Projects Abroad Sees Increasing Numbers of Students Leaving Summer Plans and Placements Until the Last Minute

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University stress, lack of funds, waiting on friends – just a few of the many reasons that might lead students to delay making choices about how to spend their summer vacation.

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To us, cultural exchange is all about mutual learning. We strive to be flexible enough to accommodate the majority of potential volunteers’ needs.

University stress, lack of funds, waiting on friends – just a few of the many reasons that might lead students to delay making choices about how to spend their summer vacation. Whereas early competition would once have been strong for placements, internships and experiential opportunities, international volunteering organization Projects Abroad says last-minute flexibility is now key to attracting potential student volunteers.

Robert Levine, Director of Projects Abroad Canada, cited a number of possible explanations – practical and ideological – for the increase in last-minute inquiries from students. “The three-month student strike in Quebec, for example, is likely to result in a shorter summer vacation. That uncertainty has led many students to hold off on making summer plans,” he said. “Then there was the announcement in the recent federal budget that Katimavik, one of Canada’s national youth volunteer organizations, was to lose its funding. Issues such as these, along with general global economic conditions, do feed into the uncertainty students may be feeling over their plans and prospects. We had already noticed an increasing trend of students waiting until after their exams in April before planning their summer. But this year the increase in inquiries from prospective volunteers looking for placements in the near future has been substantial.”

The need to be flexible in providing and arranging volunteer programs has therefore never been greater – and with over 500 field-based staff and hundreds of projects running in developing countries across the world, Robert stressed that ‘flexibility’ is something Projects Abroad understands very well. Now in its 20th year, the company has come a long way from its origins as a part-time project for two academics seeking worthwhile work- and experience-related opportunities for their students. Now, volunteers range from high-school students to retired professional seniors, and there are plenty of last-minute or summer volunteering programs designed for people at every stage of life.

Students who are interested in supplementing their academic learning, supporting development in some of the poorest parts of the world or just experiencing life outside of Canada can choose from a range of summer programs and volunteer vacations in various Latin American and Caribbean countries, and throughout Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific.

“The notions of social justice and respect are central to our work,” said Robert. “To us, cultural exchange is all about mutual learning. We strive to be flexible enough to accommodate the majority of potential volunteers’ needs and our two-week placements, language courses and support with dissertations means we can offer students the chance to experience interpretations of respect, human rights and justice in other places and in a relatively short period of time. For any student who thinks it’s too late to arrange something for this summer, it isn’t! Just visit our website, chat online with a member of our staff or call us toll-free.”

About Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad is a leading volunteer abroad organization. We offer a diverse range of international service projects, plus the opportunity to become part of one of our volunteer communities abroad. Our continuous presence overseas and unparalleled in-country support from international staff ensure that your experience will be far more worthwhile and genuine than those of the average tourist.

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Rob Levine
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