API is committed to finding opportunities for our students to serve the communities where they live and learn abroad. Each semester, our on-site directors organize an “API Gives Back Project” to promote greater understanding of local dynamics and provide further insight into the host culture. The API Gives Back Project may be an ongoing volunteer opportunity or a one-day commitment. Projects are often dedicated to supporting those in need or promoting environmental sustainability. Below are some real examples of the ways students participate in service-based learning while studying abroad with API.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
At API’s program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, you will build a relationship with the community. In larger groups of students, you may take on more hands-on projects. This includes partnering with TECHO. TECHO is a nonprofit program that mobilizes youth volunteers to construct transitional housing for families in Latin America. Through these partnerships, you have the chance to meet and speak with locals, and see a different side of Buenos Aires.
In smaller groups, you might go to food banks to assist in organizing donations, cook and serve food at soup kitchens, or beautify communities through painting staircases in La Boca, a neighborhood in Buenos Aires known for its colorful houses and vibrant pedestrian streets. Ultimately, these activities help you learn about communities that are different from your own and give back to the city that is hosting you. Through this collaboration, you meet new people and enhance your relationship with the country in which you are staying.
Meanwhile, at API’s programs in Brisbane, Australia, you may visit the Gold Coast, which is known for its amusement parks. You will spend time at Dreamworld, a theme park that also doubles as a wildlife conservation park and is the largest zoological contributor to Tiger conservation worldwide. When you go to Dreamworld as an API student, you get up close to Australian wildlife and learn about endangered species. API makes a donation to the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation and you can e-adopt an animal of your choosing. While at Dreamworld, you may also visit the Dreamworld Corroboree as an API Gives Back activity. There, you learn about and celebrate Australia’s indigenous people, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
At all sites in Australia, supporting indigenous tourism is very important. Indigenous Australians continue to experience widespread socioeconomic disadvantages and health inequality. By attending these experiences, API supports the employment of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, assists them to earn an income by maintaining their cultures and traditions, and empowers their communities. We want to bridge the gap by learning about their culture which is necessary for reconciliation.
Much of the volunteer work at API’s programs in Australia focus on serving the environment. In Sydney, you may participate in an organized kayaking event in which you clean up plastic and other trash from Sydney Harbor. The funds paid to participate in the kayaking event go to environmental causes. There are also tree planting events at all sites, as well as participation in Clean Up Australia Day, a nationwide event that involves cleaning the beaches.
If you hope to study or intern abroad with API, you can anticipate so much more than just traveling to a different country. The API Gives Back service activities and excursions give you another outlet to grow and embrace experiential learning. Volunteer work is essential to the experience of studying abroad, allowing you to learn from the locals, deepen your understanding of the culture, and give back to the communities!