Service Learning

Be a force for good in the world and explore ways to make a real social impact.

Immerse yourself in the educational philosophy of service learning.

  • The service learning philosophy

    Service learning combines educational objectives with hands-on experience as a vehicle to help you become a better global citizen.

  • Impact a community, grow your understanding

    Engage with local communities and NGOs to get a comprehensive understanding of structural issues and collaborate alongside them to follow through on community needs. Take these learnings with you and apply them to your own life.


Before you spend 4-6 weeks in another country developing a greater understanding of meaningful service, it would probably be useful to learn a bit more about how this all works.

How is service learning different from volunteering or community service?

EF Gap Year is serious about our educational philosophy around service learning. Service learning differs from volunteering or voluntourism in that it’s an educational approach: one that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide a pragmatic, progressive learning experience while meeting societal needs. 

It’s a form of experiential education. Students engage in activities that address human and community needs and have structured opportunities for reflection. Service learning offers a more sensitive and self-aware approach to overseas volunteering. 

The idea here is that our students see themselves as culturally humble visitors who intend to learn from local people to understand how they can contribute and collaborate, both during and beyond the module.

What kind of service learning projects will I be doing?

The specifics depend on the country you choose! The three overarching categories are community development, education and empowerment, and environmental sustainability.

What are the accommodations like?

While you’re touring around the country, you’ll stay in shared rooms at hotels and hostels that are typical for that region. Your meals while traveling usually include breakfast and one dinner in each city. On your service projects, you’ll typically stay in simple but comfortable residence halls, and all of your meals will be included.

Service Learning Destinations

Your service learning projects and experience will be shaped largely by the country you choose for this module. Consider where you could be most impactful.

Thailand Thailand

Dive into Thailand’s vibrant cities, striking natural beauty, and mind-blowing cuisine.

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Costa Rica Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the world's eco-travel capital, full of adventure and beauty at every turn.

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Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic

Go beyond the resort on this dynamic Caribbean island. Conserve life below water, contribute to quality education, and support coastal communities.

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Peru Peru

This mountainous South American country is a rich blend of ancient and modern culture.

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Student Stories

An EF Gap program can take you to over a dozen countries to explore new cultures, learn new languages, serve

A Day in the Life: Service in the Dominican Republic
Written by Amauri Jean-Claude

Every day during an EF Gap Year is completely different. Here's a snapshot of one unforgettable day. My name is Amauri, and I'm doing the…

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