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Service Learning

Takes classroom research and curriculum learning and introduces those theories into real life services that directly benefit the community or environment.

What is Service-learning?

Service-learning is a strategy for learning and teaching that takes classroom-based education and connects it to real-life services that serve to benefit a local community or environment. A service-learning course is different to traditional exchange programs as it is a group-led project that combines balanced learning goals with impact-driven service outcomes, which is then synthesized through periods of structured reflection. A service-learning course uses real-life experiences to enhance academic studies, increase personal growth and interpersonal skills of the participant, and to positively impact the global community.

The combination of service (the experiential, hands-on part) + learning (the educational context part) + reflection (when the student explores what they have experienced and learned, tying everything together) is what constitutes a service-learning course.

We run service-learning courses for individuals in a variety of international locations. For individuals 18+, please see our volunteering and internship pages, or for those aged 15 – 17, please visit our under 18 page.

GVI's Brochure


GVI's Teachers' Toolkit


GVI's Curriculum


The 5 Benefits of Service-learning

Implementing an international service-learning course will provide a group with experiential skills necessary for student success.

Scroll across our top 5 benefits of international service learning….

1. Employability

Students are provided with the opportunity to develop hard and soft skills side-by-side local practitioners, and get hands-on experience from experienced global colleagues whilst abroad. It is shown time and time again that international service learning leads to more globally aware, responsible and motivated students, that ultimately have an ‘edge’ in the current competitive job market.

2. Soft Skills

Confidence, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication are just some of the soft skills students will improve whilst on our courses. They are key for future interviews and applications, whether it’s professionally or academically, but are moreover invaluable and crucial skills for any future career.

3. Further Study

Students repeatedly return from their time abroad more motivated and driven than ever, having realized a new interest. They get the opportunity to test out skills and interests which ultimately help guide students down a potential career path.

4. Field Experience

The importance of hands-on experience cannot be over-estimated. Students will increase their understanding of various class topics, connect with and learn from professionals and community members, and will have a resume or CV that stands out from the crowd.

5. Global Citizenship

Students will develop their understanding of diverse cultures and communities whilst learning more about social issues and their root causes. This kind of understanding cannot be learnt in a classroom, and will be vital to any career path, whether it’s in international development or in multinational marketing!

Watch our Service-learning Video

Examining Group Dynamics in Service Learning

Examining Group Dynamics in Service Learning

The importance of group dynamics in service-learning is an important factor to consider. As a microcosm of community development, service-learning programs strive to better incorporate an individual’s experience – via student learning – for a collective good, through community-building that is takes place both within and without the classroom setting.

Our Service Learning Curriculum

We have some of the most experienced teams working on the ground around the world, and our tailor-made programs have been specifically designed to meet the requirements of various international curriculum including; the CAS (Creativity Action Service), elements of the IB (International Baccalaureate) program, ‘Week Without Walls’, and the Round Square Ideals.


We also follow the 5 stages of successful service learning as outlined by Cathryn Berger Kaye:

This involves engaging the group, looking at their interests and skills, and analyzing the issue being addressed, which may take the form of expert interviews, population surveys and personal observations.

This involves continued investigation along with academic content, the organization of roles, responsibilities and timelines, and the development of any necessary skills required for the project.

Also known as the action, the service includes implementation of the plan through mutual agreement and respect with local partners. The group will build an improved understanding and perspective of how other people live.

Reflection periods connect each stage, and provide students with a formal period to consider their thoughts, feelings and any questions they may have on the experience. It is essential to increase self- awareness and it assists in developing future plans.

Demonstration is essential to reinforce the entire experience, including what was learnt, the process of learning, and the service accomplished. Students will have documented the entire process, resulting in the ability to recount the story of what took place during each stage, including reflection periods.

“IB is well known to us for excellent preparation. Success in an IB program correlates well with success at Harvard. We are always pleased to see the credentials of the IB diploma program on the transcript.”

– Marilyn McGrath Lewis, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Harvard University

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Our International Service Learning Courses

Find out more about our service learning courses in Thailand, India, Nepal, Costa Rica, Mexico and South Africa.
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