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International Service-Learning

Like volunteering, international service-learning greatly expands the experience that students have while studying abroad. International volunteering allows students to become directly involved with the people and issues of a foreign country, and service-learning often adds a more academic component. Work with impoverished children in the Tibet, but also study the history and culture behind the issue of poverty in this country. Serve at an environmental center in Costa Rica while studying the local ecosystem and the laws that protect it. Some programs offer academic credit for service-learning, while others are not for credit . Read below to learn more about the ways in which you can serve abroad. There are also many other opportunities listed on our Volunteer Abroad page and on the resource shelves at the OIP.

Opportunities for BSC Credit:

Students should apply for international service-learning programs through the Sklenar Center for International Programs, unless it is during the Interim Term. For Interim programs, contact the Interim Office or the Office of Service Learning on campus.

  • Birmingham-Southern College - Interim
    Office of Service-Learning offers one international service-learning trip during the January Interim Term every year. For more information, check here or contact the Interim Office before March of the preceding year.
  • The International Partnership for Service-Learning is a not-for-profit educational organization that administers programs for undergraduates, which combine rigorous academic studies and substantive volunteer service. The programs of a semester, summer, year, or 3-week session offer academic study and service courses in Ecuador, Czech Republic, England, France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Scotland, South Dakota (Native Americans) and Thailand. For further information, check www.ipsl.org or visit the OIP.

The following three organizations are study abroad programs that offer a service-learning or volunteer component.

  • IFSA-Butler : (www.ifsa-butler.org) Study abroad students enrolled in IFSA-Butler programs can participate in volunteer opportunities at the universities below.

    Argentina

    1) Argentine Universities Program

    • Working with Argentina's premier English-language daily newspaper
    • Working with the commercial section of the U.S. Embassy
    • Working with NGOs

    2) Universidad Nacional de Cuyo

    • Working with not-for-profits (i.e. marketing agency)
    • Working with service agencies (i.e. Redes Nueva Frontera, an HIV/ADIS assistance and counseling center; Cuento Contigo, an organization working with troubled youth)

    Chile

    1) Chilean Universities Program

    • Working with organizations that provide a variety of volunteer services (i.e. to the elderly and providing housing for the disadvantaged)

    2) Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

    • Working with organizations that provide a variety of volunteer services (i.e. agencies serving children/adolescents; shelters)

    Cuba

    Universidad de La Habana

    • Through the University, students are placed in volunteer positions in university libraries, research organizations, and with the Office of the City Historian.
  • International Studies Abroad (ISA)

    The Experiential Learning Abroad Programs (ELAP) through ISAoffers volunteer and intern programs in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Chile, and Argentina. Placement areas include social work, education, ecology/conservation, healthcare, policy and legislation, and agriculture. Programs range from six weeks to four months, and all programs require some proficiency in Spanish. Spanish instruction is also offered, and academic credit can be attained for interns. Participants must be at least twenty years old and have a GPA of at least 2.5. Learn more at www.studiesabroad.com/programs/document/elap.
  • University of Cape Town , South Africa

    SHAWCO & Community Service: The opportunity to offer service to the disadvantaged communities of Cape Town, is a highlight of many students' study abroad experience. South Africa has inherited a fractured, complex social and political system, where resources are not adequate to meet the needs of the people. The legacy of apartheid is still with them, and through community service, they attempt to redress some of the injustices of the past, by contributing to the future of communities in need. The International Academic Program Office has offered study abroad students the opportunity to volunteer for community service through SHAWCO, for several years. During the orientation program, students are taken to the various community service sites, welcomed by the communities who benefit from the work done there, and given the first-hand knowledge of the difference their contribution could make. Volunteers are enlisted at the end of the day. A student may choose to volunteer for as many, or as few, hours per week as fit well with the academic program selected. A certificate of participation is issued at the end of the semester, if a minimum of 35 hours of service has been completed. Learn more at, http://web.uct.ac.za/misc/iapo/ssa13.htm .

Other Opportunities (not for BSC credit):

  • WorldTeach

    WorldTeach is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based at the Center for International Development at Harvard University which provides opportunities for individuals to make a meaningful contribution to international education by living and working as volunteer teachers in developing countries. Programs currently include year-long programs in Chile, China, Costa Rica, Guyana, Ecuador, Marshall Islands, and Namibia, in addition to two-month summer programs in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Namibia, Poland, South Africa, and China. For further information, visit www.worldteach.org.
  • Cross-Cultural Solutions

    Cross-Cultural Solutions is an international not-for-profit organization that matches volunteers with local people in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Peru, Russia, Tanzania, and Thailand. Volunteers work in the areas of education, health care, women's empowerment, and development during a time period ranging from one to twelve weeks. Internship programs are also available. For more information, go to www.crossculturalsolutions.org.
  • Council International Educational Exchange

    CIEE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization specializing in international study, volunteering, work, and teaching. In addition to “Conservation Australia Experience” and “VolunTeach China” programs, the “Global Volunteer Projects” are offered in over thirty countries. Volunteers from various nations serve in groups for two to six weeks and choose from over 800 projects. Find out more information and search a database of programs at www.ciee.org/volunteer.
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