Study abroad programs give students a unique opportunity to learn about the world and people outside their comfort zones, make new friends, learn about other cultures and make contacts that last a lifetime. Over 300,000 students participated in study abroad programs last year and the numbers continue to grow. Not every student has the time, money or desire to study abroad, however. If you are one of the thousands of students who cannot participate in a study abroad program, there are alternatives that provide wonderful educational opportunities.
Other Opportunities to Go Abroad
If you cannot participate in a study abroad program but still want to experience life in another country, there are several ways you can do just that. Volunteering, interning, working and teaching opportunities are available to those who qualify.
Countries from all over the world need help from volunteers to make a difference in the lives of the local population. Nonprofits, businesses, educational centers, religious groups, community groups and state agencies often sponsor volunteer projects. Most volunteer projects provide services to address specific community needs, such as hunger, illness, shelter, poverty and illiteracy. Volunteers with a variety of skills are needed, including physical labor, engineering, teaching, carpentry and care giving. Projects can include building community structures, planting crops, enhancing waterways and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
Teaching abroad is a wonderful way to learn about the people of another country, earn enough to live on during your stay and provide a valuable learning resource to the native people. Teaching English is one of the most popular teaching positions available. Many programs do not require a teaching certificate. Teaching programs are available through many schools, the U.S. government and foreign institutions and organizations. Teaching positions can be short-term or last as long as two years.
Working as an intern is another great way to spend time abroad. Most school sponsored study abroad programs include intern opportunities. Interning provides an ideal way to make contacts, learn about the culture and experience your chosen field of study firsthand.
Stay At Home and Explore the World
If you want to experience something different but don’t want to go abroad, there are plenty of opportunities in the United States that offer many of the same benefits as a study abroad program. Summer is a great time to participate in a program that not only provides benefits to others, but gives you a unique opportunity to learn more about the people and world around you.
Volunteer programs in the summer offer everything from building to wildlife rehabilitation. The Appalachia Service Project is a Tennessee based program that brings volunteers together to help the impoverished people of Central Appalachia. Its main mission is to repair the homes of the region’s low-income families, but it also promotes awareness of the lives of the poor right here in America.
The Camphill Special School in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, is a school that cares for children, youth and young adults with developmental disabilities. Volunteers engage in a variety of different activities that include assisting in the school, working with residents to plant gardens and landscape and assist with construction projects. Volunteers are provided with room, board and a monthly stipend, but it’s the intangibles that truly standout. Volunteers live, work and learn in an atmosphere of cultural diversity and form strong bonds with students, workers and other volunteers. The Camphill Special School also provides internships, which are ideal for students in the education, special education, social work or psychology fields.
Several of America’s Native American nations welcome volunteers to help with various reservation projects. Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation asks volunteers to help improve the social, educational and recreational aspects of lives on the reservation. Possible projects include fixing, maintaining and building playgrounds, landscaping, library organization, painting classrooms and assisting in a nursing home.
The Anishinabe People of White Earth Reservation in Minnesota welcomes volunteers to assist them in maintaining their language, culture and way of life. Spread out over beautifully forested land where wildlife is abundant, volunteer projects include repairing community buildings, working with the youth group, planting and harvesting crops and planting community gardens.
Common Ground Relief is an organization dedicated to rebuilding New Orleans using quality construction and wetlands restoration. The group’s diverse range of projects offers something for every volunteer. Opportunities include new home construction, community gardening, wetland restoration and education and outreach about food safety and environmental issues.