Looking for ways to combine a volunteer travel opportunity or an internship abroad with your passion for the planet? Help to build a better future by working with a sustainable construction project, or a program that harnesses the power of renewable, green energy for the good of a community!
Reducing energy usage, conserving natural resources, and lowering gas emissions and water waste are priorities for the safety of the world. This is so important that the United Nations added a division of Sustainable Development Goals to its mandates, and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon extolled the virtues of volunteering for its ability to raise awareness in those who serve.
Become a part of the solution! Join a reputable organization overseas, where you’ll gain hands-on experience and a sense of pride in community revitalization. You’ll quickly develop new skills as you work alongside your hosts to build new housing, repair schools and temples, or transform a landfill into an urban garden!
There are numerous projects to choose from that allow you to contribute to the quality of life for people in need, while immersing yourself in a new culture. A short stay or an extended internship spent helping in an underserved community working to improve infrastructure is a skill-builder for you, and a life-saver for them.
Check out the featured programs below and snap on your tool belt!
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IVHQ is a leader in the industry when it comes to affordable, safe, and responsible volunteer projects. More than 90,000 travelers have participated in IVHQ’s hands-on programs since 2007, and opportunities are available in more than 40 destinations all over the world. If your passion is sustainable construction, check out these once-in-a-lifetime IVHQ experiences:
Tourists flock to Bali for the tropical climate, the natural wonders, and the culture of peace and calm. When you participate in IVHQ’s Environmental Education program, you enjoy all of those benefits while making a difference for the island’s fragile ecology. The project allows you to plan and participate in a variety of education activities that help Balinese children become effective environmental stewards. Your efforts ensure the area maintains its beauty for generations to come.
The vibrant city of New Orleans has a rich cultural history, from massive Mardi Gras celebrations to rich musical traditions. Sadly, it was also the site of one of the worst natural disasters of this century. When you join IVHQ’s Neighborhood Renovation program, you make a critical contribution to ongoing community revitalization efforts. There is plenty of work for those interested in manual renovations, sustainable construction, and general improvement of public areas. Artists are encouraged to join mural-painting activities going on throughout the city as well!
If you’re interested in building the schools, community centers, and residential facilities that contribute to the development of strong, confident children, the IVHQ Construction and Renovation program is right for you. With programs available all over the world, you’re invited to join a project already in progress or be there for the opening of a new building. You can choose from a variety of program durations, destinations, and assignments, which gives you maximum flexibility to plan your adventure.
With an intensive focus on Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America, Plan My Gap Yearoffers tons of affordable and adventurous volunteer programs perfect for travelers who want to make a positive impact wherever they visit. This organization has deep experience and expertise in the many countries it serves, working within communities to foster sustainable development.
The country of Sri Lanka may be an uncommon choice for the average tourist, but the adventurer in you will revel in its unmatched natural beauty and ancient cultures. The temperate climate makes every day a pleasure, so if you’re looking for a volunteer adventure off the beaten path, Sri Lanka is an excellent place to go! Plan My Gap Year’s Buddhist Temple Renovation and Repair project is your opportunity to preserve a piece of this nation’s long history.
If Latin America is your preferred destination, Maximo Nivel has the right program for you! This organization operates locally in each of their countries of service (Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru), and partners with community-based NGOs, schools, and other groups that have identified a need for volunteers, interns, and teachers. A top-rated organization for travelers looking for a meaningful trip, Maximo Nivel offers volunteer, intern, and teach abroad opportunities, as well as Spanish immersion, mini adventures, TEFL certification, and so much more.
Your hard work – combined with the hard work of other volunteers and local counterparts – has a solid impact when you participate in Maximo Nivel’s Construction and Renovation Projects. You may find yourself building and repairing community centers or updating and improving schools and other children’s facilities, or other projects depending on need. Some of your tasks may include digging, mixing cement, laying bricks, painting, assisting with beautification activities, and everything in between.
If you have always wanted to know more about the indigenous communities of Guatemala or Peru, Maximo Nivel’s Indigenous Communities program offers a rare and incredible opportunity for you. Volunteers live and work in small villages with no more than 100 families, immersing themselves in the culture and helping with daily activities side-by-side with their host families. During your stay, you will experience a traditional way of life, learn a new language, and help with activities such as caring for livestock, weaving, farming, and more.
Success today requires a global reach, and students planning for a career in business must have a thorough understanding of international trade. Conversely, even the smallest companies can achieve better results by expanding outside of local boundaries. Maximo Nivel’s Micro Business program with a coffee plantation is a distinctive internship that pairs Spanish-speaking business students with micro businesses in Latin America. Through this program, you will gain an understanding of business practices in the developing world, as well as hands-on professional experience. Your partner company in turn gains the benefit of your perspective and ideas for expansion into the larger marketplace.
Ready To Travel?
When you volunteer abroad, you’re taking on a tremendous responsibility – one that commits you to positive change. Every hour a volunteer spends on a sustainable project contributes to a better world – and these hands-on projects give you specialized knowledge and experience that will enhance your employability. By volunteering with a sustainable program abroad, you’ll gain greater awareness of just how important these programs can be: access to clean, abundant water and a sturdy roof over your head is something you’ll never take for granted again.
Rachel Roderick · Guest Writer
Based in Rhode Island, Rachel researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. She has traveled to some of the world's most exciting destinations - including Iceland and South Africa - and in her spare time loves skydiving, rock climbing, and canoeing.