Service-learning is a relatively new concept in the field of international education.  Taking its place among the many different types of volunteer and international work, service-learning places a premium on contributing to a social need while learning skills and knowledge that will provide career development and new insights into individual interests.

Research has shown that international volunteer work tends to add more value to the individual who carries out the work, rather than the community or mission which is served, but it also supports the idea that international volunteers are motivated to contribute by passing on “specific skills that they believed would benefit the host organization or community” (Lough, et al., 2009, p.13).  Service learning can be a rewarding experience, both because it builds citizenry and community service skills, and because it often promotes collaboration and friendship building opportunities.  Furthermore, it can be an affordable way to contribute meaningfully in a job or profession which might not be accessible at a traditional entry level position.  For example, individuals who are interested in education services, community organizing, public health, natural resource sciences, and social services can often find service-learning options which are the first step on a life-long career.

In Chile, various options exist in different areas of interest to participate in service-learning and volunteer programs.  The  peer-reviewed journal Society for International Education, at Columbia University, whose 2010 journal contains an article about volunteering in English Opens Doors, in Chile.  The paper is also downloadable here.