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India Community Development Course

Learn about India's startling inequalities while contributing towards sustainable growth projects

Our service learning course in Kerala, India combines valuable community development work with a comprehensive educational curriculum. Teach sports to young children, spend afternoons building an eco-garden or eco-toilet or get your hands dirty with a community construction projects.

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Course Overview

This inter-disciplinary course, accredited by universities and colleges around the world, introduces students to international service-learning and sustainable development, both in content and practice, in Kerala, India.

Through lectures, discussion, research, service, and reflection (beginning two weeks prior to their departure and continuing two weeks after their return home), students in this course engage in meaningful, context-driven service-learning at home and abroad. Emphasis will be placed on relating long-term project goals with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and engaging in daily reflection surrounding the experience, which will be lead by qualified group facilitators who are trained to enhance individual student development. The course curriculum will be tailored to your students’ academic needs as well as any faculty requirements.

A GVI service-learning course provides students with access to skill development and practical experience while engaging with a rigorous curriculum. By participating in this course, students will be prepared and encouraged to discuss and contribute to solutions for critical global issues related to sustainable development, within a local community and alongside an international team. By providing students the opportunity to live and work within the “classroom” of their chosen field of study, they will develop professional capacities associated with intercultural competency, global citizenship, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership.

For full details of the curriculum, you can download our Service Learning Curriculum PDF here.

Learning Objectives

Participants in this course will:

  • Experience global learning contexts associated with international service-learning
  • Learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how they are implemented both domestically and abroad;
  • Explore their role as a development actor through in-country service-learning and reflection;
  • Develop greater intercultural competency, global awareness, and a sense of global citizenship; and
  • Enhance personal and professional capacities of writing, reflection, communication, flexibility, adaptability, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving.

The Project in Kerala:

The objectives for each GVI project are based on specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In Kerala, students will largely contribute to need-based community development projects in Kerala’s surrounding township areas, that primarily improve the general infrastructure and learning environments for local disadvantaged children. These initiatives collectively incorporate the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals listed below:

  • SDG no.1: End poverty in all of its forms everywhere
  • SDG no.4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
  • SDG no.9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and forest innovation
  • SDG no.10: Reduce inequalities within and among countries
  • SDG no.16: Promote just, peaceful, and inclusive societies

The course will focus on improving basic human rights through educational development, infrastructure improvement, and reciprocal cultural exchange. Students will critically examine their individual and collective on the ground impact asking pertinent questions in order to evaluate their successes and challenges. They will receive continuous support from qualified staff members who will help relate and connect the students involvement with the community development projects and the SDG’s.

Please note that courses can tailored to a group’s in-class curriculum; however, specific work will always be dependent on the needs of the community and our local partners at the time.


Our base in India is located in Kerala, a sliver of a state in India’s deep south that is shaped by its landscape – almost 600km of fascinating Arabian Sea coast and beaches, a network of backwaters, and the spice and tea-covered hills of the Western Ghats. Besides it’s famous backwaters, rice paddies, coconut groves, intriguing houseboats, and delicately spiced taste-bud-tingling cuisine, Kerala is home to wild elephants, exotic birds, and the odd tiger. It is also a place of vibrant traditions such as Kathakali plays and snake-boat races. As with the rest of India, it also hosts extreme economic disparities for communities who live well below the breadline, with little access to formal education, income opportunities, and decent hygiene standards.



Example Itinerary:

This course varies in duration, depending on project requirements as well as cultural expeditions or activities. The below outlines a one week course; however, your in-country service can run for as many weeks as set by your academic curriculum, objectives, and requirements.


Two weeks prior to departure, students will be assigned readings and assignments. These assignments make sure they have a basic cultural understanding of Kerala and it’s local conservation-based issues; a foundational understanding of international service learning and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and begin a dialogue surrounding global engagement. Materials will be chosen based on collaboration with the group’s educational leader to ensure the work fits within the group’s in-class curriculum.


Day 1- Arrival at Kochi Airport and Transfer to Base

On arrival the group will be met at Kochi International Airport by a GVI appointed driver. We recommend that flights are booked to arrive first thing in the morning so as to maximize time spent in-country. Students and accompanying teachers will be transferred to their accommodation by GVI’s driver and given time to settle in and rest before meeting for an afternoon orientation session with the GVI field team. During the orientation, the week’s logistics, duties, and responsibilities will be explained. This session will also include familiarization with the Emergency Action Plans and Health and Safety Risks as well as an overview of GVI and our overall local and global goals.

Day 2- Welcome and Orientation

The team will be given an orientation tour around the city of Kochi, where they will be based throughout the service element of the trip. In the evening, a reflection period will take place in which participants will debrief and review their initial reactions and observations on the experience and location.

Day 3-5- Daily Structure: Service, Education, and Reflection

Students will report daily to the project construction sites where they will work side-by-side local community members and our partner organizations. Specific projects will depend on the needs of the centers at the time, and could involve engagement in construction and renovation projects, as well as creative activities, basic healthcare and hygiene programs, and sports development initiatives.

All service elements will be connected to a greater understanding of the cultural context in which the students are working. Assignments, in the form of lectures, readings, written response papers, journal entries, group presentations, and miscellaneous creative projects will be conducted daily to enhance student learning from their service involvement. Daily reflection sessions will act as the bridge that connects and helps to synthesize the many aspects of the experience.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways in which participants are working towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students will critically examine their part in this process, by analyzing their contributions, challenges, and observations.

Day 6- Cultural Day

Understanding Kerala, India’s diverse and stunning culture, means that exploration is an important component of the experience. Options for the day could include: a traditional Keralan Kathakali dance show; a backwaters tour on one of Kerala’s beautiful and iconic houseboats; a safari outing to the Periyar Forest and National Park for a chance to spot elephants and monkeys (and tigers if you’re lucky); or a visit to the sea side village of Marari (40-minute drive away), which boasts beautiful sandy beaches lined with coconut trees. Activities will be determined based on the interests and educational goals of the group. 

Day 7- A Fond Farewell

GVI field staff transfer the team back to the airport and bid them a fond farewell! GVI will endeavour to keep the group informed of any updates there might be in the field, with particular reference to the projects volunteers contributed to during their time in India.


Students will continue to engage with active reflection and educational expansion two weeks after leaving Kerala, with emphasis placed on incorporating the international experience, and insights gained which are then applied to the students’ home context. Assignments will involve generating ideas to continue global engagement, connecting the experience to personal and career goals, and reflecting on the insights gained while in the field.





What’s Included

  • A dedicated trip co-ordinator
  • Pre-departure information
  • Flight bookings service on request
  • Accommodation
  • In-country support
  • Group leader
  • Insurance on request
  • 24/7 back up and support
  • Food and drinking water
  • First aid equipment
  • Comprehensive health and safety procedures (Emergency Action Plans and Risk Assessments)
  • In-country transport costs
  • Access to local medical facilities
  • Up-to-date safety and country information
  • Highly experienced and well qualified GVI field staff

What’s Not Included

  • Visas
  • Vaccinations
  • Personal kit
  • Additional spending money
  • Flights

Please note prices are subject to seasonal fluctuation and will vary depending upon the needs of the group. **Optional extras include travel insurance and flight services

Course Details


Asia – India – Kerala


From 1 week +

Course Focus

Community Development

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7 Day PDF


14 Day PDF


The staff were so lovely! I always felt safe but never like I was being told what to do.

Shereen Basel Faisal Saeed Alzeeraia, Bahrain

India Community Development 2015

I owe so much to the group leaders and individuals of the GVI family working in India for the help and support they gave me in enabling me to adapt to the conditions and the standards necessary in helping to give these children a better education and chance in life.

James Markham

Kerala, 2012

Interested in this exciting opportunity?

Get in touch, and secure your future by learning the right way.

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