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Articles / Preparing for College / Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | May 21, 2015

It's a big world. While many say that charity begins at home, others realize that there are myriad opportunities to do good outside their homeland. One such organization that offers high school and college students the opportunity to do good works around the globe is Projects Abroad.

I've written about Projects Abroad before in the context of a GAP year. Here's what I said abut that:


We have discussed the so-called "GAP year" here before. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, rest assured that it has nothing to do with trendy, preppy clothing. It simply means that some high school seniors intend to wait a full year after high school graduation before attending college. Some (perhaps the majority) go through the traditional college process during senior year and acquire their acceptances. Then, after choosing their best-fit school, exercise their option to defer attending until fall term the following year. Other seniors may choose to delay their college process until after their GAP year, feeling that using the credibility of their year's "real-world" experience will enhance their college admissions chances. Either approach is valid.

GAP year plans are very flexible. Students can roll their own or take advantage of pre-structured programs. One such program is Projects Abroad, which claims to be "the leading volunteer abroad organization," which offers a diverse range of international service projects, plus the opportunity to become part of one of their overseas volunteer communities.

Rather than discuss GAP year ventures, I wanted to approach the topic of international volunteerism and interning. The Projects Abroad site is filled with a large number of programs that can suit almost any young person's requirements.

Here is how Projects Abroad describes itself:

Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world. Founded in 1992, we send 10,000 people abroad each year on a variety of service projects and internships overseas. All participants receive unparalleled in-country support from our full-time, professional staff to ensure that the experience is safe, worthwhile and fun.

Volunteer or intern abroad in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, or Latin America. We offer overseas voluntary work placements including teaching, care, conservation & environment, medicine & healthcare, journalism, law & human rights, international development, business, and more.

Their site is quite comprehensive and interactive. The history of the organization is interesting:

... Now after over 20 years, we have offices around the world, including two North American offices located in New York City and Toronto. With more than 600 trained staff in our destinations and hundreds of projects, we are the world's leading international volunteer organization. With the help of over 60,000 volunteers to date, we have accomplished a lot in our first 20 years, and plan on accomplishing much more in the next 20.

Projects Abroad volunteers are aged from 16 to 75! University students and recent graduates still make up the majority of our volunteers, but increasing numbers join us for gap years or summer breaks before starting university or while still in high school. Furthermore, our fastest growing demographics are career breakers and retirees choosing to take some time out volunteering on our projects. ...

Their menu of volunteering and interning abroad programs is comprehensive. For volunteering:

Volunteer Abroad projects are for anyone 16 and older to undertake valuable service work to benefit the communities in which we work. Almost all projects to not have any requirements and are suitable for anyone who wants to give back by volunteering abroad. Available throughout the year, you can start anytime and choose your duration.

For interning:

Intern Abroad projects are for anyone 16 or older to develop skills in a particular field by volunteering alongside local professionals in the role of an intern and helping as needed. While the majority of projects to not have experience requirements, you should have a strong interest in the field in which you are working. Available throughout the year, you can start anytime and choose your duration.

GAP year programs reside in five countries and last eight months:

Global Gap is for students taking a gap year between high school and college and want to spend the year traveling around the world doing volunteer work. The program is designed for 5-15 students to go to 5 countries and participate in a wide variety of service and internship projects together. Global Gap starts in the fall and runs for 8 months, including returning home for a winter break.

There are a good number of other categories, too, such as High School Specials, Spring Break Volunteer Trips, Volunteering for Skilled Professionals, Trips for 50+-aged Volunteers, and even one-on-one Foreign Language Training, plus more.

Here's some background on their Intern Abroad approach:

Interning abroad is a fantastic way to boost your resume, gain skills and real world experience, and engage in meaningful cultural exchange. International internships also allow you to nurture a developing country and bring a more cross-cultural understanding to the world.

Projects Abroad offers internships in over 25 countries around the world. These programs focus on allowing interns to gain experience in their chosen field. You'll take an active role at your internship placement and will see the challenges faced when taking part in this work abroad.

Shadow and observe doctors in a local hospital in Ghana or India, build your portfolio on Journalism in Ethiopia or Romania, raise awareness of human rights abuses in South Africa or Argentina, develop your resume on a Business internship in China or Sri Lanka, and more.

Most placements do not require previous experience and you can intern abroad at any time of the year.

If you are still in school, you may also want to speak to a school advisor about receiving university credit.

... and Volunteer Abroad:

Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer abroad programs in the world, sending 10,000 volunteers abroad each year to give back on hundreds of worthwhile service opportunities on five continents. Our 600 trained and resident staff members ensure that volunteers are safe and effective in providing benefits for local communities.

Start your project whenever you want. Go for as long or as short as you can. Whatever you do, there will be a community of our staff and fellow volunteers out there with you.

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There's much more to see about Projects Abroad, so I encourage you to visit their site. Please note that I have absolutely no affiliation whatsoever with Projects Abroad and am not trying to advocate or persuade you to participate in their programs. My aim in detailing the above highlights is to make you aware of the opportunities they offer for high schoolers, college students, and even their parents.

Projects such as this can be life-changing. If you would like to see what former project participants have to say about their Projects Abroad experiences, read some of the many reviews here. For further background, just search for "Projects Abroad reviews."

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles on College Confidential.

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Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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