The Global Classroom, Travel Resources

How to Get College Credit While Volunteering Abroad

by Jill Robinson with Greenheart Travel

Education outside of the classroom can often times offer more realistic life skills than a credited college course, but trying to explain this to your college adviser or receive college credit for a global experience can be extremely frustrating. Today, more and more work places have a high preference for graduates with cross cultural experience. Learn how you can possibly get college credit toward your degree while volunteering abroad with Greenheart Travel and have the best of both college and global educational worlds.

Your faculty sponsor or adviser will most likely ask what organization you volunteering through, or the details of the program to ensure this isn’t just a summer backpacking vacation. Give a brief description of the organization’s program offerings and mission statement, and provide a detailed explanation of how this service learning project will benefit and assist you in achieving your academic and career goals.

All Greenheart Travel participants are responsible for contacting their own university or college to inquire if their program is eligible for college credit, but we are willing to assist in sending information regarding our programs to help create course proposals and verify program completion. Below is a brief description for Greenheart Travel volunteer abroad participants in helping shape your proposals for faculty advisers. 

Information for Universities and Faculty Sponsors:

Greenheart Travel is the travel abroad division of the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI). Established in 1985, CCI is a nonprofit international exchange organization dedicated to the promotion of cultural understanding, academic development, environmental consciousness and world peace. Greenheart Travel is passionate about helping teens and adults reach their full potential through unforgettable experiences overseas through high school, volunteer, teach and work abroad programs, as well as independent homestays and language schools.

Greenheart’s commitment to international travel is matched by their commitment to the environment. As the leading Eco-friendly exchange organization, Greenheart Travel’s concern for the welfare of the planet drives their passion for helping responsible travelers explore the world by respecting the environment and unique cultural heritage of each destination they encounter.

Pitching your Greenheart Travel Volunteer Program

Once you have given a background of the organization you are traveling through, you will then need to specify how and why this volunteer program experience will assist you in achieving your educational goals and career placement. It is important to highlight that your Greenheart Travel volunteer project is an authentic cultural immersion that will focus on long-lasting community development in your project. Listed are a few more points to highlight in your personal request for why this volunteer experience is worthy of college credit.

Benefits of Service Learning

  • Students improve their own interpersonal communication skills
  • Self-efficiency and leadership skills are improved while volunteering and traveling
  •  Writing skills are improved with course-based service learning courses
  • Students gain an understanding of the world around them and the opportunity to gain valuable hands on experience
  • Service learning allows students to understand the value of their past and current course work and how it applies to various aspects of life
  • Employers look for those students with travel and volunteer experiences
  • A service learning experience will tell a student about his/her own personal strengths and preferences- qualities that need exploration upon graduation
  • Many students feel that their service “makes a difference” and that they do gain knowledge from their experience
  • A volunteer abroad experience provides tangible examples of how students are able to adapt to new environments and social settings, as well as build upon problem solving skills

Helpful Program Terminology in Regard to Academic Credit
(Terms may differ in different universities and colleges)

Faculty Sponsor:

  • Assists student in creating learning objectives and a course proposal
  • Keeps in contact with the student throughout the duration of their program in order to guide and evaluate  the student’s progress
  • Award credit and a final grade based on student’s completion of assignments in relation to the project

Learning Objective:

  • The learning outcome and skills the participant hopes to develop

Course Proposal:

  • Outlines the work and learning objectives of the academic component. Academic credit is based on the assignments listed in the course proposal
  • A proposal includes several factors such as the time contributed to the program, the assignments which determine credit and grades, and evaluations/reflections

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.


4 thoughts on “How to Get College Credit While Volunteering Abroad

  1. This is a great post. Learning by doing is the best lesson anyone could ever teach.

    Posted by thesmarttraveler | April 30, 2012, 2:17 pm
  2. Agreed, learning outside the classroom is so important, and a lot more more enjoyable too!

    Posted by Nick | August 25, 2011, 7:17 am


  1. Pingback: How to Create an Academic Course Proposal for Your Time Abroad « - August 31, 2011

  2. Pingback: How to Earn College Credit While Volunteering Abroad « trapperkeepers - August 24, 2011

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