Group photo with 11 people standing by tree next to Las Piedras river in the Amazon jungle.

Experience service outside the U.S.

Why serve internationally? The combination of service, learning, and culture immersion can be a powerful experience for students. VT Engage carefully selects the community partners students serve with, choosing ones we hope to develop a long-term partnership with. While these are service trips, we consider learning outcomes for student to be just as valuable as the service focus.

VT Engage team members help prepare and educate students before international trips to give them context for each aspect of the trip, particularly the social issues they will encounter. During the trips, student leaders and VT Engage team members help participants process their experiences through nightly reflection sessions.

We currently lead trips to the Dominican Republic and Peru. Applications are required for these trips, and open in August.

Questions? Contact Eliza Wethey, VT Engage faculty advisor at or 540-231-6964.

Three weeks of learning & service

In the rainforest, we’ll serve with ARCAmazon, which aims to conserve and protect the Amazon by promoting balance between people and nature. Projects may include environmental education, maintaining ARCA's education center, preserving the rainforest through patrolling their conservation area, and other community development projects.

In the Andes’ Sacred Valley, we’ll partner with Llipin Yahuar, which focuses on empowering high Andean communities with vulnerable populations through health, education, and nutrition programs, specifically focused on women and children. Projects may include community development work, and native tree reforestation to restore habitats and increase water resources.

Itinerary in brief - summer 2018
May 21: Depart for Lima, Peru
May 22: Arrival in Lima, Flight to Puerto Maldonado
May 23-30: Service work with ARCAmazon (Amazon Rainforest)
May 31: Return to Puerto Maldonado, Flight to Cusco
June 1: Cusco
June 2-3: Machu Picchu
June 4: Cusco
June 5-8: Service Work with Llipin Yahuar (Sacred Valley)
June 9: Cusco 
June 10: Depart for USA 

Over three weeks, our group will serve with and learn about these two nonprofits, visit Incan sites, connect with new people and more. Join us, and broaden your horizons with this unique international service-learning trip! View photos from our inagural trip, and hear from our students about what they learned.

The application is now closed for our 2018 trip. The application for this trip opens each fall and is due in December.

Estimated cost: 
$2,800 + airfare. A limited amount of need-based financial assistance is available. All applicants are considered. The $2,800 fee includes ground transportation in country, flight from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco, food, lodging, trip to Machu Picchu, and project donation.

Reflections on our Peru trip

Check out reflections from more participants on Facebook!

For more than ten years, the Virginia Tech community has partnered with the nonprofit Community Service Alliance (CSA) on various community development initiatives. CSA “empowers local communities in the Dominican Republic to challenge the status quo and improve standards of living” (CSA website.)

Possible service projects include building latrines and water filters for families, working with youth enrichment programs and supporting small women-owned business. On this trip, you will leave with a greater understanding of service in an international setting as well as Dominican life, culture, and nonprofit work. 

The application for this trip opens each August and is due in October.

Estimated cost:
$1,850 (includes airfare, meals, lodging, and programming.) A limited amount of need-based financial assistance is available. All applicants will be considered.

Reflections on our Dominican Republic trip

Check out reflections from more participants on Facebook!

VT Engage is planning a site visit to Cambodia in June 2018 with the objective of developing an international service immersion trip to this location. The trip focus will be identified during the site visit with potential opportunities related to natural resources conservation, community economic development, and/or human rights. VT Engage carefully selects community partners with the capacity and shared goal of building a long-term partnership. 

Our hope is to develop an annual service-learning trip, with the first trip launching in summer 2019.

The cost of each trip varies based on the number of participants and location. Past volunteers have lowered their expenses via fundraising, but lower costs are dependent on both individual and team fundraising success.

Dominican Republic
Estimated program fee is expected to be $1,850 including airfare. The fee of $1,850 includes ground transportation in country, food, lodging, translation services, and programming.

Estimated program fee is $2,800 + airfare. The $2,800 fee includes includes ground transportation in country, flight from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco, food, lodging, trip to Machu Picchu, and project donation.

Financial assistance
Thanks to the generosity of donors, there is a limited amount of need-based financial assistance available to help make these trips more affordable. All applicants will be considered. If cost is a barrier to applying for one of our trips, please reach out to the VT Engage team at

All participants must have a valid passport for international trips. Please be sure to check your passport’s expiration date and renew it ASAP if you are selected to attend.

We also suggest that travelers review the CDC’s health information on travel to Peru or the Dominican Republic, and check with their personal physicians on what they should do prior to travel.

VT Engage is committed to the Virginia Tech Principles of Community and seek to uphold these principles in all that we do. This includes welcoming the participation of all undergraduate and graduate Virginia Tech students on our service trips, including our immersion trips. Our trips are enriched by participation from students of all backgrounds, perspectives, and identities.

However, due to recent changes in the U.S., we strongly advise students from outside the U.S. or who are undocumented (whether you qualify for DACA or not) to carefully read the information on Virginia Tech's Immigration Action page before considering applying for one of our international trips.

Our Learning Partners program is a way for faculty and staff members to get involved in our work! Faculty or staff members who join our trips offer their perspective and experience on the social issues addressed by the trips, contribute their unique skills, support the trip's student leaders, and learn alongside students.

Applications open each fall for both trips.