Why Volunteer or Intern Abroad?
Volunteering vs. Interning
An internship is done for professional development. It is an opportunity to gain experience and learn about a professional field through work. While most of our internships are unpaid, overseas experience will greatly enhance your resume.
Volunteer work is done for personal fulfillment. It is an opportunity to share what your skills and interests with those in need.
There is some overlap between volunteer work and internships. Volunteer work done abroad can also enhance your resume, and the areas in which you are working—health, the environment, and education—may also be areas of professional interest for you.
Who Can Participate?
The program is open to any applicant who meets the listed requirements - professionals, non-professionals, retirees, students, recent graduates ...
What are the requirements?
To have at least an intermediate level of the required language.
The requirements listed are the minimum requirements necessary to be accepted for the work. It is best to choose a placement for which you exceed the minimum requirements.
The standard age minimum is 18; however some placements may require someone a bit older. The determining factors include travel experience, foreign language level or those who can demonstrate the maturity necessary to handle the challenges of working professionalism in a foreign country.
How Long Are The Commitments?
Minimum time needed in the country varies depending on the type of program and placement you choose. We recommend that you purchase an travel insurance.
How should I choose a location?
Choosing a country/location in which you feel comfortable is one of the most important elements for a successful overseas work experience. Before choosing a location, do some research. Guide books are a great start. Learn about local customs, beliefs, history, food, climate and geography of the country/region. Seek opportunities to see movies, both documentaries and feature films, about the country/region; read novels from and about where you're planning to go; guidebooks; local newspapers (available in many bookstores and online); call the tourist board and request information and explore local organizations that support expatriates of that community. Also, try to seek out past volunteers with whom you can talk.
If you choose to take language classes, your language immersion program usually includes a homestay component. During your placement you may be assigned to a homestay or more likely to alternative accommodations. Some of the non-homestay arrangements include meals, but most do not include any meals. For those arrangements that include just breakfast or no meals, kitchen facilities are generally available. For most programs, plan to arrive to your lodging on the day before your program begins and depart on the day after the placement is completed. You can usually extend your accommodations a few days before or after classes for an additional fee. Check with AmeriSpan for those costs.
Why Pay for an Unpaid Volunteer Placement or Internship?
As you conduct your search for the perfect overseas volunteer assignment or internship, you will see that nearly every placement organization charges a fee. Some placement organizations charge fees which are extremely high and which are used primarily for administrative costs. Other placement organizations, such as AmeriSpan, charge you just enough to cover your in-country costs and other costs associated with the placement. In fact, AmeriSpan's Volunteer/Internship Fees are actually below what is needed for program expenses. AmeriSpan recognizes the important work that our interns and volunteers are trying to do, so we actually subsidize our volunteer program. This allows us to charge a low program fee that is well below what other organizations charge. In 2006, we subsidized our program with approximately $30,000.
The key components to our program fees are as follows:
What is My Tax Benefit?
In contrast to non-profit organizations, your program fees with AmeriSpan are not tax deductible, so you will receive no tax benefit with AmeriSpan. However, the tax savings is often misunderstood. You don't recover 100% of your program fees when working with a non-profit organization. Rather, you only receive only a small portion back when you file your tax return.
The amount is determined by your tax rate. Your tax rate is based on your yearly income. If you make less than $61,000/year, you fall in the 10% to 15% tax bracket. That means if you pay $1500 to volunteer, you'll get a $225 deduction. Perhaps you are in the 25% to 35% tax bracket, so then the deduction will be higher. The bottom line is; if our programs are 35% to 50% less than most others, then even with a tax deduction, AmeriSpan programs make the most fiscal sense.
Is Academic Credit Available?
You may be able to obtain academic credit for your placement and/or language classes prior to the program. For more information: Academic Credit for Volunteering.
What is AmeriSpan's Role In This Program?
AmeriSpan's responsibility is two-fold. On one hand, we are responsible to the organizations that are accepting the volunteers/interns. We have promised them people who fulfill specified minimum requirements and who will provide certain services for an agreed upon amount of time. For this reason, our reputation and the future of our program is dependent on each volunteer/intern we send.
On the other hand, we are also responsible to the people who we are sending abroad to fill these positions. We promise a prearranged quality placement based on an agreement with the organization. Therefore, we are also responsible that obligations be met by the host organization.
Our Volunteer/Internship placements are a coordinated effort between AmeriSpan, our partner schools and the individual organizations in need of assistance (in the case of Student Service Coordinators and most ESL placements, the organization is actually our partner school).
To help ensure that everyone gets what he/she bargained for, AmeriSpan will be actively involved should any problems arise during the course of your placement.