Sending a child to volunteer abroad for a semester can be difficult on many levels. Not being with them and trusting that they're being taken care of and in a good environment is high on that list. We want to make it as easy as possible, so we've put together a little guide to show you exactly what you're volunteer will be up to and what is expected of them!
One of the perks of sending your volunteer abroad with ILP is the support for not only your volunteer, but also for you -- as the parent. When we say we get what you're feeling, we mean it! Our awesome ILP directors have had children serve abroad with ILP multiple semesters, so they have first hand experience of what you're feeling.
We have an ILP Guide for Parents that probably answers a few more questions you have.
ILP's number one priority is keeping all of our volunteers safe. We do everything we can to make sure we create an environment that will set everyone up for a successful and safe semester. The goal is that the experience of living abroad is one that our volunteers will never forget, that they create strong relationships with those they meet, that they have meaningful moments of service, and that they learn to grow and gain confidence as they go through the ups and downs.
What is my volunteer *really* doing with ILP?
- Teaching And Volunteering
- Having Fun During Free Time
- Becoming Independent
- Going On Vacations
- Following The Rules And Meeting Expectations
Teaching And Volunteering
As you'd expect -- because helping children by spending time with them and helping them learn English is what our program is all about. Volunteers spend no more than 20 hour a week volunteering, Monday through Friday. They will teach English (or volunteer in an orphanage) between three to four hours a day. They will always have their weekends off, plus vacation days through out the semester.
Depending on which one of our ILP countries your volunteer chose to serve in, they may teach in the morning/afternoon in a school or in the evening as an after school program (or possibly a little of both). They will also spend a little time during the week creating and getting ready for their lesson plans.
Having Fun During Free Time
When your volunteer is not teaching (or serving the kids if they volunteer at the Romanian orphanage) they will have free time to use as they wish as long as it's within the rules -- more on that later. What they do during their free time is really up to the volunteers!
ILP does not plan activities for them, but rather provides resources (like this blog), with ideas to encourage them to get out, explore, and make the most of their semester.
Outside of the classes, most volunteers use their free time to explore their city, shop, try new treats, relax, read books and spend time with their ILP group. Many volunteers choose to attend a church of their faith. Many join a local class or a gym. It's really up to them. Parents might want to know that you can see where your volunteer is at all times with these tips ... now you can see what they are up to during that free time.
We do require that volunteers are in groups of at least 2 or 3 while out exploring.
All parents hope they raise their kids to be good, independent and strong adults. If your child has decided to go abroad and volunteer for a semester, they're definitely on the right track for the first one. Becoming independent and strong are side affects of a semester abroad. They will be learning to get around a new city (usually using public transportation), communicating with people that don't speak the same language and learning to deal with the uncomfortable situations on their own.
Going On Vacations
Your volunteer will have weekends off and vacations throughout the semester. The vacations are one of the most rewarding parts of their trip (behind the cute kids of course) and they will make the best memories with their group.
We know as the parents this is probably one of the more nerve-wracking parts of the experience, but rest assured that there are rules surrounding vacations. They must get any and all vacations (outside of their city) approved by their head teacher, native coordinator AND the ILP directors.
The ILP directors keep a very close eye of everything that is going on in the countries that are volunteers are in and vacationing to and any requests to areas not deemed safe for any reason by ILP are not approved. They must also travel in groups of three or more. One of the big perks of volunteering with ILP is having the company of a group of friends with you - this is usually one of the things that draws our volunteers to sign up with ILP rather than traveling solo.
Following The Rules and Expectations
When your volunteer applied for ILP, they signed an agreement saying they would follow all ILP rules and code of conduct. The code of conduct is very similar to the BYU honor code and the rules are put in place to help make sure everyone stays safe and comfortable while living abroad.
Some of the rules are things such as no drinking, drugs, not going out of the school alone (they must be in groups of 2 or 3 or more), being in by curfew and more. Here's a copy of the code of conduct and rules for you to look over.
If you still have any questions or concerns about your volunteer serving abroad with International Language Programs, feel free to contact our awesome ILP representatives (they have all been on the program and have first hand experience of what it's like).