Summer programs
February 19, 2005 5:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm in school in the US- I'm interested in finding short-term programs abroad in the summer term (volunteer/intern/or other) that are fairly inexpensive. I'm also interested in doing something that stays away from a vacation-volunteering type experience. Preferably to Latin America or Asia. Any ideas/thoughts for basic resources to get started with? A lot of web searches turn up programs that are very expensive and seem to be geared at rich American youth.
posted by jare2003 to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
1. What age range? College or HS?
2. What price range?
3. You don't want to volunteer, but you don't want it to be expensive either. What kind of program then? Is this a study or work program that you're interested in?

I'll tell you that things are expensive, and it's not that it's directed towards "rich American youth." Usually the only way to do this on the cheap is to get a scholarship or financial aid.
posted by scazza at 7:08 PM on February 19, 2005

Response by poster: 1) Sorry, college.
2) No more than $3000
3) When I said vacation/volunteering, I meant the sorta of touristy volunteering experiences that a lot of people do.

This question is actually for a friend of mine. I'm doing a program that's in Nicaragua this summer, for $2000 (funded through a fellowship)- covers room, board, and language school, and ive had a number of friends do it before so i know its solid. (It's three months long). On the other hand, ive seen programs abroad that are like $2000 for like two weeks.

Outside of airfare, the cost if living in developing countries is pretty cheap, so i guess i'm just asking about doing a program somwhere with low overhead---the bulk of the cost of stuff is the program's administrative costs. The program i am doing in Nicaragua certainly isnt advertised widely, and i was wondering what else i could find out if i asked around.
posted by jare2003 at 8:49 PM on February 19, 2005

Not really a "program," but I'd look into Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF). The usual deal is that you agree to stay on a farm from anywhere from one week to a couple months & work about 40 hours a week. In exchange you get food and lodging and sometimes some pocket money. WWOOF organizations have many member farms in Europe and Australia/New Zealand (where agricultural tourism visas are actually available) and some in N. America, Latin America, and Asia.

I spent a dreamy summer working on an hilltop vineyard in SW France, where I lived in a gorgeous tumbledown chateau and ate and drank better than I ever have before or since--and learned French. Comparing notes leads me to think I did a better than average, but everyone I know has had an overall positive experience. Certainly it was unusual that I stayed for so long (about six weeks) in one place, as most people tend to travel around staying at each farm for only a week or two.

Not counting airfare and the cost of tourism before and after my farm stay, I'd say I spent about 50 euros a week.

Note: Cultural exchange is one of the principal reasons that people join the organization. The farmers are all very serious about their work, though, and many WWOOF volunteers are professionally interested in agriculture and/or what could be called the "organic lifestyle." It's a kinda crunchy bunch.

Note further: The link above is a general umbrella organization, but many countries have their own national WWOOF organizations & websites. As I remember it, you pay $15 or so for a list of member farms, and then write or e-mail them a letter about yourself and suggest when you might like to come. I faxed about 10 letters & received 3 promising responses within about a week.
posted by armchairsocialist at 9:50 PM on February 19, 2005

Have you looked at VFP?

I have no direct experience with them, but they *seem* to have a huge number of opportunities that are reasonably priced.
posted by aramaic at 10:19 PM on February 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

I don't know what your friend's religious persuasion is, but the University of Haifa in Israel has a great summer language program that is pretty inexpensive.
posted by amandaudoff at 10:34 PM on February 19, 2005

SIT has some awesome programs, and you can usually get college credit for them and/or use your student loans to pay for it.
posted by borkingchikapa at 11:04 PM on February 19, 2005

I'm currently looking at similar things for my gap year, and my current favourite is Teaching & Projects Abroad. They have a wide range of projects available in various different countries, and you can apply to work in remote areas if you want to avoid the "touristy" crowds.
posted by Lotto at 3:38 AM on February 20, 2005

You may be able to save some money by skipping the "study abroad" programs and calling the foreign university directly. In Beijing, for example, instead of going through one of the many programs that offer to set everything up for you, you might just find someone who speaks Mandarin, call Tsinghua University directly, tell them you're interested in studying Mandarin and ask for their rates. They'll be substantially cheaper than anything you'd find if you tried to use an intermediary. But, of course, you have to make your visa arrangements yourself, you have to find someone who speaks Mandarin (try a local university, you can always find someone), etc.
posted by gd779 at 8:27 AM on February 20, 2005

If the person interested is an anthropology student there is also CSEN, which I am doing this summer.
posted by scazza at 10:07 AM on February 20, 2005

With CSEN it's an American group working in a remote area, so language is not something you'd be responsible for.

I have done work in India, and English is spoken well in the cities, not in the countryside. So, working in Indian cities is great.
posted by scazza at 11:34 AM on February 20, 2005

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