How to Fund an Experience of a Lifetime

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Most experiential programs abroad involve some expenses related to travel, lodging, meals, health insurance and more.

You’re probably thinking, “Wait, I have to pay to volunteer or work abroad?” It may seem counterintuitive, but keep in mind that there are significant costs for programs to send, train, and support participants abroad. Typically, U.S. sending organizations, participants, and host country partners work together to share these costs.

Unfortunately, scholarships or stipends for volunteer, intern, or cultural experiences abroad are harder to come by than scholarships for study abroad. The good news is that compared to many traditional study abroad programs, experiential program fees are typically lower, and your fundraising efforts can help meet costs.

Some associations, foundations, and religious or government sponsored programs offer stipends to cover living expenses and travel and health insurance for people interested in longer-term assignments, such as the Peace Corps or Fulbright Program, or provide paid fellowships to youth or those in the arts, sports, education, or with specialized technical skills.

People working for multi-national companies might also find workplace programs that support their time away from the office to volunteer their skills in communities where their corporate offices are located worldwide.

Finally, if program fees are simply too high for your budget, look into designing your own experience abroad. This puts you in control of how much to spend on housing, transportation, meals, and other costs. If you go this route, identify local partners to help you make in-country arrangements and navigate the new culture.

Teresa Pichardo received a Harris Wofford Global Service Fellowship from Cross-Cultural Solutions to volunteer at a Deaf school in Ghana. Learn more about volunteer abroad organizations that offer this Fellowship under Related Links.