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Make a difference abroad during a gap year

Volunteer abroad as a worthwhile gap year option with Projects Abroad

Volunteers walking along the beach during before beach cleanup

Volunteers on the Shark Conservation Project in Fiji take part in a beach clean-up

NEW YORK – March 15, 2017 – Projects Abroad offers volunteering programs that can make a gap year that much more worthwhile. Choosing to take a gap year after school is an option growing in popularity for many high school graduates, with travel usually being the major focus.

In 2016, 1140 gap year students went abroad with Projects Abroad, which was the most ever. These students represented 32 different nationalities and contributed 275,000 work-hours to cross-cultural exchange and impactful community projects. Project Abroad's volunteering programs encourage self-development and facilitate work that significantly benefits communities in need.

A desire to explore a different part of the world, uncertainty in what career path to take, and wanting a break from formal responsibility before moving onto the next phase of life, are common motivating factors in choosing a gap year.

"Despite my initial plans to go straight into college, I decided to take a gap year and travel," says Clea Arrieta, a Projects Abroad volunteer who participated on a Teaching Program in Ethiopia. "I grew, I learned, I opened my mind to more things than a year at school could have taught me. If you're wondering if you should really do it, just do it."

The following are some of the ways in which spending time volunteering abroad during a gap year can be beneficial:

Choose a career path

Some high school graduates may have a desired career path, but these are sometimes based on assumption without practical experience. Others might have greater uncertainty about a career, with there being many options available. By volunteering abroad participants can expose themselves to a field of study to help determine if it would be a feasible career option. Projects Abroad offers programs in Medicine, Law & Human Rights, Journalism, International Development, Veterinary Medicine, and more. The value of self-discovery in a gap year can have an invaluable impact on the average 40 years that somebody spends in the workforce.

Gain practical experience

For those who have already chosen a career path, or have a passion in a particular field, volunteering can be useful to learn from professionals by working with them. Gaining hands-on experience allows volunteers to build skills and is beneficial for adding work experience to a resume for college or employment applications.

Serve a community in need

Projects Abroad's volunteering placements are in developing countries where the quality of life is often significantly lower than back home. Many communities face abject living conditions such as extreme poverty, heavy pollution, limited access to basic resources like education and healthcare, labor exploitation, and discrimination on various grounds. Whether it be on a Human Rights Internship in South Africa, learning about the education system in Peru, or witnessing first-hand the environmental issues faced in Cambodia, volunteers are guaranteed an eye-opening experience.

Become a Global Citizen

Projects Abroad runs programs in more than 30 developing countries around the world, some of which include Mexico, Belize, Ghana, South Africa, Peru, Thailand, and Fiji. By visiting another country, volunteers get to immerse in a way of life different from their own, making their time abroad culturally enriching.

Those who are on a gap year or still thinking about taking a gap year can know that with Projects Abroad, deciding to invest in travel, gain experience, and give back to those in need, will be a step in the right direction.

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 30 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.

For details on volunteering abroad, visit Projects Abroad's web site at www.projects-abroad.org.

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