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 service learning country with other members of your cohort, where you are met by EF’s local coordinator. (Many students decide to practice their new Spanish skills by volunteering in a country where it is spoken.) After settling in to your accommodation—most often a simple but comfortable student residence or hostel typical of the region—you get to know the local culture through a series of moderated group discussions and guided visits.


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

What you’ll do

Your EF coordinator then provides you with a carefully curated set of hands-on service learning experiences in several different organizations, enabling you to learn about communities at risk, environments under stress, and endangered species.  You also explore ways of making a positive social impact. How will depend entirely on local need. You might find yourself teaching conversational English to young kids. You might lay bricks for their new school. In some locations, you might help farmers reclaim eroded soil by digging irrigation ditches or grow sustainable crops biodynamically. In others, you might help preserve the natural environment by planting mangroves, rescuing sea turtles, or tracking endangered wild game.

EF Gap Year - Volunteer Service - How you volunteer

How you serve

Typically, gap year students participate in three service learning experiences through educational visits, hands-on practice, or volunteerism. This is complemented by relaxation time, explorations of the local area, and group activities and excursions. Semester students are more likely to participate in two service learning experiences. We most often partner with respected, locally based NGOs to assist them with their ongoing projects. At the completion of this module, you receive an EF Certificate of Service Learning, 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.

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. (Additional fees apply.)

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. (Gap Year only)

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.)

Which location is right for you?

(Examples only)
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Easy Sun worshippers Education
English teaching
Rebuilding coral reefs
Sun, surf and beach
COSTA RICA Easy Nature lovers Environmentalism
Turtle conservation
Mangrove reforestation
Sustainable farming
After-school English teaching
THAILAND Easy Globetrotters Community-building
Elephant conservation
Micro-enterprise support
After-school mentoring
Cooking classes, community-building
TANZANIA Moderate Adventurers Community-building
Building houses and schools
Visit to Kilimanjaro
Eco-tourism support
PERU Moderate Adventurers Community-building
Machu Picchu
Cloud forest, eco coffee-growing
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 in Asia this can cost up to $200.

Questions? Speak with an EF Gap Year Advisor.


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