This is the second mention of a great organization called InterExchange in recent weeks on this blog! While the organization was mentioned in a post about nanny abroad jobs, I thought that it was also worth exploring some of the other work abroad opportunities that are available through InterExchange, including teaching and volunteering in regions across the globe.
InterExchange is a relatively new organization, founded in 2007 to encourage global citizenship and cross-cultural understanding. In addition to placing teachers and volunteers in the United Stated in jobs in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Oceania, InterExchange also offers services to people all over the world looking for au pair and summer camp jobs here in the United States.
Work abroad opportunities through InterExchange focus on Au Pair jobs and Teach English jobs. However, if you are looking to participate community development activities, placements are available in orphanages and with local community relations nonprofits as well. However, these are primarily reserved for volunteers.
For example, volunteers interested in exploring the Galapagos Islands can work as camp assistants during the months of January and February (South American summer). Camp Assistants assist with daily activities with camp children, including nature hikes, surfing and other outdoor adventures. If you are interested in public health issues, volunteer placements in Ghana focus on raising HIV/AIDS awareness and health education. There are also placements in Ghana with eco-tourism agencies.
While I don’t have any personal experience with InterExchange, one element of the website that drew me in was their partnerships with local organizations. I am always more likely to recommend a placement organization that places volunteers and job seekers through local nonprofits, who can create jobs that best serve their communities. For a younger organization, InterExchange has already developed an extensive network of community groups to host their volunteers and workers.
One element of the program that really shows through on the website is their commitment to the cultural experience. Much of the advice posted to volunteers and teachers focuses on embrace your host country and seeing every experience as an adventure. One of the benefits of InterExchange programs are organization sponsored weekend trips and programs organized in volunteers free time, to help them find ways to explore their surroundings and learn more about local culture.
There are both program and application fees associated with InterExchange placements. These vary depending on the nature and length of the programs, and are (according to the website) used to cover the various administrative supports provided by the organization. Programs fees are typically around $500 per week, which is on par with many similar organizations.
However, InterExchange also offers a number of grants to cover program costs through the InterExchange Foundation. Workers and volunteers who have received grants post to the InterExchange Foundation blog, which is another great way to learn more about day to day life in InterExcahnge programs.
Most of the program fees for InterExchange are applied directly to placements, including food, housing and in-country training. Volunteer placements in Costa Rica and Peru also include a 4-week Spanish course in-country.
The length of volunteer and work abroad stays through InterExchange range from a few weeks to a few months. Most placements give the option of extending, so if you only sign up for a few weeks and really fall in love with what you’re doing, you should be able to add more time to you experience. However, some placements are specific to a certain activity (like summer camp) so if you are looking to work or volunteer abroad long-term, you should ask about these types of placements upfront.
InterExchange is an organization that seems committed to the abroad experience. They maintain a network of blogs, as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts that can help you connect with current and former volunteers and workers, and gain insight into the real experience working abroad with the organization. If you are considering working or volunteering abroad, I would definitely encourage you to read through the many resources available on the InterExchange website to learn more.