“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 2019) 


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 25 years, 2022 will offer fund of over 125,000 Euros set aside to sponsor 45 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.

Visit ‘Which one’s for me?‘ for a full list of award opportunities and locations.

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.

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 2022

Applications for Explore 2022 programmes are now closed.


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

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 2019

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 & 2022 will celebrate 27 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.

NUIG ALIVE is a NUI Galway student volunteer programme. All registered part time and full time students of NUI Galway including Distance Education, Access, Erasmus and Study Abroad students are eligible for the NUIG ALIVE programme. The programme was established to harness, support and recognise the contribution students make by volunteering. EIL is a proud partner of NUIG ALIVE for a number of years. NUIG 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 will be 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 will 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.

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.


On your return, all participants are required to complete an Action Project that reflects and shares their learning with 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 world cultures. 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!

Under 18?

From youth leadership & activism in the U.S. to studying abroad in Europe, EIL Explore has a range of options for young global citizens.


Over 18

Whether you’re a mature student looking for a challenging summer experience, or a student looking to experience a new culture and lifestyle, click on one of the many options for our 18 and over global citizens to see which one is right for you!

Tips for Applicants

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

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.
  • Your willingness to engage with EIL upon your return to Ireland and to share your experience and learning with others is also something to keep in mind when applying.
  • A person who is seeking a different and new opportunity that can provide open mindedness, global awareness, self reflection and self improvement.
  • A well-researched application is very important. Read as much as possible before you start writing your application. What is the award about? What is involved? Are you ready for this challenge?
  • EIL are looking for open minded, energetic people who are interested in culture and who work well in a team. Any voluntary work in Ireland or elsewhere is also an advantage and you should definitely highlight it in your application.
  • EIL Explore opportunities are about intercultural learning and sharing your culture. It’s worth thinking about what skills/talents you can share while on abroad. For example some past participants used great slide shows of Ireland, demonstrated hurling or Irish dancing, played a musical instrument, could perform a song, or liked to draw or paint. Obviously you don’t need to be able to do all of these, but to be able to do one of them or something similar would be a help.
  • If you are writing any part of your application, make sure the handwriting is clearly legible. We ask that all “Why choose me’ essays are typed.
  • Are YOU available for the duration? If you are not able to commit the duration of your particular award, we recommend you apply another year when you have the required availability. (e.g 4 weeks for Ecuador, 8 weeks for Mexico etc)
  • Also some awards have fixed periods. Before you apply, check that you are available to travel: e.g Vermont/Youth Activist (start of July x 2 weeks).
  • Applicants can apply for more than one award. However, make sure that equal effort is put into each application.
  • An essential part of the award is the Action at Home, which spans the duration of the winners EIL Explore journey. Outlining your ideas for the Action at Home can support your application. Your final Action at Home may change from your original outline (it might be completely different!), however writing a short outline in your application demonstrates your interest and suitability for the award.

How is it assessed

The aim of the EIL Explore is to support people who have a history of voluntary involvement in their school, college or their community. We are looking 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 for financial or social reasons.

Find out more

What do we look for?

  • A person who is curious about other cultures and tolerant of differences
  • A person and is flexible to engage with new and often challenging situations.
  • A person who is interested in sharing their experience and learning with their own community on their return
  • A person who is seeking a different and new opportunity that can foster open mindedness, global awareness, critical thinking and personal development.

The assessment process

Application → Shortlisting → Interview → Reference checking → Selection

  • After the deadline, all eligible applications are reviewed in February 2022 by different members of the EIL Network and by recruiting partners (e.g. Foroige, NUI Galway ALIVE etc.). EIL network members include staff, board members, and past award winners.
  • Once a shortlist of candidates has been selected, all applicants will be contacted and informed of whether or not they have been successful in securing an interview.
  • All shortlisted candidates are required to attend the interview day in Dublin (Saturday 19th February 2022), where they will be interviewed by a panel of EIL network members (staff, past winners, board members etc.) and recruiting partners.
  • Further shortlisted candidates are required to attend one of two Enrolment Days either in Cork (Thursday, 10th March 2022) or Dublin (Saturday, 12th March 2022).
  • When a potential winner has been identified, their references will then be checked.
  • If the selection panel is happy with the reference, the winner is notified of their success. All unsuccessful candidates are notified as soon as possible.

Over 18

“Teaching English in Vietnam has been a once in a lifetime experience. As a newly qualified secondary school teacher in Ireland, I intend on taking my new found understanding of cultural diversity into my profession as a teacher and hopefully inspiring young people to become advocates of change in their local communities.” Annie, 2018

There are lots of awards to pick from where do you want to Explore?

Find out more

Over 18? Where will you go this summer?


Access Student

Access Student: 3 awards – 8 weeks – Volunteering & cultural immersion – variety of destinations & projects – host family or residential

Find out more

Global Awareness Programme

Global Awareness Programme: 2 awards – PARTIALLY FUNDED – 8 weeks – Volunteering & cultural immersion – variety of destinations & projects – host family or residential

Find out more

Under 18

“I gained new friends, knowledge and understanding of the worlds problems and how we as young people can stop them. I loved every second of it!” Niamh, 2018

There are lots of EIL Explore awards to apply for which one will you apply for today

Find out more

Under 18? Where will you go this summer?


Secondary School

Secondary School: 3 awards – (Aug – Dec 2022) – Study abroad in a European country – 3 months – Host family & local school

Find out more

Youth Activist

Youth Activist – Governor’s Institutes of Vermont (USA) 5 awards – 2 weeks in Vermont USA – Youth Leadership & Social Justice workshop series – winner travels as the Vermont group

Find out more


Japan: 1 award – 4 weeks – Irish cultural ambassador & secondary school experience – Host family in the Suwa region of Japan

Read More

International Summer School

International Summer School: 1 Award – 4 Weeks – In partnership with Cork Life Centre and their students – Attending school & cultural workshops and excursions

Read More


The EIL Explore application process is fairly straightforward but just in case you have any questions check out or FAQ’s here

You can apply online on our website simply visiting the page of your award of interest. It will be necessary to create an account and register with your email address. You will then be able to complete an online application form (for the following Awards:  Youth Activist-Vermont and Ecuador) or download a PDF application to complete and send by post (for all the other Awards).

Applicants for ACCESS Awards need to submit their application through their university.

If you are not able to register online, please contact to ask for a paper application form.

Interested organisations FAQs

EIL Explore currently works closely with:

Nominator FAQ's

Yes, of course! Please contact [email protected] You can also reach us by phone Monday-Friday 9.00-5.30 on 021 4551535