Our Mission: Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.
We are excited to be celebrating 30 years of bridging cultures through studying and traveling abroad, and it is with the support of parents like yourself that have made it possible for students to have incredible academic experiences while promoting world peace and understanding.
Greenheart Travel’s study abroad, summer language camps and volunteer programs focus on full cultural immersion that fosters leadership skills and cultural competency. From living with local families to attending classes in their host country’s native language, these experiences give students global awareness. We are dedicated to not only preparing a student for this life-changing program abroad, but helping them during and after they return home to translate that experience to academic and career success.
“I’ve only been going to school (University of Chicago) for 10 weeks and I’ve adjusted as well as it took me to do so in Vienna after 5 months. Partly because my experiences abroad have helped me to adapt to any situation but also because studying abroad was, for me, harder; and it’s rewarding in a completely different and awesome way.“ – Sarah Gourevitch, Greenheart Travel high school alumna in Austria
In the tabs to the left, we provide an overview of our academic and service-learning opportunities for high school teens, and how we can help support you and your child during a study abroad experience. We look forward to connecting and helping your student travel for a change in the months ahead!
Here are just a few ways Greenheart Travel helps your child experience life abroad and meet their academic goals during their program.
Greenheart Travel participants live with a local host family and receive a full cultural and language immersion experience.
Unique Programs Around the World
Whether it’s studying abroad in Spain, volunteering at an Animal Rescue Center in Costa Rica or perfecting German at a summer camp in Berlin, Greenheart Travel programs will open up your child to the many facets of life abroad in destinations across the globe.
Flexible and Affordable Programs
Traveling abroad doesn’t have to interfere with the school curriculum or your child’s graduation timeline. Greenheart Travel offers summer and winter break programs, as well as trimester, semester and academic yearlong study abroad opportunities around the world.
Service Learning Opportunities While Abroad
If your child needs to meet service learning requirements to graduate, they can participate on a volunteer program or volunteer independently during their time overseas through our Greenheart Club.
Personal Program Manager for Every Student
Greenheart Travel has a personal program manager for each student traveling abroad, offering support from the time you or your child inquires to the time they return home, by someone you know by name.
Greenheart Travel alumni are provided with the guidance and tools they need to translate their impactful experiences abroad into tangible skills that can be highlighted on their college applications. Through our Alumni network, your child will have a chance to connect with like-minded students, and mentor future participants.
Pre-departure Preparation and Orientations
“Everything was well organized and I was prepared for my experience and received a great host family and area to live in.” Kailey, Greenheart Travel high school alumna in Italy
The most important part of a child’s study abroad program is having realistic expectations about what their experience will entail. Most importantly, students need to have the tools to deal with the challenges and successes they’ll face while abroad. Whether through regular phone conversations, e-mails, or Skype meetings, your child will have the necessary information to make sure they are getting all they can out of their international experience.
Unlike other organizations, Greenheart Travel conducts not one, but two pre-departure orientations. These sessions offer best practices to get the most out of the full immersion program and give your child a full picture of what to expect as an exchange student.
General pre-departure orientation
This orientation covers essential logistical information about the student’s program. It is conducted by a local coordinator in your area when possible, or by a Greenheart Travel staff member.
Pre-departure orientation covers topics like:
- Lines of Communication
- Land Line and Mobile Phone Use while abroad
- Money (how much to bring, what to expect)
- Risk Factors and Tips
- Emergency Procedures
- Program Rules
- Program Evaluations
- Recommended Reading Material
Our students and parents use this orientation to prepare logistically for their child’s departure. They also learn the practices and procedures while their child is abroad and how to deal with questions and concerns.
Cultural Pre-departure Orientation
Understanding the basics of culture shock is very important, but understanding the intricacies of a completely different and unique culture is essential. Our cultural pre-departure orientations go over the basics of the their host country’s culture and give students the insight into what will be the most exciting and challenging when they first arrive and throughout the program. This particular orientation has proved invaluable to both parents and students, making the ‘unknown’ known.
Cultural pre-departure topics include:
- Recommended questions to ask the host family when your child first arrives
- Conversation starters to ‘break the ice’ when they initially meet their HF
- Suggestions on how to show their HF appreciation
- Potential issues related to cultural differences and how to avoid them
- Potential issues related to cultural differences and how to handle them if they do occur
- Basic phrases and lingo of host country’s language
- Information on the 5 stages of culture shock
- Tips on how to handle culture shock and homesickness
- Social Integration
- Typical meals (cuisine, meal times, etc)
- How to acclimate to the host country’s culture before departure (i.e. begin taking shorter showers (Ireland), begin using chopsticks (Japan), introduce sharp punctuality into your daily life (Switzerland)
- Little known aspects of host country’s culture (i.e, In most Spanish homes, people are expected to wear house shoes)
- Group participation to excite you and your child about their upcoming adventure!
The cultural session is conducted via Skype by a Greenheart Travel staff person in the national office. All participants and their parents are asked to attend the session pertinent to their host country destination.
“I really loved studying abroad. I truly believe that no matter what your experience is you will grow as a person and really come to appreciate not only your study abroad culture, but your own country’s.” Laura, former exchange student in France through Greenheart Travel
Greenheart Travel is the only cultural exchange organization that incorporates social and environmental awareness into our mission statement and into all of the programs we operate. Our internal procedures are as green as they can be: only using recycled paper, monitoring & adjusting our energy usage when necessary, donating a portion of every program fee and staff travel to offset the carbon emissions used during their travel and much more.
For our high school students, we go a step further and offer the Greenheart Club. The Greenheart Club allows your child to take their exchange experience a step further than their peers. Whether your child needs to log community service hours to graduate or not, participating in the Club is a great way to develop a stronger connection with the community and to have tons of fun.
Overall, the Greenheart Club is a huge asset to host communities and to the students themselves. Students become empowered to create positive and lasting change all while meeting new people and expanding their network within their new country.
We understand that as a parent, you have certain questions and concerns regarding how studying or traveling abroad will affect your child’s academic standing, and we hope to put your mind at ease with the following answers:
Can my child receive academic credit for studying abroad?
Translating the cultural immersion experience to your child’s high school transcripts is an important concern. While Greenheart Travel can’t guarantee specific classes abroad, we can provide host country general curriculum guidelines, language course and volunteer project itineraries to help find the best fit for your child’s academic goals. This will also help everyone determine whether the best time to travel abroad is during a specific academic period or during a summer or winter break.
“I feel like studying abroad has prepared me more for college than any college prep class in high school could have. Learning and going to college is not just about getting it done faster and more efficiently, but actually understanding the world and having quality knowledge. There is no better way to do this than to study abroad. Not to mention… how much colleges like students that have studied abroad since it is generally uncommon.” Rachel Kinder, Greenheart Travel high school alumna in France
What if my child needs to fulfill service learning requirements?
The Greenheart Club encourages students to experience a deeper level of immersion through volunteerism. This is a unique opportunity for your child to meet their service learning hours, make a positive impact abroad and develop leadership skills while learning about the new community in which they are living.
“While in Spain, I experienced many amazing things and I got the chance to volunteer through awesome organizations and that actually inspired me to major in international relations.” – Eleanor Brow, Greenheart Travel high school alumna in Spain.
What kinds of support and safety precautions are offered to my child?
Your child’s experience abroad begins from the moment they begin inquiring about the program. Each year Greenheart Travel demonstrates our support and safety standards to our participants through the following:
- Commitment to the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET)
- Thorough vetting and screening process of each host family
- Support for the educational value of international programs through guided, facilitated exchange activities
Before and during a program start date, you and your child will receive full support from a personal program manager in a number of ways:
- Two pre-departure orientations via Skype for both parents and their child
- Regular check-ins throughout your child’s program (with both the parents and student)
- Access to an active social media community to speak with fellow travelers and alumni
Once your child’s program ends, Greenheart Travel continues supporting them in their transition back to their home country by:
- Checking in when they have returned to get their feedback and counsel them through reverse culture shock
- Writing letters of recommendation letters for college applications
- Offering numerous alumni resources to help your child translate and highlight their cultural experience on college applications and offering opportunities for leadership development in their community
- Welcoming them into an active and inspiring alumni community of young global leaders
Can my child travel with a group of students?
Greenheart Travel offers group travel opportunities for both teens and educators in select countries and programs. Ask us about how your child can volunteer with a group or family and friends at our project in Costa Rica or how your school can participate in a school to school exchange.
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“Words cannot express our gratitude for the extra effort that was given in getting Sophia placed in Japan this year. This was an absolutely life-changing, overall positive experience for her that will inform her college decisions and career path. She has made many global friends, and has returned with greater maturity and self-confidence. We are very grateful for Greenheart Travel and the wonderfully caring staff that have made such a positive impact on Sophia’s life. Thank you!”– Marie Zupka-Ludder, mother of High School Abroad participant in Japan