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Service learning

WHAT IS SERVICE-LEARNING?

Service-learning is a unique combination of study abroad and community-based volunteer work where participants immerse themselves into the local community while developing professional and personal skills. At its core, service learning focuses on the local community and its  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 it faces and find approaches to resolve these issuess.

Why Service-Learning with ABROADER?

  • Local community as program co-designer. As local ourselves, ABROADER works with local organizations to make sure the programs fit their needs, available resources/assets and cultures.
  • Immerse in the local community to understand local context and solve local problems, which later on would contribute to your deeper and more global understanding of international issues.
  • Opportunities to gain hands-on experiences and new skills, including but not limited to intercultural communication, leadership and teamwork.
  • Customized structured coaching and reflection sessions led by local Vietnamese experts in the field of community development and social work to support your personal and professional growth.

Service-Learning: What can I do?

At ABROADER, we match your interests and skills together with the local community’s needs to design the most suitable program. The result is a service learning program where you contribute real benefits to the local community, leveraging their capabilities and interests.Our two key factors to determine your ideal service-learning programs include:

  • 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 interests, skills and backgrounds.

In short, service-learning programs are highly customized. The result is a program where participants contribute real benefits to the local community using their capacities and interests.

Curious to see what it’s like to participate in service-learning programs? Here are some of our past projects:

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These projects are all part of the Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI), an award-winning service-learning study abroad program under the Global Learning Office (GLO), Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, Northwestern University (USA) which offers credit-bearing study abroad, exchange, research, and academic internship opportunities in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, Uganda and Vietnam that prepare Northwestern undergraduate students for success in today’s interconnected world.

Interested to be part of a service learning program? Get in touch for more info
Visit our Reviews page for more Stories of Past Students

I have found myself such wonderful friends who share the same interest. What is more precious to explore an unfamiliar place, do what you love and make friends with such awesome people? The damp and blistering air on the first day of June still hasn’t slipped my mind. A summer internship at the Center for Sustainable Rural Development, under the scorching sun of Ha Noi, is filled with salutary experiences. A unique task I am responsible for was to compile “Planting life, Planting tree”, a photo book that describes changes in farmers’ behavior after seeing the benefits of living harmoniously with Mother Nature. It is not simply putting captions under images. Rather, it is a whole process of doing research, understanding the project and cultural background, working closely with the program officers, local agencies, and villagers to complete the book. Thus, climate change, for me, is no longer only about ice being melted in Antarctica. The rising temperature effects have to be seen right in the field where farmers’ livelihood is being taken away by deforestation, natural disasters, and water shortage. The knowledge and skills I have gained from the internship surpass the classroom environment and definitely will set a firm base for me in my future career plan. Apart from my Climate Change Internship in Vietnam, I came to Ha Noi without any expectation for long-lasting relationships rather than professional ones. Yet, ABROADER staff and local buddies have completely changed my mind. Their support and welcoming outshine my worries and loneliness. Also, during my internship time, living in the apartment for ABROADER's interns, I have found myself such wonderful friends who share the same interest. What is more precious to explore an unfamiliar place, do what you love and make friends with such awesome people?

Nguyen Chau Bao

Climate Change Internship ,The College of Wooster, USA

I was very impressed with how organized ABROADER Vietnam was in preparing my internship in Vietnam. The Skype meetings before coming to Vietnam made me feel confident about my safety and expectations during my internship. The Program Coordinator met me at the airport, even though my flight arrived at 1 a.m. The orientation was very thorough and outlined expectations from both myself and the University of Economics HCMC – where I would be working as an intern. During the summer ABROADER checked in with me often to see how I was doing. They even came down to Ho Chi Minh City a few times to visit the other interns and me. Whenever I had a problem, they were always available on Facebook and did their best to resolve it. It is clear that ABROADER Vietnam is a reliable organization that cares about its participants.

Ian Rohr

International Relation Internship ,Tulane University, USA

Great internship in Vietnam! I recommend Westerners to go there at least one time to see things differently. ABROADER is very helpful (even if there is only women here haha) and found me a very decent internship. Time flies very fast, so you know what to do if you like the heat and cheep beers. À bientôt Vietnam!

Hugo Boitel

Environment Internship ,Polytech Montpellier, France

The placement I received was great. ABROADER Vietnam has helped me the whole way! I would recommend this program if they are looking to go somewhere completely different and cool!

Cole McDougall

Optometry Internship ,South Dakota State University, USA

I did a 4-month internship in the National Children Hospital in Vietnam. The entire organization for me went really well, all you need is time and patience but when you reach the point where all is settled it went really smooth and if you have problems you will get help asap and they will find a solution for you. I gained a lot of new experience and was surprised by the high practical skills of the Nurses and Doctors. Even though not everybody could speak proper English and sometimes communication was hard, there were ways to communicate with the colleagues (Google Translate, Body language). All in all I just can say I would do it again, and I wouldn't be the person I am today with out going on this adventure. The way I see things definitely changed and I go home with new knowledge and some wonderful memories. A big thanks to ABROADER Vietnam and especially Miss Ha who made this all possible.

Japheth Uruejoma

Nursing Internship ,FH Campus Wien, Austria

No matter how much I fear working with a group, I realized, through my internship in Vietnam, that teamwork is key to success and you would be surprised how much opening your mind and listening to people’s opinions can get you far. Before the internship in Vietnam, I have always been interested in being a teacher of Japanese and this internship has made me realize how hard it can be teaching someone my own language but also how fun it can be. For anyone who are not used to working in groups, this program pushes you to, a lot of times, with your students, with your fellow interns and with your supervisor.

Yumi Kaneyama

Education Internship ,Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan

I am satisfied with the internship in Vietnam provided by ABROADER Vietnam. The internship placement was ideal and my local buddy was great. During the internship I worked at Ho Chi Minh Hospital of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. At the host organization, I was clear about the responsibilities & rules expected to accomplish & follow. I had a lot of supervisors who were all very caring. The doctors there were very gracious and explained a lot of cases to me; all in all I was well equipped to perform the job at my best.

Andrew Nguyen

Surgical Internship ,University of Oregon, USA

My nursing internship at the Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Hospital is a treasure experience that I will never forget. Having always wanted to volunteer in Nursing in Asia, I took the opportunity and I am very glad I did. The Nursing Placement I had in Vietnam was exceptionally fulfilling, including the support from my Nurses, Coordinator and Local Buddy. All of whom made me feel very welcomed during the time I was here. The on-site support I received was brilliant, every query I had was answered promptly and professionally and the service was everything I could have asked for.

Sarah Heard

Nursing Internship ,University of Plymouth, England

Vietnam, from my experience, is a very work-oriented and relationship-oriented country. You must come prepared to work a lot, learn a lot, and you absolutely must not try to apply the logic or expectation that you would have in the West. This will do little to nothing to help you and will hinder your ability to learn. Come here with the mindset of a student, not an authoritative figure. There is much to learn in Vietnam that will be very valuable to you wherever you work or live, and it is important that you come to Vietnam with an open and unexpecting mind, so that when you go home you will have been able to learn, enjoy and apply your experiences to your future in a positive way. Come to Vietnam with the ability to motivate and add value to people’s lives. Set an example for people, and remember that you are at all times representing you country, university and culture, so make an impression that will stand out as a positive one. Make friends as much as possible and when you can try to study the language as much as possible, even if it is just the language that relates to your job. Doing these two basic things will make living and working here quite enjoyable.

Jack Sherpa

Hospitality & Tourism Internship ,University of Oregon, USA

Overall the people have exceeded my expectations, and they are really what’s going to help make my experience in Vietnam a great one. I’ve always loved leaving my country (the US) and having new experience, so I wanted to do an internship abroad. Having already spent a semester in Europe, I wanted something really different. My mom was born in Saigon and lived there before coming to the United States with her family. So I felt like a good way to get in touch with my culture and my roots would be to spend three months living and working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In my internship in Vietnam, I have helped with various marketing efforts by giving ideas or designing things. I have learned that, of course, there is a different way of doing business here compared to the United States. Things are run differently, there’s a different office culture, there are just always many cultural differences to keep in mind when doing business in a different country, and Vietnam has not been an exception. The people ABROADER have set me up with have been beyond wonderful. Coming to Vietnam on my own seemed very daunting and intimidating, but ABROADER has helped make the transition smooth and seamless. They helped take care of everything I would need during my time here and have gone above and beyond to assure that things continue to go smoothly. I am very appreciative of their support, and it makes the whole thing a little less scary. My local buddies have been so helpful for everything, and I really feel like they are becoming genuine friends. I am generally pretty shy, so it was nice to have friends before even arriving to help introduce me to more people and get me out there. Overall the people have exceeded my expectations, and they are really what’s going to help make my experience in Vietnam a great one.

Natasha Nguyen Mohney

Marketing Internship ,Indiana University, Bloomington, USA