Join Our Newsletter

Please fill your email below to receive ABROADER's newsletter



Service learning is a unique combination of study abroad and community-based volunteer work where participants get to immerse yourself into the local community while developing professional and personal skills. 

At its core, service learning focuses on the local community and their needs. Thus, service learning programs are adaptable to the local community’s settings as well as participants’ backgrounds. 

What makes Service Learning different from Volunteer? It’s the “learning” part. Upon working locally and reflecting from experiences in a structured format, participants gain an understanding of the local community, the social issues faced and approaches to resolve these issues.

Why Service Learning with ABROADER?

  • Local community as program co-designer. As locals ourselves, ABROADER works with local organizations to make sure the programs fit their needs and cultures

  • Immerse in the local community to understand the context and solve problems

  • Gain hands-on experiences and new skills

  • Grow personally and professionally through structured coaching and reflection sessions

Service Learning: What can I do? 

2 key factors to determine your ideal service learning programs are:

  • Local community’s needs - For example: employment for people with disabilities, education for disadvantaged kids, healthcare for immigrant workers. Ideally, you should work for a local community whose needs resonate with your interests.

  • Your skills and backgrounds

At ABROADER, we match students’ interests and skills together with the local community’s needs to design the most suitable program. The result is a service learning program where participants contribute real benefits to the local community, leveraging their capacities and interests. 

Interested to be part of a service learning program? Get in touch here. (Chen link apply)

Service Learning: What it means for Educators?

Service learning offers a unique opportunity to provide your students with a structured environment whereby they can apply classroom knowledge in the real world in a meaningful way. The preparation and reflection proponents facilitate students’ learning and guide their work at the local community. Common goals achieved through service learning programs include: a deeper grasp of the course/ curricular content, a nuanced understanding of the local communities and social issues and an enhanced sense of self-identity and civic responsibility.

ABROADER works closely with educators during the entire process, including:

  • Preparation: Brainstorming the program from course materials, designing a program agenda to achieve learning objectives, identifying the local community’s needs and key stakeholders

  • During the program: Facilitating student’s work and planning process, conducting an on-going evaluation of students’ work, facilitating on-going reflections

  • After the program: Facilitating the assessment of the local community, students and teaching objectives, Conducting a final evaluation of students’ work

Interested to design a program for your students? Contact us here.

Past projects:

Here is a collection of some of our past service learning projects:

  1. Vun Art

In partnership with Northwestern University’s Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI), ABROADER brought together 3 students to work at a social enterprise named Vun Art. “Vun” means “scrap” in Vietnamese, and true to its name, Vun Art turns silk scraps into beautiful silk paintings and provides employment for people with disabilities. Nested inside Van Phuc Silk Village  - Vietnam’s 1,200-year-old silk making legacy, Vun Art is working closely with the villagers to bring sustainability and economic empowerment to the locals through recycling and sustainable tourism. 

In its early stage, Vun Art lacks the human resources to develop business and marketing plans. ABROADER brought together 3 Northwestern students and 2 Vietnamese local buddies. Together with backgrounds in Economics, English and Journalism, the team devised a complete business plan for the year 2019 and revamped Vun’s website to make it more user-friendly to international customers. 

  1. Dream Seed Center

Dream Seed Center (also known as “Nghi Luc Song”) is a social center with the mission of supporting and assisting people with disabilities integrate better into society through a variety of trainings and activities. The center wanted to open a public library to serve its students and the public in the neighborhood. In summer 2019, more than 20,000 books were donated, however, there was a lack of human power and expertise on how to set up a library.

During the program, a group of 3 Northwestern students and 2 ABROADER’s local buddies set up an online, bi-lingual library management system. Over the course of 2 months, they sorted and inputted more than 10,300 books into the system. To ensure its sustainability, the team also created a detailed bi-lingual guide to manage the system and trained 2 volunteers that would later manage the physical library at the center.

  1. iSEE

The Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) is an NGO that promotes the rights of minority groups in Vietnam. Under the theme of Gender Justice and in response to recent incidents in Vietnam, iSEE ran a project focused on the topic of Gender-based violence victims. 

In summer 2019, a group of 3 Northwestern students and 1 ABROADER’s local buddy joined the project at iSEE at its early stage. The team soon learned that the topic was little researched or even written about due to social taboos and lack of data. With a background in sociology and passion for human rights, they came up with the idea of creating a guidebook that documents case study and includes steps that Gender-based violence victims and confidants can take when going through such trauma. The guidebook is the first of its kind to be written on this topic and published in Vietnam.

  1. Myoko

Myoko is a group of kindergartens for children with autism in Vietnam. One of the few special education centers in Hanoi, Myoko has been helping hundreds of children with special needs learn and gain confidence every year. 

As part of the service learning program, 3 American students were placed at Myoko. They supported the teachers during classes as they built their own knowledge of working with Vietnamese children with autism. After that, they identified areas that can be improved and came up with 3 different initiatives using their backgrounds. One student majoring in Engineering suggested a better sound-proof material for the classes and later helped the center install them. Another issue identified is that a few of the kids were having trouble relaxing during lunch break and knowing when they need to go to the bathroom. Using her medical knowledge, the public health students researched on practices to teach autistic kids in the West and suggested a few solutions that Myoko’s teachers can apply. The other students used her writing and social media skills to help promote the center’s fund-rasing flea market. 

For photos: