From time to time, Earth Links gets questions about volunteering and internship opportunities abroad—mostly from college students. Here is a list of a few places online to start exploring:

This resource page is just a beginning point for thinking about studying and volunteering abroad. We have also included longer-term programs such as Volunteers in Asia and the Peace Corps that provide programs for people of all ages.

At one point in time, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit organization Earth Links often partners with, called Three Americas Inc., was helping place UCSC Community Studies students in Nicaragua in a variety of projects. (Sadly, the Community Studies Program was suspended by the university in Spring 2010.) Three Americas has continued to work with students interested in opportunities in Nicaragua, but no longer in the more formal capacity with the university. In particular the Wave of Optimism program, WOO, has projects in a community that includes excellent surfing (which may appeal to surfers of all ages).

Andrew Craig, volunteer for Nicaragua. Photo by Dan Coyro, courtesy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Recently Three Americas has worked with former Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Andrew Craig, who now lives in Santa Cruz, to help him bring his expertise and enthusiasm to problems facing the residents of Jinotepe, Nicaragua. Jinotepe is Santa Cruz’s Sister City, and thanks to support from both Three Americas and the City of Santa Cruz Sister Cities Committee, Craig discovered he could best help by developing a recycling program in Jinotepe, a program that would be sensitive to the plight of scavengers who make their living combing through Jinotepe’s trash. Craig’s work is ongoing, but it illustrates the most important aspect of doing volunteer work abroad: taking the initiative to discover what *you * have to offer the people you want to help. See the excellent summary of Craig’s journey published recently by the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s John Sammon.