comprised of 6 or more students traveling with 2 or more free teacher-chaperone. Each Squad chooses a defined focus area, volunteer partner organization, and...


This listing has been saved 7 times

Medicine in Nepal with Projects Abroad (2-Week High School Special)

This 2 Week Special program is structured to give you an incredible insight into medical practices in Nepal. Your project will begin in the intriguing Nepalese capital Kathmandu where medical volunteers will spend time in a maternity clinic and visit a number of different hospital departments. Volunteers may also get the opportunity to visit a multi-specialty hospital in Chitwan and take part i...


This listing has been saved 6 times

Volunteer in Ecuador

YFU cultural exchange volunteer programs provide the ultimate reality check to a worldview based on stereotypes. YFU helps young adults make a difference and make the world their home. Through YFU cultural exchange we help them to appreciate differences and embrace similarities. YFU volunteers in Ecuador have the opportunity to give back to their host communities, all while being immersed i...


This listing has been saved 16 times

CIP - China High School Program with Immersion and Trips

High School abroad programs score highest with the potential of global convergence and cultural integration in our recent research. In this program, youngsters are exposed to different cultures and values at an early stage rather than waiting till they are old. Studying abroad isn't just for college students come learn, discover and understand the world for yourself with China Internship Place...


This listing has been saved 6 times

Travel For Teens : Sicily Discovery and Service

Want to make a difference while exploring some of the best that Sicily has to offer this summer? Join us for an unforgettable adventure of giving back on Italy’s most beautiful island and discovering the stunning sites around it on a truly unique program. Discover life-changing experiences, starting at our homebase in the iconic Sicilian countryside, where our gracious hosts own and operate a c...


This listing has been saved 31 times

Great High School Programs—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

Maximo Nivel offers high quality, affordable, and safe programs for individual teens and high school groups in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Our academically-rigorous programs are designed to be fun and challenging adventures for teens. High School programs include: - Native Spanish Program - Service Learning / Volunteer Abroad - Adventure & Culture programs - Spanish Camp -...


This listing has been saved 5 times

ISA High School: Service Learning in Heredia, Costa Rica

Heredia is a city that is emblematic of the Costa Rican lifestyle. It is located only a short distance away from San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, and offers many big-city amenities, but life in Heredia is decidedly relaxed, calm and enjoyable. The city showcases pleasant plazas, lush green spaces and parks, and friendly people enjoying their days.


This listing has been saved 3 times

Barcelona - Spanish Immersion and International Business

Through an exclusive partnership with ESADE, Spain’s top private university and Business School, Summerfuel in Barcelona offers high school students the unique opportunity to go beyond the classroom to experience Spain in its real-life context. Dynamic seminars are balanced with cultural workshops, site visits and a full schedule of daily activities and weekend travel. Students live in a state ...


This listing has been saved 4 times

The Netherlands: LGBTQ+ Rights & Dutch Culture

Begin your journey with a stay in a castle, then learn to travel like locals with a bike tour around Heemskerk before heading to Amsterdam. There, see the city’s canals, visit important cultural landmarks, such as the Anne Frank House & Artis Zoo, and share daily life with a local family during a homestay. You will attend workshops on gender & transgender issues, marriage rights, and other soci...


This listing has been saved 29 times

Summer & Gap Year Programs with API High School and Gap Year

Academic Programs International (API) High School offers various Summer programs for high school students, and API Gap Year offers programs for recent high school graduates. These consist of study, adventure, volunteer, and immersion offerings in Europe Latin America, and Asia. All of our gap year programs (and some of our summer programs) are offered for college credit, and all provide an eye-...


This listing has been saved 3 times

GoBeyond Peru - Sacred Valley Service

Volunteer to help the impoverished women and their children in Peru with GoBeyond. Casa Mantay, a Cuzco center founded by Raquel and Sergio, serves as a refugee center for teenage mothers and children. Here, they are taught sustainable skills that will help them survive and even succeed in the future. Yuri, an inspirational director at Aldea Yanapay, help alleviate the social injustices faced b...


This listing has been saved 1 time

High School Exchange in Costa Rica – Environmental Volunteer

Join our High School Exchange Program in Costa Rica, live with a loving host family and enjoy the opportunity of joining our Environmental Volunteer program! What we offer: - A Private High School program located in San Jose, Costa Rica - The school has its own InBio Park and all modern facilities offering you a one of a kind learning experience - Students will stay with welcoming Ho...