GROUP SERVICE TRIP (GST)
Group Service Trips bring groups together to collaborate with community development organizations to address pressing development issues. Groups are highly immersed in the culture as they work alongside local leaders and live with host families.
The trips are structured as short-term, high impact programs. In order to ensure a productive and mutually beneficial experience, FSD provides intensive coordination both before and during the program. For GSTs, project design begins before the group arrives in country. FSD site teams collaborate with the organization to develop a project that can benefit from the skills and interests of the group. The itinerary and logistics are arranged and agreed upon prior to the group’s arrival with input from community members and group participants. At the same time, these trips include a certain amount of flexibility to allow for creative problem solving and skills application that is unique to each group.
Group Service Trips are a customizable option for student-led alternative breaks, faculty-led initiatives, corporate employee service initiatives or even groups of friends and families. We recommend groups of six or more in order to have an effective impact in a short amount of time. Trips are customized for each group so they vary in length, size, and development issue. What they all have in common is they combine outside ideas and skills of the group with local knowledge and resources from the community.
WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF GST PROJECTS?
Group Service Trip participants have worked together to expand access to clean water in remote communities using natural resources and innovative technology; they have brainstormed with local teachers to enhance curriculum in schools that keep students more engaged in the classroom; they have offered marketing and financial management strategies to the community and their host-organizations to ensure thriving business practices that generate income well into the future, and so much more! The possibilities are endless when groups of individuals put their skills and ideas together with local leaders to tackle critical needs in the community.
For 1 to 4 weeks, groups of 6 or more work with a community development organization to advance a local priority at one of FSD’s sites in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. The focus and structure of a Group Service Trip are customized for each group so they vary in length, dates, size, and subject area.
After submitting an application, FSD will coordinate with the group leader and the host-organization to design a program that will have a high impact on both the community and the participants. Because these trips are structured as short-term, high impact programs, FSD provides intensive preparation and in-country coordination to ensure a productive and mutually beneficial experience for all, establishing the itinerary and logistics in advance. FSD will also facilitate 1-2 preparation calls with the group and the site team. We also strongly encourage group leaders to organize their own meetings to educate themselves on the country, culture and subject matter, prepare their logistics and travel, and develop positive group dynamics early on.
Upon site arrival, everyone participates in an in-country orientation led by FSD's local site team to review health and safety, cultural integration, sustainable development principles, and the program details. The group travels as a group to their host-organization and host-families, and are supported by the site team as they implement their work. These programs are dynamic and also include some cultural and tourist activities (though not a main focus of the program) to provide a break from the project work and broaden the participants’ perspective and experience of the country.
Group Service Trips end with presentations and debriefs of their program with the community to both express appreciation and establish a sustainability plan with their local colleagues and community members.
WHAT KIND OF GROUPS PARTICIPATE IN A GROUP SERVICE TRIP?
For more information on Group Service Trips, download our GST Brochure, call us at 415-283-4873, or fill out the form below.