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The 10 Best Study Abroad Programs For Volunteers In 2024


Study Abroad Volunteer Programs with IVHQ

Do you want to study and volunteer abroad in 2024? IVHQ is able to create a study abroad program that’s just right for you, and that’s perfect if you’re traveling on a student budget!

Volunteer study abroad is an amazing way to learn and develop your skill set, while delivering value back to locally-driven projects in your host community. Whether you want to volunteer abroad to fulfill your college course requirements, combine language study and volunteering, or add a volunteer program to your semester abroad, these affordable study abroad programs are great options for those wanting a rewarding, educational and affordable experience.

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Lima, Peru

“The Medical project in Lima, Peru offers a unique opportunity to work on a mobile clini-bus, and is a great opportunity for medical or nursing students at any level to practice their skills abroad while experiencing a new healthcare system in operation. Because the clinics reach out to communities in need who normally can’t afford adequate healthcare, the patient load is quite high, making it a great opportunity to provide hands-on help with the supervision of local doctors and nurses.

“On the days the campaigns are not operating, volunteers assist in local hospitals, clinics and dispensaries with basic equipment and facilities. In both the campaigns and clinics, tasks will be dependent on training, experience and Spanish level. Because of the communicative nature of the project, volunteers on this program should speak at least conversational Spanish.” - Aydan Mitchell, Program Manager, Peru - Lima

Study abroad volunteer program in Lima with International Volunteer HQ

The placement that I was volunteering at was wonderful. The staff were very helpful and encouraging. The other volunteers during the time I was there were also wonderful. I have grown both personally and professionally as a result of volunteering through IVHQ, and I felt that my time was greatly appreciated by all the community and staff that I worked with. Hannah Nauth, IVHQ volunteer in Lima

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Italy

“Doing your study and volunteer abroad program in Italy promises to be an eye-opening learning experience, as well as an enjoyable cultural trip. From delicious Italian feasts in restaurants on the cobblestone streets of Naples, to weekend trips to battle with gladiators in the Colosseum in Rome, Italy’s rich history, culture, and cuisine will have volunteers experiencing the adventure of a lifetime!

“The IVHQ program in Naples, Italy gives volunteers the incredible opportunity to discover a region that is overflowing with opportunity and enlightenment. Here, you can volunteer on Teaching English, After School Care and Environmental projects. Italy is a fantastic location for history buffs, individuals studying or interested in community development and welfare, and of course, food lovers! Not only that, but with a range of UNESCO World Heritage sites around Naples, the region you’ll be based in is a haven for travelers from all over the world.” - Meika Watson-Burrows (IVHQ Italy Program Manager)

Study abroad volunteer program in Naples, Italy with IVHQ

I loved teaching, and it was the perfect balance for a beginner like myself in which the teacher provided the lesson and gave ideas on how to teach the students outside of the book. Towards the end of my time teaching, I’d become comfortable and confident in being in front of the class and taking charge under the head teacher’s supervision. Volunteering in Italy has changed the course of my life, and while that sounds dramatic, it’s how I feel. I found direction and passion, and those two things are hard to come by. It’s all a result of the great work the IVHQ team provides, putting me into my placement and giving me the tools to help. I was always excited to go, and now I am home and ready to move on to the next step that IVHQ has inspired in me. Taylor Flanagan, IVHQ volunteer in Italy

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Tanzania

“Tanzania is a great destination for volunteers studying abroad, wanting to explore a different culture and country. As a volunteer in Tanzania, choose from a range of different projects, including Medical, HIV/AIDS Support, Teaching, Animal Welfare and Childcare.

“Tanzania is a unique destination to learn and gain relevant experience in your area of study and is home to a community of enthusiastic people that values your support. Tanzania also has some of Africa’s most breathtaking tourism activities - whether it’s climbing Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, or visiting the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, Tanzania is the place to be.” - Kaila LeMaitre (IVHQ Africa Program Manager)

Study abroad volunteer program in Tanzania with IVHQ

I absolutely feel I have grown and developed as a person as a result of volunteering. I genuinely think it was the best time of my life, and the best decision I have ever made. This has been the start of my gap year, and I don’t think it could have started any better. I have realized how fortunate I am to have been able to do something so important at such a young age, and I really think it has changed my outlook on life. Volunteering has shown me so much about a completely different culture and has made me want to explore as much of the world as possible. This trip has shown me that volunteering is the best way to immerse oneself into another culture, and I am truly grateful for that! Olivia Donovan, IVHQ volunteer in Tanzania

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Cambodia

“While the astonishing ruins of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are a huge draw card, there is a lot more to Cambodia than what first meets the eye. Through the IVHQ Cambodia program, volunteers studying abroad have six great projects to choose from in Teaching English, Childcare, Working with NGOs, Medical, Computer Support and Special Needs Care.

“Here at IVHQ, we are firm believers in the “work hard, play hard” attitude, and this fits in nicely with the style of our Cambodia program. The country is home to secluded, sleepy beaches, charming villages and magical markets, which are all on your doorstep and accessible before, during and after your volunteer program. If these fail to interest you then it is nothing that the genuine locals with sincere smiles can’t fix! Be prepared to enrich your mind and spirit, and to have your heart stolen by Cambodia!” - Lena Wurm (IVHQ Asia Program Manager)

Study abroad volunteer program in Cambodia with International Volunteer HQ

I felt very lucky to be placed at a wonderful project in Siem Reap! The local staff were extremely warm, welcoming and grateful; it was an honor to work with them. I enjoyed my time volunteering far more than I thought I would, it was such an awesome experience and one that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my days! Leah Walsh, IVHQ volunteer in Cambodia

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Guatemala

“Based around a small, colonial city of Antigua, the IVHQ Guatemala program enjoys the backdrop of three major volcanoes, the ambience of romantic restaurants, cobblestone streets, and a constant flow of happening events. Volunteers on this program can keep a busy schedule between the broad range of volunteer opportunities and optional Spanish language classes.

“Guatemala’s Medical project offers medical and nursing students top-rated opportunities for hands-on learning in small local clinics for the poor, elderly homes, special needs facilities and after school programs for children with disabilities. This is just one of the 12 projects available in Guatemala, meaning there’s something for everyone looking for relevant volunteer study abroad programs.

“Volunteers who participate for four weeks or longer can also take advantage of the Spanish Service Learning Course and gain course credit while participating in their volunteer project of choice.” - Kate Parkinson (IVHQ Latin America Program Manager)

Study abroad volunteer program in Guatemala

This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have learned so much and I am so grateful for this opportunity. My project was excellent; it was everything I could have hoped for and more. I feel like the doctors and staff appreciated my help, and they did a great job of getting me as involved as possible with the skills I do have. One of my favorite moments was witnessing the birth of a baby girl at my clinic, which was an incredible experience! My advice to other volunteers is to embrace the experience, see as much as you possibly can and stay as long as you are able to! Jamie Jarett, IVHQ volunteer in Guatemala

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Laos

“The IVHQ Laos program is perfect for volunteers looking for a different kind of experience in a country untouched by mass tourism. Laos is an under-rated gem in South-East Asia, with all the culture and cuisine the region is known for, as well as characteristically positive and happy people.

“The Teaching English project is perfect for volunteers who enjoy a challenge and are eager to overcome cross-cultural teaching barriers. Volunteers here will have a very rewarding experience and improve their ability to adapt and work independently. The Construction and Renovation project offers the chance to make improvements to vital service buildings including medical centers and schools, while volunteers on the Childcare project can help to nurture the younger generation with games and education.

“Laos is a country of great beauty and the capital city of Vientiane, where the volunteer program is based, is lively and authentic. If this country is not on your bucket list, it should be!” - Courteney O’Neill (IVHQ Asia Program Manager)

Study abroad volunteer program in Laos with IVHQ

The project pushed me to do my best and there was a great atmosphere. This experience was totally fulfilling and it helped me realize how important it is to help any way you can. It was amazing to get closer to a completely different culture and to get to know the local community better. I also got to know myself in a different circumstance, which I think helped me develop important new skills. Benjamin Rodriguez, IVHQ volunteer in Laos

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Cusco, Peru

Volunteering in Cusco is a popular option for those looking for an accessible study abroad program in the heart of South America. Cusco is one of the closest towns to Machu Picchu in central Peru, and is set among stunning Andean hills, with landscapes that have to be seen to be believed. Volunteers can choose from 10 different projects, including unique options in Amazon Jungle Conservation, Andean Immersion and Eco-Agriculture Conservation.

“On top of that, volunteers can participate in our Spanish Service Learning Course, which enables students to gain university credit while volunteering (provided that your university accepts credits from the California State University, Monterey Bay). The course is offered in conjunction with our regular volunteer projects and can all be included into your daily schedule as an IVHQ volunteer. The minimum duration is four weeks and arranging the course accreditation is done through your IVHQ Program Manager and our in-country team after you have registered to volunteer.

“Peru is rich in culture and offers travelers the chance to be immersed in an iconic setting while contributing to worthy causes that benefit locals. Cusco is one of the oldest cities in South America, where people still keep traditional customs. This means travelers are able to enjoy a unique cultural experience while giving back at the same time!” - Aydan Mitchell (IVHQ Peru - Cusco Program Manager)

Study abroad volunteer program in Cusco with International Volunteer HQ

As nursing students, we learned so much with the project! It’s unbelievable that as a group we helped over 1,000 Peruvians. The project was more than I could have ever imagined! I came back a more confident nursing student because of the IVHQ program. Rebecca Sackman, IVHQ volunteer in Cusco

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Colombia

“Volunteers in Colombia can choose to contribute to programs in either the lively capital city, Bogotá, or in the stunning coastal city of Cartagena. The Teaching projects on both programs are particularly popular, and provide excellent opportunities for students to gain practical teaching experience. Volunteers are able to create and develop their own lesson plans and have help and guidance from the local teachers.

“By having two volunteer program options in Colombia, students studying abroad have more to choose from. You can choose the one that suits you best based on what kind of project work you want to do, what sort of setting you want to be in, or any other preferences you have. Both programs offer rewarding, worthwhile projects that aim to better the lives of locals who need assistance. If you need help choosing between the two programs, see our guide to volunteering in Bogotá vs Cartagena to see which is best for you.

“Volunteers who wish to further improve their Spanish can supplement their time on their volunteer projects by taking our in-country Spanish lessons. These are an extremely useful addition to any volunteer project.” - Grace Stevens (IVHQ Colombia Program Manager)

Study abroad volunteer program in Colombia with IVHQ

If anyone is hesitant about volunteering in Bogota, just do it. You WILL NOT be disappointed. You WILL be inspired. You WILL meet lifelong friends. You WILL fall in love with Colombia. You WILL push the boundaries of your comfort zone. And you WILL make a positive impact. Diana Jin, IVHQ volunteer in Colombia

Study Abroad as a Volunteer in Sri Lanka

“If you want to study abroad, make friends from all over the world, experience one of the most diverse countries in the world and make a real difference, look no further than the IVHQ Sri Lanka program! Whether you are in medical school, studying conservation, wanting to be a teacher or specialize in special education, our Sri Lanka program has something to offer everyone!

“Training teachers wanting to diversify their knowledge and skill-base can teach novice monks, Special Education teachers can work in specialist schools, environmental junkies can take part in our Wild Elephant Conservation project, and if architecture is more your fancy, try our Temple Renovation project! The Sri Lanka program is perfect for those wanting to mix hard work with fun weekend activities, with hiking, safaris, diving and historical exploration all available in your spare time. With eight awesome projects to choose from, Sri Lanka is the perfect study abroad location!” - Will Rowland (IVHQ Asia Program Manager)

Volunteer and study abroad in Sri Lanka with IVHQ

I was fortunate in that I got to take part in a few different projects during my time in Sri Lanka, and I absolutely loved all of them! I learnt so much from each project. I felt like all the projects I partook in were hugely appreciated by the community. I have learnt so much about myself, other people and different cultures. I definitely came home a happier and more realistic person, and 100% want a future career in which I help people and have an impact. Ella Gault, IVHQ volunteer in Sri Lanka

If you’re a little overwhelmed by the choice of our volunteer programs in 40+ countries across the globe, consider taking our study abroad quiz, designed to tell you which study abroad program you’re most suited to!

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