Commitment to International Development
The Youthlinc approach to international development is based on research and practical experience. Our goal is to help communities become self-sufficient. We help in the construction of compatible and sustainable structures for education, health, and the general well-being of the community. We offer information (in the form of lessons for people of all ages, community workshops or fairs, and professional exchanges) in basic health and hygiene, education, vocational training, and small business development and/or livestock exchange.
Youthlinc partners with small villages in developing countries for three to five years with the expectation that these communities continue to help themselves with the resources we provide.
We structure our curriculum so that our Service Year participants have strong leadership, education, and cultural exchange opportunities. Educational and service learning research is clear: the best learning experiences come through hands-on activities, interaction with partner communities, and project based learning.
In keeping with these goals, we have established a basic curriculum for our international trips. Each team (35-40 people), no matter where they travel, is comprised of five core committees, which work collaboratively during the Service Year to plan and then carry out the projects at each site. These committees are led by students and mentored by adult professionals, who travel with the teams.
All team members help with construction projects while at their international site. Teams have worked on various projects: building bridges, laying sidewalk, constructing vocational centers, classrooms and first aid stations. Projects are determined well in advance through meetings and needs assessments with Youthlinc staff and the partner communities, and negotiated according to the financial resources available to Youthlinc. We expect each community we work with to provide labor for the construction projects, working side by side with our participants to build stronger partnerships.
At each of our sites, Youthlinc gathers information in advance about the most pressing medical and health needs of that community. From that information, the Community Health committees work to organize health fairs, raise funds, and bring medical supplies and/or equipment to each community. Youthlinc does not operate open clinics at its international sites. Holding ‘come one, come all’ clinics is not sustainable. Knowledge and understanding is sustainable. Clinic work is only done within the area of expertise of the medical professional we bring, and in concert and under the direction of village health professionals. Opportunities for professional exchange, within the village and in local medical facilities are part of the Youthlinc international experience.
The Cultural Exchange committee is in charge of creating a bridge between the team and the local community. Committee members organize opening and closing ceremonies, cultural dialogues, sport competitions, and other meaningful activities. We encourage our young people to learn about the culture and society through structured and casual interaction with people, young and old, in the partner community. We also encourage the Cultural Exchange committees to oversee Cultural Conversations, or dialogues that take place within the homes of the villagers. Through the process of having cultural conversations—or interviews—our team members are able to powerfully connect and find commonalities with, learn from, and honor the people they will be serving. Furthermore, the people are able to share and teach our teams, which allows for reciprocity and mutual respect. The exchange of knowledge and interaction that happens during these interviews promote humanitarianism.
Our in-country partners – the Rotary clubs, NGOs, and village leaders – let us know what the educational needs are in each site. Students on this committee plan and oversee lessons, raise funds, and organize school supply drives in order to meet these needs. The Education committee is responsible for teaching each participant how to organize a basic lesson plan that will ensure successful interaction and communication of information, as well as organizing an English Camp while in-country. All team members are required to prepare a lesson to be taught to various age groups in the community. In this way, every participant has an opportunity to interact with community members in a way that we have found is very rewarding.
The Business Development committee focuses on finding and strengthening business opportunities in each community, based on information gathered from previous team visits and on-going communication with our in-country coordinators. Prior to each trip, members of these committees meet regularly to develop hands-on and engaging lessons about marketing, tracking, and recording finances. While in-country, committee members meet regularly with community members to teach, and work together to determine how to make community business ideas sustainable.
The Vocational Training committee works to create better employment opportunities in our sites. Youthlinc teams have participated in teaching villagers skills like baking, sewing, barbering, soap making, and a variety of other skills as requested by our partner communities. This committee often uses Youthlinc’s 4Ps (product, promotion, placement & price) lessons to augment the vocational trainings.
According to the needs of the communities and the professional experience of our mentors, Youthlinc has often organized other committees focused on Social Work, Audiology, Special Needs Education, and many more.
For more information on the committee work completed at each site, please click on the following links: