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Volunteering abroad gives you the opportunity to serve international communities in need. The majority of these programs occur over the summer and are non-credit bearing. Keep in mind that if you choose to participate in an academic study abroad, volunteering may still be an option though your program sponsor or host institution.
If you choose to participate in a program that organizes volunteer opportunities abroad, please understand that you will be doing so independent of GVSU.
See the Volunteer abroad guide for more information.
In some cases, volunteering abroad can be taken for Independent Study credit if there is a specific academic endeavor.
If you are strictly interested in volunteer work abroad and are not concerned with credits, you may find the following websites helpful. We encourage you to research these opportunities carefully. While there are some incredible programs for experiential learning, GVSU is not affiliated with the organizations listed below, nor do we endorse or review these programs.
If you choose to participate in a program that organizes volunteer opportunities abroad, please understand that you will be doing so independent of GVSU, unless you work through the Padnos International Center by completing the required documents.
PIC strongly advises students to carefully research agencies and organizations that organize volunteer projects abroad. Additionally, we strongly advise students to adequately prepare for an overseas experience by researching the cultural norms, safety and security of a particular location, reviewing recommendations provided by the Center for Disease Control, and carefully considering all other necessary pre-departure preparations.
Evaluating Volunteer Abroad Programs
If you have questions regarding if the organization you are going through is reputable or not, International Volunteer Programs Association lists a set of standards to look for in an organization.
A Broader View is a non-profit organizations offering customized programs with flexible start dates.
ACDI/VOCA is an international development organization that sends volunteer consultants overseas on short-term technical assignments; all expenses paid.
Africare is a private, charitable organization focused on assistance in Africa.
Amazon Africa Aid Organization offers volunteer programs for doctors, dentists, and teachers in the Brazilian Amazon.
American Jewish World Service operates the Jewish Volunteer Corps, for professional Jewish men and women to volunteer with grassroots NGOs throughout the developing world, and the International Jewish College Corps, for students to serve communities in Ghana, Honduras and Israel.
Amigos de las Americas builds partnerships to empower young leaders, advance community development, and strengthen multi-cultural understanding in the Americas.
Amity Volunteer Teachers Abroad Program offers native English speakers an exceptional opportunity to serve as teachers or teaching assistants in well-established schools and institutes.
Amizade Volunteer Programs offer groups and individuals the opportunity to work alongside community members to fulfill a community-identified goal, while they explore new cultures through recreational and educational activities in locations around the world.
ArtCorps is a pilot project of New England Biolabs Foundation that places volunteer artists with non-profit organizations in developing countries in order to communicate their message more effectively.
Breakthroughs Abroad provides international community service opportunities for students in Nepal, Costa Rica, Thailand, Tanzania, Ecuador, and on the Navajo Reservation.
BRIDGES provides individuals historically underrepresented in international exchanges with a grant, educational training, mentoring and service-learning with local and international community-based organizations.
BUNAC - Volunteer South Africa offers a range of summer camps, work abroad and volunteer abroad programmes.
Bungoma Orphans HIV AIDS Poverty Organization is a non-profit organization based in Kenya.
CADIP Canada is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Catholic Medical Mission Board places professional and paraprofessional health care providers in clinical facilities in developing countries.
Challenges Worldwide is an international development charity.
Child Family Health International provides healthcare services to children in Ecuador, India and Mexico through a variety of sustainable health projects. Opportunities available for pre-medical and medical students.
Concern America is an international development and refugee aid organization.
Council on International Exchanges (CIEE) is a non-profit organization that specializes in overseas education and travel programs for students from around the world.
Cross-cultural Solutions sends volunteers abroad to provide humanitarian assistance.
Cultural Restoration Tourism Project promotes responsible tourism and aids communities in the restoration of cultural artifacts.
Development in Gardening works to improve the health and well-being of HIV-positive and other at-risk individuals in developing nations. We do this by teaching the skills and providing the infrastructure to create sustainable community gardens, thereby empowering people to improve both their nutrition and earning potential.
Earthwatch Institute recruits teams of short-term volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to work on scientific field research expeditions worldwide.
Experiential Learning Abroad Programs (ELAP) offers 1-12 week volunteer and internship placements in the fields of education, environment, health care, human rights, social work, culture, business and tourism
ELEP is a private, cultural and Ecuadorian organization
Foundation for Sustainable Development provides college students, graduate students, and graduates practical experience in community development in Latin America and Africa Internship Programs.
Frontiers Foundation is a non-profit aboriginal voluntary service organization.
Gap Guru lets you travel and teach English abroad with a gap year programme.
IESC works to bridge the Digital Divide by sending volunteers with high tech skills to emerging nations to help small businesses incorporate information technology into their business.
Global Citizens Network sends teams of volunteers to participate in the daily life of rural communities worldwide.
Global Routes offers community-service/cross-cultural exchange programs worldwide.
Global Service Corps provides short and long term service-learning opportunities in developing countries in the fields of health, environment, sustainable agriculture and education.
Global Volunteers sends reams of short-term volunteers of all ages worldwide to work on development projects determined by the community leaders as important to long-term development.
Global Volunteer Network offers opportunities and expeditions in China, Ecuador, Nepal, Romania, and New Zealand.
Go Overseas offers opportunities all over the world in teach, work, volunteer and study abroad capacities.
Good Shepherd Volunteers is a faith-based organization that places Christian volunteers in South America to work in education and social services with those experiencing social alienation.
HardtHaven Children's Home provides the opportunity for volunteers around the world to help in Ghana.
Himalayan Explorers Connection offers the opportunity to teach English in a Sherpa village in the Nepal Himalayas.
Himalayan Volunteers is a non-profit, non-governmental volunteer organization working for volunteer and cultural exchange in Nepal.
Iko Poron operates in partnership with Brazilian NGOs and formats programs to allow them to better serve their community.
International Partnership for Service-Learning administers study abroad programs combining community service and academic course work at eleven locations worldwide. Masters program also.
International Student Volunteers is a non-profit public benefit corporation in the USA.
International Volunteer Program provides six-week summer volunteer placements working with children, elderly and homeless in the UK and France.
i-to-i provides opportunities for volunteering and teaching English.
Japan-U.S. Community Education & Exchange is an agent for change that promotes civil society by strengthening and linking the non-profit sectors in Japan and the US through bi-lateral, on-profit internships, fellowships, organizational exchanges and professional training.
Joint Assistance Centre's programs in India and Nepal work with villagers on sanitation projects, construction, agriculture and environment.
Kibbutz Program Centre offers opportunities to spend one to six months working and living on a kibbutz in Israel.
Lisle Inc. is based on a unique model of intercultural education and work experience and offers short-term programs in Costa Rica, Bali, Turkey and India.
Love Volunteers is a New Zealand-based organization that facilitates international service & volunteering opportunities in 36 countries throughout the America's, Africa, Asia, Europe and Middle East.
Mobility International USA empowers people with disabilities around the world through exchange programs, consultation, resources and technical training.
NABUUR is an online volunteering platform that links Neighbors (online volunteers) with Villages (local communities).
NGOAbroad is a unique service that helps you enter or advance in international humanitarian work.
Operation Crossroads Africa operates 7-week summer programs (Africa and Diaspora) and a 13-week program (Namibia) on agriculture, education, construction, community health, women's development.
Original Volunteers provides affordable volunteer placements in health, IT and education around the world. Further discounts available for Grand Valley Students.Partnership for Service Learning offers academic study programs and volunteer opportunities.
Peace Corps offers diverse volunteer experiences around the globe.
Peacework manages international volunteer programs for colleges, universities, civic groups and professional organizations in cooperation with indigenous partners in relief and development around the world.
Projects Abroad specializes in teaching English in Eastern Europe.
ProWorld offers 2 to 48 week cultural, service, and academic experiences in Peru, Belize and Mexico.
SCI-International Voluntary Service works for peace and justice through short-and long-term international service projects.
Service Civil International helps to break down barriers and prejudices between people and promote cultures of peace.
Serve Your World Articles explaining how volunteer program fees are used.
Skill Share helps partner organizations in Asia and Africa.
Tahoe-Baikal Institute develops environmental leadership in young adults around the world through programs fostering long-term engagement and participation in environmental issues; core program is 10-week exchange at Lake Baikal, Russia and Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada.
Tostan is community-led development in African communities.
TransitionsAbroad Explains benefits of volunteering with an organization and where fees go.
United Planet is a non-profit organization focusing on Relational Diplomacy.
US Catholic China Bureau fosters communication and friendship with the people of China by promoting understanding of contemporary developments among religious believers and facilitating mutually beneficial church partnerships and collaborative endeavors with those of common interests.
VIA sends undergraduates, graduating seniors, and graduate students to Laos, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia for one to two years to teach English and perform public service at universities and non-government organizations.
Visions in Action sends volunteers for 6-12 months to work in development organizations, health clinics, and the media in Africa and Latin America.
Volunteer abroad is an online database of volunteer opportunities around the world.
Volunteer International offers volunteering opportunities on credit or no credit basis.
Volunteers for Peace offers 2000 programs in 70 countries where volunteers participate in short-term, affordable international work camps.
Volunthai offers short-term opportunities to volunteer in Thailand.
World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farms (WWOOF) is an international movement that is helping people share more sustainable ways of living. In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.
World Vision provides volunteer opportunities especially with children.