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Service Learning

Service learning lets you to be a force for good in the world and explore ways of making a real social impact. Collaborate with local community members and respected social enterprises in a country to improve the lives of its people and protect its natural resources. That might mean providing educational opportunities for youth, improving access to water, food and housing, supporting endangered species, or preserving the environment. Not only will you make a difference during your service learning, you’ll also forge friendships to last a lifetime.

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - How it works

How it works

You’ll travel to your chosen country with other members of your cohort, where you are met by an EF Service Learning Field Director who remains with you throughout the module.  You’ll engage in three types of service learning: guided tours to the country’s historic and cultural sights; educational visits to social enterprises that preserve the environment, support sustainable local economies, or promote responsible ecotourism; and hands-on work at established service projects. Service learning is complemented by relaxing group activities and excursions, and time to reflect on your contributions.

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - What you’ll do

What you’ll do

Typically, gap year students participate in three service projects during their six-week stay. (Gap semester students are more likely to participate in two service projects over 4 weeks.) The projects are most often ongoing initiatives organized and managed by respected local NGOs or nonprofits, where the hands-on assistance you provide has a direct positive impact on the local community. How you spend your day depends entirely on local need. You might find yourself teaching conversational English to young children. You might help farmers reclaim eroded soil by digging irrigation ditches or grow sustainable crops. You might help preserve the natural environment by planting mangroves, caring for elephants, rescuing sea turtles, or tracking endangered wild game.

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - How you volunteer

How you’ll live

When you’re touring around the country, you stay in shared rooms at hotels and hostels that are typical of the region. Your meals while traveling usually include breakfast and one dinner in each city. When you are on a service project, you typically stay in simple but comfortable residence halls, and all of your meals are included.

At the completion of this module, you receive an EF Certificate of Volunteer Service, chronicling the work you’ve done, the hours you’ve served, and the impact you’ve made.

How your service learning will make a difference

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - Community development

Community development

Empower communities to improve their quality of life, preserve the local environment, and prosper in sustainable ways. Initiatives might include construction of communal spaces such as gardens or libraries, awareness of best practices around health, and fostering economic development.

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - Education and empowerment

Education and empowerment

Promote equal access to quality education by enhancing educational outcomes, ensuring productive educational spaces, and increasing awareness of social inequality. Initiatives include mentoring local youth, encouraging collaboration through sports and the arts, and assisting teachers with conversational English classes.

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - Environmentalism

Environmental sustainability

Address the importance of environmental conservation and restoration to the livelihood and health of a community for current and future generations. Initiatives might include reforesting land, saving endangered species of flora and fauna, or promoting awareness through eco-tourism in national parks.

Where will you make an impact?

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - What you’ll do

Dominican Republic

The dynamic geographic and cultural landscape of this Caribbean island is the perfect setting to volunteer for environmental and social grassroots efforts.

(Not available for Fall Semester Module A) 

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service – Peru


Join our local partners in a mission to alleviate poverty, build up infrastructure, and educate the next generation of Peruvians.

(Not available for Fall Gap Semester Module A) 

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Help preserve one of the world’s great rainforests by promoting eco-tourism and saving endangered species of flora and fauna.


EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - Thailand


Advocate for youth and indigenous rights through education and entrepreneurial programs. Alternatively, support wildlife protection and habitat restoration. 

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - Tanzania


Work with local community members on projects that address social development, ecological sustainability, and local infrastructure. (Additional fees apply.)

(Not available for Fall Semester Module A) 

Which location is right for you?

(Examples only)
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Moderate Sun worshippers Education
English teaching
Rebuilding coral reefs
Sun, surf and beach
COSTA RICA Moderate Nature lovers Environmentalism
Turtle conservation
Mangrove reforestation
Sustainable farming
After-school English teaching
THAILAND Moderate Globetrotters Community-building
Elephant conservation
Micro-enterprise support
After-school mentoring
Cooking classes, community-building
TANZANIA Challenging Adventurers Community-building
Turtle conservation in Zanzibar
After-school support
PERU Challenging Adventurers Community-building
Machu Picchu
Sacred Valley, building greenhouses
Quechua family homestay
To meet the service needs of local communities, all activities and excursions are subject to change without notice. Note that visa fees and passport fees are the responsibility of the participant. For some locations this can cost up to $200.

Questions? Speak with an EF Gap Year Consultant.