Summer Service Opportunities

Looking for a meaningful way to spend your summer? Stanford activists share their most memorable experiences.

826 National
Annie Shields, ’13 []

I worked as an intern within an educational non-profit focussed on providing one-on-one tutoring to underserved youth in various cities across the US. I learned a lot about the maintenance of non-profits and got to meet cool writers, educators and teachers. 826 National is located in SF, which allowed me to meet tons of amazing people connected to the organization.

Aarti Home (via Project Dosti)
Janhavi Vartak, ’15 []

My job was twofold. I was teaching in a school for abandoned children(mostly girls) started by the organization, and also helping the organization on the administrative side by writing grant proposals etc to fund future projects. One example of the latter is a proposal for a mobile computer lab that would teach children the basics of computers. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the children from the home, teaching them, playing with the younger ones and chatting with the older girls.

Zach Chase, student

I went door-to-door canvassing for a farm bill to be passed or rejected in congress. I loved getting updates on the radio from our own lobbyist about what was happening nationally while we were working.

Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education
Keryn Breiterman-Loader, undergraduate []

I composed literature reviews for academic papers about compassion, wrote lay press articles on compassion and social connection, did publicity, and brainstormed initiatives. It is a great place that combines research with education and social change initiatives.

Arianna Wassmann, ’13 []

I served as a college mentor for disadvantaged high school students. While the focus of the program is academic tutoring and SAT preparation, I also got to assist students with selecting which colleges they’d like to apply to, editing personal statements, searching for scholarships, etc.

I loved getting to know all of my students’ stories. The program lets you work with small groups of students (3-5) so that you can get to know them on a more personal level. I didn’t just get to learn where they struggled academically; I got to learn who they were as young adults. I heard all about their families and friends, their hobbies, the classes they loved and hated, their career dreams, and all of the experiences that made them into who they are.

East Palo Alto Stanford Academy (via the Haas Center‘s Education and Youth Development Fellowship)
Stephanie May, ’13 []

I spent the summer working with 7th and 8th grade students from East Palo Alto. I and six other fellows designed curriculum and lessons to teach these students for 5 weeks over the summer – we taught classes ranging from English and math to comic book drawing and public speaking. Aside from teaching, we served as mentors and helped with summer programming for the students.

I loved being able to work with these students – this program presents them with an opportunity to help them grow, and a support network to help them through the middle school experience and transition to high school. Every day was different, every student was unique, and it was a privilege to work with them and introduce them to Stanford. Not only were we able to work with them on academic subjects, but we were also able to answer their questions about college life and expose them to the world of community service through weekly service projects. If you love working with kids and want an opportunity to design and teach your own lessons with some amazing kids, this is the program for you.

Gender DynamiX
Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13 []

I interned at Gender DynamiX, the first transgender advocacy organization in Africa based in Cape Town, South Africa. I worked on various projects including grant proposals, a study on HIV prevalence in transgender communities in SA, a safer sex guide for gender non-conforming peoples, hate crimes advocacy, among others. I loved meeting and working with passionate grassroots queer activists!

Niños Con Valor
Rachel Kelley, ’13 []

I helped to care for babies and toddlers who were impacted by HIV and/or who were living with special medical needs. This meant everything from changing diapers to household chores to arts and crafts. Occasionally, I was able to volunteer at NCV’s home for girls (ages 7-17), where I helped the girls with homework and chores.

This organization works to give each child in its care the very best quality of life and future opportunities. It strives to keep children in touch with their families when possible, and it operates through the efforts of Bolivian staff and a Bolivian Board of Directors. Since it is a fairly small and relatively young organization, NCV is flexible and open to new projects (an aquaponics project and college transition project are now in the works). For me, it was a valuable opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture and to learn about the challenges facing vulnerable children in Bolivia.

Photography Project (via Chappell Lougee Scholarship)
Gabriela Leslie, ’14 []

I travelled around various organic farms and agroforestry projects in the Brazilian Cerrado region, a tropical savannah.  The Cerrado is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, containing about 33% of Brazil’s biodiversity, yet is almost half deforested due to agribusiness and other development initiatives in the region.  However, there is a small but vigorous agroforestry and organic farming movement cropping up in the region, seeking to develop other models of land management in the region.  Through the medium of photography and travel writings, I sought to explore and document the emotional, cultural, and spiritual motivations for this movement and understand why these people are doing what they are doing in face of such large industrial development. During the course of this year, I have been working on hand-binding a photographic coffee table book with my photos and writings, and will hopefully be exhibiting during Spring Quarter.

I loved the sense of being able to independently travel and explore a foreign country, developing my artistic work, learning about environmental issues in an incredibly valuable and fragile ecosystem, and really be living among the people and working with the land, as opposed to merely studying the phenomenon from afar.

Rainforest Foundation
Josh Schott, ’14 []

I conducted research and developed programs to engage more young adults in the issues of indigenous peoples’ rights and to increase young adult membership of the organization. I developed the “Rock for the Rainforest Campaign” which is a series of live music events that will raise awareness and funds for ensuring indigenous peoples’ rights and protecting the rainforest.

Stanford Medical Youth Science Program
Martell Hesketh, student []

I worked as a counselor/mentor for 24 amazing high school juniors and seniors for 5 weeks on campus. We got to organize talks from Stanford faculty and anatomy classes for the students (and also attend if we wanted). You receive room and board in addition to a salary.

I love that you get to become a part of this amazing community. The strength and accomplishments of the high school kids are incredible and by the end you are just so inspired by how much they’ve grown. It also provides you with great connections in the Stanford community. It was honestly such a rewarding experience and a great way to spend your summer with an awesome group of people.

Support for International Change
Mary Raddawi, ’14 []

For 10 days, I lived in Arusha with 12 US volunteers and 10 Tanzanian students (who served as teachers and translators for us) and studied Swahili, Tanzanian culture and the history and transmission of HIV and AIDS. After the initial 10 days, I moved into a home in a rural community 1 hour out of Arusha with a host family, 1 US volunteer and 1 Tanzanian student. We taught the community’s schools, village leaders, shop owners and other community groups about HIV transmission and how to prevent it. We worked with mother and midwives as well to help them prevent mother-to-child transmission. Halfway into the program, we were given one week off during which we could climb Mount Kilimanjaru, raft and bugee jump in the Nile River, go on a Safari in Ngoro Ngoro, and/or travel to the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar–an island off the coast of Tanzania. When we returned, we continued teaching and began advertising our two testing days. At the culmination of the program, we provided over 1,000 community members with free HIV testing, as well as planned a community festival for the children to celebrate and experience games we play in the US.

I made some of the closest friends of my life through this experience–both in the US and Tanzania. The testing day was extremely rewarding and the warmth the surrounding rural community gave us was incredible. I have never felt so welcomed in my life. The Tanzanian people I encountered were some of the warmest people I have ever met. I consider my Tanzanian host mom as a second mom to me (and not to mention, the best cook ever) and could not stop crying when I had to leave her and my 2 little host sisters!

Tennessee Health Care Campaign
Rachel Kelley, ’13 []

I interviewed people who were uninsured about their experiences with the health care system, about the obstacles they encountered accessing care, and about their day-to-day lives. Then I turned these interviews into short stories and advocacy pieces to help people understand the impact of the Affordable Care Act in TN. I also helped THCC prepare for their Annual Conference by working with volunteers, making short slide show movies, and putting together fact sheets about health reform.

Since THCC is a small organization, I was able to work on a wide variety of projects and take a lot of personal initiative in deciding how I wanted to contribute. The story work I focused on allowed me to travel around the state to meet people who are struggling with our health care system. The opportunity to have very personal conversations with people was a real privilege, and their stories continue to motivate me to work for health reform in our country. Last but not least, the staff members at THCC are truly dedicated to social justice, and I consider them both friends and mentors.

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms
Solveij Praxis, undergraduate []

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an incredible organization that offers people of all skill levels and backgrounds a chance to learn about the diverse areas with which farm living intersects, from earth science to holistic living, from healthy cooking to self-efficacy.  I worked on a particular farm in Kings Valley, OR.  While there, I learned to cook jam, work the land, and build a solar dehydrator, among other things.  I also learned what it means to be part of an intimate, supportive community and gained a greater appreciation for nature.  Every experience is unique.  Think about what you want out of it and do plenty of research on your opportunities beforehand. I loved that I left the farm feeling so grateful for the relationships and sense of autonomy I’d gained.

Want to add your summer experience to our list? Please contact 

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