Location: Madrid, Spain
United Planet
Service Area:
Child Development & Education, Social Entrepreneurship & Nonprofit Management
Language Requirement:
High-school level Spanish or equivalent required


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About the City

Home to 3.2 million people, the Spanish capital of Madrid constitutes the economic, political, cultural, and geographic heart of the nation. As the third largest city in Europe, Madrid boasts internationally renowned museums, stunning urban architecture spanning half a millennium, a rich and varied culinary scene, several of the world’s oldest and most storied universities, two world class soccer clubs, and an extremely efficient metro transit system. Madrid has historically been home to a vibrant bohemian culture. During the summer, the city experiences temperatures ranging up into the 80s, and the winters rarely see temperatures dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, giving the city a warm Mediterranean climate.

About the Organization

United Planet is a non-profit organization with a mission – to create a global community, one relationship at a time. They connect volunteers who want to make a difference with communities in 35 countries, where they learn, teach, work, engage and immerse themselves in a culture outside their comfort zone. For many, it’s the most fulfilling experience of their lives.  United Planet is the US and Canadian partner of the International Cultural Youth Exchange, or ICYE. As volunteers in Spain, Fellows are hosted by AFAIJ, ICYE’s partner organization. AFAIJ was created in response to needs all over Europe and, thanks to volunteers, fulfills its vision for providing training and international participation in community projects.

Fellowship Structure

Bridge-Year Fellows will attend the program orientation on the Tufts campus in late August before traveling to Madrid to begin their service, which will begin with a three-day, in-country orientation by United Planet. Fellows will serve from approximately September 2016 to May 2017, then return to Tufts for our end-of-program retreat.

Housing and Meals

Fellows live with carefully selected host families in Madrid, where they will have their own room in the home. Living with a host family offers an immersive opportunity to experience the culture of your new community, and to build relationships with locals. Depending on each Fellows’ placement hours, they will usually have two meals per day with their host family and one at their placement. All host families live close to public transportation to ensure that Fellows can commute easily between home and their placement.

Support Services and Health

In addition to receiving ongoing support from Tisch College staff and senior management throughout the Bridge Year, Fellows in Madrid will benefit from three levels of local support: United Planet staff,  placement supervisors and host families. United Planet’s local staff will conduct in-country orientation, hold monthly reflection meetings, and organize social events and cultural activities. Local staff is available 24 hours a day to assist Fellows with any issues that arise throughout their Bridge Year, whether related to health, homestay, service placement, or other areas. Local placement supervisors will oversee Fellows’ daily work and contribute to their learning and growth. Host families contribute to Fellows’ cultural integration and provide a safe and supportive home environment throughout the Bridge Year.

In order to be eligible to participate in United Planet, Fellows must be able to meet United Planet’s Program Eligibility Requirements. If you have any questions about these requirements, please contact us. United Planet has developed a list of recommended urgent and primary care providers in Madrid and will assist Fellows with any health concerns that arise during their Bridge Year. Fellows will have international medical insurance through United Planet as well as international emergency medical coverage through Tufts University’s partnership with International SOS.


Fellows will use public transportation.

Skills Fellow will Develop

Fellows will become immersed and learn intimately about Spanish culture, and the politics and context of the European Union. The students will enhance their communication skills and problem-solving skills, as well as improve their sense of empathy and compassion. They will have the opportunity to create and implement workshops and programs that will engage their creativity and organizational skills. Fellows will also learn about the larger system of social services in Spain and how the government and private sectors come 5together to meet community needs. Fellows will also learn about their own strengths and weaknesses, and how to work effectively with a team in a professional setting.

Activities Beyond Service

The organization hosts volunteers from all over the world throughout the year, and there are regular opportunities for volunteers to meet for cultural and social events. These can include sporting events, weekend excursions, language exchanges, and more.


Service Experience

If you want to work in a specific service area not listed here, please contact us! When possible, we will work to find a placement within our service locations that fits your skills and interests.

Child Development & Education

Bridge-Year Fellows interested in child development and/or education will be placed in a home for children and teenagers without families, a school, or an education organization that works with children and teens in Madrid. Placements may focus on working with children with disabilities, those without families, or those who need additional help with academic or social skills. Fellows will be assigned to a community project based on their interests and skills.

The fellowship will focus on supporting educators in the management and development of all aspects of these children’s lives: promoting their innate ability and passions, finding additional resources for their development, increasing their independence, and building key skills for a successful life. Fellows not only coordinate and provide resources, but also form part of an educational team and create supportive projects which help the children transition through school and into adulthood. Depending on the placement, tasks may include: serving as a teacher’s assistant in a classroom setting, picking up and dropping off children from school, taking them to extracurricular activities, supporting them with homework, and leading arts activities, English lessons, or sports.

Social Entrepreneurship & Nonprofit Management

Fellows interested in social entrepreneurship and innovation will work with one or more local organizations that focus on these areas. Fellows may assist with administrative tasks, help organize events, conduct outreach on social enterprise campaigns or manage social media outreach, among other tasks. Fellows will learn from colleagues and supervisors as as they learn about the nonprofit sector within the bustling city of Madrid.