International Service Learning

International Service Learning (ISL) provides students with the opportunity to contribute towards important projects directly within the communities themselves as part of their coursework.

At ORICE, some academic courses and co-curricular programs may include an ISL placement. This is an immersive placement with a community partner to collaborate on a specific project that aligns with the course content as well as the organization’s priorities. ISL placement locations vary each year. In the past, we’ve worked with community partners in Costa Rica, Mexico, India, Kenya, Uganda, and even locally in Canada. ISL challenges participants to apply their discipline to real-world issues while aiming to make a positive impact in solidarity with their host organization.

ISL opportunities connect students and faculty from a diverse range of backgrounds, academic disciplines, and interests with community-based organizations across the globe. By engaging directly with issues related to poverty, disability, conservation, health, education, sustainability, and other important issues, students are able to better understand both the impacts of programs and interventions at individual and community levels, the potential and applicability of their academic discipline, as well as gain a better understanding of the challenges and successes involved in system change.

The diagram below demonstrates how ISL is more than just service learning in an international location; it is an interaction between these three domains.

ISL Learning Outcomes

ORICE works in collaboration with faculty members to strengthen student learning outcomes in select courses by incorporating community based experiential learning pedagogy. In addition to the outcomes for a particular course (e.g. PSYC 417A), the ISL program has the following learning outcomes in place for all student participants.

  1. Awareness of self & relations with others

This involves an exploration of self-perceptions, as well as an examination of one’s social location, and the power of privilege that restricts one’s experience and engagement with others.

  1. Global issues

Critical analysis of the local and global context of a particular issue including an awareness of the complex network of actors and policies that shift or maintain global inequities.

  1. Change agency

Understanding of sustainable change as a collaborative/ participatory process. Interrogation of one’s own interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict resolution skills.

  1. Educational impact

Supports students in becoming subjects of their own education, clarifying life, and academic choices. Furthermore, it will deepen your disciplinary knowledge and its application.

Ethics of International Engagement & Service-Learning

ORICE has identified six key values through the Ethics of International Engagement and Service-Learning (EIESL) Project. We strive to enact these in all of our work with our students, instructors, and community partners.

  1. Intercultural Understanding
  2. Training and Education
  3. Sustainability
  4. Balance and Reciprocity
  5. Motivations
  6. Witnessing and Observing


Placement locations depend on the course and on the priorities of our community partners. ORICE has community partners located in Costa Rica, Mexico, India, Kenya, and Uganda. Most of these relationships are long-standing reciprocal relationships which have been developed over the past decade.

The type of project will vary depending on each community partner organization. However, the projects that are presented to each course have been pre-defined by the partner organization and reflect the academic discipline. For example, projects presented to social work students are likely to be very different to those presented to engineering students.

Here is an example of a previous placement:
Kenya: Econ 364B student interns have been placed in southwestern Kenya with a community partner organization that is working to determine financial models that will facilitate the continued growth and operations of the education facilities aimed at the girl child in their region. The intern worked with the team to identify models of sustainable enrolment and targets for the following five years. In addition, interns explored income-generating opportunities and conducted feasibility research and cost-benefit analyses on potential income generation opportunities such as establishing a community health facility or water point in the community.

Students going on placement will generally be paired with another student either at the same organization or going to the same location. There will also be substantial ongoing support from ORICE, fellow ISL students, community partners and in-country representatives throughout the duration of your placement.

Applications & Eligibility

This is often the case for ISL courses, but each course and ORICE opportunity lists the specific criteria to apply. Check out the postings or get in touch with us if you aren’t sure!

Yes, ORICE programs are only for UBC-Vancouver students at this time.

Students must be officially enrolled as a UBC student. As such, some students plan to enrol in one of our academic courses that run through the summer postponing their graduation until fall. This means that you are eligible to take part in the program if you are in your last semester at UBC, but will not convocate until the ORICE program and course is complete, as you must be a current UBC student to participate in our programs.

Students earn credit for academic course placements but not for co-curricular programs. Some of our programs may fulfill specific course requirements for specialization programs. Your academic advisor is the best line of contact with regards to specific requirements for your degree.

The individual interview is behavioral so it asks you to draw a lot on your own personal experiences so there are no right or wrong answers. One thing we do ask you to bring is your resume!

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