Global Xchange is an innovative, intercultural service exchange opportunity for young people to work together with people of other countries and to develop shared experiences, skill sets, and values.
Every six months, Global Xchange teams up groups of 18 young people, ages 18-25. Nine are from the same overseas partner country, nine come from the United Kingdom. The service term lasts six months, during which a group splits its time between the United Kingdom and the partner country. All members of the group live in the same town, and are divided up into cross-border pairs who live together with host families.
Four days a week, participants work in Volunteer Placements at a host organization—also in cross-cultural counterpart pairs; and then one day a week, pairs take turns facilitating Global Citizenship Days, leading everyone in the group in increased awareness of the development issues facing the host country. Stitched throughout the entire term of service is a theme that varies from group to group; past themes have included HIV and AIDS, disability, participation and governance, and community cohesion/interfaith work.
The program is fully recipricol, and as such, its impact has a ripple effect in both host communities. From the website:
The programme impacts most directly on the young people who volunteer, but its power extends to the families who host them, the community projects with which they work and the wider communities in which they live. For all of these participants in the programme, Global Xchange demonstrates the potential and promotes the values of active global citizenship.
Countries whose citizens have participated include Malawi, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Syria, the United Kingdom, and countries of the European Economic Activity.
One new theme to launch soon is a group of U.K., E.E.A., and Nepalese citizens who are also members of the Deaf community. Read more about that project.
To see participants in action, watch this brief documentary about a Malawi exchange.
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Read more about the British Council.
The VSO is an international development charity promoting innovative approaches to globalising volunteering. Read more about the VSO.