While volunteering with International Language Programs (ILP) you will meet and serve alongside amazing people in your group. They are from all over the US and have different religious backgrounds, ideas and views. Each of them will teach you something that will help you grow as a person.
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Many ILP volunteers are members of the LDS faith. How come?
One reason is that ILP is based out of Orem, Utah. This area of the country has a high percentage of the population who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Many of our volunteers are attending Brigham Young University which is an LDS school - it's a great semester abroad for BYU students. Many of our applicants are looking for LDS volunteer opportunities. Did you know volunteers can attend an international LDS ward/branch in every single country where our volunteers are serving? You can even attend an LDS branch in China!
Another reason is because ILP has a Code of Conduct. We hold our volunteers to a higher standard to creative a more positive and safe experience for our volunteers and to also leave a more positive impression on the community they are serving. The ILP Code of Conduct is similar to LDS standards and many of our volunteers choose ILP because they want a program that fits with their lifestyle and they want to travel with friends who live the same way that they do. Some of the things ILP volunteers commit to live by during their time on the program include: abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and drugs, no romantic relationships (both within the group and with locals), and obeying the law. Read more about it here.
Having the code of conduct made me SO grateful during my semesters with ILP. It was something that helped me feel comfortable. It also helped my group become more unified as we were living the same way and doing the same things.
Do I have to be LDS to volunteer with ILP? Will I have to go to church?
No and no.
ILP is not affiliated with The LDS Church and you do not have to be a member of the church to volunteer abroad with ILP.
You might find that a high percentage of your group is LDS, but like I said there will be a ride range of people with different religious practices and views. The people in my groups have been some of the very best parts about my semesters abroad with ILP! You are not required to go to church, even if half of your group is going each Sunday. If you are a member of another religion, you'll have support in seeing where you can go to attend a church of your faith. Every ILP group has Saturdays and Sundays off and many choose to attend a ward/branch/church of their choosing, but it's absolutely not a requirement. We do believe that it could enhance your experience if you're interested in that and want to support you in finding out where to go.
All ILP volunteers must have this in common though...
No matter what your religious views are, all ILP volunteers agree to live our Code of Conduct while volunteering. During your application process we'll go over these details with you. We want to make sure that you're comfortable agreeing to our rules and standards because that will greatly help determine whether ILP is the right program for you! For example, if you're looking for a chance to travel and give service, but want to party on the weekends...ILP is probably not the right program for you which would mean your experience abroad wouldn't be as positive for you. But on the flip side, if you agree that refraining from drinking while you live abroad is a good idea and even appreciate that you can travel with friends without it, then ILP would be a great volunteer program for you.
No matter what type of diversity you find in your group, learn from them and enjoy them (even if you don't agree always). You may be really different, but you also may be a lot more similar than you think. These people can become some of your best friends and you'll have the best memories with them. Many ILP volunteers come home saying that they've made lifelong friends and that their group was the best part of the experience. We hope that's the same for you!
Excited to travel but have something holding you back? We want to help you! We put together a list of the top 10 things that hold people back and how to get past them!