Opsahl Global Service Program

Transforming Lives

The Opsahl Global Service Program was envisioned by Jan Opsahl ’68, who became the first international student at TASIS when he came from Norway in 1965. The pioneering program was launched in 2013 with major support from a most generous donation from Mr. Opsahl and his family to set up the Global Service Trust. This Trust, along with support from the TASIS Foundation, make this incredible, life-changing experience for our students possible.

Mission Statement

The TASIS Opsahl Global Service Program transforms lives by providing every High School student with a unique opportunity to connect across borders—whether geographic, economic, or social—through comprehensive experiences that build empathy and encourage personal responsibility. The Program awakens students to humanitarian needs, inspires them to build enduring, mutually beneficial relationships, and leads them toward a life of active citizenship and committed service.

Global Service Groups
9th Grade Service Learning Program

This service learning program is compulsory for all students in grade nine. During weekly meetings that include discussions, guest speakers, films, simulations, readings, and other activities, students are exposed to a number of themes and topics that the Global Service Program seeks to address: Education, Water/Sanitation, Poverty, Gender Equality, the Environment, and Marginalized Populations.

Local Community (grades 10–12)

Casa Elisabetta: TASIS students go at least once a month on Wednesday afternoons to this shelter for children and disadvantaged mothers. Students set up celebrations, fundraise, and plan activities for young children at Casa Elisabetta. All participants should speak some Italian and enjoy spending time and playing with very young children.

Intergenerations: TASIS students visit Al Pagnolo, a local retirement home, twice a month on Wednesday afternoons. The group name stems from the encounters in which students share time with people of a different generation. Students use their talents, interests, and energy to plan and prepare activities (e.g., conversations, playing games, cooking, singing, etc.) with the residents of Al Pagnolo. All participants should be Italian speakers or enrolled in at least Italian 2.

Red Cross Refugees: The Red Cross in Paradiso provides support to young (teenage) refugees from places such as Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and Afghanistan as they make a new start in Switzerland. TASIS students plan and participate in after-school activities twice a month on Wednesdays with teenage refugees and asylum seekers residing in Lugano. All participants should speak some Italian.

Global Community (grades 10–12)

Cambodia works with two Cambodian NGOs that are dedicated to improving economic and educational conditions in Cambodia. Students work with Tabitha to help construct homes for Cambodian families and also help support Tabitha’s family savings program. Students also work with Caring for Cambodia, whose goal is to secure a better, brighter future for children through education. In June, TASIS students volunteer in Tabitha communities in the Cambodian countryside as well as at local educational facilities in Siem Reap, assisting with the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program.

Caring for Cambodia
Tabitha

Gram Vikas India is an NGO that has been working with the rural people of Odisha, India, for more than 38 years. Students learn about the regions of India and research educational opportunities for students in the areas Gram Vikas serves. The group spends eight days in India working with Gram Vikas during February Academic Travel. They focus on “expanding horizons through research, service, and experience.”

Gram Vikas

Hope and Homes for Children Romania is an NGO that seeks to replace institutionally-focused child protection services (state-run orphanages) with the concept of family. Through commitment, individual attention, love, and stimulation, Hope and Homes for Children works in partnership with the Romanian government to provide better opportunities for disadvantaged young people. In June, TASIS students assist HHC with a variety of infrastructure projects that help improve the conditions of such institutions, while also using their own talents and passions to assist with HHC’s development, web, and social media presence, as well as outreach.

Hope & Homes for Children

Mission Morocco explores the multiple and unique factors that affect economic and social development in Morocco. The group looks at the entire spectrum of issues related to development, such as education, women's rights, children's rights, and accessibility, among others. For eight days during February Academic Travel, students travel to Morocco to work with underprivileged or abandoned children and the Hayati Foundation, helping them improve access to education.

Hayati

Nepal: After learning about the history of Nepal and the plight of Tibetan refugees, TASIS students, with the help and insights of the Tserok community, raise funds and travel to Nepal for two weeks during Spring Break to help develop infrastructure for the Tserok Tibetan refugee camp. Particular areas of focus include building projects alongside the local community, education, and environmental stewardship.

Nuovo Fiore Ethiopia is a non-profit organization that aids and encourages the education of elementary-aged young boys and girls in East Africa. TASIS students learn about the economic, political, and social inequalities prevalent in Ethiopia while actively fundraising to support Nuovo Fiore’s key initiatives. During the second week of Spring Break, students travel to Ethiopia to help the Auxilium Grade School improve the lives and education of young children in need.

Nuove Fiore

Serving Southern Africa: While confronting stereotypes about life in Africa and its people, TASIS students spend the year learning about the challenges of development and economic growth in rural Africa. For two weeks during Spring Break, students assist in rural and urban communities in Zambia, building homes for homeless women and children, helping the elderly, volunteering at the local preschool, helping with the provision of medication at a local hospital, planting trees, holding art workshops for street children, and transforming the community through their service.

Understanding Ulgii (Teaching in Mongolia): This group is dedicated to supporting and building a lasting relationship between TASIS students and a community of English language learners in Ulgii, a city in western Mongolia. TASIS students provide English language lessons to aspiring students during the first 10 days of June vacation. Fundraising covers the cost of supplies such as books, posters, new desks, and Rosetta Stone subscriptions.

WISER Kenya: WISER is a girls-only boarding secondary school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya, a struggling rural community on Lake Victoria. After examining issues of universal education and gender equality, students spend nine days during February Academic Travel getting to know the community of Muhuru Bay, Kenya. They assist at local primary schools, educate the community on the benefits of purified water, help with HIV education through the READY program, and work closely with the WISER school.

Wiser Girls

For more information, please contact Opsahl Global Service Program Director Zach Mulert.