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ILP For The Parents

Posted by Emily Henkel on 2/4/21 8:15 AM

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International Language Programs (ILP for short) is a non-profit program that has 30+ years of experience sending volunteers abroad. We have a team of directors who oversee the program and are also parents. ILP's directors have sent their own children on the ILP program, so we get where you're coming from and understand the concerns.

We are here to help you get your questions answered. 

There is quite a bit of info we'd like to cover, so we have this post broken down into segments of the questions most parents have. If things aren't answered below, we have links to where we can get in touch. 


The Cost Of The Program 

One of the first things that comes to mind, right? International Language Programs currently has programs available in Asia, Africa, Europe, the South Pacific, Central + South America, and the Caribbean. Get a full list of our countries here.

ILP has two main volunteer programs: Exchange and Humanitarian (plus a Hybrid program that combines elements from both). 

  1. Exchange Programs have a program fee that ranges from $2,670 to $3,970
  2. Humanitarian + Hybrid Program fees are between $3,970 and $5,470  

Why the price difference?

Type of program:

In short, the children who attend ILP classes in the Exchange Program pay an attendance fee. That fee is then used to help subsidize the volunteer's Program Fees — in this way, it truly is an "exchange". The families are typically from middle to upper-class backgrounds.

In the Humanitarian Programs, the children come from families with very little means. They would not be able to afford this type of additional education and we offer the ILP classes to them at no cost (so the program fee is not subsidized). 

Unique country costs:

The program fee also varies by location as things like flight costs (from the US to the country), in-country housing, hiring in-country staff, etc, are all things that are factored into the overall price.

What's included? 

No matter where your volunteer is headed, the same things are included in their program free. The program fee includes roundtrip international airfare from the US, airport pickup + drop-off, visa, housing, at-home meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), WiFi, pre-departure + in-country training, and support throughout the entire experience, as well as language and cultural experiences.

What's not included? 

We try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to costs so that our volunteers know how to prepare for their experience. The following items are not included in the ILP program fee but might be something your volunteer wants and/or needs:

  1. The cost of a passport (if your volunteer doesn't have one already) 

  2. Potential immunizations. Please consult your physiciana state or local health department, and the Center for Disease Control when deciding whether or not you will receive vaccinations for your ILP semester. They are the best source for recommendations, information about costsand procedures for receiving vaccinations. While most of the time the decision is yours, particular vaccinations are required for some countries throughout the world which could add to your cost. 
  1. An international data plan — this is optional, but strongly recommended. We have info about getting a data plan (and other phone tips) in this post. 
  1. Travel insurance  We have some requirements for the insurance policy your volunteer needs before going abroad. If your volunteer is already covered by a policy that meets these requirements, great. Otherwise, additional coverage can range from $100 - $250 depending on the type of policy and the length of the coverage. We send out an email with more information about this with their set of Travel Docs. 

  2. Any baggage fees incurred during travel. We purchase roundtrip international flights for the volunteers, but some airlines may have additional baggage fees.

  3. Cost of attending training — ILP requires volunteers to complete a 1-day, in-person training in Orem, UT where we'll go over our ILP teaching method, give cultural insights and safety tips, and other keys to a successful semester. The training is free, but volunteers cover any costs of commuting to attend. We do have a paid online training option if there are concerns with the costs of traveling to Utah, but we highly recommend attending if at all possible. 
  • In-country spending. Now, for the fun part: things like souvenirs for friends, ice cream with their group, museum tickets, taxi fares, and vacation costs (flights to other cities or countries, bus rides, train tickets, hostels, etc) are funded by the volunteer. Household items used by volunteers are also not included (toilet paper, laundry detergent, soap, etc.). 

We recommend each volunteer budgets $1,500 to $3,500+ for these costs and have a guide on affording a semester abroad full of fundraising tips to help make that happen. Every semester we have volunteers who work to raise funds and have seen many raise anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars in order to help pay for their experience.


How Long Are They Volunteering? 

Volunteers are abroad for 3-4 months, with three semesters available. Exact departure dates vary semester by semester, but here's a basic outline: 

  • Spring: January to May (or February to June in some locations)
  • Summer: April or May to mid-July or mid-August
  • Fall: Late August or early September to mid-December (home by Christmas) 

What About Safety? 

ILP's main concern is safety. There is no other area we spend more time and resources in. We have several watchtowers in place to help us make sure our volunteers are in safe situations. 

Our program is run by directors who are also parents,  parents who have sent their own children on this program. We're incredibly invested in providing guidelines to make sure each ILP volunteer has a safe and successful semester abroad. In addition to the guidelines and parameters we have in place, the ILP directors also give each volunteer (and their parents) their personal emails and cell phone numbers before departure so they can be reached directly if needed.

Technology also makes it easier for us (and parents) to ensure the safety of our volunteers; thanks to more affordable international data plans, you can contact your volunteer no matter where they are. 

Are Volunteers Alone? 

No. A huge part of our program is built around friendships made while abroad. Volunteers will be teaching, traveling, adventuring (and in most countries) living with fellow group members. We have countries that have groups as small as four and as large as 30+. ILP is a very group-centric experience. 

We have rules in place that require volunteers to be in pairs of at least two when out exploring their city, and groups of at least three when traveling to other areas. There may be unique circumstances where a volunteer is alone, but in general, we stick to the buddy rule to frequently as possible.

There is also a Head Teacher there with each ILP group; They are a peer leader who has taught with ILP before and can be a resource.  All volunteers also have a Local Coordinator who knows the local language and helps with the behind-the-scenes work to help a semester run smoothly. 


What Will My Volunteer Be Doing? 

The main focus of our program is helping children learn English, but we also have programs where volunteers are helping out in our orphanage program which includes many ways to serve, like helping orphaned children adjust to a family-like setting, and providing respite care for kids with disabilities. No experience is required in either program. Since the ILP teaching method is unique to everyone, it's completely fine if they have no previous teaching experience. 

ILP volunteers spend about a half day volunteering (up to 4 hours of direct interaction with the kids, plus preparation time, transportation, and clean up). The volunteering schedule is Monday - Friday, with weekends off. 

What About Free Time?

Volunteering is kind of like a part-time job, so that allows for free time during the week (plus every weekend). We encourage volunteers to get their ILP group together to explore their city, plan class lessons together, research for vacations, visit a local museum, work on online classes (if they aren't taking a break from school) and keep in touch with friends and family during that free time. 

Again, Saturdays and Sundays are off, perfect for weekend vacations in their city, their country, or even a neighboring country. 

How Do Vacations Work? 

Travel is a huge part of the ILP experience! Volunteers plan their own vacations — booking flights, researching things to do, navigating a train/bus system, and figuring out how this all works in their budget. All vacation plans are approved by ILP directors to help make sure they are traveling to safe areas and like we mentioned, volunteers must travel in groups of at least 3 (or more).

There will be scheduled vacation days spread throughout the semester. The exact dates are decided by the Local Coordinator (so that they line up with local holidays). It usually ends up being around 9 days off (plus every weekend off, of course). 

All volunteers have access to the ILP blog (which is full of tips and vacation ideas), a city page with favorite vacation spots, and other resources to help them plan their trips but ultimately, it's a lot of research and problem solving on their end. Vacations are full of lots of new experiences, that's for sure! 

Can I Visit? 

We love it when parents come to visit their volunteer when possible. Each location is different, so please contact the office before you make any travels plans. Also, due to their teaching schedule, it often works best for you to visit after their semester is over.  We have more details about visiting your volunteer here.

Just be careful to check to see if you'll need a visa to enter the country! ILP takes care of getting their visa as a volunteer, but you'll want to apply for a tourist visa for a quick trip to some countries.

ILP adventure

Is This A Church Program? 

No. All faiths and beliefs are welcome. 

While ILP is not sponsored by any church, a majority of our volunteers (as well as the ILP directors) are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

All ILP volunteers will need to sign the ILP Code of Conduct which includes things like abstaining from drinking, not dating locals or group members while on the program and other parameters to help keep our volunteers safe while they're abroad and maintain a positive experience. 

Who Is ILP? 

We're a non-profit organization based in Orem, Utah that has had decades of experience sending college-aged volunteers abroad to make a difference. Our little program started in 1992 in Russia and has since grown to serve countries all over the world.

We are looking for adventurous, self-motivated volunteers who want to explore a new country and dive right into a new group of friends. Get ready for some totally new experiences! Our organization is set up to help you begin your trip, but then the experiences you have are up to you. 

Every location is different, but those who have a good experience in our program are excited for what life in a new country is like. I'm talking new food, a new language, a new definition of what's normal for you, and so many stories. This isn't a program where we have everything scheduled out for you. It's kinda half and half, with a set teaching schedule and so much free time and vacations that you'll plan yourself. 

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How Can I Support My Volunteer? 

Having the support of a parent can make a huge impact on a volunteer's semester. The ILP office is happy to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns about our program, but there is a lot parents can do to give their volunteer support before they leave and once they are there. 

Here's what you can do: 

Where Can I Learn More? 

You can see what this mom said about her volunteer's experience.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We're best reach at office@ilp.org or give us a call: 801-374-8854. You can also schedule a call with one of the program directors. They are more than happy to speak with you directly about any of your concerns.

We also have an Instagram account where you can follow along and see what current volunteers are up to: @ilpadventure

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Get more answers by visiting our FAQ page Frequently Asked Questions


Topics: For The Parents

Hey friends!

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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