Many secondary schools, both in Australia and internationally include community service initiatives as an integral component of students' school experience. This practise is widely based on the assumption that young people benefit from helping others outside of the economies of exchange. Service projects linked intentionally to the regular curriculum can provide opportunities and even demands for students to make learning connections between the abstract theories of the classroom and their everyday world outside. The Australian Tanzanian Young Ambassadors (ATYA) is one such program. The ethnographic study of this program by a participant researcher is described and explored in this paper. This research focussed on the opportunities and demands for students' development of scientific literacy and an understanding of sustainability as they participated in an international community service tour and Bilateral Youth Forum in Tanzania. Insights from the research experience lead to the development of a framework for linking community service projects to the science curriculum, which is intended to support community service coordinators and teachers working with youth.