What are service trips?
Service trips are purpose-driven experiences that enable you to make a difference and grow as a person. Trips are built around visiting a community to devote a short period of time to a specific cause and are brought to life by the unforgettable moments that come from meaningful volunteer work, cultural exchange and service learning.
If you’re taking a service trip abroad you don’t have to go for a long time to create positive outcomes. A month or 1 week spent volunteering on a meaningful project and immersed in the local way of life provides you with an authentic insight into the culture and allows you to connect with the greater purpose of your volunteer work. Your efforts will support and grow on the long-term impact of previous international volunteers and you’ll experience tasks relevant to a career or field of study.
If you’re a college student, gap year traveler, or teenager then taking part in service trip abroad is one of the best ways to engage in service learning. As both a student and volunteer, you’re fully immersed in the community and able to see the benefits of your work through the eyes of locals. There are also fewer distractions to water-down the learning and plenty of opportunities for post-work reflection to further cement the day’s lessons. Many volunteer programs can be used as course credit towards a qualification.
International Volunteer HQ offers service trips in the form of meaningful and trusted volunteer abroad programs. Volunteers are able to gain practical experience on a wide range of projects, in more than 50 destinations around the world. These opportunities are available from between 1-24 weeks with affordable volunteer fees from US$20 (approximately £17) per day including accommodation.
What types of Service Trips are there?
Why should you take a service trip?
People who take part in service trips and service learning abroad get the reward of seeing the difference they can make, as well as the benefits of cementing theories and concepts by seeing them in action.
Many lessons are best learnt in practice - that may be using a teaching technique successfully, helping to construct a building or spending one-on-one time helping to care for the elderly. This is precisely why service learning is such a powerful way of absorbing knowledge and gaining experience. It shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for theoretical learning; service learning is an excellent supplement to textbook studies.
For students entering the workforce, there are huge benefits in being able to show practical experience. However, without a chance to get that experience, it can be a trap that’s difficult to escape. By taking service learning opportunities abroad, that important practical experience can be gained to make a résumé stand out from the rest. What’s more, the initiative to go on a service trip abroad shows drive, creativity and a willingness to learn that is attractive to employers.
Many IVHQ volunteer programs require volunteers to have qualifications or be at a certain level of study. For example, students wanting to go on many medical programs need to show relevant skills and qualifications in order to be accepted. This helps to ensure the mutual benefit of the work being suitable for the volunteer and the community.
By completing your service learning as a volunteer through IVHQ, you also get all the benefits of international travel. You’ll see iconic sights, learn about other cultures, try new food, meet new people and experience more of the world - all adding up to grow your experience as a global citizen and develop your cultural understanding.
Here at IVHQ, we are world leaders in providing service trips for groups. Our dedicated Groups Team can provide specialized itineraries and tailored group packages.
How do service trips benefit the community?
Every community faces challenges. That’s why we know that no matter where in the world you choose to travel, you can make a meaningful contribution. Communities who open themselves up to hosting volunteers are working together, across cultures, to build a better tomorrow.
The benefits for communities are clear - the community needs help and a volunteer provides it. It’s that simple. Support from a well-meaning, motivated volunteer can, and does, achieve tangible results.
The type of volunteer work that’s needed in these communities is important. It could be that volunteers are needed to support the disabled, assist local farmers or help wildlife conservation efforts. While it’s beneficial, it can be seen as less important for everyone’s day-to-day life. Without volunteers or service learners to help, a lot of this kind of work would simply not be done.
Members of these communities abroad also benefit through cross-cultural exchange. Exposure to different cultures and beliefs helps both volunteers and locals to enhance their appreciation for the world, challenge themselves with a foreign approach to life and have a better awareness for the way others live.
IVHQ volunteers also contribute to communities through volunteer fees. Volunteers pay a Program Fee which covers food, accommodation, supervision and a pick-up from the airport. This money goes into the local community and helps to keep locals employed.
It’s for reasons like these that IVHQ is a big believer in the power of meaningful travel experiences. Since 2007, IVHQ volunteers have contributed approximately 776 years of volunteer labor abroad and more than US$76 million in Program Fees which have gone directly to local communities. And, more than 124,000 volunteers have become more open-minded, expanded their purpose and uncovered their place in the world.
7 Best service trips to experience in 2019
Service trips in Africa
IVHQ has more than 12 years experience providing service trips in Africa. You can choose to support meaningful projects in 9 countries across this vibrant continent, including opportunities in South Africa, Ghana and Kenya. This is a meaningful way to take part in community service, get out of your comfort zone and find your place in the world.
Health volunteering in India
Based in Delhi, the biggest city in India, volunteers can work in either local hospitals or slum clinics. Both involve working in under-resourced healthcare environments alongside local professionals. Volunteering in local hospitals involves more shadowing and observational duties, while volunteering in slum clinics is more hands-on and fast-paced. Both options provide valuable learning opportunities and first-hand experience working alongside respected physicians. This project is available for medical students at any level, in a range of specialities including nursing and physical therapy.
NGO Support project in Italy
NGOs in Italy operate in a wide range of fields, but all face similar challenges in terms of resources and having enough hands on deck to get things done. Based in Rome, volunteers gain valuable insight into day-to-day life working in an NGO and taking part in campaigns, workshops, marketing and research.
Conservation volunteering in Guatemala
Volunteers wanting to work in conservation in Guatemala have two options to choose from - Turtle Conservation or Ego-Agriculture Conservation.
The Turtle Conservation project is perfect for those willing to roll up their sleeves to help protect endangered sea turtles and help with nest protection programs. It involves predator protection, building hatcheries, beach cleaning and all manner of duties involved in helping to increase the local turtle population.
The Eco-Agriculture Conservation project places volunteers in either a coffee or macadamia nut farm, assisting local farmers with day-to-day tasks. Farming efforts target sustainable means of production and work varies depending on the time of year. This is a fantastic opportunity to work at the coal face of unique agriculture projects with experienced locals to guide and educate you.
Childcare project in Argentina - Buenos Aires
This is an ideal project for those interested in childcare to help where they’re sorely needed. Volunteers are placed in local soup kitchens, working with vulnerable children and providing them a safe place to be during the day. Activities can include sports, arts and crafts and songs. Volunteers also help to provide meals for up to 45 children and teenagers at a time.
Teaching project in Romania
Romania provides a well structured teaching environment for volunteers, who are placed in schools helping educate students between six to 16 years old. You’ll volunteer alongside a local teacher and support English language tuition, as well as assistance in other parts of the school curriculum. This is a very authentic teaching experience.
Special Needs Care project in Peru - Cusco
Those interested in caring for the disabled or elderly can provide valuable assistance in the city of Cusco in Peru. Working in homes for mentally and physically disabled children, and the elderly, volunteers help with all aspects of personal care for those who need it. This is both rewarding and practical work, working in a hands-on capacity in a unique setting among the Peruvian Andes.
Using service learning for course credit
Students undertaking service learning through IVHQ volunteer programs can get course credit towards their qualifications. Many IVHQ programs have elements that match up well to a number of majors.
IVHQ’s Campus team can work directly with colleges and universities to ensure a volunteer’s program is relevant to their study and requirements for service learning course credit are met.
Email IVHQ’s Campus Manager directly here for all enquiries relating to gaining course credit for volunteering.
This is just a snapshot of the many volunteer trips IVHQ has available to those interested in using service trips as a way of furthering themselves and giving back to a community in need. For more information, search IVHQ projects and find a destination that works for you.