Global Service Immersion

A group of 12 people stand at the entrance to a jungle path in the Amazon rainforest.

Broaden your horizons on a global service trip

Our global trips offer a combination of service, learning, and culture immersion that leads to a powerful experience for students.

*Even though Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, this trip is considered a global trip by Virginia Tech.

These trips offer the opportunity to connect to communities in different ways and explore a variety of important issues. Participants find themselves pushed out of their comfort zone as they engage in a variety of cultural activities, learn from the communities and nonprofits we work with venture to remote places where you'll experience more rustic conditions, and more. It will be an adventure you won't forget.

What makes our trips unique?

  • Short-term, impactful experiences
    Not every student has the time or financial means to study abroad for a semester or year. Our trips allow students to gain global experience on a short-term, impactful trip.
  • Experiential learning at a lower cost
    Our trips are not credit-bearing, which allows students the opportunity to have a global experience without being concerned about adding more credit hours to their course load. It also greatly lowers the price of our trips, making them more accessible to students. While our trips don't offer credit, we still prepare our students through a series of pre-trip meetings, have learning goals for each trip, and focus on providing students with a rich learning experience.
  • Exploring ethical service abroad
    We believe that building sustainable, long-term relationships with local nonprofits and communities is the most ethical approach to service work domestically or abroad, as demonstrated by our relationship in the Dominican Republic that began in 2005. We carefully vet and work directly with our community partners to ensure that our projects are community-driven and that our partners have the capacity to work with a group of volunteers. During pre-trip meetings and on the trip, we make sure students are aware of the criticisms of international service, and discuss how our goal is to work alongside our partners and learn from them.

2020 Global service immersion trips

Closed applications

The applications for all of our global trips are currently closed. Typically, these applications open each August.

On our annual winter break service immersion trip to the Dominican Republic, participants work with our nonprofit partner, the Community Service Alliance (CSA) which empowers local communities in the Dominican Republic to challenge the status quo and improve standards of living.

Possible service projects include building latrines and water filters for families, working with youth enrichment programs, and supporting small women-owned business. This trip is an opportunity for participants to gain a greater understanding of Dominican life, culture and history, nonprofit work, and more. Want to hear more about this trip? Check out reflections from past participants on Facebook.

This is a co-curricular program. Participants will not earn academic credit. 

  • Applications & eligibility
    Applications are now closed! No prerequisites; open to all majors and years (undergraduate and graduate.) The program will be working in remote locations. Students must be able to walk at least 1 mile on rugged terrain. 
  • Accommodation requests
    If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, welcome! Please contact the VT Engage team during regular business hours by the application deadline. 
  • Estimated program fee & scholarship application
    The estimated program fee is $2,000. This fee includes international airfare, ground transportation in country, food, lodging, translation services, and programming. The final costs will be determined once the group size is set; students are encouraged to develop fundraising activities to minimize the cost of the trip. Grants are available that cover up to half the cost of the trip.
  • Itinerary in brief
    Please note this itinerary is subject to change. More details will be provided closer to the trip departure date during pre-trip meetings.
    Jan 6: Travel from Washington D.C. to the Dominican Republic. Arrival and in-country orientation with CSA.
    Jan 7-10: Project work
    Jan 11: half day of project + cultural activity
    Jan 12: Cultural activity
    Jan 13-14: Project work
    Jan 15: Travel from the Dominican Republic to Washington D.C. 

Please note: while Puerto Rico is part of the United States, this trip is treated as a global trip by the university because we will be leaving the continental United States. 

Join us on our first trip to Puerto Rico! In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island and many are still working to rebuild their communities. During this trip, we will work with our nonprofit partner, SBP Puerto Rico, to participate in rebuilding and maintenance projects. SBP believes in building the capacity of other organizations working on the island to support the rebuilding efforts and is advocating for smarter and more efficient systems of disaster recovery. 

During nightly reflection sessions, we’ll dive deeper into the social issues we encounter during the trip, and share our perspectives. You’ll leave with a greater understanding of Puerto Rican life and culture, nonprofit work, and service in a global setting. 

This is a co-curricular program. Participants will not earn academic credit. 

  • Applications & eligibility
    Applications are now closed! No prerequisites; open to all majors and years (undergraduate and graduate.) The program will be working in remote locations. Students must be able to walk at least 1 mile on rugged terrain. 
  • Accommodation requests
    If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, welcome! Please contact the VT Engage team during regular business hours by the application deadline. 
  • Estimated program fee & grant application
    The estimated program fee is $1,200. This fee includes includes airfare from Washington D.C. to Puerto Rico, all food, lodging, activities, and ground transportation. The final costs will be determined once the group size is set; students are encouraged to develop fundraising activities to minimize the cost of the trip. Grants are available that cover up to half the cost of the trip. 
  • Itinerary in brief
    Please note this itinerary is subject to change. More details will be provided closer to the trip departure date during pre-trip meetings.
    Jan 8: Travel from Washington D.C. to Puerto Rico
    Jan 9: In-country orientation with SBP. Project work.
    Jan 10-11: Project work
    Jan 12: Free day / Cultural activity (beach)
    Jan 13-15: Project work
    Jan 16: Travel from Puerto Rico to Washington D.C.

Important update on Peru trip

Due to significant changes at one of our nonprofit partners, it will not be possible to partner with them next summer. While we have pursued multiple avenues to find an alternative partner, we have been unable to find one that meets our criteria and has the capacity to host a group our size.

Unfortunately, this means we have canceled our 2020 trip to Peru. We realize this news will be disappointing for you to read, and we really apologize for this development. It is our hope that we will be able to resume work with our partners in Peru at a later time.

We have other trips coming up that may interest you as an alternative to going to Peru. Several of our spring break trips are focused on environmental conservation in the United States, and we would welcome your participation on those experiences. More information on these trips can be found on our alternative breaks page. The deadline to apply for these trips is December 31. Applicants are asked to rank their interest in each trip; please indicate on the application that you applied for the Peru trip, and we will factor that into who is selected for each trip.

About the trip

This is a powerful learning and service experience that will take you from the Amazon rainforest to the high Andes. In the rainforest, we’ll serve with the nonprofit ARCAmazon, which aims to conserve and protect the Amazon by promoting balance between people and nature. Projects may include environmental education, maintaining ARCA's education center, preserving the rainforest through patrolling their conservation area, and other community development projects. Following our time in the Amazon, we will spend time in Cusco to explore Peruvian and Incan history, including a trip to Machu Picchu.

In the Andes’ Sacred Valley, we’ll partner with the nonprofit Llipin Yahuar, which focuses on empowering high Andean communities with vulnerable populations through health, education, and nutrition programs, specifically focused on women and children. This portion of the project will be based in a remote Andean community several hours from the city of Cusco.

Over three weeks, you’ll serve with and learn about these two nonprofits, visit Incan sites, connect with new people and more. Join us, and broaden your horizons with this unique international service-learning trip! You’ll gain a greater understanding of life in the high Andes and the Amazon rainforest, Peruvian culture, nonprofit work, and more. Curious about this trip? Check out reflections from past participants on Facebook.

Additional information

All participants must have a valid passport for our trips to the Dominican Republic and Peru. Please be sure to check your passport’s expiration date and renew it if needed as soon as possible, as renewal can be a lengthly process. It is not necessary for U.S. citizens to have a passport to travel to Puerto Rico as it is a U.S. terrority.

We also suggest that travelers review the CDC’s health information on traveling internationally, which includes country-specific suggestions. In addition, we suggest that travelers check with their personal physicians on what they should do prior to travel.

VT Engage is committed to the Virginia Tech Principles of Community and seek to uphold these principles in all that we do. This includes welcoming the participation of all undergraduate and graduate Virginia Tech students on our service trips, including our immersion trips. Our trips are enriched by participation from students of all backgrounds, perspectives, and identities.

However, due to recent changes in the United States, we strongly advise students from outside the U.S. or who are undocumented (whether you qualify for DACA or not) to carefully read the information on Virginia Tech's Immigration Action page before considering applying for one of our global trips.

Requests for accommodations & other questions

If you are an individual with a disability & desire an accommodation on one of our global experiences, welcome! Since these trips take participants outside the continental United States, where we might be traveling to remote locations and be in places have very different laws regarding accommodations, it is imperative for us to have ample time to plan for any requested accommodations. Please contact the VT Engage team at engage@vt.edu or 540-231-1356 by the application deadline for the trip you are interested in going on.