Historic preservation is a fascinating field that includes many sub-fields, such as archaeology, fine arts, woodcraft, librarianship, architecture, history, and conservation.

Opportunities for volunteering in historic preservation abroad range from short summer programs aimed at high school-aged kids to longer-term internships and work placements. The broad range of programs suit people who already have an interest or expertise in a particular area, as well as total beginners.

If you're still in high school or college, volunteering in historic preservation could open up new and exciting career paths that you may not have considered before.

Everywhere in the world has its own unique challenges when it comes to historic preservation, and there are various kinds of preservation work that volunteers can become involved in depending on the destination.

India

India is an enormous and diverse country with many potential options for getting involved with historic preservation. One particularly worthwhile area is the preservation and refurbishment of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh, a far-northern region of India bordering China. Throughout Ladakh are numerous monasteries built into mountains, many of which are still operational. Some of the older ones contain priceless art and artifacts. Volunteers with an interest in Buddhist art can spend time living and working in monasteries on historic preservation projects.

France

France is full of old medieval buildings -- including castles! -- that are in various states of disrepair. Volunteers in France can find opportunities to work in rural and small-town French communities, helping repair and restore magnificent old buildings with young people from other parts of the world. No prior knowledge or experience is usually needed, but a willingness to do heavy or dirty work outside helps, as does knowledge of woodwork.

Australia

Australia is home to the world's oldest cultures -- those of Aboriginal and Indigenous Australians. Volunteers with an interest in archaeology and rock paintings will be amazed by Australia. Working with Indigenous communities in Central, Western or Northern Australia reveals an entirely different side to Australia than the big-city allure of Sydney or the party scene of Queensland. A serious willingness to understand cultural practices very different from those dominant in the West is necessary when working on historic preservation in Australia.

Short-Term Programs

Short-term programs of two to four weeks are ideal for older high school students or college students earlier in their studies. There are many opportunities for this type of program across Europe, in destinations such as France, Estonia, or the Czech Republic, especially during the summer. The program fee goes towards housing and transportation, and there are usually many other like-minded young travelers from across the world to hang out with and learn from.

College Field Trips

Certain subject areas at college enable students to travel abroad on college-affiliated trips to learn about aspects of historic preservation. If you're majoring in (or planning to major in) subjects such as archaeology, history, anthropology, or museum studies/curating then it's worth investigating whether your prospective college offers field trips to enhance your learning.

Internships

If you're seriously looking at turning an aspect of historic preservation into a career -- perhaps in areas like archaeology, textual archiving, or art restoration -- then an internship is an ideal way to get real-world experience. Internships can be found in museums and art galleries (both big and small) across the world, as well as libraries, university-affiliated centers, private historic foundations, or government-run heritage centers. Unlike participating in shorter programs, you may not meet many other foreigners doing this kind of work, but you will learn how historic preservation operates in real workplaces.

Working Holidays

If you want to spend a bit longer than a couple of weeks in a place and don't mind working out some of the logistics of the trip by yourself, then a working holiday can be a good way to volunteer in historic preservation. Some countries offer working holiday visas for young people (usually those under 30) from certain countries, which allow you to stay longer than a regular tourist and undertake activities that tourists may not be permitted to do. Some organizations, like the UK's National Trust, help make arrangements for working holidays with interested volunteers. Otherwise, you can find an interesting organization -- such as a monastery in India or a museum in France -- and make arrangements yourself.

How to Choose a Historic Preservation Volunteer Program

Selecting the best historic preservation volunteer program largely comes down to your personal interests, skills and experience, and where you would like to go.

Some programs are more geared towards artistic preservation and curating and would be more suitable for volunteers with a fine arts background. Others are more archaeological in focus and would be a good fit for volunteers who like to be outdoors.

If you are a high school or college student, a summer program may be the best option. Short-term programs often allow you to interact with other young people from around the world, so you'll be developing valuable social skills as well as specific vocational skills.

If you've already finished college and are looking to make historic preservation part of your career, then internships or working holiday programs may be a better option. These are usually longer (a few months) and help you develop skills that will be helpful in the workplace.

Health & Safety

As you can become involved in historic preservation programs in a wide variety of places, there are no "one size fits all" recommendations when it comes to staying safe and healthy while abroad.

As always, make sure that you have travel insurance that covers medical care and even evacuation, in case an emergency should arise. If you're working in remote areas, such as on archeological digs or in rural communities, ensure that the organization you're working with has systems in place for evacuation in case you need urgent medical care. If you're working with or around potentially hazardous tools or chemicals, make sure you or the people using them are qualified to do so.

Historic Preservation Volunteer Abroad Programs

Displaying 1 - 15 of 25 programs
Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Peru
Peru
9.19 •32 reviews

With an extensive coastline, a vast area of Amazon rainforest and the...

Global Volunteers
Volunteer on Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota
United States of America
10 •2 reviews

Experience life in an American Indian community on the plains of South...

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)
Volunteer Projects in the USA
United States of America
9.47 •19 reviews

Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982...

7 Elements
Human Security in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
10 •2 reviews

7 Elements has been in the Dominican Republic for over 10 years. In...

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI)
Travel with Purpose in Sri Lanka, from $295 - Non Profit Org
Sri Lanka
9 •5 reviews

Travel with a purpose & help support local communities with IVI, a...

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)
Construction and Environmental Projects in Germany
Germany
9.25 •4 reviews

Volunteers For Peace, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization, has...

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)
Volunteer Abroad in Spain with Volunteers for Peace
Spain
9.5 •2 reviews

Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982...

Chef Samuel Cooking Class
Film Malaysian Cooking in Penang Island
Malaysia
10 •1 review

Penang is Asia's food paradise. Participate in shooting videos for...

Adventures in Preservation (AiP)
Linking volunteerism and archeology with historic preservation in Armenia (May/June 2020)
Armenia
10 •1 review

Learn archaeology along with building conservation skills as you...

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)
Volunteers for Peace: Volunteer Abroad in Canada
Canada
9 •1 review

Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982...

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)
Volunteer Abroad in the Palestinian Territory
Palestine
9 •1 review

Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982...

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)
Volunteer Abroad in Indonesia
Indonesia
8 •1 review

Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982...

Idol Hands
Paint in Paradise - Abroad with Idol Hands
Panama

Blessed with creative skills and talent? Use these for a good cause to...

Adventures in Preservation (AiP)
Archaeology & Preservation Enhanced by 3D Technology
United States of America

Adventures in Preservation has partnered with the Fairfield Foundation...

Biblical Archaeology Society
Find Archaeological Digs in the Middle East with BAS!
Multiple Countries

Want to experience history first-hand? Volunteer at an archaeological...

What People Are Saying

I took part in this program in 2017. When I was young, I dreamed of being an archaeologist and my dream came true in Perù. We did many things in the field: measurements, excavations, cataloging...

Peruvian musician

Projects Abroad: Incan and Wari Archaeology is an amazing program that allows its volunteers the unique experience of experiencing both ancient and modern Peru. Participants learn all about what it...

Machu Picchu in the early morning

I did the Nursing Internship in Cusco to decide whether I wanted to peruse a career in nursing or public health. Though it didn’t make my decision any easier it was still one of the most incredible...

Trip with friends to Arequipa

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