Bright Light Volunteers is a Dallas-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides education and experiential learning opportunities to its volunteers. They service non-profit organizations in 12 countries around the globe, providing “Cafeterias, water wells, water filtration systems, early childhood education, conservation environmental work, and more” CEO, and founder, Catherine Greenberg, states.
The organization partners with Bethel University to provide students with “Transformative, culturally immersive, experiences abroad.” Instructors at the school immerse the students in a six-week learning course, Global Service Learning and Citizenship, prior to leaving. The students then explore historic and natural landmarks, tour museums, try different cuisines, and experience other culturally specific activities and environments.
“We do a lot of work with kids that normally wouldn’t have these opportunities because in general, programs like these are such a high financial burden. Some of these kids have never been on an airplane. Never left their small-town farming community. And then suddenly they’re on an airplane with me heading to Cuba.”
Some of her students have gone on to start petitions at their local high schools after learning of the prevalence of trash on beaches in other countries.
“It was wonderful to see that some of these kids went back to their community and they actually started a petition and drive to get rid of plastic straws in their schools. It’s just an example of these kids that did this program, learned about other communities, and went back to their own community and shared the knowledge; it’s like a ripple effect.”
Greenberg began Bright Light Volunteers after experiencing the profound effects traveling had on her own children.
“Being able to see my kids make those human connections and being able to play with kids from all different areas really made me realize the power in being immersed in different cultures.”
Parents and students interested in enrolling in one of Bright Light Volunteers’ travel programs can find out more information on how to do so here. The wait time between registration and departure is several months.
They also have a Virtual Global Service Learning and Citizenship Program, in which students can interact with communities abroad from the comfort of their own homes. The program provides in-depth information about global issues and the interconnectivity different nations share. Students will also receive a certificate from Bright Light Volunteers, for three, transferable, credit hours, upon completion of the program.