Beyond the Beach for Spring Break: Planting Fields vs. Vegging Out

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i-to-i Volunteer Vacations Help Students Gain Experience, Explore Career Options

College students who prefer to spend spring or summer break doing good to doing the town could find themselves cultivating herbal remedies in Brazil, conserving a rainforest in Costa Rica, or conserving a world heritage site in Ireland come spring or summer with a little pre-planning.

Through volunteer vacations, college students throughout the United States are increasingly seeking out short-term meaningful experiences helping those less fortunate, according to i-to-i Volunteer Travel. The international volunteer vacation provider does more than half of its business each year with student travel, and is experiencing 40-50 percent annual growth in numbers of student vacation volunteers.

i-to-i’s experience with the increasing interest among students is not unique, says Lee Ann Johnson, the company’s managing director. Last spring, about 30,000 students opted for community service instead of a traditional vacation, according to Break Away, a national nonprofit group that helps students organize service trips. And since 1994, the

number of schools participating in alternative spring break programs with Campus Contact – an affiliation of nearly 900 U.S. colleges and universities that promotes public service – has doubled.

“College students are finding that they’re able to give a gift that transcends gift-wrapped packages,” says Lee Ann Johnson, managing director. At the same time, she says, volunteer vacations help them gain real-world experience, explore career options, and strengthen resumes.

Participants in volunteer vacations can obtain valuable field experience in fields including marketing, journalism, teaching, fundraising, social services, and management, says Johnson. In many cases, students pursuing a volunteer vacation can earn college credit, with the volunteer vacation provider working with both the student and academic advisor. Some providers, such as i-to-i, also offer training certification courses to prepare students to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

i-to-i volunteers can choose from a wide variety of destinations, from India to Ireland, and from Costa Rica to Crotia. Volunteer opportunities range from teaching English to performing cultural and ecological conservation or constructing homes. Vacation choices can be as short as intense one-to-three week trips, or as long as 24 weeks, says Johnson, creating opportunities for individual preferences. i-to-i also provides a select number of “earning venture” opportunities in which participants can earn money teaching English.

“For college students looking to do more than sleep in late and visit with myriad aunts, uncles, and cousins over winter – or spring or summer – break, the volunteer vacation can help them learn about their careers, their world, and themselves, says Johnson. In addition, all i-to-i volunteer vacations are fully supported by trained work and travel advisors, paid in-country coordinators, airport pick-up and orientation, 24-hour emergency back-up, and comprehensive travel and health insurance tailored for the volunteer vacation experience. “Mom and Dad can rest assured that students are in safe hands.”

i-to-i Volunteer Travel is an international volunteer vacation organization, specializing in helping disadvan¬taged communi¬ties and ecosystems around the world. The company arranges placements of 1-24 weeks in teaching, conservation, com¬munity work, building and a variety of other projects in more than 20 countries. Founded in 1994 with international head¬quarters in Leeds, England, i-to-i North America is based in Denver, Colo. To date, the company has brought nearly 10,000 volunteers together in projects around the world. For more information about upcoming volunteer vacation op¬portunities, visit the website at http://www.i-to-i.com or call (800) 985-4864 for more information or a free 48-page color brochure.

Contact Information

Cheryl Friedman

(303-991-5407/cheryl.friedman@i-to-i.com)

Gaylene Ore (970-887-2536/gaylene@orecommunications.com) to receive.

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