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Spring break trips with a difference

Spring into service with a "voluntourism" vacation. You can mix with the locals, living and working in communities on a variety of projects and activities, from teaching English to caring for youngsters in orphanages, taking part in community improvement projects or conservation efforts.

Trips are generally short-term: one-, two- and three-weeks in length, though some companies can arrange for longer service periods. Typically, no prior experience is necessary to participate.

Here are some upcoming. Prices for the trips vary; contact the organization for details.

Global Volunteers: This organization has been offering assistance trips worldwide for 26 years. It leads a variety of programs in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, Europe and other destinations. Trips promote education (particularly girls' education), labor and community infrastructure, health care, childcare and food and nutrition. Among the many offerings this spring are trips to X'ian, China with departures scheduled in March, April and May; to Santa Helena, Costa Rica, with departures slated for March, May and June; and to Quito, Ecuador, with departures in March and April. Visit

Projects Abroad: For college students, Projects Abroad Alternative Spring Break Trips are one-week volunteer projects that align with most major U.S. universities' spring breaks. The following destinations are offered this year: Care in Jamaica, assisting in an orphanage March 9-15 and March 16-22; Building in Jamaica, helping to repair and build houses, March 9-15 and March 16-22; Conservation in Mexico, helping to protect endangered Ridley turtles, March 9-15 and March 16-22. Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students had the chance to teach conversational English. Afterwards, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects in more than two dozen countries. Visit

Globe Aware Adventures In Service: This non-profit has been developing short-term volunteer programs internationally for 15 years. Trips are intended to promote cultural awareness and/or sustainability. The organization's criteria for choosing projects include trips that are safe, culturally interesting, genuinely beneficial to a needy community, and that involve significant interaction between participants and the host community. Optional cultural excursions are available on every program. Among the organization's service trips this season are programs to the Inca city of Cuzco in Peru, near the legendary Lost City of Machu Picchu. Visit

Cross Cultural Solutions believes that change in the world can be achieved through personal acts of kindness and selflessness. Trips this spring and beyond are to Guatemala, March through June; Brazil, May and June; and Costa Rica, March through June. Visit

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