Not sure where to start when it comes to volunteering abroad while in high school? Read on!


Updated January 2023 Do you have dreams of traveling outside of your home country, while learning about a new culture, gaining important life skills, and making a difference? Consider volunteering abroad in high school!

Volunteering abroad is a term that refers to international travel for service — but what that actually means can be very different across different programs!

As a high school student, you’re probably familiar with volunteering in your local community—or have heard about fulfilling service hour requirements for your school—through volunteering opportunities at places like a food pantry, soup kitchen, or animal shelter.

Volunteering abroad is the same idea, only you’ll be doing community service activities in a different country! And, there’s no need to wait until you’re 18. Volunteering abroad is very accessible to high school students!

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Are There Different Kinds of Volunteering Abroad?

Volunteering abroad is a great way for teenagers to learn about other cultures, explore new interests, gain leadership skills and independence, and of course, leave a positive impact.

There are different types of volunteering abroad, just like there are different types of volunteering at home in your community! Volunteering at your local animal shelter is pretty different from doing medical volunteering in a hospital — but the great news is there’s a program out there for everyone! It’s important to think about what kind of volunteering opportunities you’re looking for. 

Consider these different types of volunteering abroad:

  1. Topical/Thematic: Volunteer opportunities based around a theme or specific topic. At AMIGOS, we develop our project themes in partnership with local organizations and based on local needs. You can focus on topics like renewable energy, climate change, food justice, and more!
  2. Group: Volunteering and traveling in a group setting, usually with staff or team members from the program.
  3. Individual: Volunteer opportunities where you are given individual service opportunities during the program (like being placed at an internship)
  4. Immersive: Volunteer opportunities that involve full immersion into the host country or community, such as a stay with a host family rather than lodging with a group of other volunteers.

At AMIGOS, we have many options for each of these types of volunteering. See all our programs here!


How to Find Volunteering Abroad Programs for High School Students

So you’re set on volunteering abroad! What now?

While a simple Google search might be a good place to start, you might also find yourself overwhelmed with the choices before you. 

There are excellent websites that you can search through instead! We recommend looking at GoOverseas, GoAbroad, and TeenLife first. Each of these websites lists organizations and specific programs, with reviews from past volunteers or parents of volunteers. Hearing firsthand what a volunteer’s experience was like can be super helpful when deciding what type of program you’re looking for!

All of these websites have sections specifically for high school students.

How to Choose the Right Program

Many organizations operate in multiple countries and have many programs or projects you can join. Organizations can also be non-profits (like AMIGOS), religiously affiliated, private, or governmentally affiliated. It’s also important to ensure that you find a reputable organization with a priority on health and safety (no doubt, this will be the first question your parent or guardian has for you!) There are a lot of opportunities out there — but don’t get overwhelmed! Here’s how to find the right program for you.

You should consider the following factors when comparing programs:


1. Location

Do you have a specific destination in mind? Beach or mountains? Nearby, or as far as possible? It’s important to think about the location of the program you’re looking at. Consider doing research on the country or region where the program is located. Learning about a new culture is one of the most exciting components to volunteering abroad in high school — take advantage of it!


2. Language Requirements

Are you taking a language class in high school? Make sure your class level matches the language requirement of the programs you’re looking at. For example, if the program requires two years of classroom Spanish, you should be completing Spanish II before the program begins. Alternatively, there are plenty of programs run in English if you don’t feel as comfortable with the language you’re learning yet.


3. Theme or Topic of Service

Most programs or projects will have a theme or topic to the service you complete. This could range from environmental topics like climate change, conservation, or sustainability to women and gender equality to youth leadership to working with animals.

If you have a certain interest or passion you’d like to explore further, volunteering abroad is an excellent way to do so! 


4. Age Requirements

Make sure the program is available to students your age. Some organizations use your age or grade level in school to determine eligibility for certain programs.


5. Price

Consider speaking with your parents about what price range is appropriate for you to look within. And don’t forget to look for financial assistance or scholarships! 


Once you’ve found a program or two that piqued your interest, dig a little deeper! Find the organization that runs the program, and look at their website (and even their social media channels!)

Look for the program dates, upcoming application deadlines, price, and reviews or testimonials from volunteers on that program.


How to Apply

Every organization and program will be different, so make sure to find the application requirements early on. And, make sure to keep a lookout for important dates and deadlines!

At AMIGOS, we have a simple six step process for high school students to apply to volunteer abroad.



At AMIGOS, we currently offer high school programs in the U.S. and Latin America. While we focus on expanding cultural awareness in the Americas, there are hundreds of volunteer abroad programs that explore all corners of the world.



The AMIGOS online application takes about 30–40 minutes to complete and includes questions so that our program coordinators can get to know you better.



After you complete your online application, you will be contacted for an interview via phone or in person. During this interview, you’ll have the opportunity to tell us more about yourself, your interests, and your passions. 



When an admissions decision has been made, you will be notified via email about the status of your application. If admitted into an AMIGOS Program, you will receive a welcome packet in the mail with more information and a few fun surprises.



Once you are admitted into the program, we’ll work with you to finalize any paperwork, disburse your financial assistance package if you qualify, and get you and your parents scheduled for onboarding webinars.



As the start date of your program approaches, we’ll send you more details to make sure you’re prepared for the adventure of a lifetime.

Looking for volunteering abroad in high school opportunities?