History of VIA
VIA began in 1963 when Dwight Clark, then Stanford's Dean of Freshman Men, organized a summer project with Stanford University students. The students assisted programs serving Chinese refugees in Hong Kong through rooftop schools, medical clinics, recreation programs, and road building. The summer reshaped many of these students' personal and professional goals. They so valued the benefits of their cross-cultural experience that they recruited other students for similar projects. In 1966, the program was incorporated under the name Volunteers in Asia, now VIA.
In the 1960's and early 1970's, student participation in our programs was shaped by the Vietnam War. We then created two-year positions for conscientious objectors seeking "alternative service" opportunities in Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Taiwan and Nepal.
By the end of the Vietnam War, the two-year opportunities opened to graduates and professionals and short-term posts for undergraduates and were extended to students from outside Stanford. In 1980, a China program was added to continuing programs in Indonesia and Taiwan. VIA volunteers served in Vietnam starting in 1990, and in Thailand beginning in 1992. Currently, VIA places volunteers in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and most recently, Cambodia.
Read more about VIA's Asia Programs
In 1977, Japanese universities requested a summer English language and American culture program. The immediate success encouraged VIA to start the Asia Exchange Programs, which now brings more than 200 Asian students to Stanford annually. Participants benefit from short-term, educationally-rich programs that focus on a wide variety of themes; language and culture , service-learning , western and eastern medicine , social entrepreneurship.
Read more about VIA's Stanford Programs
In 1975, VIA launched the Appropriate Technology Project to increase access to materials in this field. The Appropriate Technology Sourcebook led to production in microfiche of an entire library of more than 1,000 appropriate technology books. Some 1,600 library sets have been distributed to development organizations and workers in 125 countries. Currently it's available in CD-ROM format. After a long search for an organization better equipped to update the Sourcebook, VIA transferred the project to the Appropriate Technology Institute at Colorado State University.
In addition, VIA published several books under VIA Press. These include the following (no longer in print):
Avia Travel grew out of an in-house travel desk providing transportation for VIA volunteers. Now an independent agency operated under a management contract, Avia serves VIA's needs and the transportation demands of many non-profit educational organizations and individual travelers.