When you volunteer for community service credit, your effort and energy benefit other people. But what tangible benefits do you receive?
Community service is a great way to develop new skills, make new friends, and gain experience working on a team. It’s also a great way to meet the requirements for graduation from your high school or college. Need a few more reasons? Here are a few important benefits of volunteering for community service credit:
- Gives you a way to help others in need
- Helps improve a community
- Strengthens your resume and college application
- Results in personal growth
- Helps you to gain work experience and learn more about available jobs
There are hundreds of ideas for volunteering for service in your own community, ranging from raising money for local charities, reading books to the visually impaired, running in a charity race, delivering meals to the elderly, and collecting clothes and supplies for the homeless – and the list goes on.
These ideas are wonderful suggestions, but have you considered traveling abroad and performing community service on a global scale?
The depth and scale of need in developing countries is huge, and it may be difficult to imagine that you – one person – could make a difference, but the surprising truth is that the generous giving of time and energy adds up. Check out these amazing programs that provide projects with community service hours (and even course credit!) for teens and college students wanting to travel abroad:
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International Volunteer HQ offers safe and affordable placements for young volunteers on community service programs worldwide. Founded in 2007, this organization has placed nearly 100,000 travelers on meaningful programs all over the world. Projects can include wildlife and animal care, environment, construction and renovation, arts and music, sports, and so much more. IVHQ offers travel itineraries that can expand your global awareness and help you to develop an appreciation for different cultures. And you don’t need to wait until you’re 18 years old or in college to volunteer abroad for community service – IVHQ has many opportunities for teens in 40+ destinations around the globe!
Take a hands-on role in protecting sea turtles with IVHQ in Bali! You’ll volunteer on the small island of Nusa Penida, caring for turtles housed at the conservation center. Tasks include feeding and cleaning the turtles, as well as helping with beach cleanups, waste management improvement of the surrounding areas, and educating the local community – especially educating children – about Indonesia’s endangered sea turtle population. Spend a minimum of two weeks on this project, with program fees starting at $600. Your fee covers your meals and accommodation, program orientation, airport pickup, and 24/7 in-country support. Learn more here!
Spend your community service hours contributing to the protection of the Amazon ecosystem. You’ll live and work onsite at a jungle conservation camp as an IVHQ volunteer in Peru. Tasks include reforestation, trail and homebase maintenance, basic research, and taking inventories of native animal species. There are three different locations, and volunteers are placed where the need is the greatest and 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. This opportunity requires a minimum stay of two weeks, but you can volunteer up to six months. Program fees start at $310 for your first week, with $65 additional fee for supervision. Check out more info here!
Maximo Nivel offers safe, affordable, and high-quality volunteer trips, Spanish language learning programs, and teaching opportunities that encourage understanding of the world through education, adventure, and cultural travel. Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel has placed 25,000 people on programs that improve and positively impact communities where they work. With placements in Peru, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, Maximo Nivel offers a variety of programs for young travelers, including volunteer programs in childcare, conservation, and more.
Maximo Nivel’s Spanish Service-Learning placement immerses you in a community’s unique culture and language and allows you to develop a sense of civic responsibility. You’ll broaden your global perspective, and appreciate your sense of identity when volunteer on local projects, and then participate in workshops that allow you to reflect on your experience.
These activities are designed for you to research your host culture and society, and then contrast it with your own home culture and society as well as the role of service learning. Guided reflection workshops combine observation, writing, reading, and group discussions. You can sign up for this opportunity in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru, and stay for four weeks, earning three credits. While you’re on the placement, you can take on a program that has you volunteering with children, teaching English, helping with conservation and the environment, assisting with medical or healthcare, performing construction, lending a hand with animal care, eco-agriculture, or with indigenous communities.
There is a separate volunteer program fee and the cost of the service-learning academic program is $199 per credit hour, plus a $100 registration fee. Complete a minimum of 100 hours of service on your placement and you’ll earn the United States’ President’s Volunteer Service Award! Read more about this program and apply now.
GoEco was founded in 2006, and since then has placed more than 10,000 volunteers and interns on a variety of impactful trips around the globe. This organization offers more than 150 volunteer programs and internships in 44 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. GoEco was recently recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from GoAbroad, Top Eco-Enthusiast by Greenmatch, and has been recommended by USA Today, the Today Show, Huffington Post, and many more.
Volunteering abroad with GoEco is a great way to make new friends, see the world, and participate in amazing community service projects. If you’re under 18 and want to travel abroad for adventure and for community service that lets you work with animals, take a look at these conservation projects in Africa and in Europe:
Work with a Greek conservation organization, one of the longest-running conservation projects on the Mediterranean Sea, and help to protect nesting loggerhead turtles and hatchlings. Tasks include going on turtle patrols, surveying the area and recording data, installing grids to protect the nests, harvesting bamboo for nest grids, and assisting with educational activities for tourists and the community. Because this project is specifically designed for teenage volunteers, there is a high level of supervision by well-trained staff and conservation experts. Accommodations are in tents at the campsite in the village of Giannitsochori, a small resort town with white sandy beaches. Project fees start at $3,690 for two weeks. Learn more here!
You don’t have to resist the adorable lion cub when you volunteer with GoEco at an African Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe. In fact, community service hours fly by when you’re having fun at one of the largest – and most successful – wildlife rehabilitation and release centers in Africa! Work with professionals to provide care for injured wildlife and even assist with animal releases when they’re well – the wildlife orphanage cares for animals that have little hope for survival in the wild, and those who have been orphaned, abandoned, injured, born in captivity or brought up unsuccessfully as pets.
You’ll help to prepare food for animals, feed them, clean their enclosures, contribute enrichment ideas, and help to build and maintain enclosures. Learn about ethical wildlife interactions, and conduct field surveys at nearby national parks. Participate in educating the public – especially young children – who come to the facility to see the animals. Housing and meals are provided. Stay one week or longer, with fees starting at $1,150 – read more and apply here.
Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) specializes in international volunteer programs for teens, and the vast majority of past volunteers consider their experience in GLA’s programs life-changing. GLA aims to inspire the next generation to transform the world, and they accomplish this by placing youth on adventures where they can explore historic and natural sites in different countries; learn the local culture, language, and history; and serve the community through meaningful volunteer efforts. GLA’s volunteer experiences abroad cultivate a global perspective and open-mindedness in students that will inspire them to create positive change in their own communities.
Gain insight into Cuba’s complex history and culture when you join GLA in the Havana for Cuba: Land of Discovery. Make a difference in the lives of the Cuban people as you volunteer at Muraleando, a public art center that’s a hub for creativity and a gathering center for adults and children. Work on community-led initiatives, helping with a variety of development projects, while on another day you might be supporting local art projects. Go on a conservation tour and visit sites that seek to preserve culturally-significant architecture while sponsoring social art projects. You’ll also visit Cuba’s breathtaking beaches and forest-covered mountains on a conservation tour. The experience lasts two weeks and tuition is $4,89 – during your stay, you’ll perform 20 community service hours. Learn more and sign up here!
GLA’s South Africa: Safari Service Expedition puts you on the front lines of rhino conservation in Somkhanda Game Reserve. You’ll also encounter three other members of the Big 5: leopards, elephants, and buffalo! As a volunteer, you’ll assist with ongoing rhino and African elephant conservation projects, and help to track and monitor wildlife movement on a renowned reserve. Shadow wildlife conservationists in the bush, go on game drives to observe animals, and learn how scientists are working to protect endangered species here.
This is also a wonderful cultural experience that places you with the Zulu to learn about their tribal culture and partake in traditional storytelling. During your free time, you’ll relax and enjoy a bonfire as you camp under the stars, and visit the beaches on a multi-night excursion to Kosi Bay along the country’s northern coast. This program lasts two weeks with a tuition of $3,999, and you will earn 32 hours of community service on this adventure. Learn more and apply here!
Raleigh International offers volunteer programs for youth and young adults in Borneo, Nepal, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Tanzania. Founded in 1984, its programs focus on clean water and hygiene, sustainable use of natural resources, and community building. So far, 400,000 young volunteers have traveled with Raleigh International, with another 1,000 expected to sign up each year. This organization focuses on creating change through livelihoods, natural resource management, improving water, sanitation and hygiene, and connecting youth in civil society. Its goals are to help to deliver jobs, skills, and business for young people, and empower a generation of champions for the natural environment.
Join Raleigh International on an adventurous volunteer expedition to Tanzania for an outstanding community service project that emphasizes safe water and sanitation hygiene knowledge to primary school children and the wider communities. You’ll live alongside a remote community and volunteer on initiatives such as improving access to clean water, running hygiene awareness events, planting trees, and teaching about natural resources and sustainability. You also will be able to go on an adventure trek to the Southern Highlands and see wild animals on a visit to Ruaha National Park. Stay four weeks or longer, with fees starting at $3,100. Read more here!
Raleigh International has been placing volunteers and training youth leaders in Nepal for years, focusing on projects that provide access to safe water and sanitation, entrepreneurship development, and community-based natural resource management.
Nepal is still recovering from the 2015 earthquake that damaged the country’s infrastructure and water resources. You’ll work alongside people in the communities to help change behaviors and positively impact the well being of its citizens. You’ll also trek up hills, and through local villages and beautiful farm terraces to see stunning views of the central Himalayas, while also developing your leadership and teamwork skills. Fees start at $3,600 for five weeks, but stay for seven or 10 weeks and devote yourself to community service that will help Nepal recover. Click here to learn more and to sign up!
Ready To Travel?
Volunteering for community service may be required by your school for graduation or for your college application, but there are greater reasons for giving your time.
Community service can build leadership and life skills, and increase your empathy for the needs of others. When you work with a team to empower others, you’ll feel a sense of connectedness, as well as purpose. As a volunteer abroad on a community service project, you can help to make a positive difference in the lives of needy people, and make friendships that last a lifetime.
Want to know more about teen and high school volunteering abroad opportunities? Check out these articles for inspiration!
Teen & High School Volunteer Abroad Programs | Under 18 Mission Trips
Summer Study Abroad Programs for High School and College Students
Short Term Volunteer Abroad Programs & Mission Trips (1 Week & 2 Weeks)
Robin Van Auken · Writer
Robin is a researcher, writer, and a registered professional archaeologist, a skillset she uses every day as a cultural communication specialist with Hands-on Heritage. Her projects connect communities with an emphasis on interpretation and education and conserve cultural and environmental legacies.