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What Happens After The Semester Is Over?

Posted by Emily Cummings on 5/6/17 8:26 AM

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People who like to travel are cool, but people who travel with ILP are even cooler — here’s what a few of our alumni have been up to.
I’d bet that once you got your first taste of going abroad, you wanted more. Sound familiar? You aren’t alone — our ILP alumni love the whole travel experience and have caught the bug.

Pst: want to have the ILP experience for yourself? Come fill out an application and experience living abroad in countries all over the world!

We could talk about loads of our alumni here, but we’ve talked to 4 who have done some pretty cool things since they were an ILP volunteer:

Brittany Buckwalter 

Brittany first volunteered in Ningbo, China in 2013, and loved China so much she’s now back in Beijing, but this time for a whole year! Brittany’s been adventuring and living with a Chinese host family with 2 kids, while taking Chinese classes. She’s loving her time is the busy city of Beijing and has let everyone know on the ILP China Facebook page to reach out with questions.

ILP China

Megan Ellingson 

Megan came home from ILP with a new family (her host family!) and loads of memories. 

”One of my favorite parts about my ILP experience was my host family in Ukraine! I was fortunate to be in a family that really made us feel like part of the family. My host family consisted of a babushka, Ludya, and her daughter, Olia. They showed us sites around the city, made us exciting and unique Ukrainian foods, and took us to extended family get-togethers. 

“It’s awesome because we have stayed in really great contact since I returned home. Olia has since married an American and now lives in North Carolina with their 3 year old little boy, Andy. Largely due to my ILP experience, I have decided I want to be involved with humanitarian and non-profit work. I did a humanitarian internship in the Czech Republic and while there, I visited my favorite Ukrainians. Olia and Andy also came over at the same time and we had a little reunion together for a week. It was so wonderful to see each other after six years!”

Megan still keeps in touch with her Ukrainian family, and actually works in the ILP office as a part of our marketing team which she loves (obviously). And don't you love the before and after 6 years picture? 

ILP Ukraine

Taylor Shepherd 

Taylor first volunteered in Nanjing, China two years ago…and is now the Head Teacher at the same school! The reason? 

“I feel in love with Nanjing. The kids, the school, the people, the city. It actually feels like home here.” We’ve had lots of volunteers come back as Head Teachers (not just because you go for practically no cost) but because you get a completely different experience. For Taylor, there was no better place to Head Teach than Nanjing. He was thrilled that the kids remembered him from 2 years ago: “They were so surprised when I walked into their classrooms. The feeling that I made some sort of impact on them that they remember me two years later, was amazing. Coming back as a HT is great because the all the kids are my kids, not the ones I teach.”

ILP China

Ashlee Cawley 

Ashleey turned an ILP semester into a career in South Korea!! (We’re a little jealous)  Here’s her story: 

 “For as long as I could remember, I’d wanted to visit China. I was a little nervous to go alone but liked that I would be with a group of other volunteers with ILP. I knew that my experience in China would be rewarding but I didn’t expect for it to be so enriching. It truly changed my life. I got to see so many beautiful places in China. I made some remarkable friends—some of the girls I met through the program are now some of my best friends. We even have gone on road-trips in the United States together.

“What’s more surprising was how much I loved teaching. Make no mistake, teaching Kindergarteners was sometimes rough. There were days I would think to myself “Oh, you kids are so difficult! But I love you! I love you so much.” I still have clear memories of walking around my school thinking to myself ‘Wow, I am so happy, so much happier than I thought possible. I just love teaching these kids.’

“Of course, my happy experience had to end. I remember bawling my eyes out on my last day with my students. Teaching with ILP made me realize how much I enjoyed teaching youth. Shortly after returning to the United States, I was the annoying girl who couldn’t stop talking about her experience in China. It was so life-changing, I couldn’t stop talking about it! I did some research about potential ways I could return to Asia to continue teaching. After a few years, I decided public school system in South Korea best fit what I was looking for. I’m now employed as a Native English Teacher at two middle schools in Gwangju, South Korea.

I can positively say that I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t volunteered with ILP. I would have never realized my passion for teaching, met some of my very best friends, enjoyed the pleasures of traveling and living abroad in China, or even be living in South Korea like I am now. My advice for anyone considering volunteering is to do it! You will not regret it. A semester with ILP will test you, but it will also help you get to know yourself in ways you didn’t think possible before. I love what I’m doing now, and if it weren’t for ILP I wouldn’t be here, so thank you, ILP!”

ILP China Alumni

Awww, we feel the same way, Ashlee!

Want us to write about what you’re doing before and after your ILP semester? Come volunteer with us first and keep in touch! Learn a little more about our program by clicking that button right there: 

International Language Programs

Topics: ILP Basics, Build Your Resume, Making a Difference, Finding Your Best Self

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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