One of the greatest things about being in college is the gaping four month gap staring you down in the middle of the year. What's your plan for summer break this year?
Saving up some cash for books? Getting a head start on credits by taking some classes? Sitting around a pool and watching every season of "Damages" on Netflix? All of the above are admirable goals, but have you considered volunteering?
Outside of the the obvious benefit of giving back, volunteering offers an awesome opportunity to travel, meet cool new people, and experience a totally different culture. We've rounded up some great summerMake this a fulfilling summer by incorporating some altruism with volunteering. volunteer options below.
United Planet's Short-Term Quests program is perfect for anyone who can only commit a few weeks, but still wants a wide range of options. Opportunities range from 1 to 12 weeks in 10 different countries, including a one-month opportunity to help out at a teaching hospital in rural Ghana.
This summer, Volunteering Solutions is offering nine different summer volunteering programs in countries from Peru to Tanzania. An opportunity in Kathmandu, Nepal gives volunteers the chance to teach English to disadvantaged children in an orphanage for three weeks, while touring the beautiful, Himalayan country on the weekends.
For our environmentally-minded friends, GoEco offers a wide variety of international volunteer opportunities focused on wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability. Opportunities range from two weeks to three months, and include everything from working on an Israeli alpaca farm to helping out at a monkey rehabilitation facility in South Africa — both of which sound simultaneously life-changing and totally adorable.
Not looking to get out of the country? That's cool too. There are plenty of folks in need of help and an incredibly vibrant culture to check out in New Orleans, which is still quietly recovering from the after-effects of hurricane Katrina. The flexible Rebuilding Together New Orleans program offers a great opportunity to rebuild the homes of elderly, disabled, and low-income New Orleans residents. Plus, you'll gain a sweet tan and some totally useful handy working skills.
Whether you're an avid hiker, or just like the idea of portraying yourself as an avid hiker via Facebook and Instagram, an American Hiking Society volunteer excursion is probably right in your wheelhouse. Their volunteer programs specialize in preserving hiking trails and protecting the natural areas around them, and their one-week Alternative Break programs are especially tailored for college students. This summer, AHS will feature an Alternative Break program in Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina.
Global Volunteers is a highly flexible international volunteer program, with one-, two-, and three-week volunteer opportunities at every corner of the globe. This year, Global Volunteers is offering Alternative Break programs in China, Peru, India, Ecuador, St. Lucia, and more. One of the coolest opportunities has to be their week long "Cuba to the People" program, which is centered on a rare opportunity to connect American and Cuban cultures in Cuba.
Interested in finding out more about opportunities abroad? Check out: The Most Beautiful Study Abroad Destinations