Juliana Looking At The Waterfall She Just Crawled Out Of In Baños Ecuador

Expect plenty of lifetime opportunities when volunteering abroad offers - gain personal growth; make a difference in the lives of people from local communities, go on an adventure, and immerse in a new culture!

API has developed strong relationships with conservation groups, animal rescue centers, orphanages, schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations abroad. We will work with your skills and preferences to best match your passions with the availability, needs, and objectives of the local host community.

API will provide you with the support and security you need to successfully plan your volunteer abroad adventure!

Why Volunteer Abroad?

Now more than ever, it is important to become a citizen of the world. API’s study abroad programs provide opportunities to develop global awareness and citizenship by building students’ confidence and comfort in their host culture through language learning opportunities and tutorials, cultural events and outings, community volunteer activities, and integrated classrooms alongside host country students, as well as other international students.

Study abroad participants often report a stronger sense of self-confidence, independence, and new cultural interests and understanding as the greatest personal benefits from going overseas. The integrated classroom experience with professors and students provides the opportunity for robust dialogue and exposure to diverse thought as students see the world through new perspectives. In addition, program participants are empowered to become independent in their host city but also have the support of caring, trained Resident Directors and Resident Coordinators to assist with cultural adjustment and provide guidance navigating through bureaucratic procedures in the host country.

Upon their return to the U.S., the Global Leadership Academy offers an opportunity for students to further process those reflections and apply them to their lives and home campuses.

Graduation day is just around the corner, and soon you will be competing against millions of other grads for jobs in a global economy. More and more employers and graduate schools are saying that international experience is a desired qualification when considering candidates for a position or program. Studying abroad can help you:

  • Enhance your resume with a unique experience
  • Form professional connections
  • Connect and apply your academic interests in a new context
  • Improve “soft skills” 
(adaptability, communication skills, conflict management, creativity, critical thinking, empathy, independence, leadership, organization, patience, persistence, problem-solving, taking initiative, time management, etc.)
  • Expand your global understanding, demonstrate cultural understanding and sensitivity, and help you bring unique perspectives to workplace

Volunteer Abroad FAQs

This is the question on everyone’s mind! It can be challenging to seek out your own volunteer placement abroad, and API specializes in supporting you through every step of the process. We will advise you on the options that best fit your skills and goals, coordinate and confirm your placement abroad prior to your departure, share information about your host country, help you get necessary documents for your visa application (if necessary), and even arrange your international medical and life insurance. API’s commitment to our participants ensures that you have a solid support network standing behind you before, during, and after your program. Not having to worry about these arrangements means you can focus on preparing for a successful experience abroad.

API’s application fee pays for: an experienced Program Manager from our Austin office who will provide personalized attention to help pre-arrange your placement; pre-departure orientation materials and an API t-shirt; full-time emergency response support while you are abroad; and a Krama Wheel or other “pay it forward” bonus. API also prorates the expenses for marketing, advertising, communication, and site visits/development among all of our programs within our application fees.

The program fee offsets the expenses on-site: airport pick-up, orientation, and our local partners' fees and bilingual support, as well as your international medical and life insurance. In many of our programs, the program fee also includes your accommodations. (See “Where will I live?” below for more details.) In many of the locations where our participants teach or volunteer abroad, the organizations and schools most in need of your work are unable to cover all the costs of hosting you in their community. The program fee gives you the opportunity to invest in your host community and contributes to long-term and sustainable relationships between API, our teachers and volunteers, and our partners and host organizations abroad.

Yes, we are happy to connect you with a current or past volunteer. Due to confidentiality, please contact our Austin office to receive information about participants and alumni that have agreed to be contacted by prospective applicants. Additionally, we encourage you to check out, use, and get involved with our social media community and read posts on the API blog. These sites will provide great insight into what you should expect while preparing for and enjoying your adventure abroad.

Everyone wants to feel their contribution is worthwhile, no matter how short or long the program lasts. The single-best way to provide meaningful support to your host community is to approach your volunteer work with an open mind and a giving heart. In the case of our volunteer programs, many of our partners have long-standing relationships within the community. API volunteers contribute to long-term organizational goals even though their work may be short-term in nature. Your hosts will know how you can best serve the community during your time abroad, so please be willing to pitch in when and where you are most needed, even if the task seems routine or menial. You are part of a larger whole, and your efforts will help your hosts advance their goals in a way that sustains a positive cycle of change and development in their work in the community.

Depending on your program, you may be housed with a host family or in a volunteer lodge, dormitory, or a small, furnished apartment. Please see this chart of what’s included in your program for a full listing of housing and meal options by location.

API knows that your adventures abroad wouldn’t be possible without generous hosts welcoming you on your arrival and supporting you throughout your stay. As a way to give back to communities around the world, we want to wrap up your experience and honor your commitment by paying it forward. All participants who respond to our series of program reflection questionnaires will receive a completion bonus from an organization whose mission resonates with our own, and this will, in turn, provide a product or service for someone in need. Choose between a Krama Wheel scarf or a gift card to one of three socially responsible companies.

Krama Wheel – with every product purchased, one weaver is paid fairly, treated respectfully, and better able to support her family; one local seamstress is paid to sew a school uniform, and one child gets a uniform so he or she can attend school.

Krama Wheel's founder is a former API employee, Roni Sivan! Read about her journey here.

You're interested in volunteering abroad. Now what?

The first step to discovering the world is finding the program that's perfect for you. That's where our program finder can help. Explore our volunteer program opportunities by clicking our Program Finder link.

Financial Information

Financing your API program is one of the most important parts of study abroad, and it can also be one of the most stressful. API encourages students to start planning EARLY.

Below is a list of the most frequently asked financial FAQs.

In addition to our dedicated Service-Learning and Volunteer programs, API also offers students the option to experience these opportunities while on a semester, academic year, or summer study abroad program. In many cases, students can earn academic credit, though some opportunities are offered without credit. Most of these opportunities are included in the cost of the program, though a few are offered for an additional fee.