If you've done your research and compared study abroad and volunteering programs, you probably already know that there are a lot of reasons to choose ILP, but one of the biggest benefits we offer is that you only have to pay full price for the first semester. Seriously.
If you volunteer with International Language Programs, you can take advantage of this and travel all over the world on ILP's dime.
That's what I did! I volunteered in Mexico and paid the program fee, and then after that, I did two semesters in Asia and once to Europe (and yep ... ILP paid my program fee and gave me a stipend for those last three trips).
Ready for your first trip, but not sure how to pay for it?
All of our tips for affording it are right here!
How Does This Deal Work?
The key is being an ILP Head Teacher! If you want to travel all over the world but aren't sure you can afford it, this post is for you.
Okay cool, but what's a Head Teacher?
With every ILP group, there is a peer volunteer who is the designated leader that semester, called the Head Teacher. ILP Head Teachers are volunteers who loved their experience so much during their first trip that they wanted to do it all over again. We have some Head Teachers who want to go back to the same country so that they can see their friends and students again, and we have others who want to see a totally new part of the world!
There are new responsibilities being a HT, so it looks a bit different compared to being a volunteer. You can read all about what it looks like to be a HT right here, but as a quick sum up, Head Teachers act as the go-to person between the ILP office in Utah, the Local Coordinator who lives in your city, and the group of volunteers. They offer support and training for teaching, help make sure everyone's needs are met, and have several other tasks.
What's the cost for Head Teachers?
If you're selected to be a Head Teacher, you get some serious perks ... but the best one, if you ask me, is the price!
For our Exchange programs (so places like Thailand and Mexico) Head Teachers have their program fee completely waived —Yep, that means ILP is paying for your international flight, your visa, your housing, and your meals for the entire semester!
For our Humanitarian programs (places like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Romania and more) Head Teachers get a huge discount off of their program fee — you're just paying $1,000-1,500.
Then on top of that, all Head Teachers (no matter what program you're leading) receive a cash stipend that you can spend however you want. When I was a HT, I used it to pay for the majority of my vacations during the semester ... so it was like I got a free trip to places like Puerto Escondido when I was in Mexico and a free trip to Chiang Mai when I was in Thailand!
Pst — You can compare Exchange and Humanitarian programs here.
I can travel for 3-4 months and ILP is paying for it? What's the catch?
Seriously, no catch!
Good Head Teachers can have a major impact on the entire group's experience so it's an important position. We do our best to choose alumni who are positive, go-getters, and problem solvers. There is a heavier responsibility load than when you were a first-time volunteer, and we know not everyone can afford to do more than one semester abroad, so we want to make this experience worth your time and energy — that's why ILP covers so much of the costs for Head Teachers.
There's no limit on how many times you can be a Head Teacher. If you're doing a great job, we want you to travel with us as many times as you can. Because of this great deal, many ILP volunteers have been able to travel the world multiple times on the smallest of budgets.
There are still costs that come up that you'll be responsible for like paying for any baggage fees your airline might charge or getting travel insurance. And most volunteers like to do as much as they can during the semester to maximize their time ... so that means your vacations, shopping, and eating out might add up to more than what your stipend is.
But no matter how you budget your spending, the majority of your costs are still covered as a Head Teacher. You're getting a scream of a deal, seriously.
How do I sign up?
For Head Teachers, we hold interviews a few months prior to the semester you want to go (so it's sort of like getting hired for a job). The spots are much more limited because there are only 1-2 leaders per ILP group and they are competitive because of this awesome deal.
You're welcome to apply up to 1.5 years in advance and then we'll reach out when it's time to schedule your interview and start talking about the semester you'd like to go!
If you have any questions about being a Head Teacher, reach out to email@example.com.
A Few Real-Life Examples
Jen — 4 ILP semesters
Like I mentioned, my first semester was in Mexico. I worked and saved and paid the program fee to live in Mexico for the summer. I loved it so much and caught the travel bug, I knew I had to go again. Before I knew it was applying to spend a semester in Asia, then in Europe, then back to Asia again. In total, with my vacations, I ended up seeing 10+ countries and the only one I really paid for was Mexico.
Ariel — 7 ILP Semesters
Ariel also started with Mexico as her first semester and couldn't get enough. She ended up doing 6 more semesters in different parts of Europe!
"The decisions I made to volunteer with ILP have been some of the best decisions of my life. Not only did I get to do some of the best things, like teaching English and traveling, but I met some really wonderful people, and learned a lot of life lessons. During my seven semesters abroad I did everything from enjoying the beaches of Mexico, to watching world famous opera in the square outside the National Opera House in Vienna."
Kerry — 10 ILP Semesters
Most Head Teachers are only able to make time for 1 or 2 more semesters, but we absolutely love when we watch people making the most out of this opportunity. Currently, the record holder for the most ILP semesters is Kerry with 10 semesters! She's been all over Europe, Mexico, and Asia.
Ready to get going?
Already been an ILP volunteer and want to be a Head Teacher? Head here to start your HT application.
Is it your first semester? Let's get your application started so that we can start helping you dream up how many countries you'll be jet setting off to go see!