Your group makes your semester so much more fun and you're not worrying about being alone in a foreign country, but only if you all are getting along.
Being placed with a group of other volunteers is one way ILP helps take care of you while you're living abroad. Click here to learn more about how you're taken care of while volunteering!
Let's be real ... when you're together every single day, living, teaching and traveling all together, sometimes personalities clash and problems arise. Even if you mostly get along with your group, there will be some disagreements during your semester. It can be a rainy storm cloud on your experience if you let it, which is why we suggest finding ways to get along with your group!
First of all - kindness will help you a ton during your semester. Be kind to those in your group, even if they might not be very kind to you or others. Realize that everyone has their own personal battles they may be facing that you don't know about. Just be nice even if it may seem hard with a certain someone in your group.
Nothing good will come out of being short with them or saying unkind things. If there's someone in your group who tends to be argumentative and impatient, react with kindness (and remember that golden rule: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all). You'll be amazed at how much just being kind can affect others. I couldn't agree more with this quote by C.R Gibson:
" I have wept in the night
At My Shortness of sight
That to other's needs made me blind,
But I never have yet
Had a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind."
Is there something in your group you are really struggling with? Speak up! No one will know and often times others may not realize it's an issue until it is brought up. The longer you let it sit and bubble up inside the worse it becomes. Talk to your group and let them know if there is something wrong and get things resolved quickly. I heard of an ILP group that had some personality conflicts over someone playing their music too loudly when others were trying to sleep ... she had no idea her tunes were keeping others up and immediately switched to headphones once they said something. Problem solved.
Not all of your issues might as easily solved as that one, but it doesn't hurt to try and peacefully sort out an issue. It isn't fair for you to sit and suffer if you are struggling with something.
If you're not comfortable bringing something up with your group, try talking to your Head Teacher first. If you're not comfortable talking to your Head Teacher and it's a more serious issue, contact the ILP office.
Service can change your heart and help you love others. Having a hard time with someone in your group? Serve them! It really is amazing to see how your attitude towards someone can change just through small acts of service. It doesn't need to be anything big. Write a note, leave a treat in their teaching supplies, take out their trash, make their bed, invite them to go get ice cream with you and some other ILP group members - anything to help or uplift them.
Maybe someone in your group is reacting that way because they feel homesick, left out, or picked on. Life in a foreign country can be rough some days, and little acts of service help make those hard days a bit easier.
Get To Know Everyone
In China it felt like our ILP group was a bit distant and we wanted to all have a stronger relationship. We took turns having "date nights" and would split up in two's or three's to get to know each other better and then rotated until we had gone through everyone in the group.
It was really fun to get one on one time with each person in my group and made a huge difference in how we all got along and worked together. It will make you appreciate everyone and show you their unique talents and personalities. Don't let this semester slip by and only get to know one or two people in your group! Sure, you might get along better with a select few, but that doesn't mean you can't be friends with the others in your group.
Here are some tips on how to get to know your group better!
Give The Benefit Of The Doubt
This can be hard, but helpful. Again, we all have different struggles which manifest themselves differently in our actions and reactions. So give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe what they said was not worded right and came out differently than they'd hoped — don't take it personally.
Maybe the way they resolve conflict is hard for you but that's how they do it in their family and don't know any differently.
Take a breath and move on. Give yourself some space so you don't say anything you'll regret, and try to walk a mile or two in their shoes. That's great if you've adapted to life abroad a bit more smoothly, but maybe others in your group are having a harder time. Show some kindness and don't let it bother you.
Sooo, how does volunteering in Eastern Europe, serving in an Orphanage Program in Romania or teaching English in China sound? Pretty good? We think so too.
Click the green button below to learn more about the ILP experience and the cool opportunities you'll have while volunteering.