Congratulations for considering this option for your student travel experience! Volunteering is a wonderful way to learn about life in other countries, submerse yourself in the culture, learn the language, truly get to know the folks and customs (you may be staying in people's homes) - it's the education of a lifetime. You can shoulder your pack, head to Mexico and volunteer to teach English in an elementary school on your own, travel with one of several companies listed below or enroll with the Peace Corps.
Besides the benefits above, some companies offer academic credits and the Peace Corps actually pays you in the form of stipends and can save you money by deferring student loans, among other things.
ISV's website proclaims their mission as:
1. "To create an environment that combines conservation, education and recreation into the ultimate adventure travel program for students who desire to make a difference by volunteering in local communities abroad.
2. "To provide financial assistance to students to allow them to participate in domestic and overseas educational and cultural programs."
Click through their website to find out about volunteer adventures for university students in
Australia, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, the USA and Europe as well as learning about getting academic credits for your adventure (awesome - whitewater rafting for credit?!) and financial assistance.
AFS says of itself: "AFS is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world."
Okay; sounds good! AFS offers high school students the opportunity to study or volunteer abroad. They offer one to three month homestays during the summer where you have the opportunity to provide community service while participating in life in a foreign clime.
Global Routes is the parent of "Cross Cultural Exchange", a program designed to hook students up with volunteer opportunities abroad. The website describes its program thusly: "The cornerstone of our student exchange programs is a two to three week homestay in a remote rural village. Here you immerse yourself in the daily life and ritual of your host community and work with locals on projects chosen by community leaders. Those seeking overseas voluntary work and volunteer opportunities abroad will discover the difference one individual can make.
Whether you find yourself teaching English in Asia, building a community center in South America or a school in Africa, one thing is certain: this overseas voluntary work experience will change your life."
Global Routes' Cross Cultural Exchange will take you to Belize, Ecuador, Mexico, Thailand, China, Ghana, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, India and St. Lucia. Go forth and adventure, do-gooders!
Learn how you can contribute as a worldwide volunteer and, surprisingly, get some financial benefit. (Naturally, that's not your motive, right? :-) But every penny helps a student traveler.)
Bottom Line: have a great time doing good!
Return to Volunteer, Study, Work category - Return to [http://studenttravel.about.com/]Student Travel
"The rewards of the journey far outweigh the risk of leaving the harbor."