High School

Your High School Will Benefit From An Outreach360 Trip

“I have been a teacher for 12 years and I know what goes into planning and providing learning experiences. Nowhere else can you go in with no required teaching education or experience and yet have a meaningful week where you truly become a teacher and see what benefits this career provides firsthand.” -Rebecca Walsh; St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. 

Finding the perfect balance between education and fun can be difficult for teachers, but one common truth stands: high school students want to be a part of something greater than themselves. Outreach360 offers volunteer programs for high school students that aim to empower young adults to make a difference on a global scale. High school volunteers work to educate underserved children during their experience with Outreach360 in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

But wait. There’s more.

Outreach360 provides high school students with a standout service-learning experience. Your students will be immersed in the Latin American culture and take part in inclusive cultural activities, such as informational documentaries, interactive discussions about Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic culture from Outreach360 mentors, and cultural excursions.  In addition, the Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students are safe and affordable.

This volunteering opportunity for high school students will create memories that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 reasons why you should take your high school students abroad to volunteer with Outreach360:

 1. Your Students’ Health and Saftey is our #1 Priority

Here’s the deal: Outreach360 offers volunteer programs for high school students that strive to provide a safe and health conscientious environment supported by staff and local community members. “One of the things I like best about this trip is that it is a great introduction to service for a lot of our kids in technically a third world environment that is still safe. We feel comfortable with them experiencing some different conditions than they are used to but in terms of how the food is prepared and the safety precautions taken we don’t feel as though we are putting them at risk and yet exposing them to an opportunity to see a completely different part of the world,” Amy Vachris, a St. Mark’s High School teacher, said. Since 1994, Outreach360 has hosted over 22,000 volunteers who have enjoyed a healthy and safe volunteer experience. There are several factors that make our organization safe, including our highly trained staff, our well-accommodated facilities, and our developed community relationships. For more information about our health and safety practices, read this blog post: https://outreach360.org/blog/health-safety-first-priority/

2. Students Will Gain Cultural Insights

As teachers, Outreach360 works to create an immersive experience that students will remember for a lifetime. We know that you work to do the same for your high school students at home. Outreach360 provides volunteer programs for high school students that will expand your students’ cultural and global knowledge. Although your students will become Outreach360 teachers for the week, they will be learning about the unique cultures of the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua in an immersive setting. Outreach360 high school volunteers gain cultural insights through our educational programming, which includes informational documentaries, interactive discussions about Latin American culture from Outreach360 mentors, and cultural excursions.

3. Instill a Mentality of Service in Your Students

Service is powerful. Period. Service abroad will not only change the world but will also change your high school students’ perspectives. By volunteering abroad with Outreach360, high school students will learn the value of giving back in international communities and at home.  Maria Kane, a teacher at The Pennington School, said, “This experience allowed me as a teacher to see my students away from technology and media to play and learn vulnerably.” Your students will grow to express their vulnerabilities through service, away from technology. A service-learning trip will increase the odds that your students go on to live a life of service and inspire their peers to do the same.

4. No Planning Means No Worries

Outreach360 understands that international travel logistics can be a nightmare for teachers. Between lesson planning for the school year and professional development days, you deserve a break. When you choose to volunteer with your high school students, you will not have to worry about in-country logistics. We will handle your transportation to and from the airport, provide you with comfortable housing, and three home-cooked meals per day. Outreach360 exists to make your volunteering abroad experience easy – it’s a turn-key approach to international service. Our staff is highly trained to accommodate all the needs that your students might have, so you can truly enjoy the experience of volunteering in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

5. Teach Teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work. Outreach360 high school volunteers work alongside their teachers to educate underserved children in Latin America. This process creates a community of service-minded high school students. In order to meet your group’s volunteering goals, high school volunteers will need to work together to create effective lesson plans that engage Outreach360 students. Together, you will support each other throughout the process. This further encourages bonding time between classmates, motivating new friendships that will grow while serving and at home. This opportunity is a great way to spend quality time with your students. As a teacher, you will discover new qualities about your high school students that you never knew before.

6. Future Fun

International service is fun! Outreach360 high school volunteers will have the opportunity to explore a foreign city, hike up mountains, and make a difference in hundreds of students’ lives. Although your high school students will have several chances to participate in the local culture, you will be surprised to find that teaching will be the highlight of their week. Outreach360 students are thrilled to share powerful intercultural experiences with high school students. See all the ways that Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students are fun here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw5XUQ4Gq3Q

7. Bring it Home

Outreach360 motivates high school students to dedicate themselves to a lifetime of service. Imagine if all young adults strived to make the world a better place through service at home and abroad. Their impact combined would move mountains. Outreach360 aspires to create a community of global high school students who are committed to making a difference and giving back, whether that means returning to volunteer in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua or volunteering at home. After participating in Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students, your high school students will want to continue to make an impact in your local community and internationally.

8. Inspire Others

Volunteering abroad as a high school student will inspire others to do the same, creating a community of service-minded young adults who are passionate about giving back. This, of course, is not limited to young adults. Here is what Laura Layton Pendorf, a retired Polytechnic School teacher, had to say about her volunteering experience: “I was a high school Spanish teacher for 41 years and just retired. I have felt lonely and unneeded since then, this week in Jinotega working with the Nicaraguan children and my ex-students have given me a whole new outlook on life. I feel deeply inspired, proud of my capacities, and so deeply joyful to have shared them.”  Volunteering with Outreach360 as a teacher or a high school student will create positive change. Simply sharing your Outreach360 story, like Laura, can empower other teachers and high school students to volunteer. Eventually, this will lead to a high school volunteer and teacher volunteer community that is enthusiastic about direct service.

9. Empower Your Students to Empower Others

Each student in your high school has different skills and talents that make them extraordinary. Outreach360 aims to allow individuals to use their skills and talents to empower students in the local community. When you volunteer, you will share in your high school students’ strengths in order to make lessons more engaging for Outreach360 students. Laura Monti, a high school teacher from The Taft School, said, “As a teacher, I’d encourage other teachers to participate for insight into another educational experience, for the pride you feel when your students become teachers, and for the growth, you will experience when you are put into an entirely unfamiliar teaching environment.” Empowering your high school students through teaching will, in turn, empower others, including Outreach360 students, staff, and local community members. This process will motivate Outreach360 students to develop their own passions and to share them with the world, making their dreams a reality., 

10. Your Students Will Become Global Citizens

Exposing your high school students to service abroad will initiate your students into the emerging world of global citizenship. With these experiences, young adults will become more conscientious of the needs of the international community. Katherine Holding, a high school student from Fay School, says, “Outreach360 gave me not only a greater perspective of the one world we all share as well as an insight into the impact of love, but also showed me a previously unknown side of myself. While here, I found myself doing things I would have thought impossible and learning more than I ever could have imagined.”  Service will take on a new meaning and open doors for new beginnings for your high school students. The volunteer programs for high school students will cause your students to continue learning about issues around the world and become powerful advocates for action and change.

Register a team for the Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students here:  https://outreach360.org/volunteer/high-school-teams/

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What Does Outreach360 Do?

Staten Island Academy student Mina Rhee and JFK School students work on a review lesson at an Outreach360 program in the Dominican Republic. (Clay Wollney)

By Clay Wollney | For the Staten Island Advance
on June 09, 2015 at 2:00 PM, updated June 09, 2015 at 4:32 PM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Outreach360 is an organization that engages volunteers in a service-learning experience providing underserved children with alternative educational opportunities such as English classes, art, music and drama camps and sports programs in an effort to give the children opportunities they must have to live a life of choice.

The full mission of Outreach360 is to transform individuals, families, communities, countries and the world by providing education and activities that enable the development of disadvantaged children.

The organization has centers in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

In the Dominican Republic, being able to speak English is necessary to pursue a college education. Unfortunately, English classes are not available to many children.

During the last week of May, I accompanied 19 Staten Island Academy seniors on a service-learning trip to the Outreach360 site in Monte Cristi.

The SIA students taught small groups of students at two Outreach360 Learning Centers, one in JFK Elementary School and another after school. The SIA seniors taught English classes, using lessons they prepared themselves.

The interaction between the students was a learning experience for all involved. The JFK students strengthened their English skills and the SIA students got a firsthand sense of the life and needs of underserved children in a developing nation. They also developed a deep sense of love and caring for one another.

Volunteers are what make Outreach360’s programs and successes possible. Each week a new set of volunteers arrives to help at the school, building upon the work accomplished the week before. According to Konrad Bennett, an Outreach360 OLE leader who gave us his full and constant attention, “The JFK students bring incredible energy and enthusiasm to the classroom every day but don’t often get the individual attention that they crave and need. That’s where our volunteers come in … whereas, in a typical Dominican classroom, the teacher to student ratio is about 1:35, our volunteer teams of fluent English speakers can bring that ratio down to 1:3 or lower!”

Bennett further observed that “The volunteer teams bring the real excitement and creativity. It’s always incredible to see how much our students learn and how much their desire to learn grows each week.”

Does this approach really work?

Said Sarah Edwards, national director of Outreach360 in the Dominican Republic:
“Students who were once illiterate are now reading in English and Spanish. Students who were ‘too cool for school’ became students of the month.”

Of course, the real effectiveness of a program is its outcomes. During our visit we met a few of the program’s graduates who now serve as local volunteers; they have mastered English and are in college.

Daritza is on scholarship with Outreach360 and is studying medicine. She explained, “I started studying English when I was 8 years old and also learned many values — patience, respect, teamwork, and punctuality — thanks to Outreach360.”

Aidil, another graduate of the program and a highly dedicated volunteer, just completed her freshman year in university. She observed that “The kids can feel the energy that their Outreach volunteers bring to the class each day. For me, it is incredible to see how the JFK students’ knowledge increases.”

In addition to their work during the day, the SIA students were introduced to various aspects of Dominican history and culture, as well as the country’s relationship with Haiti, in the late afternoons and evenings. They also took a guided walk of the town, toured a facility that harvests sea salt and learned how to do dance Dominican style. The lunches and dinners were mainly delicious  Dominican dishes.

The impact of the experience on my students was impressive. Their reactions included expressions such as “inspirational”, “a real-life experience” and “energizing.” One student even described it as “the best week of my life.”

As Aidil pointed out, “the volunteers get as much out of the experience as the children they served.”

If your school participates in any service-learning programs or you would like to learn more about Outreach360, please contact me at cwollney@statenislandacademy.org or visit the Outreach360 website at www.Outreach360.org.

Originally published in the Staten Island Advance.

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