What makes WorldStamp unique?
WorldStamp is specifically for students between the ages of 18 and 23 seeking to travel, make an impact, experience growth and independence, and immerse themselves in local communities in 3 developing countries: India, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.
WorldStamp gives you the opportunity to bond with a cohort of 12-15 like-minded young men and women who also value service and cultural immersion, engage in a curriculum of service learning and personal growth, and learn or strengthen your Spanish.
You'll also get to know remarkable young men and women in each country who are part of the Young Dreamer Network, who overcome obstacles daily in order to pursue an education. And of course, we make time to visit some of the most extraordinary places in the world, including the Taj Mahal, Corcovado, Tikal, and more. Is WorldStamp a faith-based program?
No. Unlike many service-based programs, WorldStamp has no religious affiliation. Is the selection process competitive?
Yes, it is. We will be traveling the world together for 9 months, often under challenging circumstances. Much as a college admissions committee strives to put together a freshman class composed of unique perspectives, strengths, and skills, we will be building a group of remarkable young adults who each bring something special to the table. A minimum high-school GPA of 3.25 is required to apply. Find out more about our application process, including the required essays and recommendations.
In a nutshell, we're looking for an extraordinary group of intelligent, compassionate, tough, culturally sensitive, cooperative, hard-working, low maintenance, friendly, deep-thinking young people with an adventurous spirit and a passion for service...and we can't wait to meet you! What qualifies the staff of WorldStamp to take students abroad?
We have been doing this successfully for nearly a decade. Founder and Program Director Brian Buntz is a former Peace Corps Volunteer and middle-school teacher who has been leading popular service trips for young adults and families to Ghana, India, Guatemala, and Costa Rica for the past 8 years. Team members have more than 20 years collective experience running volunteer trips. Find out more about the WorldStamp team. Additionally, local program staff with many years experience hosting volunteer groups will work with the cohort in each of the three countries. How long has WorldStamp been running?
WorldStamp is a Dream Volunteers program. Dream Volunteers has been running short- and medium-length service trips since 2007. WorldStamp grew out of the deep relationships we have forged with local communities through these trips over the years, combined with feedback from participants about wishing they could stay longer and make more of a difference. Our first 9-month program launched in the fall of 2015. Now is your opportunity to be part of the second cohort!
What does the program cost include?
The program cost covers nearly everything. It covers tuition and program fees for educational activities, language classes, and cultural excursions, as well as our service-learning and personal growth curriculum. It also includes housing, almost all meals, in-country transportation, airport pick-up and drop-off, 24-hour emergency contact, and internet access wherever possible. It does not include international airfare, visa expenses, meals during travel between countries, or vaccinations. Participants will want to bring pocket money for souvenirs and social spending. How can I finance this program? Are scholarships available?
Many of our students fundraise a portion of the program tuition through traditional activities such bake sales, car washes, and raffles. They also use online crowd-funding tool Piggybackr. In the first cohort, we will also be awarding one 95% scholarship based on demonstrated need. Find out more about tuition and fundraising.
What access do participants have to health and medical care?
In all three locations, our program director and most local staff are trained in first aid and CPR. When the group is together, there is a first aid kit accessible at all times. In India and Guatemala, our housing locations are within walking distance of a 24-hour pharmacy and less than a 15-minute drive from the nearest clinic and emergency room. In Costa Rica, the nearest medical facility is a 45-minute drive. We have 24-hour access to vehicles and drivers should we need to rush someone to the hospital. Is there an emergency plan in place for each country?
Absolutely. In each country, we have local program staff and drivers to handle logistics. They have a wealth of experience keeping our groups safe and secure. In the event of a crisis, we have drivers and vehicles ready to take us directly to the airport, or to the US Embassy should that be necessary. Our group will be registered with the US State Department and the US Embassies in each country.
Does WorldStamp prepare students for college?
We feel that students are best prepared for college when they have a global perspective, a sense of their own power to address community needs, a feeling of resilience and experience problem-solving, and a strong sense of who they are and who they want to become. Coming straight from high school, many students haven't yet had the opportunity to fully develop these qualities. WorldStamp was designed to instill and enhance these qualities in students. What educational content is covered over the 9 months?
There are three main components to our curriculum: service learning, project work, and personal growth. Service learning includes community needs assessment; observing and learning current projects in each country; visiting with NGOs, local government, local professors, and social impact entrepreneurs; conducting comparative analysis within and between the 3 countries; and of course taking part in hands-on service projects.
Over the course of the 9 months, each participant will also have the opportunity to generate a fully developed proposal for an implementable service project that addresses a real need in one or more of the communities we spend time in. This is an opportunity to demonstrate what you've learned through the lens of leadership.
Personal growth is an integral part of everything we do, through introspective exercises and inspirational presentations; individual and group reflection; and individual and group mentorship. This time is about identifying your passions and dreams and carving out a path toward them. It's about developing confidence and self-reliance, while contemplating and wrestling with life's big questions.
Can WorldStamp accommodate special diets (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, food allergies, etc.)?
Yes, we can! We are glad to accommodate special diets. In fact, in many cases the local diet is uniquely well suited to do so (for example, the local staples and specialties may already be naturally gluten-free). Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have about your diet preferences or needs. How are volunteer work assignments made during the 9 months?
Service projects are conceived and developed, first and foremost, based on the needs of each community. Through our local relationships, we determine what is needed by the community and what is feasible for our volunteers. Whenever possible, our participants have the option to choose between projects related to education, public health, sports and recreation, and environmental management. Do I need to already speak a second language to participate?
Not at all. What we care about is a desire to communicate and build connections around the world. We're also excited to welcome you to our extraordinary language-learning experience in Guatemala, which features high-quality one-on-one instruction.
By the end of your 3 months there, you'll be surprised at how much Spanish you know — and can bring with you and build upon for the final leg of our trip to Costa Rica! If you already speak Spanish, you will get to dive into regional current events, politics and Spanish literature, with discussions and materials in Spanish. In India, English is one of the official language and is widely spoken. We also have Hindi interpreters to translate for us when necessary. How will I know what to pack?
Participants in our service-learning trips (and their parents) have commented on how detailed and helpful our pre-trip packing lists were for them. Over the years we have refined our recommendations, and will provide you with a proven list of everything you'll want to bring with you for each climate, culture, and activity. Can I get a preview of the trip itinerary?
Yes, click here to see tentative schedules for each country.
Can I talk to past participants, or parents or participants?
Certainly! As the inaugural 9-month WorldStamp program will launch in 2015, we invite you to connect with our Ambassadors, students who have been on our service trips and their parents. Our Ambassadors can answer any questions you might have about locations, lodging, volunteer work, host communities, or anything else, and can also share tips and recommendations.