International Cultural Youth Exchange

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

>> Applying instructions for the season 2021–22
>> Cancellation terms in a coronavirus situation

How do people live their daily life in different parts of the world? Go to 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 to 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.

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 | Costa Rica | Colombia | Ecuador | Honduras | Mexico | 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:

administrative | agriculture | animals | anti-drugs | anti-racism | art/culture | children | communication | community | cultural exposure | development | disabled | disadvantaged | education | elderly | environment | family | health | homeless | human rights | indigenous | migrants | minorities | religious | sport/leisure | women | youth


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 of the countries, one can also start a half-year voluntary work period in January–February.

Who can participate?

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

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

When and how to apply?

Regarding the ICYE volunteering periods, which will begin in January–February 2022, the measures regarding the application process have been adjusted, due to the coronavirus pandemic:

If you are interested in heading abroad for ICYE volunteering in January–February 2022, after receiving your application, we will gladly negotiate with the ICYE organization of the country of your interest about the possibilities to organize the co-operation. For us, the last day to receive applications from applicants is the 1st of September, 2021. We will interview the applicants online.

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).

>> See the applying instructions

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 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

Cancellation terms in a coronavirus situation

If due to the coronavirus epidemic, Maailmanvaihto cannot organize you the planned volunteering program (if the destination country limits the entrance to the country or if the foreign ministry recommends avoiding to the country, for instance):

In case the situation in your destination country is worrying but neither the entrance to the country is limited nor the foreign ministry recommends avoiding traveling to the country, you can

In addition, it is worth finding out from the flight company, with which kinds of costs the flights would be possible to postpone or cancel if needed.