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See the world while teaching English abroad

By Laney Baumann, Tx. Correspondent - | Mar 25, 2018
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Gondolas on the streets of Venice.

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The Trevi Fountain in Rome.

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Visitors touring Vatican City.

A lot of people dream of traveling the world when they are still young, but that, unfortunately, isn’t a reality for many of those people. Let’s be honest, traveling, especially international travel, is expensive and can be scary when you’re young with newfound independence. 

An amazing solution to the fright of traveling solo is volunteering with a group. Getting to see another part of the world while also helping people? Score! But, surprisingly, traveling with many volunteer/humanitarian agencies would cost you around $10,000, if not more.

So as exciting as traveling is, it’s deemed out of the question for many young people, myself included, until I found out about the International Language Program, or ILP.

ILP is a Utah-based agency that sends high school graduates and college students around the world to teach English for a whole semester. This fall, I’m going to Ukraine with the program, which also has many other locations like Poland, Mexico, Thailand and more.

I get tons of questions about ILP from people who are interested in volunteering with the program. A lot of people ask me how I can teach English in a country whose language I don’t know. That was something I was confused about too, but I learned that the students you teach have already been learning English most of their lives, so you’re just building on that and strengthening their skills.

Another question I get a lot is about what age group the volunteers teach. The volunteers teach at elementary schools, meaning the students are usually 5-12 years old.

There is more to volunteering with ILP than just teaching. For one, the thing I’m probably most excited about is the vacation within the vacation. Since you’re in your country of choice for four months, you have about two weeks of vacation time, not including weekends! This means you get to knock a few things off your bucket list while you’re volunteering.

Since I’m going to Ukraine, for example, I’ll have the opportunity to visit some awesome European destinations like Paris, Budapest and Berlin. Many people who volunteer in China and Thailand get to visit Asian destinations like Tokyo, Seoul, Bali, etc. You’re also able to take weekend trips to places that are close to the city you’re staying in.

ILP offers two types of programs: exchange and humanitarian. The exchange program is the most popular and is what I’m doing. With the exchange program, you will live with a host family (usually parents of the students at the school you teach) and teach at a school. If you do the humanitarian program, you’re still teaching, but in an orphanage rather than a school. If you do a humanitarian program, you’ll be living in an apartment on campus rather than with a host family.

What makes ILP stand out from other programs is the unbelievably low cost. For the exchange program, it costs about $2,400. This includes airfare, visa, food and accommodations. The cost doesn’t include vacations you take while you’re abroad or your passport. I love that the cost covers airfare; most volunteer programs cost way more than ILP and don’t even cover airfare, and international flights alone can cost up to $2,000!

There are also ways to lower the cost even more. ILP has fundraising opportunities and different discounts to make the price as low as possible. For example, if you refer a friend to ILP (and the friend signs up), you get $300 knocked off the price. You can also get the application fee waived for simply referring friends, whether or not they go.

Speaking of friends, you can go with your friends or spouse! If you and your friends/spouse decide you want to go together, there’s a place in the application where you can put their name(s) down. When you do this, your applications become linked, and ILP will do their best to assign you to the same countries, cities, schools and flights.

Even if you don’t go with friends, you’re bound to make some friends with other volunteers while you’re overseas. The volunteer groups are anywhere from five to 20 people.

Finally, you can get college credit for volunteering. Most universities in Utah will give you some type of credit for volunteering with ILP; you just have to arrange that with the university. Even without credit, volunteering will sweeten up any college/job application.

I could go on and on about the benefits of ILP, but I’ll cut myself off here. If you’re interested, definitely give the website a visit. If you have a bunch of questions like I did, you can call or text a representative (all of whom have volunteered with ILP themselves) or there is a detailed FAQ page on the website.

The International Language Program is an awesome, cheap way to not only visit, but live in another country for a semester. Life-changing would be an understatement!

Laney Baumann is a senior at Utah Connections Academy. She loves reading, writing and music. Email her at laneybaumann9@gmail.com.


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