Current Students
Beyond Borders
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Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders is an academically centered international service-learning open to all University of Waterloo students. The program consists of academic coursework, a local volunteer placement in Kitchener-Waterloo, and a 90-day placement with a grassroots development organization abroad.


Students can use their Beyond Borders international volunteer placement as a co-op work term or as their work or community experience for the EDGE certificate.


The Beyond Borders Program involves:


  • Beyond Borders course (RS 383)
  • 3 Pre-departure Retreats (December, February Reading Week, April)
  • Local Volunteering (approx. 3 hours/week) during Winter term
  • 90 day (3 month) International Placement
  • Reflection Day (September)


Applications are due the Monday after Fall Reading Week.

Our Partners/Placement Opportunities

Café Femenino (Peru)

The Café Femenino coffee program is one-of-a-kind ethical sourcing model committed to ending the cycle of poverty affecting women coffee farmers across the world. Café Femenino provides direct compensation to women farmers, along with the opportunity and resources to enact positive change in their communities and on their own terms. Co-founded in 2003 by Peruvian women farmers alongside Organic Products Trading Co., Café Femenino now spans the globe and continues to grow as more and more women join the Café Femenino movement.


Reach out Mbuya (Uganda)

Reach out Mbuya Community Health Initiative (ROM) is a community-based non-governmental organization working with the urban and rural poor communities. ROM provides unique model of care to people living with HIV and where necessary their families; taking care of the medical, social, emotional, and economical aspects of their lives to foster dignified living.


Ekisa Ministries (Uganda)

Ekisa Ministries is a faith-based NGO that exists to change the narrative of disability. Through providing a transitional home, community care and education for teachers and caregivers, Ekisa aims to support children with disabilities who remain the most marginalized and the most vulnerable in society. Based in Jinja, they serve over 100 children throughout the region and envision a world where every child grows up in a family, celebrated and loved, despite his or her disability.


Reach One Touch One Ministries (Uganda)

Reach One Touch One Ministries (ROTOM) is a non-profit organization supporting older persons and children in their care. It was started in Uganda in 2003 and has grown to become one of the most effective mission organizations supporting older persons in Uganda and Ethiopia. ROTOM’s mission is to empower older persons and their dependents to attain health and well-being through increasing accessibility of water, food, education, healthcare, shelter, and other necessities.


Petryky Internat (Ukraine)

Established with the creation of the Beyond Borders program, the placement at Petryky Internat and Ternopil Region's Rehabilitation Centre in Ternopil, Ukraine is one of the oldest Beyond Borders placements. Run through Ternopil National Pedagogical University, this placement works with young children and women with disabilities. Petryky Internat houses young women from infancy to the age of 30 who have been given up by their families for various reasons. Ternopil Region's Rehabilitation Centre is a school for children with disabilities where they receive not only education, but also specific supports for the disabilities they experience.


While we are not able to pair students with our partners at Petryky Internat because of the ongoing war, we remain in good communication and continue to stand in solidarity with them. We hope for a just peace when students can again visit and learn from our Ukrainian partners.


Compañeros (Nicaragua)

Founded in 2001, Compañeros Inc is a private social enterprise that leverages volunteers, local labour, individual and corporate contributors, civic agencies, and academic institutions, to bring diverse people together to experience mutually beneficial educational programs and community development projects.


In 2023, Compañeros paused their operations in Nicaragua. We remain in good communication and continue to stand in solidarity with our friends in Nicaragua. We hope for a time when students can again visit and learn from our Nicaraguan partners.

Student Eligibility & Program Cost

All full-time undergraduate students at the University of Waterloo are encouraged to participate in Beyond Borders- students apply and go through an interview process. Students must maintain a minimum of good academic standing and must have a valid passport that expires no sooner than 6 months after they would return from placement.


Successful applicants are expected to actively participate in all mandatory course work, pre-departure and reintegration retreats and sessions, as well as local volunteering ahead of the travel to their international placement.


The total cost to students for the Beyond Borders program is $4000. This covers the cost of flights, transfer to placement from airport, any placement fees and accommodations (Note: meal expense coverage is negotiated differently for each placement).


Additional program costs, not included in the totals above, which remain the responsibility of the student include:


  • Police records check for local volunteering
  • Fees for immunizations (costs vary depending on the country)
  • Fees associated with health consultations prior to traveling
  • Travel health insurance
  • Passport Renewal fees
  • Immigration documents and necessary Visas (dependent on placement)
  • Any travel supplies participants would need (ie. luggage, clothing, water sanitation tablets, hygiene products, gear, etc.)
  • Baggage fees not covered by the airline
  • In country ground transportation (e.g daily public transportation to-and-from placement)
  • Personal communication expenses (phone/internet)
  • Some meals (depending on the host arrangement)
  • Any extra-curricular activities students engage with on their own time


For more information, please see the Beyond Borders Handbook.

Dates & Deadlines
  • September 4, 2024: Applications open
  • October 21, 2024: Applications close
  • December 4, 2024: Orientation day
  • January-April, 2025: RS 383: Justice, Peace & Development and local volunteering
  • February 20-22, 2025: Reading Week Retreat
  • April 7, 2025: Pre-departure day
  • May-August, 2025: 90 day (3 month) international experience
  • September 2025: Reflection day


Application form

Coming soon. Check back in September 2024.