Built on over 20 years of experience providing service-learning programs, GSC is now offering opportunities for students 18+ wishing to take a Gap Year in Cambodia.
Participants on the GSC Gap Year Service-Learning Program have the opportunity to provide services to disadvantaged Cambodia community members, while participating on a cultural immersion learning experience. Participants will be guided and prepared for their program by GSC headquarters staff and while in Cambodia will be supervised and supported by the GSC In-Country Coordinator and GSC Cambodia partner community organization staff.
Participants will also have access online to extensive preparation material and a participant handbook customized to their program, and will also receive a printed copy of the handbook and welcome packet. They will receive an introduction to the Cambodian culture and their project work during their in-country orientation week.
For participants already enrolled in a college or university, college credit may be available. (See details below)
Program Details and Participant Experience
Prior to departure, GSC will provide all participants with the materials they need for their specific program placement, as well as background information on Cambodian culture and history. During the program, participants will have the unique opportunity to learn while serving alongside local Cambodians.
All program participants will be together during orientation and volunteer outings, before they begin their project placements in the field. The orientation is intended to acquaint participants with the culture and history of Cambodia and to prepare them for their service project placements. Basic conversational Khmer lessons will also be included during orientation.
Once participants are placed at their project site, weekdays will be spent learning and serving the local communities, while weekends are free for participants to socialize, travel, and explore the beautiful sights of Cambodia. Gap Year Program participants often join other service-learning volunteers on weekend and other activities including the following:
Volunteers on a program of four weeks or longer--a weekend trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Wat and other Siem Reap attractions, hosted by GSC. Volunteers on a program of six weeks or longer—an overnight weekend visit to the village home of the GSC In-Country CoordinatorVolunteers on a program of eight weeks or longer—a workshop provided to community members on the subject of Public Health, Teaching English or Leadership Training.
Throughout the Gap Year Program, the In-Country Coordinator will be in contact weekly and available for meetings to provide further information, support and assistance. Additionally, the participant, the GSC In-Country Coordinator, and the participant’s in-country work supervisor will submit regular evaluations to the GSC home office.
All participants will stay at a centrally located hotel in Phnom Penh during the first half of the orientation week. Rooms are shared and have private bathrooms which include free laundry service, breakfast, and internet. They will then move to their project accommodations. Participants in the Buddhist Immersion, Teach English, Global Public Health, and Community Development & Youth Leadership Training Program will stay at a homestay, guest house, or a local apartment during their placement, while some Child and Orphan Care program participants will be accommodated in volunteer dorms on the children center grounds. All participants will be housed in Siem Reap hotels during the weekend excursion provided by GSC.
Community service placements are available in the following programs:
Teach English Abroad
Due to the crucial need to improve English literacy, GSC’s Teach English Abroad Program in Cambodia teams up with selected local non-profit and community development organizations to provide basic English training to some of the poorest citizens of Cambodia. The service-learning program gives GSC volunteers the opportunity to provide direct education and build the skills of local participants in Cambodia, especially in much-needed conversational English.
Buddhist Immersion - Teaching English
Participants will have the opportunity to experience Cambodian Buddhist culture firsthand in the Buddhist Immersion-Teach Conversational English Program. During their stay at a rural or urban setting, participants will either stay on site or visit daily the host wat (monastery). Depending on the wat, participants may have opportunities to join monks in their daily activities, including meditation, chanting, and other rituals. The service component of this program includes teaching basic English lessons to participants at local schools and to young monks when available.
Public Health Training
Participants in the Public Health Training Program will share their talents, experience, and knowledge with members of slum and underserved communities in and around Phnom Penh. They may lead health workshops with the help of local translators and GSC-provided materials and lesson plans. During the Health Education Workshops and follow up activities, volunteers will cover topics such as HIV/AIDS education and prevention, drug and alcohol abuse awareness, hygiene, domestic violence and other public health issues.
Child and Orphan Care
GSC works with two unique children's centers that work with children who have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS, are homeless children, or are from displaced families living in the slums. One of the centers is in Phnom Penh and the other is in a small provincial town outside of Phnom Penh. GSC volunteers have the opportunity to assist the centers’ staff as they support, work, play, and bond with the children. Participant activities may include providing workshops or training, teaching Basic English, planning and leading educational games, and offering a project based on their own background and skills. These projects could include a range of art, recreational, or enrichment activities.
Community Development and Youth Leadership Training
In the Community Development and Youth Leadership Training Program, volunteers have the unique opportunity to work with local NGOs assisting Cambodian youth to become community leaders and agents of social change. Volunteers become part of a movement to build a culture of peace and social justice in Cambodia, in response to the devastating effects of the Khmer Rouge genocide.
*Note: GSC will place each volunteer at one of the placements above based on the needs of the community and the volunteers’s background, skills, and interests.
For Gap Program Participants already enrolled in a college or university, it may be possible to earn college credits for participation in this program. Participants would need to negotiate with their institution with the assistance of GSC to arrange for credit. GSC and the host institution would determine additional fees to cover costs of credits and administration.
Depending on the requirements of the participant’s credit-granting college or university, participants may be asked to keep blogs and/or journals throughout the program, and to submit papers reviewed by their home institution for grading. Participants successfully completing the course would then be eligible to receive college credits from their home institution.
All in-country participant expenses: Airport pick-up/return and project transportation; hotel, homestay, guest house, orphanage, and monastery accommodations; all meals at accommodations or local restaurants; language and cultural orientation and project preparation; project administration; Siem Reap weekend and other excursions
Airfare, travel insurance, visa, and mandatory background checks; required and/or optional reading material, if applicable, college credits (number determined by your institution).