Watch as U-Voicers Caitlyn and Lucas capture moments from programs in Morocco and India, respectively.

Tell Their Stories. Change Our World.

U-Voice student storytellers capture the perspectives of our patients and volunteers during an Operation Smile medical mission. Working with Operation Smile Student Programs’ creative director, the U-Voicer shares these stories on Student Programs’ website, social media platforms, newsletters, as well as in other Operation Smile communications. These stories are read by supporters around the world.

Students who take part in this program don’t need to be a journalism or communication major to apply!

In a show of storytelling synergy, Student Programs’ U-Voice reporters teamed up with Operation Smile’s Gifts-in-Kind (GIK) department to capture the impact of our corporate sponsors’ generosity. During his time at our site in Durgapur, India, U-Voicer Nicholas took photos (including the above) and wrote a story about Ansell’s donation of gloves – how they protect our medical volunteers and make surgery safe for our patients.

“Operation Smile’s faith in Student Programs means so much to me because they believed in me to not only champion patients but also track the gifts-in-kind donated by their corporate sponsors.

“During my mission, I tracked the gloves donated by Ansell, who has been partnered with Operation Smile for four years. Experiencing the charity of organizations like Ansell, as well as health care providers and volunteers from 12 different countries, reinforced the importance of safe surgery and health care professionals working seamlessly as a team.”

— Nicholas, a U-Voice student storyteller who covered a medical mission in India in February 2020. Nicholas studied biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and wants to be a dentist.

What: 2023 U-Voice student storyteller workshops

Who: Undergraduate students, at a sophomore level or higher, who are in good standing at an accredited university.

When/Where: There are two trainings offered in 2023. The first training will be held in May at Operation Smile Global Headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The second will be held July 15-17, the weekend before our International Student Leadership Conference in Lima, Peru.

Training cost: $100 U.S. This fee will cover a T-shirt and notebook. Please note that any costs associated with travel are not covered by this fee.

Program fee: US$1,000. This covers lodging, meals, and ground transportation during the medical program. We understand the cost of funding an international assignment can be challenging. We are happy to discuss options which might ease this burden on you and your family, including coordinating the flights schedules, so that you could use any available loyalty points or airmiles to secure your flights, allowing you to pay fees in instalments, or supporting your applications to scholarships, sponsorships, or grants with official documentation.

Flight cost: Varies by destination.


Does a student need to be studying journalism or communication to take part? 

Absolutely not! Most past U-Voicers studied medicine, law, engineering and many other subjects. The whole point of training is ensuring that each student, no matter what they study, is prepared to serve as a journalist for Operation Smile. So they don’t need to want to be a professional journalist in order to serve in this special role. 

Will this program require any international travel? 

Safety is always our top priority. We’re continuing to monitor COVID-19 and its impact on travel conditions, and we hope to invite student storytellers on international medical programs soon; however, at this point in time, we cannot promise that U-Voicers will be able to attend a program in person. Other opportunities to conduct interviews and capture stories will be provided. The 2022 U-Voice class is unique in that students are being trained to cover Operation Smile’s work in their country.  

 What does the U-Voice training fee cover? 

When you pay to attend training, you’ll receive professional instruction, a certificate that shows you completed this specialized writing program, a U-Voice T-shirt and reporter’s notebook.  

 Why should a student consider this opportunity? 

We think this is not just a fantastic opportunity to serve Operation Smile in a unique way during a unique time, but it’s also a great chance to hone your writing, editing and communication skills. Of course, these are universally critical skills that are always in demand, no matter  your career path. U-Voice is a great way for students to boost their resumes with links to published work outside of school. Bethany, the lead for this and U-Voice, is also eager to serve as a reference for students who are a part of her programs. 

When do applications close?

Applications will close at 11:59 p.m. ET Dec. 6!

 Any other questions? Email U-Voice program lead

Each U-Voicer is responsible for writing at least three feature stories about Operation Smile’s patients and volunteers. These stories must be at least 600 words and include direct quotes from subjects they interviewed for this story. Students must also take at least three photos to be used with each story. 

Students MUST meet all of the requirements below in order to apply:

  •  A college sophomore, junior, or senior
  •  An active member of an Operation Smile Student Club
  •  Involved for at least one year
  •  Able to indicate dedicated participation and exceptional leadership
  •  A participant at a previous International Student Leadership Conference (before 2018) or the Step UP University Programs Symposium (after Jan. 1, 2018)

U-Voice student storyteller training covers the following topics:

  • The power of student storytellers
  • The storytelling formula
  • Interviewing
  • Smartphone photography and videography
  • Ethics and judgment
  • Finding your voice
  • Writing for Operation Smile
  • Reporting field tips