Choose for a meaningful holiday

Hidden pearl in the ocean by Ahmed

Author: Linda Poort

Being a student is having a good life. You study a lot, sure, but you also have a summer holiday of a few months. Maybe you will work a bit to earn some money, maybe you will go to a beach and relax after all the hard work you have done. But there are other options – way more interesting ones!

Voluntourism: Travel with a purpose

The word says it all. You combine being a tourist with doing voluntary work. If you love to travel and want to make a difference in the world, this is, of course, a perfect combination. You combine your vacation with a great life experience, while making a difference in the lives of others. Good times!

There are a lot of possibilities all over the world and the easiest way to find a project which suits your needs is to consult one of the major international organizations with offices in different countries.

List of organizations


Service Civil International

Global Volunteer Network

International Student Volunteers

Working Abroad

International Volunteer Programs Association

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Volunteers for Peace

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To give an example, I will explain a bit about the first organization. The SCI works with eleven different topics. Every project is assigned to one of those topics. This makes it easier for you to find something you like. But be aware that every organization has its own classifications.

1. Antiracism, Antifascism, Refugees and Ethnic Minorities

2. North-South Solidarity

3. Peace and Disarmament

4. Disabilities

5. Children, Teenagers, Elderly People

6. Environment

7. Sexuality and Gender

8. Socially Disadvantaged

9. Art, Culture, History

10. Ideology and Spirituality

11. Others

Most camps are usually a mix of volunteers from different countries. Also, the days are a mix of work and relax, often with weekend trips to interesting sights nearby to get the tourist part of voluntourism. For most camps, you do not need any prior education or experience, so you can pick what you want! Just hurry up, because you are not the only one who wants to go. Below I am giving a few examples.

Great Britain – Grayhill Conservation

In the first week, the work involves building an oak roof for farm stables and laying a sandstone roof on it. In the second week, the camp will be holding its annual Living History display for schools. In a period costume, you demonstrate life in the English countryside in 1599.

Iceland – Reykjavík, Green & Fun

The project takes place in a centre for disabled people in Reykjavík. The aim of the centre is not only to increase the people’s competences in the working market by focusing on quality of work, but also creates space for them to develop and use their artistic skills in a workshop.

New Hampshire, US – Teaching and Community Interaction

The primary project will be working with youth who will earn academic credit in Social Studies. Mornings will be semi-formal instruction. Afternoons will feature cooking, games, use of computer laboratory, etc. The school program ends with an evening cultural fair, presentations and dinner.

Student - Studying by

Do you want to know why you should become a voluntouristeer?

Are you not yet convinced? Want to know more? Well, if you participate in a workcamp abroad, you will:


• Participate in meaningful activities and have a deep impact on a community

• Develop new skills or use the ones you already have for a good cause

• Interact with locals who you would never meet in a hotel or at touristy places

• See and explore places which you would never see on a typical tour or vacation

• Create friendships which will last a lifetime

• Experience true satisfaction from your vacation time

If you want to work less and learn more, maybe the following possibility is something for you.

Summer School: Visit another country and gain knowledge

The word says enough again. You will go to school in summer. Getting goosebumps already? Why?! Summer schools are nowhere near the same as your usual school days! You will be studying a topic you are particularly interested in and you will do this with a summer feeling, in another country, while making new friends. And, of course, there is enough time for sightseeing trips and parties. What more do you want?

To keep it very simple, there are two possibilities:

• Language courses

• Courses which are an extension of the study you are currently doing

For summer schools, there are not a lot of international organizations which offer lists of possibilities. Most universities just have their own programs. It is therefore the best idea to search for summer schools that match your wishes in a search engine like Google. Just type in the desired subject and/or country to find fitting projects. It will be quite a search, but hey, who said everything would be simple?

There is an exception, though. A student organization AEGEE, which has offices in many countries, also offers summer schools. Unfortunately, the application period of the Summer University of AEGEE 2011 is already closed, but you can still write it down in your agenda or phone and apply next year. The projects of AEGEE are cheap and definitely a lot of fun!

So, what will your next summer look like?!

PS. We love to hear from readers who participated in voluntourism or summer school. Where did you go, what did you do, how was it, who did you meet, what tips do you have, etc. We also love to hear from people who are going to participate in a workcamp or summer school coming summer. So, do not hesitate and let us know about what you are/were up to!”

One thought on “Choose for a meaningful holiday

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