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Forget Jell-O Shots. How About a Volunteer Vacation?


There's more to spring break than a week in Florida. Instead, students can travel abroad, study languages—and advance social justice

Slide Show >>Nora Kramer had been an investment bank intern for two summers when she decided to volunteer at a U.S.-based nonprofit organization called Farm Sanctuary. "I continued to languish away in my cubicle, desperate for a change that would allow me to accomplish something meaningful," she wrote in the Farm Sanctuary newsletter. "Donating money didn't feel like enough." Farm Sanctuary offered her the opportunity to work alongside other students for the summer on a farm in upstate New York while advocating against animal cruelty and living as a vegan.

For many students, volunteer vacations are an opportunity to travel somewhere new and learn about that place—and themselves—while giving something to a community. Whether it's an April week in Alabama or a summer in South America, trips oriented toward students tend to rely heavily on the educational aspects of the experience and the social aspects of living together and working as a group to address a social issue.

LIFE CHANGE.

The trips are varied enough to suit just about anyone's interests. JustWorks, for example, focuses its student "camps" on one of four tenets: advancing economic justice, defending civil liberties and access to democracy, promoting environmental justice, or protecting rights in humanitarian crises. GoXplore Africa lets volunteers ages 18 and up work on wildlife preservation. What they all have in common is the chance of a life-changing experience for the participants.

Many colleges and universities also offer trips for students during semester breaks, but young adults need not be in school to go on volunteer vacations. Here's a look at eight organizations that are especially geared toward young adults and youth (even those in high school) who are looking to meet new friends while learning about language, culture, or social issues. If this summer has left you wanting more out of your free time, here's a chance to start thinking ahead for next year.

Click here for the slide show.


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