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How To Get Your Parents On Board After You Decide To Volunteer Abroad

Posted by Emily Cummings on 9/16/16 11:00 AM

Volunteer in Thailand

So, you are thrilled to be living abroad but your parents need some convincing…Now what? You’ve researched the countries you can travel to and have your eye on a couple different cities to visit. You’ve looked into some favorite ILP vacation spots like Bali, Indonesia or Puerto Escondido, Mexico but there’s one or two things holding you back; mom and dad. Having parents that aren't thrilled about you leaving is definitely something that can keep you going abroad.  We know that happy parents at home while you are teaching English abroad can make a big difference in your experience. Here’s how to get them excited about your adventures: 

  • ILP Takes Care of You 
  • Stay In Constant Contact
  • You’re All Set With A Head Teacher 
  • You Travel In Groups 
  • ILP Is Affordable 
  • Travel Builds Your Resume 

ILP Takes Care of You 

There are tons of different volunteer programs you can join to live and volunteer abroad, but some aren’t as great as others. Other programs charge expensive fees only to send you to a foreign country to live by all by yourself and to figure out your own schedule.

International Language Programs is different. You’ll be picked up by a local coordinator right in the airport once you land in your country and transportation to your school is all taken care of! You’ll either fly with your group or join them in your country as soon as you land (depending on which airport everyone is departing from). You also have support throughout your semester via the local coordinator we mentioned above, guidance from your experienced head teacher, and tips from alumni (we have a active alumni groups on Facebook who loved their experience and want to give you help too!). 

Stay In Constant Contact

ILP’s directors regularly keep in touch with their volunteers, giving your parents the chance to call with questions while you’re having the time of your life in China (even if they call in the middle of the night because of an emergency). Our coordinators also come to each school for a mid-semester visit to personally check on the school and each volunteer teaching there! You'll be in safe hands with ILP.

We give you the 3 director's personal cell phone numbers (and they actually answer it!). If you or your parents need help, you can reach them 24/7. If it's the middle of the day in China but you really need to talk to a director, they'll answer their phone even though it's the middle of the night in America. Their cell phone numbers are also given on the answering machine at our office, so if your parents call our office outside of business hours, they can still get in touch.

If your parents would like to speak with any of the ILP directors before you apply to be an ILP volunteer, they welcome that! They can email Steve (steve@ilp.org) or simply call our office to schedule a call.

Also, each ILP location has access to internet, meaning you’ll be able to use free apps to call home and tell your family all about your adventures. Most phone providers are starting to offer affordable international plans as well. You might even already have free international data/text attached to your plan! 

Volunteer in China

You’re All Set With A Head Teacher

ILP sends each group with a head teacher, someone who has traveled with the program before. Your head teacher is there to help answer questions about traveling around a foreign country, teaching English abroad, and help planning your awesome vacations (and anything else you need help with). Each head teacher has a weekly Skype call with with our directors and coordinators in Utah to make sure every problem is being addressed. Your head teacher will also work closely with your local coordinator, who can be a life saver when it comes to understanding the local language and culture. 

Volunteer in Thailand

You Travel in Groups 

ILP’s main concern is safety. While you are living abroad, you can explore Lithuanian ice cream shops and Buddhist temples with your group, but not by yourself. When you travel around to favorite vacation spots like Phuket, Thailand, three or more people in your group must travel together.  Your travel plans (like who you are going with, where you are staying, and how you are getting there) are approved by your head teach and our ILP directors in Utah before you are allowed to go.  

One small caveat, if you are volunteering in an area where you're living with a host family, there will be times when you're alone either commuting to school or going to meet up with the other volunteers. Since you don't live together, that's just necessary. It may be reassuring to know though that ILP volunteers have been doing this for more than twenty years without incidence. Also, keep in mind that ILP directors personally visit the areas abroad and only choose cities that are safer for volunteers to live in (whether they're commuting to school alone or not). 

Also, ILP is a little different than many travel programs because we keep high standards. All ILP volunteers sign a code of conduct with standards like no drinking, no dating and being respectful of the country they are visiting. 

Volunteer abroad

ILP is Affordable

Some programs cost thousands and thousands of dollars just to sign up, then it’s up to you to arrange housing, flights, and food for your semester. That’s not the case with ILP. The majority of our locations cost $2,520 which includes transportation there and back, housing close to your school, and three meals a day for the entire semester. And, if you choose to go back again as a head teacher with ILP, there's no program fee for you plus you receive a living stipend! It's a great way to stretch your money further if you decide you want more adventures. It's pretty telling that we have so many volunteers applying to go back more than once right?

Volunteer in Mexico

Travel Builds Your Resume 

Your parents might be concerned that a semester in a foreign country will interrupt your schooling, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve had volunteers in the past who have been able to complete online classes while volunteering, and every volunteer can use their experience abroad on their resume. Teaching English in a foreign country teaches lessons of independence, time management and cultural experience that are hard to find in a classroom. 

Volunteer in Thailand

On top of all of that, living abroad is an incredible adventure that’s impossible to forget. Our alumni love talking about their experience teaching English and traveling once they come home, even if it was years since they went!

If you and your parents would like to know more about how to overcome problems keeping you from taking a semester abroad, click the link below! 

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Topics: Semester Preparation, ILP Basics

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Over the years of assisting more than 6,000 volunteers in their desire to travel and make a difference in the lives of others, ILP has seen what works and what doesn't.

We've gathered our tips here for making your semester abroad a successful one.


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