With winter and spring breaks, and summer vacation, college students are blessed with time off to travel, if not the money.
Mark Warren, managing editor of the student travel guides “Let’s Go” and a Harvard senior, is all too familiar with this predicament. Which is why he recommends mixing travel with stretches of volunteering or work.
“There’s a diversity of opportunities,” he said, “everything from teaching English to volunteering on archaeological digs.”
Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Warren:
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Q: How can students find ways to work or volunteer abroad?
A: Of course, my first recourse would be to look at the “Beyond Tourism” section of any “Let’s Go” book, but the Internet is also pretty reliable. UnitedPlanet.org has a lot of volunteer opportunities, especially in the developing world, as do VolunteerAbroad.caand GlobalVolunteers.org. The British-based site GapYear.com has information on internships, au-pair jobs and volunteering.
Teaching English is the most popular thing to do. For that, I’d suggest LanguageCourse.net, which lists programs all over the world. It also takes you through the steps toward getting your TESOL or TEFL certification, which you’ll need to teach English in any official capacity. It’s also pretty easy to be an English tutor in an unofficial capacity.
Q: Any particular programs that mix well with travel?
A: Some friends of mine worked on organic farms in Europe through Wwoof.org (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for a couple of weeks and then traveled around. Friends I know who are eligible for sponsorship from Taglit-Birthright Israel went to Israel, and they tacked on a jaunt through the Middle East or Europe afterward. A pretty common thing to do is find a hostel where you can work at the reception desk in exchange for a room.