Student Experience

We provide students with opportunities for service, education, and discovery. Students conduct service work shoulder-to-shoulder with community members. Education happens both formally and informally and is reinforced through practice and experience. Discovery further opens students’ minds and is a chance to relax and soak in the world around them.




Most students report that the service portion of their trip is the most memorable and impactful. Students work shoulder-to-shoulder with local families to improve children’s lives. Service work falls into one of the following six development areas:

Access Water

Students work with community members to improve water infrastructure. This includes mapping, trenching, and construction of new water points. 

Nourish Soil

Students learn about soil management practices and then make compost and organic sprays to help families improve soil fertility. 

Strengthen Health

Students build organic vegetable gardens with families or work with schools to grow food for school breakfast. 

Earn Income

Students collaborate with families and partners to implement income generating projects. These projects include pig, cow, and chicken pens as well as stores and other businesses.

Improve Home

Students work with qualifying families to build or improve homes. Home improvements include installing weather-tight roofing, sanitary toilets, and fuel-effiicient stoves.

Enhance Education

Students collaborate with local students and schools to implement projects that will improve educational outcomes. Projects include sanitation projects like toilets and hand-washing basins as well as teaching lessons in English.




Students are given new opportunities to learn throughout their visit. Our coordinators, guides, and local partners will do everything they can to help students take advantage of learning opportunities in the following three areas:


Students learn about local culture in the most authentic way possible: by spending time working, eating, and celebrating with families in the community. 


We share our development framework with students to help them understand how the work they are doing fits into the bigger goal of improving children’s lives. 


We encourage students to become better leaders by focusing on basic procedures, teaching leadership principles, and giving students the opportunity to put these into practice.




Just because students are busy working and learning doesn’t mean they should miss out on having fun! Students will take advantage of being in some of the most unique places in the world while enjoying:


Historical sites give context to modern culture. To gain perspective, students visit sites like the ancient city of Angkor Wat, former slave markets on the Swahili coast, and man-made caves on Mount Kilimanjaro. 


Better Lives’ partners are located near some of the world’s most unique natural settings. Students explore these environments by hiking mountains, swimming in waterfalls, and spotting animals on safari.  


After a week of hard work and new experiences, students take an important break to relax and reflect on what they have learned and accomplished. We hope they return home ready to continue making change in the world!