You may be worried about sending your child away for a semester of college, let alone a semester abroad — here’s how you know they are ready.
As a parent, it's normal to be a little concerned when your kids get older and decide they want to spend a semester volunteering in Europe or are dreaming of a backpacking trip through Asia (my parents were!). How can you be sure they are ready to take on all of those adventures, without you? One way to help make sure your volunteer is ready for all that is making sure they won’t be doing it alone. That’s where volunteering with ILP comes in.
Have more questions about sending your volunteer abroad?
We have an ILP guide for parents you might be interested in
Not all volunteer programs are created equal — here’s what a semester with ILP is like, and a few questions to ask about your child to help make sure this is the right choice for them.
- Is Your Volunteer (Basically) Ready For College?
- What Volunteering With ILP Is Like
- Plus, You’re Not Really That Far Away
Is Your Volunteer (Basically) Ready For College?
While ILP volunteers don’t need to be students, they do need to be at least 18 years old before volunteering abroad with us (which is around the age of a new college student). If they are ready to live with roommates in a dorm or apartment, plan their own college schedule, get their homework done, and have fun on the weekends, they are probably ready for a semester abroad. Some of the same things college students experience are some of the same things our volunteers experience ... just abroad.
ILP volunteers are living, working, teaching, and traveling with a group (like a group of roommates), plus they’ll need to manage their teaching schedules and get their volunteer work done (just like homework assignments and other college projects). Like college, volunteers are also required to figure out life without their parents — like how to problem solve, manage their free time, grocery shop, and get around a new city. There are also basics like doing their own laundry, maybe even cooking for themselves, managing a budget, etc that are a part of college and an ILP semester.
If you think your future ILP volunteer is ready to navigate a semester of college, they are probably ready to navigate a semester abroad. This program is set up with your basic framework (like a teaching schedule and housing) but lots of the decisions that make up the overall experience are totally up to our volunteers. We're not planning out every activity, so we need volunteers who are ready to dive right in and help their group figure things out!
What Volunteering With ILP Is Like
ILP isn’t set up to parent your volunteer (we want them to have structure and free time to create their own experience!) but they're not exploring a new country alone.
Those who are adventurous, are motivated to explore a new country, dive right into a new group of friends and totally new experiences tend to have the best ILP semesters Our organization is set up to to help you begin your trip, but then the experiences you have are up to you.
Every location is really different, but those who have a good experience on 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 are planned by our volunteers.
You can get a little more info about what your volunteer will be doing on ILP here.
About Their Group
ILP isn't a solo program — it's very much a group-centric experience, with volunteers who will be living, teaching, traveling, and exploring all together. There's quite a bit of support with that group, including a Head Teacher who has volunteered with ILP before and can be a good resource.
Plus, You’re Not Really That Far Away
The same questions your volunteer might have in college might be the same ones they will have abroad, like how you cook that recipe they love or a reminder about what their social security number is.
There are tons of ways to keep in touch with your volunteer no matter where they are in the world. Every ILP volunteer has WiFi in their homes and/or at the school they teach at (plus countless little cafes and restaurants around town) where they can reach you, even if they don’t have an international phone plan.
We're here to help!
We can help answer specific questions about each of our programs (Humanitarian and Exchange) so you can know what life will be like for them while abroad.