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Service Learning and Community Service

internship volunteeringAt PIA, we offer courses that teach real-world professional skills and empower students to make a positive difference in the world. Service Learning and Community Service are two courses that cover practical topics such as resume and cover letter writing, workplace communication, US business culture, and cross-cultural interactions. At the end of both courses, PIA connects students with local nonprofit organizations for an extended volunteer assignment. Volunteering allows students to apply their new knowledge of US workplace culture and communication, help local communities, and learn about important causes like poverty, education, the arts, and the environment. In addition, students gain valuable experience that can benefit their future studies and work. With over 100 nonprofit organization partners, PIA students can match their volunteer experience to their interests and goals!

Course Structure

Service Learning and Community Service are added to an Intensive English study plan.

Stage 1
Preparation & Placement
Write professional cover letters and resumes
Get matched with non-profit organizations
Stage 2
US Workplace Culture
Learn about American business culture
Improve professional communication skills
Stage 3
Volunteer Service
Volunteer at non-profit organizations
Use English in a real-world environment

Click here to learn more about what your weekly schedule might look like.

How are Service Learning and Community Service different?

Differences Service Learning Community Service
Volunteer Hours 120 hours over 6 weeks 35 hours over a 10-week term
Volunteer Period After final term of Intensive English During second term of Intensive English
Volunteering Full-time volunteering 20 hours per week Full-time study in Intensive English + 4 volunteer hours per week

What are the requirements?

  • Students must have an intermediate (or higher) level of English.
  • Students in Service Learning must be in their final term at PIA. Volunteer service takes place during the 60 days after the end of full-time study.
  • Community Service students must enroll in at least two terms of Intensive English.

When are the courses offered?

  • Courses start in the spring and fall.  Volunteering happens immediately afterwards.

Where do students volunteer and what do they do?

Over 100 nonprofit partners welcome PIA students. service learning studentSome examples include:

  • Africa Bridge – Support people in Tanzania by doing office administration and explore networking by attending fairs.
  • Brides for a Cause – Help in this bridal boutique by assisting brides in choosing the right dress. Gain retail and customer service experience.
  • Boys and Girls Club & Portland After School Tennis and Education – Help in after-school programs for children (includes tutoring and sports classes)
  • Cedar Sinai Park – Help in this retirement center by taking part in activities, games, creative crafts, and social hours.
  • Forest Park Conservancy – Dig into nature while learning about land conservation
  • FORTH – Talk with and educate people interested in learning about electric cars, scooters, and bicycles.
  • Friends of the Library – Volunteer at this book store with kind American volunteers and gain retail and customer service experience.
  • Hosteling International Northwest – Serve at the front desk of a youth hostel
  • Junior Achievement Biztown – Educate kids on financial matters in business simulations
  • Montavilla Farmers’ Market – Help with and take part in a local farmer’s market by answering customer’s basic question, taking photographs, and more.
  • Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center – Assist at the front desk of this museum and translate materials. Learn about Japanese-American history.
  • Portland’5 Center for the Arts – Help with facilitating weekly outdoor concerts and work with children on arts and crafts projects.
  • St. André Bessette – Serve food and distribute supplies to homeless people
  • Willamette Falls Media Center – Produce public television programming to broadcast

Visit PIA’s YouTube channel to hear from some Service Learning and Community Service students!