Is your child thinking of volunteering abroad? Here's what a mom of two former ILP volunteers says about the program and why she now wants all of her kids to serve abroad.
We want you to feel good about your volunteer's decision to go abroad and we'll do all we can to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. While that's helpful, getting perspective from other parents whose children have volunteered can be a great way to learn about the program and give you insight into what you should expect.
Have more questions about sending your volunteer abroad? We have this ILP for parents guide you might be interested in.
We talked to Kati E., a mom of two former ILP volunteers. Kati's daughters now have a total of 5 trips between the two of them (they caught the travel bug and once wasn't enough!). But, just like you, she wanted to make sure her daughters would have a safe, meaningful experience abroad. Here are some of her thoughts.
How Did Your Daughters Grow?
There are a lot of ways your volunteer may grow and change during their semester living abroad. Some of those ways will be things you can see externally and others will be internal. Kati says:
"The biggest thing I notice in them is their newfound confidence. Living abroad made them have to break out of their comfort zone in many ways, and do that on a daily basis. Because of that they became more confident in themselves and in their abilities.
I also noticed they were very appreciative of what they had when returning home. After a semester in China little things like A/C and "normal toilets" [instead of squatters] were a huge deal to them. They learned a lot from the cultures they lived in and saw how grateful the people were even when they sometimes had so little."
Did Their "Future Plans" Get Delayed?
Kati said her girls left with ILP right after high school, taking a break before they started college. Knowing this, we asked her if she felt like they had missed out on anything or delayed their plans negatively by taking time to travel and volunteer.
"I don't feel like they missed out on anything at all. Yes, they may be a semester behind compared to some of their friends, but the things they learned and real life lessons they had make that extremely worth it. I actually feel like ILP gave them more opportunities to learn about themselves and gave them ideas of things they wanted to add to their plans for the future."
Was It Actually Worth It?
"It took effort to help their trips become a reality. We fundraised and had to put work into preparing them to go. But, even though it took work it was absolutely worth it for the experiences they had. The friends they met in their ILP groups are still some of their best friends to this day, they learned to serve unselfishly and love others, and they got to see many incredible places that people only dream of seeing in their lifetime."
Would You Recommend ILP To Other Parents?
"I 100% would and do! I know several families whose kids have gone on trips because we've told them how much we love the program and the work they do. I think volunteering is extremely beneficial and a wonderful choice. I want all of my kids to have this amazing opportunity and am excited to help them make it happen if it is what they choose! I wish I would have had an opportunity like this when I was their age. "
Have more questions about what your volunteer will experience as they are living abroad (like how to keep in touch or what the program is all about?) Talk to an ILP representative in the office who answer any questions you have about ILP's humanitarian programs or exchange programs.
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