Service Learning

The EF Approach to Service: This is Meaningful Service (Part 1/3)

“Los chicos siempre nos dejan algo, y nosotros procuramos dejarles algo tambien, alguna ensenanza, alguna palabra…”

“The kids always leave something for us, and we also seek to leave something for them, too–a teaching, an understanding…”

EF Service Learning trips aim to help EF travelers and developing communities grow. Through collaboration on service projects, cultural exchange, and reflection, students help communities address critical needs and learn in the process. EF offers Service Learning programs in the Americas, Africa, and Asia where we partner with local organizations to address community-driven projects. In this three-part series, we’ll illustrate our approach through the pillars of EF Service Learning: meaningful service, cultural immersion (part 2), and leadership development (part 3). Read on for more about what meaningful service means to us.

Two years ago, in the rural Peruvian community of Huilloc, a women’s weaving cooperative is ready for the next step. With the support of NGO Awamaki, they have been growing their weaving business, and they decide they need a center to meet, store their materials, and sell their goods. Awamaki wanted to help but didn’t have the resources at the time. Insert EF travelers—with the influx of the resources, labor, and advocacy of more than 10 EF groups, the women now have a building from which they sell their goods.

What makes service meaningful? At EF, Service Learning projects address needs that are identified by the community and solutions that are driven by them to ensure they are sustainable. We partner with local organizations such as Awamaki, the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, urban farms, and national parks to identify where EF travelers can help accelerate the process of sustainable development. EF travelers may not see the conclusion of their project—whether it is building a weaving center or greenhouse, tutoring and mentoring local students, or restoring coral reefs—because it is part of a long-term process that the community and other groups will build on. While there are a variety of themes and project types, they are always community-driven, meaningful, and part of a process of sustainable development. While their individual impact may be limited, their collective impact is great. Just ask the women of Awamaki.

More about Service Learning at EF
EF’s Service Learning trips are a celebration of powerful outcomes you can see, plus all the ones that you can’t. Dig into community-driven projects that matter in places that will change your students, including the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Visit to learn more about what we do, where we go, and how the students who travel with us make a meaningful, sustainable difference.


Trevor Shorb

Trevor is the Service Learning Program Manager at EF Educational Tours. He has lived, worked, and studied in El Salvador, Dominican Republic, and Spain. Despite his extensive experience in Latin America, he can’t dance salsa but still tries.

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