Volunteer in Mexico
The Volunteer Abroad program in Mexico will allow you to experience Mexican culture first-hand while working on projects* that have an immediate, positive effect on the community.
The Benefits of Horseplay
Help Children with Disabilities Ride Horses: By combining horseback riding with physical therapy, disabled children can experience both healing and sport in a fun atmosphere. Volunteers will help maintain the horses while interacting closely with the children.
Other projects could include instituting recycling projects within the community, promoting environmental education, or helping out at a local bakery.
* Community-driven projects are at the core of Ayusa's mission, so the project you will be working on will depend on the needs of the local community at that time.
Mexico’s rich history and culture is especially prominent in the city of Oaxaca. As a volunteer here, you will encounter frequent lively street fiestas, visit the historic central square of El Zocalo, taste local specialties at the popular Mercado 20 de Noviembre and explore the bustling vendors of Mercado Benito Juarez.
Despite its beauty and cultural riches, Oaxaca is also Mexico’s poorest regions and has a great need for grassroots development efforts to uplift the economic, social, and environmental situation of its people. A little goes a long way here, and you can use your skills in a variety of ways to make a difference in the local community. Through volunteer service projects, you have the opportunity to engage with dynamic communities and experience Mexico’s colorful culture first hand. This meaningful work will give you a greater understanding of your global responsibility and equip you with skills and insights that you could not gain in a classroom.
During your Volunteer Abroad program, you will collaborate with our community hosts and established NGOs on a development project designed to serve the specific needs of the local people. Depending on your skills and interests, you might be involved in tree planting, child education, promotion of healthy eating habits, or women’s empowerment. As you work to increase the overall quality of life for the community, you will also be gaining valuable practical skills, building self confidence, and learning first-hand about life in Mexico.
This hands-on learning will be supplemented by relevant curriculum, ensuring that you get the most out of your experience. Each day you will receive one hour of Spanish language instruction from a certified teacher so that you can better interact with community members. Volunteers will also attend cultural lectures by local educators and nonprofit workers, and take part in our customized Global Initiative Curriculum. This curriculum is designed to link your service work experience to greater global concepts, allowing you to fully understand and appreciate the spirit of international volunteerism and the true impact of your work.
The Ayusa program is designed to fully immerse volunteers in Mexican life and culture. Volunteers will have the unique experience of living with a local host family during their stay, allowing them to become integrated into Mexican daily life and develop meaningful relationships with families and community members. Working together with the community and other volunteers on service projects gives you the opportunity to further engage with individuals and gain real-world experience in a cross-cultural environment. These projects will directly connect you with the local people as you might be working at a school their children attend, or improving a health center that they will use. Volunteers will have the opportunity to share their experiences in daily debriefings and lively roundtable discussions led by local representatives.
Once a week, Ayusa volunteers will take part in cultural excursions and other group activities. Day trips to cultural and historical sites, hikes through nature reserves, or guided tours will enrich your experience of the country. These excursions will culminate in an unforgettable two day trip to the Sierra Norte Mountains at the end of your volunteer experience.
Through this multifaceted approach involving experiential and academic learning, hands-on development work, and cultural immersion, volunteers will grow as individuals and members of the global community. Your adventure in Mexico will enable you to see yourself and the world from a new perspective, and give you invaluable experience to carry with you on your future endeavors.
Travel and Activities:
During their stay abroad, students will be embarking on weekly cultural outings. Possible excursions may include:
- Monte Alban – the ancient capitol of the Zapotecs and one of the first cities in Mesoamerica where students can imagine an ancient ball game, dance with the “danzantes,” and climb the smallest stairs for a spectacular view of the city!
- Local Art Exploration – a day where students will have the chance to visit the workplaces of various Mexican artists and craftsmen and see demonstrations of traditional weaving methods, throwing techniques for black clay pottery, and fine woodcarving.
- Program Finale: A two day trip through Sierra Norte, a stunning mountainous region that is home to many small Zapotec communities and an extraordinary amount of biodiversity. Students may have opportunities for hiking, nature-watching, mountain biking, or zip-lining while learning about the unique cultural and ecological aspects of the area.
Students will stay with carefully selected host families for the duration of the program. A home stay provides full immersion into Mexican culture and invaluable personal contact with locals. Experienced onsite coordinators will be available to assist with adjusting to host family life. While traveling with the group, students will stay in hotels or hostels.
- 15–18 years old
- 2.5 GPA or higher (4.0 scale)
- Sound and stable mental and physical health appropriate for international travel and rural accommodations
- Flexible and mature personality, desire to be challenged, ability to remain open-minded and tolerant of cultural differences
Program fees help support ongoing development projects and include:
- Roundtrip international airfare from an Ayusa hub city
- Full time dedicated onsite coordinator
- Full room and board
- All domestic transportation upon arrival
- Global Citizen Initiative curriculum delivery
- Round table discussion with community members
- Community project planning, set-up, execution and follow-up
- Project donation and purchase of project materials
- Cultural and adventure activities throughout the program
- Pre-trip organizational discussions, orientations, and program materials
- Extensive staff support throughout all phases of the program