Updated for 2024
With more people becoming vaccinated and COVID-19 coming under control, the Peace Corps has restarted sending volunteers overseas. You might be wondering if joining the Peace Corps worth it? Absolutely, it is! Peace Corps is known as the “toughest job you’ll ever love,” but it’s not for everyone. Whether you’re a high school student, or want to volunteer in a country that Peace Corps doesn’t serve, or even if you’d like to volunteer for a week or during your summer vacation, there are many different ways you can still do good abroad by joining other volunteer organizations all over the world.
Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps has become the gold standard of sorts for international volunteerism. This federal government agency’s three goals are to provide trained Peace Corps volunteers to countries that request them, to promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of peoples served, and to promote a better understanding of peoples served on the part of Americans. Peace Corps Volunteers usually serve abroad for 27 months – two full years’ commitment plus three months’ training – in the areas of education, agriculture, environment, community economic development, health, and youth in development. And contrary to popular belief, you can’t just run away and join the Peace Corps: on average, it takes nine months from submitting the first portion of your application to stepping foot in your new host country as a Peace Corps volunteer. It makes sense, though – Peace Corps is a full-time commitment in a foreign country for two years, so it’s very important you understand what you’re signing up for!
I had the wonderful opportunity to intern at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC all four years of college. After graduating, I worked there as an employee helping Returned Peace Corps Volunteers transition from their 27 (or more) months of service overseas back to life in the US, where they could pursue degrees or careers inspired by the amazing work they did abroad. Something I learned very quickly after starting was that Peace Corps isn’t just for recent college graduates: there are couples who serve together, mid-career professionals looking for a change of pace, and even retirees. In fact, the final year I worked at headquarters, our oldest-serving volunteer was 81 years old.
One of my favorite responsibilities at Peace Corps headquarters was to field questions from a general email inbox. These questions came from individuals all over the world, with all different backgrounds, abilities, and interests, but one thing tied them together: all of these people wanted to volunteer abroad – they all wanted to pursue an adventure in a community they’d never visited, and that they could help through their time, skills, and friendship.
The downside is that the Peace Corps acceptance rate isn’t as high as one might expect: sometimes we had to tell people right off the bat that Peace Corps wasn’t the right opportunity from them – for example, you must be a US citizen to become a Peace Corps volunteer, so if you live in Canada, the UK, or beyond, unfortunately you aren’t eligible to serve through this particular program. There are also restrictions for things you wouldn’t expect – medical issues usually are the biggest hangup for would-be volunteers, and anecdotally are the main reason there’s a nine-month-average waiting period from application to training. A few of the questions and concerns I saw on the regular from potential Peace Corps Volunteers included:
- I’m not old enough for Peace Corps (you must be 18 or older, though Peace Corps generally prefers applicants with a college degree)
- I don’t have 27 months to commit to a volunteer project
- I’m not a US citizen
- Peace Corps is not offered in the country I want to visit (remember: Peace Corps only operates in countries that request volunteers – on top of that, they only operate in countries that are deemed safe for volunteers)
- I want to sign up for a non-government volunteer program (Peace Corps is NOT a nonprofit or an NGO – it’s a federal government agency).
If you are interested in a non-profit that provide a Peace Corps like experience, then check out First Things Foundations, which provides a two-year, all expenses covered “immersionship” in Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and the Republic of Georgia.
- I want to volunteer in some area that Peace Corps doesn’t focus on (oftentimes very focused programs such as journalism, marine biology, or other placements that fall outside of core areas offered by the agency)
The upside is there are lots of ways you can do good overseas, regardless of your background, age, travel style, or time commitment. Personally speaking, I wanted to join the Peace Corps since I was six years old, and was instantly rejected for a medical reason once I was eligible to apply. But that didn’t stop me from volunteering abroad: so far, I’ve traveled all over Central America and to the Caribbean on awesome, adventurous volunteer projects that have let me do wonderful work – even alongside Peace Corps friends! – because there are so many amazing organizations out there that are working every day with travelers all over the world to build better and stronger communities.
So, if you’ve found that Peace Corps isn’t for you – for any reason – here are a few Peace Corps alternative volunteer abroad organizations to check out!
Alternatives to Peace Corps
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is an amazing organization that partners with NGOs worldwide to offer affordable volunteer abroad opportunities for travelers who want to make a difference. IVHQ’s volunteer placements start from only $20 per day depending on where you’d like to go and what type of project you want to take on, and since its founding, has placed nearly 130,000 volunteers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and beyond. And this New Zealand-based organization is great for travelers who want to visit countries Peace Corps doesn’t serve, are looking for a flexible time commitment, are traveling in a group or with family, or even looking for an alternative break or business retreat.
If you want to visit and volunteer in Brazil, check out IVHQ’s programs there, where you can choose from childcare, English teaching, community development, a Carnaval program, and a one-week experience where you can volunteer on several different projects. IVHQ’s one-week placement in Brazil starts the second Monday of each month and includes:
- Orientation, walking tour, and a traditional lunch
- Working in a community garden and playing soccer with local kids
- Making garments and souvenirs out of scrap and recycled materials
- Helping with a local sports program, such as soccer for the blind
- Excursions to the beach and a local art exhibit, plus a tour of Sugar Loaf or Corcovado mountain
This one-week program costs $365, along with the entry fees for your day of excursions.
Another excellent program to check out is IVHQ’s healthcare placement in Argentina, where you’ll have the chance to work in a small community clinic. As a volunteer, you’ll shadow doctors and nurses – or depending on your background experience and Spanish language skills, you may be able to provide medical care, nursing services, vaccinations, gynecology, dentistry, social support, and other primary health attention for those living in poverty. This program lasts two weeks or longer, and you must be able to speak Spanish at an intermediate level to sign up. The Argentina healthcare program starts from $490 for your first two weeks.
If you want to combine a European vacation with a hands-on service opportunity, check out IVHQ’s volunteer programs in Italy! Projects include English teaching, after-school care, environmental conservation, and NGO support. Through the after-school program, for example, you’ll help care for children in who do not have adequate adult supervision and are more likely to get into trouble or danger in the streets. As a volunteer, you’ll work with a program that provides structured activities for these kids through playing games, creating workshops, leading educational activities, and finding ways to engage these children through music, art, cooking, sports, and more. Since this program takes place in the afternoons, you will have the morning to plan you activities for the day, or you can take the Italian language lessons. IVHQ’s after-school program in Italy starts at $685 for two weeks, and you’re invited to stay longer.
Here’s an amazing immersion experience: Live and work onsite at an Amazonian jungle conservation camp as an IVHQ volunteer in Peru. Tasks include reforestation, trail and home-base maintenance, basic research, and taking inventories of native animal species. The local staff place volunteers at one of three different locations, based upon where the need is the greatest and if field conditions permit it. Orientation in Cusco will introduce you to Peruvian customs, language lessons, rules, safety, travel opportunities, and in-depth information about your project and placement. Accommodations are rustic and communal, but comfortable, in bungalows or dormitory-style rooms. This opportunity is a minimum stay of two weeks, but you can remain up to six months. Program fees start at $295.
For more information about volunteering abroad with IVHQ, please visit: www.volunteerhq.org
Since 2006, GoEco has offered affordable volunteer abroad programs and internships in over 45 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. With more than 170 different programs, GoEco is a great organization to check out if you’re looking for a variety of impactful trips to choose from, from wildlife conservation to teaching English. GoEco was recently recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from GoAbroad, Top Eco-Enthusiast by Greenmatch, and has been recommended by Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and more. As a volunteer, you will have 24-hour support from the GoEco team, from start to finish.
Head to Goa, one of India’s most beautiful states, and help society’s most vulnerable build a brighter tomorrow. For this initiative, you’ll support, educate, and care for young children in the slums and elders at a senior home. If you can stay for four weeks (that’s the minimum commitment), you can volunteer at the women’s shelter and help out women who have left abusive and unhealthy home situations. Ready to make a difference in Goa? Project fees begin from $620 for one week. Register here!
Teach art in low-income communities in Rio, and give children a healthy, engaging after-school activity where they can make friends, learn a skill, and build self-confidence. Along with the children, you’ll beautify the neighborhood by painting buildings, walls, staircases, and other structures. And, during free time, you can enjoy the beaches, cuisine, culture, and nightlife of Rio de Janeiro. Sound like an awesome volunteer trip? Fees start from $800 for one week. Get more details here!
The goal of this program in Kathmandu is to empower local women by enhancing their English language skills, therefore making them more employable. Volunteers will assist in confidence-building discussions and activities, as well as assist at a health, hygiene and reproductive health workshop. Read more here.
Lend a hand in the community of Goa! In addition to teaching children of lower-income areas, volunteers can choose a second daily placements, including working at a women’s shelter, elderly care facility, a construction site or at an additional teaching program. While in India, don’t forget to visit the Taj Mahal and other amazing sites! Read more here.
Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has offered volunteer abroad, intern abroad, study abroad, and teach abroad placements in Latin America. So far, 25,000 travelers have signed up with Maximo Nivel, which partners with locally-based organizations to provide high-quality, engaging placements for travelers who want to learn, explore, and make an impact on the communities they visit. Maximo Nivel has programs like the Peace Corps that are extremely affordable, starting from just $595 for your first week in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. Maximo Nivel is a wonderful opportunity if you’re under 18 or still in college, if you want to travel with a group or with your family, or even if you want to earn TEFL certification and get paid to teach English abroad. Maximo Nivel also offers university credit for students volunteering abroad through a variety of options, including Spanish immersion, volunteer placements, service learning, and international internships, all of which can help you earn college credit toward your major, minor, or elective.
Through Maximo Nivel’s Spanish Immersion program you can choose to learn Spanish with a small group or by taking private classes, or even by combining these two options as you work with professionally-certified and native Spanish-speaking teachers. Outside of the classroom, you can take on volunteer experiences and internship opportunities to truly immerse yourself in the community in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru, and learn Spanish conversationally with native speakers. As well, you’ll be able to earn college credit for the volunteer abroad component of this program. Spanish immersion with Maximo Nivel starts from one week at just $70 per day for courses, and daily accommodations start from just $25 per day, depending on which country you visit and the type of housing you sign up for.
If you’d like to volunteer in Central or South America, Maximo Nivel offers many different opportunities in Guatemala, Peru, and Costa Rica. Through these programs, you can focus on:
- Volunteering to support and teach local children in orphanages, daycare facilities, and community centers so they can build a better future for themselves
- Teaching English to youth and adults so they can pursue more educational and career opportunities which will lead them out of poverty
- Environmental conservation work, which includes protecting endangered species, assisting with reforestation, building environmental awareness, and helping with sustainable farming initiatives
- Helping to build or repair schools, community centers, and homes for children
- Working at shelters that help abandoned animals by providing medical treatment and daily care
- Working in small, sustainable coffee-producing communities through Maximo Nivel’s eco-agriculture program
- Working alongside local doctors, nurses, and physical therapists to help treat and care for local people at clinics and hospitals
- Working and living with an indigenous family as you help to care for animals and livestock, assist with agricultural work and weaving, helping with local construction projects, and supporting local children
Volunteer programs with Maximo Nivel start from just $595 for your first week, depending on which program you sign up for, and you’re invited to stay four weeks or longer to gain the most from your volunteer experience.
If you’re in college and are looking for an internship that will further your education or help kickstart your career, check out Maximo Nivel’s internships in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru! You can choose from a variety of different programs, including:
- Education: Work with a K-12 classroom teacher helping to teach classes and plan lessons
- Special Education: Work with students with visual, hearing, or physical impairments or developmental disabilities
- Medical: This program is best for pre-med, medical, or nursing students – dental and physical therapy placements are also available
- Micro Business: Help to support local companies through marketing, sales and client service, or accounting
- Hospitality and Tourism: As tourism increases in these countries, you will gain practical experience in client services, sales, and marketing
- Human Rights: Work with a variety of community organizations in outreach, education, and research to further community development while learning about social justice and human empowerment
While gaining college credit through your internship in Central or South America, you will have practical work experience, develop your Spanish language skills, and build an international network. Maximo Nivel’s internships include a four-week practicum and an eight-week (or longer) internship placement, both of which include private Spanish lessons, four to six hours of practical work each weekday, and a final project. Throughout your internship, you’ll also meet regularly with a Maximo Nivel advisor who will guide you through the program and help answer any questions that you have. The four-week practicum starts from $1,525, while the eight-week internship starts from $2,245, plus $185 to $235 for each additional week after that.
Be an ambassador for the English language and immerse yourself in a new culture when you volunteer to teach English abroad. You can prepare for your teaching opportunity with a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification course at Maximo Nivel. Since 2003, this successful language institute has been helping teachers and travelers to live and work through its internationally accredited TEFL program.
Thanks to the expansion of the global economy and interest in international travel, thousands of programs around the world, from South America to Asia, from the Middle East to Africa, and even Europe, seek English-speaking teachers.
At Maximo Nivel, you can acquire the international standard qualification for English teaching with your 150-hour TEFL training, just like 3,500 other graduates now teaching around the world. You’ll learn:
- Introduction to learning and teaching theories
- Introduction to critical ESL techniques
- Understand English language structure
- Understand language skills and systems
- Build classroom management skills
- Learn how to create effective lesson plans
- Learn how to engage and motivate ESL learners
- Learn methodologies for teaching ESL
- Learn how to assess learners’ English levels
- Introduction to ESL teaching resources, tools, and materials
- Introduction to international English exams – TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, etc.
- Career assistance and job finding workshop
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to volunteering with an educational program, including classroom management, creating lesson plans, encouraging the shy students to speak up, educating while entertaining, and more. Having a TEFL certification will give you valuable skills and the confidence you need to embark on a fun adventure as a teacher, and it may even lead to a new career.
For more information about all of the opportunities Maximo Nivel provides for travelers in Latin America, please visit: https://maximonivel.com
As one of the world’s largest volunteer travel organizations, Projects Abroad was founded in the early 1990s for students who wanted to take a break in between schooling. Projects Abroad places volunteers, interns, students, and groups on global projects ranging from sports coaching, to medical care, to archaeology, and much more. More than 10,000 travelers embark on trips with Projects Abroad every year through programs that emphasize mutual learning and respect through cultural exchange.
Projects Abroad is a great alternative to Peace Corps, offering volunteer programs without the long-term obligation. A few ways that Projects Abroad differs from Peace Corps include:
- Shorter time commitment and flexible program dates
- Larger variety of project types
- Ability for volunteers to choose the programs they would like to take part in, rather than placement based entirely on ability and need
- Less strict requirements for participants, such as age restrictions (you must be 18 or older to join Peace Corps, but high schoolers are welcome to apply to Projects Abroad)
Here are a few Projects Abroad alternatives to serving with the Peace Corps:
- Gain valuable international experience on a Medical internship. You can shadow doctors in large hospitals in countries like Argentina, Peru, Ghana, Kenya, Vietnam, and others. This is a great option to gain a global perspective on healthcare, and boost your resume for medical school applications.
- Volunteer with children in under-resourced communities. You can help promote early childhood development by assisting local staff at kindergartens and daycare centers. Work in countries like South Africa, Cambodia, Fiji, and more.
- Protect the environment on a Conservation Project. Tackle issues like global warming, poaching, pollution, and work with amazing animals in the jungle, in the ocean, or in the African bush!
To learn more about the many different volunteer programs and internships available through Projects Abroad, please visit: www.projects-abroad.org
African Impact is an award-winning, responsible travel organization that offers volunteer and internship opportunities in 7 countries across Africa. It was founded in 2004 and has since hosted over 35,000 volunteers. African Impact has over 20 different projects, ranging from teaching in Zambia to marine conservation in Zanzibar. The organization is known for its long-term objectives and measurable change. It is also recognized as a trusted specialist on volunteering and interning in Southern Africa. African Impact offers internships, as well as group, family, and high school projects. The minimum age requirement for their projects is 16, making African Impact a great option for teen and high school volunteers.
African Impact seeks to alleviate some of the challenges facing local communities in Africa through the implementation and support of community volunteer projects. These projects are run with the help of volunteers who are placed in local communities and spend time working directly with the people and immersing themselves in the culture of the area. Some of the projects available include teaching English, coaching sports teams, and working alongside healthcare professionals. African Impact offers community volunteer programs in several locations in Africa, including South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Kenya. Programs focus on areas such as healthcare, teaching, sports development, early childhood development, and female empowerment. The cost of these programs varies depending on the destination and length of stay, but many offer affordable options for individuals looking to make a difference in Africa.
African Impact’s non-profit and charity volunteer projects and internships offer individuals the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the non-profit sector while making a positive impact on sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. These internships are customizable, allowing individuals to explore a specialty within the framework of international development. As an intern, individuals will support the daily operations of a non-governmental organization (NGO) and become an integral part of the team, supporting the organization’s goals, initiatives, and impacts. Non-profit and charity internships in Africa focus on issues such as extreme poverty, gender equality, water and sanitation, and other third world problems. The internships also provide opportunities to learn about how a non-profit functions, gain insights into fundraising and grant writing, and learn about community development. The cost of these internships varies depending on the program and length of stay, but many offer affordable options for individuals looking to make a difference in Africa.
African Impact offers wildlife photography volunteer projects in South Africa where participants can improve their photography skills while contributing to wildlife conservation. The projects take place in the Greater Kruger Area, where participants will live in a lodge and have daily game drives to photograph a variety of animals. The projects are guided and tutored by professional photographers and have monthly start dates. Participants will also have the opportunity to contribute to conservation efforts by supporting non-governmental organizations and raising awareness of environmental issues. The cost of the project varies depending on the length of stay.
The African Big 5 Wildlife Conservation project is a volunteer program in South Africa that offers participants the opportunity to work with expert field guides and research teams in the Greater Kruger Area, one of the world’s last remaining wildlife strongholds. The Greater Kruger Area encompasses over 20 private wildlife reserves on the west side of the Kruger National Park, and it is home to many of Africa’s iconic “Big 5” animals, including lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo.
Participants in this program will have the chance to collect information about these animals and to help protect them from threats such as poaching and habitat loss. They will also be able to track the movements and behaviors of herds of elephants and prides of lions, and to witness nocturnal animals in their natural habitat on unforgettable night drives.
During their time on the project, participants will live in a private volunteer lodge in the heart of the Greater Kruger Area. The lodge offers a safari-style camp experience, with amenities such as a swimming pool, viewing deck, WiFi, and hot showers. Participants will be able to relax and socialize in the outdoor area, and to enjoy the stunning views of the African bush.
This volunteer program is open to people of all skill levels and backgrounds, and it is suitable for anyone with an interest in wildlife, nature, or conservation. No prior experience is necessary, and participants will be able to choose from a range of start dates and duration options to suit their schedules and preferences. Once they have submitted their application, a Destination Specialist will be in touch to discuss the project and to answer any questions they may have.
One of the benefits of the Peace Corps that you don’t get with most volunteer organizations is that you earn a monthly stipend for your living expenses. If earning a living while doing something meaningful abroad is important to you, then consider Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) programs. TEFL is an opportunity get paid to live abroad as a professional English teacher in a country like Spain, Thailand, or Costa Rica. One of the best TEFL training and job services is International TEFL Academy (ITA).
Founded in 2010, International TEFL Academy (ITA) offers the gold standard in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad & teaching English online. We are proud to provide the finest internationally accredited TEFL courses both online and in-person in 20+ locations across the globe. ITA certifies 5,000 people per year, and our graduates are teaching in over 80 countries & online. Our #1 commitment is to provide the highest quality training and services to our students to help you achieve your goal of getting a great job and enjoying the experience of a lifetime teaching English abroad and online.
All ITA TEFL courses – including online TEFL classes – include live practice teaching & employ a state-of-the-art curriculum taught by highly credentialed and experienced instructors. In addition, all ITA students receive lifetime job search assistance that includes personalized guidance from our team of expert advisors. To learn more & begin your journey, download your free TEFL Guide now.
Providing a quintessential blend of modern and classic Europe, the Czech Republic is a great destination if you wish to teach English abroad. Demand for qualified native English teachers is high, especially in cities such as Prague. English teachers typically need a bachelor’s degree, plus TEFL certification, to teach in the Czech Republic. Pay is about $1,000 – $1,800+ per month and work hours average around 20-25 hours per week.
With an abundance of cultural and natural diversity, Mexico offers international volunteers all you could want, including ample work opportunities and the chance to practice Spanish everyday. You must have a 4-year degree, along with TEFL certification, to obtain a job teaching English. Cities with the highest demand for foreign teachers include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Puebla. Similar to teaching jobs elsewhere, hours range from 20 to 25 per week. You should earn between $600 – $1,000+ per month.
ITA can assist with job placement in Spain, one of the most popular destinations in the world for teaching English. You need a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, which you can get through International TEFL Academy. Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona offer the most options for English teachers, and teaching jobs are usually a part of a government program such as the Cultural Ambassadors Program. Pay ranges from $1,800 – $3,000+ per month.
Founded in 2015 by Daniel Botha, Surfpop is a South African-based organization that aims to build a sustainable future for vulnerable children from township communities around Muizenberg, Cape Town through a powerful formula of surfing, education and life coaching. They have hosted over 350 international volunteers for their two surf volunteer projects in Cape Town.
Surfpop is very unique compared to other international organizations due to their long-term outlook on supporting the needs of the local community. On average, they work with each child beneficiary for around 8 years, after which they help them find sustainable employment or provide them with employment within the Surfpop organization. Their holistic model of surfing, education, life coaching and nutrition also sets them apart from most other organizations.
Surfpop is the only Volunteer Forever partner that exclusively focuses on surf volunteering, so if you are a surfer or have a strong interest in surfing, Surfpop is definitely an organization you will want to check out!
Volunteer with Surfpop in Cape Town, South Africa
Surfpop’s surf volunteer program is based in the beautiful seaside town of Muizenberg, South Africa. As a volunteer, you will play a critical role in helping disadvantaged children escape poverty, crime, and drugs. Through their comprehensive after-school program, you will not only teach children to surf and swim, but also tutor them on more formal academic subjects such as math, English, and computer literacy.
Surfpop’s volunteer program is open to volunteers ages 18 and up. No prior experience with surfing is necessary. This program starts at roughly $500 USD per week with a minimum duration of four weeks. The cost of the program includes accommodation, breakfast, airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 support, and surf lessons. Volunteers will also receive surf gear rentals for their stay.
First Things Foundation (FTF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that partners with local leaders to build sustainable businesses and communities in developing countries. FTF is like the Peace Corps in that its field workers (international volunteers) commit two years of their lives to living in the communities they are serving; all expenses are fully covered by the program. This allows field workers to develop deep relationships with the people they are working with and to better understand the needs of the community.
FTF has 15 projects in 4 countries (Guatemala, Sierra Leone, the Republic of Georgia, and Mozambique). These projects are all led by locals in the communities that FTF works in. FTF’s field workers have worked on a variety of projects, including starting businesses, building schools, and providing healthcare. FTF field workers are not afraid to get their hands dirty: working on farms, sanding wood, and kneading dough are some of the ways that they integrate into the local community and become familiar with a new rhythm of life.
As with the Peace Corps, FTF covers all travel costs and operations expenses (food, local transport, accommodation, etc.) for its field workers. In addition, field workers receive a monthly stipend of $375. FTF also has international medical and evacuation insurance for all of its field workers.
FTF is looking for volunteers with a desire to better their souls by undertaking a serious challenge, an adventurous attitude, and a willingness to learn new languages, make fun of themselves, and be made fun of. Field workers typically have completed 4 years of college or have an equivalent amount of experience. If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding volunteer experience, the First Things Foundation volunteer program is a great option. FTF field workers have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others and to learn and grow in ways that they never thought possible.
First Things Foundations has been hosting field workers in Guatemala since 2016. Currently, they have project sites in Momostenango (aka “Momos”) and in Chichicastenango, two towns that are located 5 to 6 hours northwest of Guatemala City. Both Momos and Chichicastenango have become increasingly popular tourist destinations for travelers to Guatemala who want to have a Mayan experience.
Past successful projects in Guatemala include:
- Finishing construction and fully equipping a community run school
- Procuring essential medications for a community pharmacy
- Supporting local emergency relief during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Partnering with local entrepreneurs to start and expand their businesses
As with all FTF projects, the type of volunteer work typically falls in the realm of community development or social entrepreneurship. As a field worker, you’ll spend the first 8 months immersing in the local community to understand their needs before identifying a project to work on. Learn more about this exciting, two-year paid immersionship here.
Mozambique is a new projection location for First Things Foundation. Currently, they have a project site in Corrane, a small town located a few hours southeast of the major city of Nampula. Corrane is a diverse town with a significant internally displaced population due to the conflict in Cabo Delgado.
FTF field workers are currently in the process of establishing themselves in the community, meeting their neighbors, and learning Portuguese and the local dialect of Makua. They are also working to identify projects that they can support in the community.
As with all FTF projects, the type of volunteer work typically falls in the realm of community development or social entrepreneurship. As a field worker, you’ll spend the first 8 months immersing in the local community to understand their needs before identifying a project to work on.
Here are some of the unique value propositions of the First Things Foundation volunteer program in Mozambique:
- Opportunity to make a real difference: Mozambique is a country with a rich culture and history, but it is also a country that has faced many challenges in recent years. By volunteering with FTF, you have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others and to help build a better future for Mozambique.
- Immersive experience: FTF field workers spend a significant amount of time immersing themselves in the local community. This allows them to develop deep relationships with the people they are working with and to better understand the needs of the community.
- Support from a team of professionals: FTF has a team of experienced professionals who provide support and guidance to field workers throughout their service term.
- Opportunity to learn and grow: Volunteering with FTF is a challenging but rewarding experience. Field workers have the opportunity to learn new skills, develop their leadership potential, and grow as individuals.
If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding volunteer experience that will allow you to make a real difference in the world, the First Things Foundation volunteer program in Mozambique is a great option.
Global Vision International (GVI) is an amazing organization you should check out if you want to travel the world and make a positive impact. Since 2007, GVI has sent more than 2,000 volunteers overseas each year on projects ranging from construction, to teaching, to environmental conservation, and much more. GVI’s award-winning volunteer and intern abroad programs are perfect for travelers of all backgrounds, whether you want to travel to Africa, Asia, Latin America, or elsewhere. GVI is particularly well-suited for younger travelers through its Under-18s programs that invite teens to volunteer on adventurous and sustainable projects all over the world. And if you’re looking for a group program or even an internship abroad, GVI has lots of placements to help you find exactly the trip you’re looking for.
GVI offers several alternative break programs for students who are under the age of 18, including Marine Conservation in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. For this project, you’ll have the opportunity to spend your spring break learning to dive and discovering amazing marine life in the second-largest reef in the world. You will start a PADI Open Water diving course before heading out to the ocean and practicing basic techniques and getting used to the equipment used by GVI’s marine conservation team. Once you’re comfortable with diving, you’ll spend the rest of your one-week trip in gorgeous Caribbean waters learning practical skills in marine conservation, helping to gauge the ecological health of the reef, determining the species and breeding success of turtles in the reef, and educating the local community on the importance of conservation. This adventure costs $2,350 for a week of amazing experiences and insight into marine conservation.
If marine conservation isn’t for you, GVI also offers a two-week construction program in Thailand that is specifically designed for students between 15 and 17 years old. Through this project, you’ll help with various renovation projects in the Phang Nga province of southern Thailand – an area surrounded by beautiful beaches and filled with adventure that regular tourists often miss out on. As a volunteer, you’ll be able to make a difference in the community by improving infrastructure at a community center, or giving students a better learning environment by assisting with construction and upkeep at a local school. Outside of the volunteer work, you’ll have plenty of time to make new friends, explore the area, and even embark on a cultural weekend with GVI, where you’ll see the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest, huge limestone mountains, the Cheow Larn lake, and Khao Lak’s beaches. This two- to four-week opportunity starts at $2,590.
Costa Rica is one of the safest, yet most adventurous places you can travel to as a volunteer or intern. For the past 10 years, GVI has worked hard to develop positive relationships and sustainable community and environmental programs in Costa Rica – one of which invites you to learn about and help with local wildlife conservation initiatives. The exact types of work you’ll take on will depend on the time of year you travel and the needs of the program you’ll work with, but can include:
- Monitoring and helping with conservation of sea turtles
- Investigating the impact of jaguar populations on sea turtle populations
- Setting up camera traps and conducting transects
- Helping to monitor 30 species of aquatic birds to collect long-term seasonal trend data
- Participating in GVI’s Leadership Course
This program lasts six weeks to six months, and starts from $4,240.
For more information about these three opportunities and all the other adventures that GVI offers worldwide, please visit www.gviusa.com
Since its start in 2007, A Broader View has placed volunteers in more than 20 countries throughout Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Volunteer programs range from one week to three months, with placements customized to your interests and background. A Broader View partners with local NGOs, private institutions, and community organizations to support and guide volunteers on carefully-selected projects that provide a positive impact for their communities. As a volunteer, you can choose from programs including education, healthcare, wildlife, childcare, and much more. This is a wonderful opportunity if you want to volunteer with a nonprofit organization in countries Peace Corps doesn’t currently serve, if you’re on a tight travel schedule, or if you’re a student or traveling with a group.
A Broader View offers multiple volunteer opportunities in Honduras, including a Pre-Dental/Dentist Program in La Ceiba. As a volunteer on this project, you can help to provide dental services to adults and children who lack proper oral healthcare. You’ll work alongside local staff in the dentist clinic at a large hospital, with your level of involvement being dependent upon your educational background and skill level. If you’re an undergraduate student, you will have the chance to observe and provide hands-on assistance with cleanings, checkups, extractions, and restorative care. If you are a professional dental hygienist, you’ll be able to offer oral hygiene education and perform first-time cleanings for children. And if you’re a pre-dental student, you will have the chance to shadow the local dentist and help with record-keeping, instrument preparation, and more. You’ll also have the option to participate in A Broader View’s Spanish language immersion program to help boost your speaking skills – through this program, you’ll spend half of each day at the dental clinic, and the other half in Spanish language lessons. You can expect to work for eight hours each day, Monday through Friday, and will live with a local host family. This one- to 12-week program starts from $895.
Another option you can sign up for right now through A Broader View invites you to volunteer with an elderly care center in La Serena, Chile. Unfortunately, most of the residents of this center have either been abandoned by their families, or they have nowhere else to live. This home provides a caring, supportive environment, giving these men and women a place to live, meals, clothing, therapy, and medical treatments. As a volunteer, you will help with many different tasks, such as:
- Planning recreational and cultural activities
- Helping to prepare food and feeding some the patients
- Being available to provide company to the patients by talking with them, reading, playing cards, or going for a walk in the park
If you’re a healthcare provider, you can also assist with caring for medical and physical therapy needs for the patients, such as checking blood pressure and sugar levels, administering medication, and helping with physical therapy. This program lasts one week to two months, and starts from $895.
If you’re interested in healthcare or therapy volunteering, A Broader View is looking for volunteers with physical or behavioral therapy skills to participate in their program in Hanoi, Vietnam. Through this project, you’ll work with children afflicted by physical and mental disabilities – a very important initiative in a community that’s lacking in resources and training in how to support children with these disabilities. A few ways you can help are through physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, speech therapy, or other assistance, if you have a background and qualifications in an area that can be helpful for these children. The work you’ll take on each day will be dependent on the program needs at the time, but will be immensely helpful for the well-being of children in need. During your stay, you’ll work five to eight hours each weekday. This program lasts two weeks or longer, and starts at $1,180.
To learn more about A Broader View and the many different ways you can make a difference overseas, please visit: www.abroaderview.org
Founded in 2004, Global Leadership Adventures provides teen and high school programs abroad that combine community service with hands-on learning and adventure. With an emphasis on safety – outlined in Global Leadership Adventures’ five-point safety system – this organization sends thousands of travelers every year to 23 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. If you’re under 18 and want to try out an experience like Peace Corps, but can’t apply for Peace Corps yet, Global Leadership Adventures is one of the very best organizations you can sign up for to volunteer and travel.
Right now, Global Leadership Adventures is offering a Global Health Initiative in Bali, where you’ll have the amazing opportunity to study public health in the developing world by learning about Western convention as well as indigenous practices. During your trip, you will assist at a primary care health clinic for a local village, observing how care is provided and assisting with small tasks such as recording data, administering pulse checks, scribing information for doctors, or restocking clinic supplies. You’ll also be able to help design and present a health education workshop for local youth. Outside of your service work, you’ll embark on temple visits and a rice paddy walk, listen to live gamelan music, and even have dinner at the Royal Palace. You’ll stay in Ubud for this 14-day program, which has a tuition of $3,699.
If you love animals and want to help preserve their natural habitats, check out GLA’s Preserving Nature’s Wonders program on the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. You’ll travel to Isabela Island and San Cristobal Island, where you’ll volunteer in a tortoise breeding center and clear invasive plant species in order to encourage tortoises and birds to re-inhabit the area. During your adventure in the Galapagos, you’ll also be able to go swimming, kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling. This two-week program has a tuition of $4,599, with six different start dates open right now for the summer.
To learn more about the many different service opportunities abroad through Global Leadership Adventures, please visit: www.experiencegla.com
Since 1989, Frontier has invited travelers of all ages to work with researchers and communities in capacity building, ecosystem protection, community development, economic growth, and the development of civil society. This nonprofit scientific research organization got its start with a marine park in Tanzania – created in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, and still in operation today – and more than 25 years later hosts more than 400 projects in 72 countries. Frontier is a wonderful way to embark on a volunteer program, gap year, internship abroad, or a teach abroad / TEFL program that will let you engage in valuable and meaningful work worldwide.
If you want to work in a nearly-remote part of the world with animals you can’t find anywhere else, look no further than Madagascar: 80% of this island’s species are unique to this island! Through Frontier’s conservation adventure in Madagascar, you’ll help research wildlife and the environment while teaching the local government and communities about preservation. You’ll have the chance to study different animals and their habits, assess the extent of human disturbance on their habitats, and determine which species are most vulnerable to human interaction so that conservationists can aid in their long-term survival. This program starts from one week at $1,545, and you’re invited to stay 20 weeks or longer.
Right now, Frontier is offering a turtle conservation project in Malaysia perfect for travelers who want to explore a tropical paradise while doing good for the animals that live there. Through this program, you’ll conduct surveys to identify animals, record turtle nesting habits, protect nests from other animals and poachers, and raise awareness about turtle protection within the local community. A few of your tasks can include taking photos of the nesting turtles, determining turtle populations and numbers of male and female turtles, identifying conservation area hot spots, and recording nesting activity. This project starts from one week at $695, and you’re encouraged to stay longer.
To learn more about Frontier’s many different volunteer adventures around the world, please visit: https://frontiergap.com
Global Nomadic offers affordable, impactful volunteer and intern abroad placements for travelers who’d like to expand your education and get a head start on your career while also helping communities in need. With Global Nomadic, you’ll work alongside local NGOs on projects relating to your degree or career goals, with placement costs as minimal as possible in keeping with a student, gap year, or career breaker budget – covering your support before, during, and after your program abroad. This is a great way for students to gain valuable experience overseas, as well as for travelers who want to volunteer or intern in countries such as Italy, Honduras, Spain, and other areas where Peace Corps does not serve.
Based in Alonissos, Greece, Global Nomadic offers a dolphin research internship each year between June and October. Throughout your stay, you’ll learn about important issues in protecting these animals, such as how competition between dolphins and humans for fish has been forcing them out of their natural habitats, or how they are being injured by fishing equipment and boats. All four dolphin species that live in the Greek Seas are threatened, so your assistance is vital in helping to learn more about the dolphin population as well as how to protect them. A few tasks you’ll take on include conducting daily field surveys at sea, database entry, and much more – as well, you’ll be able to attend lectures and seminars on marine animals and local ecology. This program starts from one week at $950.
Another option to travel through Global Nomadic is their medical internship in Nanyang Village, Laos. As an intern on this program, you will help to provide medical support while gaining a unique insight into rehabilitation centers that serve those who have physical and neurological disabilities in poorer communities. Throughout your stay, you’ll shadow local doctors and nurses and observe their traditional practices, share medical knowledge, and assist with medical treatments. You’ll also have the chance to learn local expressions while teaching doctors and nurses medical English and English conversation skills. You’re asked to stay at least three months on this program, which comes with a $500 weekly fee.
A third option to travel abroad with Global Nomadic is their photography and journalism internship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As an intern, you’ll work with a local NGO’s communications and marketing team to produce, film and edit videos, and take photos. You’ll also interview other volunteers within local organizations, create video testimonials, edit pictures, and translate subtitle text – an excellent way to gain hands-on experience in digital media and much more. You can expect to work 20 hours per week, Tuesday through Friday, and you’re invited to stay up to six months. This program starts from two months at $450.
To learn more about volunteer programs and internships abroad through Global Nomadic, please visit: https://globalnomadic.com
International TEFL Academy (ITA) is a great organization to check out if you would like to teach English abroad – whether it’s for a gap year, career break, or for a globetrotting adventure. Since 2010, ITA has offered internationally accredited online and in-person TEFL courses in 25 locations that open you up to English teaching placements globally. To ensure that you’re matched with the best program for you and your interests, ITA provides extensive pre-enrollment guidance from expert advisors, after which you’ll receive high-quality TEFL training from a university-level professor. ITA also offers tons of resources for students and alumni, including a job search manual, cover letter and resume workshops, contact info for more than 20,000 schools and employers worldwide, and lifetime job search assistance. Over 5,000 people will be certified to teach English this year, click here to learn more about being one of them!
Through ITA, you will have the chance to earn an online TEFL certification before traveling abroad. This 170-hour course spans 11 weeks and includes training in basic principles of teaching, grammar, classroom management, error correction, lesson planning, use of visual and audio aids, and much more. You’ll begin with 150 hours of online lessons, including lectures, webinars, and chats with your professor, and then you will move along to 20 hours of live teaching practice with ESL learners. Once you’ve completed your certification, you will be qualified to become a full-time, paid English teacher abroad – learn more here!
If you’d like to travel and teach in a country outside of Peace Corps’ range, check out ITA’s Barcelona TEFL class, where you can earn certification to teach English in Spain, Europe, or the rest of the world. On this four-week, full-time program, you’ll visit one of Spain’s most gorgeous and historical cities and take courses each weekday covering topics in basic principles of teaching, classroom management, lesson planning, and much more. You also will have the chance to practice teaching with local ESL students, and during your trip, you can take Spanish language courses, embark on wine tasting tours, or even go on Barcelona city tours. Learn more and register here!
Ready to Travel?
As you can see, there’s no limit to the opportunities you can pursue if you want to volunteer abroad and explore the world. Peace Corps is the “toughest job you’ll ever love,” but it’s not for everyone – or maybe not for you just yet. (And I know plenty of Peace Corps volunteers who went on to volunteer with organizations just like these – or even build their own NGOs abroad!) To learn more about volunteering, teaching, and interning abroad, check out these articles on Volunteer Forever: