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.


2018 Summer Schedule

In 2018 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.

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.

  • March 3 (Sat) – LearnServe Abroad Kick-Off
  • March 17 (Sat) – Social Entrepreneurship, Teamwork, Fundraising
  • April 7th (Sat) – Identity and Cross-Cultural Dialogue, Diversity & Inclusion
  • April 21st (Sat) – Abroad as an American
  • May 5th (Thurs) – Group Challenge Day
  • May 10th (Thurs) – Intro to Human-Centered Design, Connection to Global/Local
  • May 17 (Thurs) – Human-Centered Design Phase 1: Empathy & Intro to Local Organizations
  • May 24 (Thurs) – Human-Centered Design Phase 2: Define In-Country Immersion
  • May 31 (Thurs) – Human-Centered Design Phase 3: Ideate
  • June 7 (Thurs) – Human-Centered Design Phase 4 & 5: Prototype & Testing, Work with Local Organization
  • June 14 (Thurs) – Country Group Work, Challenging Situations
  • June 21 (Thurs) – Country Group Work, Challenging Situations
  • June 23 (Sat) – Send Off

Tentative travel dates

June 25, 2018  July 11, 2018

Post-Travel Follow-up Meetings


  • August 25 (Sat) – Post Travel Reflection, Storytelling Workshop
  • September 8 (Sat) – Presentation Planning and Practice
  • September 29 (Sat) – Presentation Day
  • October 13th (Sat) – ABROAD 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

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

Zambia 2013 day 2b