Youth International's mission is to open the doors for young people to explore and discover a broader perspective on the world while developing a deeper understanding of who they are and what their place is within the world.
Developing more personally and socially aware future leaders, Youth International also hopes to take small steps toward bridging the gap between people and nations, and making the world a better, more peaceful place.
Since 1997, Youth International has provided many people with the most exciting, fulfilling and educational Experiences of their life. It is a unique way to explore some of the world, open your mind, and challenge who you think you are or might be. It sets you up to gain a first-hand understanding of a variety of different cultures and communities, and give back to them. It is also a tremendous amount of fun!
The program is, however, extremely intense and demanding and is not for everyone. Team members continually face a variety of extreme challenges. They are asked to dig deep into themselves. In return they are greatly rewarded for their efforts.
Because of the intense nature of this program it is important that we try to give prospective participants a very clear understanding of what the Youth International experience is like. To help do this, we will outline here some of the most important aspects of the program:
Reaching Beyond Your Comfort Zone: Youth International members must not only be prepared to endure, but also be open to embracing the uncertainty of stepping outside of their physical, psychological, and emotional comfort zone.
They will constantly be faced with different people and new situations, forcing them to re-evaluate what is right, wrong, or normal, and who they are in relation to these norms.
Standards of physical comfort will be much lower than what most participants are normally accustomed to. Tremendous personal flexibility and an attitude allowing one to "roll with the punches" is necessary for success.
Living and Traveling: Most of the time, team members travel, live and eat in a manner similar to that of the majority of people in the countries which they are visiting.
Almost all travel is overland. Nearly every conceivable mode of public transport is used--- from bus to train to boat to camel back. You will go 2nd or 3rd class, not 1st.
Accommodation will vary. Most will be in very simple hostels and guesthouses, usually in shared rooms or dormitories with common bathroom facilities. There will be at least one homestay in most countries, and sometimes more. On average, participants live with host families for about 30% of the trip. Homestays will often be extremely basic and located in remote villages where there is no electricity, running water, or other basic amenities. Team members will also find themselves camping, sleeping out in the open, in temples, on trains and more.
Food will be local fare. Cuisine is usually very different than in the West, and is often very simple and lacking in variety. For some people this is one of the biggest challenges to stepping outside their comfort zone.
Community Service Work: A major component of the Youth International program is community service work. On average, 30% of a participant’s time in the program will be spent volunteering on projects such as: helping to build or renovate schools, homes, and orphanages, teaching, doing conservation work, and caring for the sick and disabled.
You will be doing some wonderful, needed, and sustainable things for many people in several communities. The focus of the program, however, remains on cultural exchange and education. This is not a social service or foreign aid organization. None of our work, by itself, is aimed directly at changing the world or changing government policy to affect the masses.
All Youth International participants are expected to work hard, consistently, and seriously while on any project.
Educational Program: The main focus of Youth International is on learning. The program is best suited to those who are intensely curious about the world around them and who they are in relation to the world.
It is ideal for those taking a "gap year" between high school and college, a break in the middle of college, or time out after graduation.
The majority of learning will come directly from the experiences of day-to-day travel as outlined in the tentative Itineraries.
Team members also engage in individual and group reflection, reading, culture and language workshops, and attend some talks from guest lecturers. This more academic component balances the experiential education to raise the level of learning to its highest potential.
Team Dynamics: Participants in Youth International must be willing to fully invest themselves in being an active and cooperative member of a team of up to fourteen people between the ages of 18 and 25.
The team dynamic is an overriding element of the Youth International experience. While providing one of the most fun, fulfilling, supportive and educational aspects of the program, it can also create the grounds for some of its major challenges. All must learn, often under very trying circumstances, to live, work, play, and grow with each other, together creating a self-sufficient small traveling community.
Where we are going in the Fall 2013 Semester: For the Fall 2013 semester, Youth International will send one team to Asia, and one team to South America. (Programs in Africa remain suspended for the moment due to security concerns in East Africa).
Dates for the Fall 2013 South America program are: September 14 to December 6. Dates for the Fall 2013 Asia program are: September 14 to December 13.
The Asia teams will travel to Thailand, India, and Nepal. The South America teams will travel to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands.
Detailed tentative itineraries for upcoming programs can be accessed by clicking on this link: Itineraries
For information on how to join one of our upcoming trips, click on this link: How to Join
To get an application form, click on this link: Application
For more information on the types of experiences on a Youth International trip, click on this link: Experiences
For answers to frequently asked questions, click on this link: FAQs