Volunteer Service

One of the volunteer service opportunities in Greece. Check out the video

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Volunteer Service May Include:

  • Refugee Work

  • English Tutoring

  • Supporting homeless and at-risk youth

  • Working with disadvantaged preschool and primary school children

  • Environmental work educating about and protecting the oceans

  • Community empowerment and civic engagement through art and technology

  • Social Service NGOs

  • Societal Integration and Support of Roma

  • Educational Organization for Street Children and Street workers and other disadvantaged populations

Ethical Service in Greece

As an IPSL service-learning participant in Thessaloniki, Greece, you will have the opportunity to perform volunteer service in one of several local partner organizations/agencies. IPSL does its best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others. You will play a role not only by actively participating with a determined role among the team members, but also by enriching the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, and hard work.  Therefore, each project or program is improved and enriched with your participation. Your impact on other people's lives will be powerful and sustainable, even if you don't see the results right away.

Service-Learning™ versus Internship/Practicum

IPSL service-learning placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community needs. Central to the philosophy of service-learning  is the notion of service. Service-learning is not the same as an internship or practicum although it may look very similar. The service in service-learning may or may not be career-related. An internship is designed mostly so that the student will benefit by learning about his/her future profession. In contrast, in service-learning, the outcome of the student's work--that is, the service--is as important as the student’s learning. There are, or should be, identifiable benefits to those served. This reciprocity is a key component in international service-learning.

IPSL Service Placements


IPSL's service-learning placements are in agencies that have sprung up from the grassroots, where locals have identified a need, and where the change effort is owned by them. What they need is additional assistance of all kinds from the outside. So, IPSL participants should remember that they are stepping into a moving stream of initiatives and efforts that began long ago, and that this will continue after the participant departs. Your work is important, but your individual contributions may not be visible for many years. Change takes time. In the meantime, you are fulfilling a need, and the need is huge.


A single agency may need hands-on assistance from IPSL participants (direct service) or assistance in the background building capacity (indirect service) so that the agency can one day experience more stability in the delivery of its services. Either way, both direct and indirect service are needed to accomplish the goals. Each is valuable. In actuality, because nearly all non-profits experience resource scarcity, IPSL participants do a little bit of everything. And this is as it should be. Nothing says "I'm a partner in your community" more than a willingness on the part of a service-learning participant not only to do higher tasks, but also occasionally to pick up a broom and sweep the floor so that the setting is clean and presentable. Such actions serve to break down stereotypes about Americans, and build relationships based on equality. That is why many of the service agencies with which we work have been our partners for years.


The IPSL website lists areas of service, and a few examples for each program site. This list is not exhaustive, nor static. The types of work listed do not each represent a distinct agency; they represent the types of work that IPSL participants can expect to encounter at the different service agencies with which we work. The number and selection of service agencies may change at any time. Sometimes there are logistical (transportation, scheduling, etc.) issues that arise that complicate certain service agency placements and make them unworkable. Sometimes students need to be proficient in the local language in order to serve in a particular agency. Also, we do not place too many students in any one agency. Doing so would undermine the immersion environment for which IPSL programs are known.


Volunteer Service that Addresses Real Human Needs

The IPSL service-learning program in Thessaloniki offers students the opportunity to experience international volunteer service in a large urban metropolis with many pressing social problems that effect the entire population.  During Orientation you will have an opportunity to work with IPSL staff to learn about the various service opportunities available and select one (or possibly more)  that is of interest to you. You will serve approximately 12-15 hours per week in a local agency.

The following are samples of some of the service opportunities that may be available:


Social service organization that was created to serve refugees and migrants located in Thessaloniki, offering bathroom services, clothes washing, clothing and food donations and language lessons. There are translators in the languages of the refugees, with a specially designed children's play area. The center accepts refugees as well as immigrants from different countries who have applied for asylum in Greece or are being transferred to another country. With the help of the mobile medical unit that is a fully equipped dental, gynecological and cardiology clinic, we visit the villages of Greece Roma camps and official refugee accommodation centers, offering free medical services.


Refugee center that serves as an open space where people of diverse backgrounds can come to receive various services, including education and livelihood programs, attend social and recreation events, and exchange information and experiences with one another. The center also provides reproductive, neonatal and postnatal counseling and care to mothers, designated spaces for breastfeeding (“breastfeeding corners”), child-friendly spaces and targeted services to beneficiaries, including legal, social, and psychological support. The primary objective of the Center is to empower refugee and host communities by providing a central place for these groups to actively participate in decisions that affect their lives.


Migrant center is a hub that provides healthcare services, social support services, employment services and legal aid to underprivileged groups who live in Thessaloniki. All services are provided free of charge, and there are no requirements as to who can receive services, meaning local Greeks, migrants and refugees are all welcomed. This model represents a comprehensive effort aimed at poverty alleviation and social integration of those most affected by the crises facing Greece – namely the economic downfall and the influx of migrants and refugees. The center delivers individualized services tailored to each client. 

Community refugee organization started serving refugees with their social clinic/pharmacy and free medical services. Now their organization has expanded to provide services to people without health insurance, the unemployed, immigrants and refugees and anyone that is not able to meet their medical costs.  Clients can also receive food assistance through a direct -supply farmer's market as well as other assistance programs. Aside from helping individuals and families with their immediate needs, they work to build support systems through community solidarity.


"Green Zone" development agency is a Government run organization dedicated to creating a sustainable “Green Zone” in the regions of Northern Greece. The organization provides the following areas of support to achieve these goals:

  • Human resources    

  • Environment and infrastructures

  • Energy

  • Sustainable mobility

  • Environmental education

  • Consulting support on school communities

  • Social economy

  • Agricultural development

  • Promotion of innovation and new technologies

  • Supporting Local Authorities

  • Supporting Sustainable Enterprises


Organization for Roma integration is fighting discrimination and anti-“Gypsyism” in education and employment in the EU. The project aims to develop a comprehensive approach to achieve a number of goals in education, healthcare, housing and employment in order to accelerate Roma Integration into society.


Street school is an education organization that mobilizes learning in the community. The goal’s are to:

  • Empower Street Kids

  • Empower Street Workers

  • Empower School Kids

The project is a cart on wheels, with extendable blackboards allowing the mobile school's educational learning games – its software – can be installed everywhere and can easily be set up and torn down. Due to its design, it can be used on sidewalks, squares, parks and slums of the big city. More than 300 Educational Games are available. The package covers diverse themes, which makes it possible to offer street children a wide-ranging basic education: literacy, creative therapy, health education, and drugs and AIDS prevention.

Community arts organization is "a socially engaged machine laboratory of applied creativity".  Using the idea of Art as Social Intervention, projects hosted by this organization aim for social change through community engagement, citizen empowerment, and community self-governance.  The lab responds to society’s needs and problems introducing solutions and alternative strategies with the contribution of the artist as catalyst for change and the citizen as co-producer. 

Ocean conservation NGO is an environmental organization for the preservation of the aquatic ecosystems. Their activities range from research to educational programs for citizens and kids. They have four main areas of focus:

  • Fisheries

  • Invasive Aquatic Species

  • Human and Aquatic Ecosystems

  • Waste Water Management