“My global perspective has been broadened by this programme and my understanding of other cultures and traditions has changed dramatically. EIL Explore has instilled in me the passion for doing what I can to make an impact in the lives of others and to go out and make a positive change in the world around me.” (Katie McArdle, Youth Activist Winner) 


EIL Explore funds overseas intercultural learning adventures which challenge participants to become global citizens.

EIL Explore is a programme that supports participants with an interest in global issues to travel abroad for the purpose of volunteering, cultural immersion, or language education through a variety of awards. Operating for over 25 years, 2023 will offer funds of over 130,000 Euros set aside to sponsor up to 40 Explorers.

Awardees use their experience overseas to learn more about the global community in a supported environment that challenges them to grow personally. The vision is that upon their  return to Ireland, Explorers will have grown as individuals and will use this wonderful learning experience to be agents for change in their local community advocating for a more globally just society.

EIL Explore is a programme of EIL Intercultural Learning, an Irish not-for-profit organisation based in Cork which provides intercultural learning opportunities through study abroad, volunteer abroad, language training, group educational programmes, and other cultural immersion activities for about 2,000 people each year.

Which One Is for me

Whether it’s eco-tourism in Ecuador or a high school in Europe, EIL Explore offer a variety of diverse experiences throughout the world for participants to travel, learn, and change — both personally and within their community.


EIL Explore Awards are funded travel opportunities for people who are interested in the personal challenge of becoming a global citizen, while exploring and immersing themselves in world cultures. On their return, all participants are required to complete an Action at Home Project that reflects and shares their learning with their community.

See the lists of Explore Awards below to learn more about what options are available to you. With a wide range of ages and themes, there is an EIL Explore award for everybody!

What do we look for?

A person who is curious about other cultures, tolerant of differences and is flexible and open to engage with new and at times challenging situations.

A person who is willing to engage with EIL upon their return to Ireland, to share their experience, and to learn with others.

A person who is seeking a different and new opportunity that can provide open mindedness, global awareness, self reflection and self improvement.

Where will you go this summer?

The possibilities are endless and the opportunities eminence where will you go this summer?

Applications Are Now CLOSED for Explore 2023

Applications for Explore 2024 programmes will be available at the end of 2023.

If you want us to inform you as soon as applications open for 2024, subscribe now!

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Under 18?

We have a number of awards to engage with the global community, to develop more of an understanding of global issues and become immersed in another culture. Whether it’s attending the Governor’s Institute of Vermont as a Youth Activist for two weeks or being culturally immersed in Japan for four weeks, the awards will open new and exciting opportunities for you.

Under 18
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Over 18?

Interested in developing your knowledge of the UN Sustainable Development Goals? There are a variety of volunteering and cultural immersion opportunities for people over 18 which engage with social issues such as Gender Equality, Education and Wildlife Conservation. Explore has opportunities from volunteering in community projects in Mexico to volunteering teaching English to children in Vietnam.

Over 18?

Hear from past participants!

Each individual has their own stories to tell. Whether you’re thinking about going on a Youth Activist Programme in Vermont or to Vietnam with our Global Awareness Programme, there’s someone who’s been there. Past participants tell us a bit about what they enjoyed, some had challenges, but everyone had a life changing experience.

Blogs and Stories

The Application - Tips, Process, and more

The aim of EIL Explore is to support people who have a history of voluntary involvement in their school, college or their community. EIL Explore awards are for people who have demonstrated or who believe they can demonstrate leadership potential and people who would not ordinarily be able to avail of such travel opportunities due to financial restrictions.

Find out more

About EIL Explore

History of the Award

“Eight weeks have vanished in the blink of an eye but the lessons I have learned here will last a lifetime……The generosity and kindness of the people in Ecuador never fails to astound me. The patience my family showed me as they repeated everything once, twice or as many times as I needed to understand and feel understood was amazing.” Aoife

EIL Explore presents participants with the significant challenge of living and learning in a new or foreign environment, and then sharing that challenge with their own community.

Formerly known as the EIL Travel Awards, the programme was rebranded in 2015 as EIL Explore to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Established by EIL Intercultural Learning in Cork, Ireland, the awards programme has grown over the past two decades from a single cultural immersion programme in Japan, to over 30 awards worldwide in 2015.  Past participants include Web Summit co-founder Daire Hickey, influencer/model Roz Purcell, and CNN Reporter Donie O’Sullivan, as well as a number of other community leaders. A number of past participants have also gone on to become EIL Board members, committee members and even key staff members like Adam Peerbux, Aileen Linehan and Siobhán Hughes.

EIL Explore is for people who have demonstrated or who believe they can demonstrate leadership potential and people who would not ordinarily be able to avail of such travel opportunities for social or economic reasons. Most participants will volunteer, some will share Irish culture while learning the culture of their hosts and others will experience and learn about youth activism.

The EIL Explore programme is funded by EIL Intercultural Learning.

Based on principles of experiential learning (learning by doing), EIL programmes are designed to provide tools to survive and thrive in another culture or in a different language, to foster personal development, to build communication and leadership skills, and to be active citizens in an interdependent world.

In short: The aim of EIL Intercultural Learning is to enrich lives and to inspire global citizenship.

In 2014 EIL Intercultural Learning celebrated 50 years in Ireland & 2023 will celebrate 28 years of the EIL Explore (formerly known as the EIL Travel Awards).

A strategic aim of EIL Explore is to partner with other like-minded organisation in different sectors to strengthen the opportunities for participants and to link the awards closer to the community.

Foróige is the leading youth organisation in Ireland and has been working with young people since 1952. Their vision is an Ireland that believes in every young person. Their purpose is to enable young people to involve themselves consciously and actively in their development and in the development of society. EIL Explore is proud partner for many years. Youth members take part in a two-week cultural group exchange with participants in Hong Kong every summer. Foroige work closely with EIL Explore to recruit participants, prepare them for their adventure and facilitate the reciprocal exchange. In 2016, 10 Irish participants and 3 leaders travelled to Hong Kong and hosted the Chinese participants on their return.

The Global Citizen Award, which is a partnership between EIL, Irish Aid and 19 other Volunteer Sending Agencies in Ireland, has developed a unique training, volunteering, and awareness raising project focusing on the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Irish Aid is supportive of the EIL belief that the most significant part of a short-term volunteer programme actually begins when participants return home. On a long-term basis, the most effective way which you a returned volunteer can truly make a difference is to educate others in Ireland about global justice and to engage with the Global Citizen Award.

University of Galway ALIVE is a University of Galway student volunteer programme. All registered part time and full time students of the University of Galway including Distance Education, Access, Erasmus and Study Abroad students are eligible for the University of Galway ALIVE programme. The programme was established to harness, support and recognise the contribution students make by volunteering. EIL is a proud partner of University of Galway ALIVE for a number of years. University of Galway ALIVE works closely with EIL Explore to recruit and shortlist participants.

MTU Cork in recent years has become a partner with Explore. Set up in 2011, the Volunteer Abroad programme in MTU Cork supports students who wish to undertake volunteering. The partnership between MTU Cork and Explore eliminates barriers posed to students who wish to volunteer abroad through the MTU Cork award.

Cork Life Centre is a voluntary organisation which provides an alternative learning environment to young people who find themselves outside the mainstream education system. 2019 was the first year of the partnership between EIL and the Cork Life Centre. As part of the International Summer School Award, 2 students from the Cork Life Centre travel to Denmark to take part in the summer school.

YMCA Ireland is a voluntary organisation that works with children, young people, families and the community, with particular regard to those who are disadvantaged and disaffected. EIL has had great champions and communications with the YMCA staff and service users and a partnership was established that gives opportunity to the young, passionate activists that YMCA has been engaging an opportunity to participate on an international programme like the Youth Activist award.


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