Putney’s Community Service projects sow seeds for progress in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Each day, students rise early and work in teams through much of the day to improve schools or community centers, construct or repair housing for low-income families, run summer camps for local children, and much more. Working alongside local people is a great way to learn new skills and build friendships across cultural and language boundaries. Contributing to the common good at the local level is an essential step students can take this summer toward the goal of creating a better world.
Our students learn an important lesson about community service: in working alongside others to improve their communities, we gain much more than we can possibly give. Participants must be willing to work hard, have a sensitivity toward others, and the ability to live simply. Our students learn from their labor that service can be fun and educational, and that one person can indeed make a difference.
“I gained appreciation for where I live and a sense of awareness for the help needed around the world. My favorite part of the trip was working together as a team to build and paint the school, and helping with the school’s garden. It was amazing. We started as strangers and worked together to help so many people.”
– Teddy Hurst, New Canaan High School, New Canaan, CT
Late afternoons and evenings are for relaxing and exploring. On weekend trips from our host villages we explore the cultural richness and scenic beauty of the region in which we are based. Students learn to surf the smooth Pacific swell in Costa Rica, dance and drum at a local chief’s birthday in Ghana, ride horseback across the Andean altiplano, visit a floating village in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, or see big game up close on safari in Tanzania.
In addition to group projects, each participant chooses an independent project that will engage him or her in local life. Whether it’s organizing a sporting event, learning to play traditional instruments, or helping local farmers, students tailor their project to their personal interests and later present their experiences to the rest of the group.
Upon successful completion of the program, participants receive a certificate from Putney recognizing between 50-100 hours of community service work.