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Announcing A New ILP Program In The South Pacific: Vanuatu!

Posted by Jen King on 11/20/19 11:48 AM


The secret is out! You can now live the island life for your semester abroad: full of crystal clear swimming lagoons, untouched beaches, and coconut-filled palm trees — come volunteer with us in Vanuatu.

ILP is expanding into a new part of the world and we are jumping up and down, "cartwheels down the hallway" excited about it. Now's your chance to spend your semester abroad on an island nation tucked in a section of the South Pacific! 

Ready to jump and come to Vanuatu with a group of ILP volunteers?
Get started right here!

Volunteering in Vanuatu —

International Language Programs (ILP) is a service based, semester abroad program for college age volunteers. We started our first program in Russia nearly 30 years ago and now send volunteers all over the world. We are thrilled to add Vanuatu to that list.

Where is Vanuatu?

If you don't know much about this country yet, don't be embarrassed. It's a really popular vacation spot for Australians because of its close proximity, but it's still nearly undiscovered by the rest of the world. We'll see how long that lasts though. Vanuatu has made lists like the Top Trending Travel Destinations for 2020.

Vanuatu is a string of 83 islands found in the Melanesia section of the South Pacific which also incorporates Micronesia and Polynesia. Vanuatu sits right next to New Caledonia with direct flights to places like Australia and Fiji. How do you pronounce it? It sounds like "Van-oo-ahh-too".

Fun fact ... Vanuatu has been named the happiest nation in the world! Ni-Vans are seriously the most friendly and the culture here is what we're most excited for you to experience on this program.  Once you get here you'll see how the people  truly embrace the island way of living. Yes, you'll find modern conveniences like WiFi, but so many locals are happily self-sufficient, making the most of the island's natural resources and feeding their families from their own personal gardens. 

ILP volunteers will be living in a culture focused on family, nestled in a small village where your neighbors are your aunties and uncles. Basically, everyone knows everyone in the community and it's like one big family here. Volunteering here means joining that remote village community and fitting in with all the cultural norms that are found here. 

If you're looking for an island experience a bit off the beaten path, green and tropical year round with the added bonus of getting to know the locals we love so much, pack your swim suit and your GoPro and get ready for Vanuatu.


What Will I Be Doing As A Volunteer?

You’ll be helping young kids learn English part time (about 4 hours a day, Monday-Friday) with a group of other college-age American volunteers, similar to our volunteer programs in other countries.  You'll be teaching at an after school program with kiddos who are about 3-6 years old, along with a few students who may be in 2nd or 3rd grade ... cute! 

Teaching with ILP isn’t like traditional language classes reciting grammar from a textbook in a room full of 30+ students — ILP volunteers spend time “playing” one-on-one with the kids and planning fun lessons entirely in English to help them learn the language in a natural way. You’ll receive training and support the entire semester from both our main office in Utah, USA, and locally in Vanuatu.

Don't worry, teaching experience isn't necessary with our program. Actually, most volunteers have never taught prior to their semester with ILP. You don't need to be in school, have a degree, or any other certification! You also don't need to speak any other language since your classes are held entirely in English.

This is a Humanitarian Program, meaning the classes you teach will be completely free to your students. Each of our Humanitarian programs are unique, since each country is unique, and Vanuatu is no different. Read here about why you're needed and how you'll be adding value by teaching in Vanuatu.

What Made You Choose Vanuatu?

We are always scouting new locations that would make a great fit for our program  essentially somewhere that will make an impact on your life by experiencing another part of the world, seeing how others live, and also being able to contribute to the community (instead of just touring it). We love asking where you guys are interested in going and do take that into consideration, but so many times specific opportunities arise and it feels a little ... meant to be?

That's the case for Vanuatu.  We've been in touch with one of our ILP volunteers from the early days (shout out to anyone who volunteered in the 90's, you're the real OGs!). Since her semester volunteering in Russia with us, she served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ in Vanuatu, got married, and now lives in Vanuatu with her husband. They both fell in love with the culture and the country, so much so that they decided to move their family and her husband's medical practice to the island and live full time there. She loved her time with her Russian ILP students and saw such value in bringing that service to the kids in Vanuatu. We're so excited to team up with her!


All About The Adventures + Vacations

Outside of teaching you'll have plenty of free time to explore the island you're living on. Before classes, go kayaking along the inlets near your house and then stop at a little fruit stand on your walk back home to pick up some fresh mangoes for breakfast. After class, head down to the cove where they play movies on the beach at sunset. And on the weekends? There are endless things to do on your island. Plus, it's small enough that it's usually less than an hour or so to get just about anywhere on the island.  You're close to the oh so famous Blue Lagoon: a natural swimming hole filled with that classic turquoise blue water surrounded by lush mangrove trees, complete with a rope swing that locals love.

You've got a new bucket list full of things to check off during your semester abroad in Vanuatu check out this post where we listed all the things we think you're going to love to do.

Basically every weekend feels like a vacation spot where you live.

But you'll also get vacation time during your semester where you can take a break from teaching and explore. You're just a short flight away from absolute dream vacations like other Vanuatu islands (Espiruto Santo would be my pick if I were you!), Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia and you're totally welcome to go vacation to any of those spots.  We've got a list of places you might want to vacation to here.

But to be blunt ... why would you go anywhere else?

Vanuatu is that good. It's already the destination you want to vacation in. 


All The Program Details 

What city will I be living in?

Pango, on the island of Efate!

Efate is the most traveled to and most developed island in Vanuatu, but it will probably still feel pretty remote and unconnected to you! While Vanuatu is still very much a hidden gem, the international airport and cruise ports are bringing more and more vacationers to the island. There are resorts all over the island and you actually live just down the coast from some popular ones, but you get to experience so much more than the tourists do.

You'll be living in Pango which is a small village community on a peninsula, just south of Port Vila (the capital of the country and the perfect jumping off spot to adventures around the islands). And like we mentioned, the culture here is really welcoming, with unique traditions and a culture you'll be a part of. Oh, and your neighbors are all related, even if they’re not really. You’ll live right next to someone’s auntie, and a family friend who isn’t really an uncle, but everyone calls him that anyway. Welcome to the family! Though you’ll be living in a house with your fellow volunteers, it’s not hard to be close to your friendly neighbors. The people here (and that remote island experience) are a huge part of your ILP experience — it may not be a fit for everyone, but if it's what you're looking for, Vanuatu has what you're wanting!

You're also living just minutes from the coastline. Well, 3 minutes to be exact ... we actually timed it.

Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 4.20.04 PM

When Is It?

ILP programs are about 3.5-4 months, giving you enough time to have those life-changing experiences you're looking for. There are three semesters in Vanuatu available:

Spring — Depart late January and return the end of April
Summer — Depart the end of April or early May and return mid-August
Fall — Depart the end of August and return the middle of December, just in time for Christmas

Who Can Volunteer?

ILP volunteers are college age (18-about 25ish years old) from the U.S. and Canada.  Still in high school and dreaming about going? No problem! You can get ready by applying now for the first semester that starts after you turn 18. 

There will be about 6 or so volunteers in the first group, with room to grow! Currently because of housing we will be accepting female volunteers only.

And like we mentioned before, there is no experience required.

What Is Daily Life Like?

You'll be living in a house with your ILP group members! You're within a quick walk to both the beach and your school. You'll be living in the little village of Pango which has a beach, friendly neighbors and little shop .. and that's about it. This island living will feel pretty remote, but you're living close by to so many adventures. Feel free to jump on a minibus and take the Ring Road to any adventure around the rest of Efate.

When it comes to the food, your diet will come straight from the earth, just like the locals. You'll find lots of the freshest fruits like coconut, bananas, mangoes, and papayas plus staples like sweet potatoes, taro root and beef, pork and seafood. Grab some fresh, warm bread from the bakery and pair it with your favorite fruit for breakfast. The "local mamas" in your neighborhood will take care of you for lunch and dinner, cooking up meals that will give you a taste of what Ni-vans usually eat. The food is very local can be an adjustment to consider for your time abroad here. 

There are over 100 dialects throughout the islands but you'll frequently hear locals speaking Bislama. English is commonly spoken, especially to cater to the ever-growing tourism industry that helps to boost the economy here. As a volunteer with us, you'll get to learn some Bislama! 

As far as weather goes you're set. Year round the temperature hangs in the low 80's °F, plus or minus a few degrees. You will feel the humidity and may want to plan on lots of time near the ocean to help you cool off. It's a very hot and tropical location without the luxury of A/C (but just look at those views!). It's seems to be a pretty fair trade off, just expect heat during your time here.  


What’s The Cost?

For Volunteers

The program fee for this Humanitarian Program is $4,470.
If you're an ILP alumni, we're so happy to have you come again!

As always, this cost includes your airfare to and from Vanuatu, housing, meals, pre-departure and in-country training for the semester, and language and culture experiences. 

For Head Teachers

The Head Teacher for this Humanitarian Program has a program fee of $1,000.  You will also receive a stipend to help with your personal spending and things like vacation costs. Want to learn more about being a Head Teacher? Go here.

ILP Adventure

I’m Interested and Ready To Go!

How Do I Apply To Volunteer?

Send in your application as soon as possible! When we open a new country it's pretty popular so it's best to not wait to get your application in. For Spring 2020 we will be giving first preference to volunteers who have already applied and been accepted to this semester. 

We are currently accepting new applications to volunteer in Vanuatu for Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021!

Start My Application!

I’ve Already Applied … Can I Switch Countries?

We love all of our countries but we don’t blame you wanting to experience somewhere like the South Pacific in person! 

If you are rethinking your original plans, you don't need to send in a new application, instead just let us know — whether you're still working on your Orientation or you're already assigned to another country, we will be accepting requests to go to Vanuatu. Just tap that blue chat box at the bottom right side of your screen, DM us on Instagram @ilpadventure, or email/text your representative that you've been working with to let us know you're interested.

We typically get quite a few requests to switch when there's a new country (everyone's excited so we get it!), so we will be talking to everyone who's interested this week and then will get back to you in the next week or two as we're able to make official assignments.

Is This The Right Country For Me? 

We love the island life and all that comes with it — your semester in Vanuatu will be waterfalls, tropical weather, beach trips, and all of those things, but with the reality of living on this island. It's a small area, with a really tight knit community that will have a big impact on your semester. It's also a more rugged experience than you may be initially expecting when it comes to housing and food, plus the teaching and living situations can provide some challenges for volunteers who are just expecting an island paradise. 

This dreamy island semester is really best for flexible, positive, easy going volunteers who want the biggest adventure and want to really embrace the ups and downs of living abroad on a small island. 

How Do I Apply To Be A Head Teacher?

As long as you've volunteered with ILP at least once before, you can apply to be a head teacher. We are accepting applications for head teachers starting with the Spring 2020 semester. If you've already applied, you can just send an email to headteachers@ilp.org to share your interest in Vanuatu.

We are currently interviewing for Head Teacher positions as well! 

Head Teachers and Alumni: head here to apply

espiritu santo-1

Spend your semester abroad in the South Pacific with us!

We can't wait to tell you more about this happy little island that's going to change your life. Click that button to find out more about volunteering here on our website.

Discover Vanuatu


Topics: South Pacific

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We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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