International Cultural Youth Exchange

Interested in volunteering in Africa, Asia, Latin America, or Oceania? Would you like to volunteer for up to a year? Apply for the ICYE program! You will get to familiarize yourself with your work community and the local living deeper than the surface.

>> Applying instructions

How do people live their daily life in different parts of the world? Go volunteer for half a year or a year and get to know! As an ICYE volunteer, you will get to join in building intercultural understanding through daily life co-operation.

Voluntary work is done in common-good organizations, especially among children and youngsters in the education and social work field – in schools and kindergartens, for instance. Volunteers are received also in the health care and environmental work field and to human rights organizations. The volunteers live either in a host family or at their voluntary workplace.

Síx people are sitting on an inflatable trampoline and smiling.

In each destination country the participants are supported and trained by the local ICYE organization, and in Finland by the Finnish ICYE organization, Maailmanvaihto. In the trainings, e.g. the role, rights, and responsibilities of a volunteer, adjusting to a new cultural environment as well as health and safety matters are explored.

”The wonderful people and experiences of my volunteering year taught me and gave me perspective to look at things from different sides.” – Sanna Ojaniemi, ICYE volunteer at an activity centre for children and youngsters in Brazil

In the training camps of the program, you will meet volunteers from all over the world: in the pre-departure training in Finland you will get to know other Finnish participants and in your destination country in the on-arrival training, mid-term evaluation training, and final evaluation training volunteers from other parts of the world. After your return to Finland, you will meet once more, in a meeting of the newly returned volunteers, the volunteers who headed from Finland for volunteering abroad at the same time as you.


Africa: Ghana| Kenya | Morocco | Mozambique | Nigeria | South Africa | Tanzania | Uganda

Asia and Oceania: Indonesia | India | Japan | Nepal | New Zealand | Philippines | South Korea | Taiwan | Vietnam

Latin America and the United States: Argentina | Bolivia | Brazil | Colombia | Costa Rica | Colombia | Ecuador | Honduras | Mexico | Peru | the United States

Learn about the voluntary workplaces at the ICYE network’s search engine for long-term volunteering  ( In the search engine, you can browse voluntary workplaces by country or theme of the work.


The year-long voluntary work periods begin in August–September when an on-arrival training camp is organized in each country that receives ICYE volunteers. The exact starting dates vary according to the destination country. In most countries, one can also start a half-year voluntary work period in January–February.

Who can participate?

The participants need to have an ability to adjust, flexibility, openness as well as interest in different cultures and lifestyles. It is an asset to know the language of the destination country already before departure, but this is not a requirement. The volunteering periods include a language course of the local language. No educational or working background is required.

Mainly 18–30-year-old young adults. The age limit varies a bit according to the destination country. Over 30-year-old adults can participate in voluntary work periods mainly in Asian and African countries.

“As a volunteer, I learned enormously about the local culture. – Jenni Valtere, an ICYE volunteer in a kindergarten and primary school in Indonesia

We will send for volunteering abroad only people who have received a full series of vaccinations against the coronavirus. An exception is possible if the participant hasn’t been able to take the vaccination due to health reasons. By requiring the vaccination, we want to ensure the health security of the volunteers, voluntary workplaces, and host families.

When and how to apply?

Yearly, the first application round for ICYE volunteering ends on 31st October and the second on 31st January.

Supplementary application round for the departure in January–February 2024: there are open positions (6 or 12 months) to

The positions will be filled as soon as suitable candidates are found. The last day on which we can receive applications is 1st September 2023. We will interview the applicants.

>> See the application instructions

In case due to the corona situation, you cannot travel to the destination country you had planned, you can change the destination country, postpone your departure or cancel your participation without costs (see cancellation terms in more detail).

Participation fee and what it includes

Africa and Southern and Eastern Asian countries:
6 months 3 500 € and 12 months 4 500 €

Latin American countries, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan:
6 months 3 950 € and 12 months 4 950 €

New Zealand and the United States:
6 months 4 400 € and 12 months 5 500 €

The participation fee includes:

NB! The participant also needs to pay for the flights and the visa to the destination country.

NB! In case extra costs are caused by the Coronavirus situation (quarantine costs when arriving in the destination country, for instance), the participant needs to pay for these costs.

Maailmanvaihto grants the participants stipends (maximum of 500 €) on an economic basis.

How is the participation fee spent?

The participant fee covers expenses that are caused by the voluntary work year and its organizing (such as insurances, camps, and language courses). ICYE does not have a heavy international administration system nor does it as an NGO seek financial gain from the program.

”I can definitively recommend heading for volunteering. Incredible experiences and people.” – Antti Soininen, ICYE volunteer at circus and theatre activities for children and youngsters in Cochabamba, Bolivia