LearnServe Abroad

Global to Local

For an in-depth look at our travelers’ experiences, check out the LearnServe Blog.

LearnServe Abroad is an 8-month program introducing participants to social entrepreneurship with a global perspective. Participants learn about international development and cross-cultural communication in monthly training sessions. The LearnServe trip is the center-piece of the program, and a life-changing experience, that helps putting theory into perspective. More than a “study abroad” or “three-week tour,” LearnServe’s programs in Zambia, Paraguay, Jamaica, and South Africa* are active, engaging, and rigorous – intellectually, culturally, and physically.  Students and teachers experience the realities of day-to-day life through peer exchanges and collaborative work with community-based organizations.  They return home to share what they have learned with their schools and motivate their school communities to donate funds, supplies, and other support to communities abroad.

“I have been able to step outside of my daily life. I appreciate education more and the importance to commit.”
—LearnServe Zambia 2011 Student

How it Works

Each fall LearnServe selects 50 students and teachers from nearly 30 public, private, and charter participating high schools across the DC area.  Travelers meet monthly throughout spring semester to prepare for their summer journey: learning about their host country, reviewing the dynamics of international development, practicing cross-cultural communication, and collecting funds and supplies to donate.

Participants spend three weeks in country, participating in service projects designed and organized by local host organizations.  They experience first-hand how a concerted effort can make a powerful difference in people’s lives.  Following the trip, each student and teacher team prepares and implements an action plan to raise awareness about and funds for the communities they served.


2017 Summer Schedule

In 2017 LearnServe teams will travel to Zambia, Paraguay, Jamaica, and South Africa*.  The three-week trips will depart late June; pre-travel training sessions will be held on Saturday and Thursday afternoons throughout the spring semester. In addition students are expected to conduct a service day, as shown below.  There are four post-trip meetings August – October in which participants prepare action plans and share their experiences with their schools and communities.

* South Africa program closed to general applicants.

Key Dates

Pre-travel Training Dates (tentative – to be confirmed)

Location TBD.  Saturday Sessions are (tentatively) scheduled for 2-5 pm.  Thursday sessions are from 4:30 – 6:30 pm.

  • February 18 (Sat) – LearnServe Abroad Launch, with notary and passport application support
  • March 4 (Sat) – Human Centered Design, Social Entrepreneurship, passport application support
  • March 18 (Sat) – Diversity and Inclusion
  • April 1 (Sat) – Identity and Cross-Cultural Dialogue, Essentials of Leadership
  • April 22 (Sat) – Group Challenge Day
  • May 6 (Sat) – Country Immersion Day
  • May 18 (Thurs) – Global Issues – Local Action
  • May 25 (Thurs) – Global Issues – Local Action continued
  • By Saturday May 27 – Partner Organization Human Centered Design or Action Day
  • June 1 (Thurs) – Country Group Work
  • June 8 (Thurs) – Country Group Work
  • June 15 (Thurs) – Country Group Work
  • June 17 (Sat) – Pre-travel Launch Celebration
  • June 22 (Thurs) – Country Group Work

Tentative travel dates

June 25, 2017 July 11/12, 2017

Post-Travel Follow-up Meetings

  • August 26 (Sat) – Post Travel Reflection, Storytelling Workshop
  • September 9 (Sat) – Presentation Planning and Practice
  • September 16 (Sat) – Presentation Planning and Practice
  • October 14 (Sat) – Graduation!


LearnServe International thanks the following foundations for their generous support of the LearnServe Abroad Program:

Jean T. and Heyward G. Pelham Foundation

The Kimsey Foundation

Institute for Education

All LearnServe families and supporters who contributed to the scholarship fund for the Abroad Program

Zambia 2013 day 2b