You may be worried about sending your child away for a semester of college, let alone a semester abroad — here’s how you know they are ready.
As a parent, it's normal to be a little concerned when your kids get older and decide they want to spend a semester volunteering in Europe or are dreaming of a backpacking trip through Asia (my parents were!). How can you be sure they are ready to take on all of those adventures, without you? One way to help make sure your volunteer is ready for all that is making sure they won’t be doing it alone. That’s where volunteering with ILP comes in.
Have more questions about sending your volunteer abroad? We have an ILP guide for parents you might be interested in.
Not all volunteer programs are created equal — here’s how ILP makes sure our volunteers are ready to live abroad (without their parents) and a few things you can do to check that their ready to travel the world (with some help):
- Is Your Volunteer (Basically) Ready For College?
- Here’s How ILP Helps Your Volunteer
- Plus, You’re Not Really That Far Away
Is Your Volunteer (Basically) Ready For College?
While ILP volunteers don’t need to be students, they do need to be at least 18 years old before volunteering abroad with us (which is around the age of a new college student). If they are ready to live with roommates in a dorm or apartment, plan their college schedule and get their homework done and have fun on the weekends, they are probably ready for a semester abroad. Some of the same things college students experience are some of the same things our volunteers experience ... just abroad.
ILP volunteers are living, working, teaching, and traveling with a group (like a group of roommates), plus they’ll need to manage their teaching schedules and get their volunteer work done (just like homework assignments and other college projects). Like college, volunteers are also required to figure out life without their parents — like how to problem solve, manage their free time, grocery shop and get around a new city.
If you think your future ILP volunteer is ready to navigate a semester of college, they are probably ready to navigate a semester abroad. If you are worried about them living out of the house, think about doing a few things to help them prepare for that (like making sure they can pack up a suitcase and do their own laundry).
Here’s How ILP Helps Your Volunteer
ILP isn’t set up to parent your volunteer (we want them to have structure and free time to create their own experience!) but we are there to help.
Each group is set up with a head teacher who has taught with us before so they can help with teaching and general “life abroad” questions. Volunteers are also set up with a Local Coordinator who knows the language and can help with some cultural things. And they won’t be alone! Every ILP volunteer goes with an ILP group of college-aged students so they can all figure out life abroad together.
Here’s a little more about that support system right here.
Plus, You’re Not Really That Far Away
The same questions your volunteer might have in college might be the same ones they will have abroad, like how you cook that recipe they love or a reminder about what their social security number is.
There are tons of ways to keep in touch with your volunteer no matter where they are in the world. Every ILP volunteer has WiFi in their homes and/or at the school they teach at (plus countless little cafes and restaurants around town) where they can reach you, even if they don’t have an international phone plan.
You can also keep an eye on them no matter where they are with this app (in case you need to check in on them without sending a text or video call).
If you still have a couple of questions about being the parent of an ILP volunteer, you are more than welcome to talk to our office (801-374-8854).
We can help answer specific questions about each of our programs (humanitarian and exchange) so you can know what life will be like for them while abroad. We are here to help!