Every year many young volunteers from around the globe decide to come to the USA with the ICYE program not only to immerse themselves in the English language and American culture, but also to live a different experience and most importantly to help local communities. The International Cultural Youth Exchange, better known as ICYE, is an international volunteer and cross-cultural exchange program that connects 40 countries worldwide.
Over the years United Planet has received volunteers from many countries such us Switzerland, Costa Rica, Austria, South Korea, Mexico, and Brazil.
Usually Volunteers arrive in the US in August or January and stay for six months or one year. A few months ago I had the chance to meet some of the long-term volunteers who enrolled in the ICYE program with United Planet (UP). UP welcomed Patrick from Switzerland, Lena from Austria and Ileana from Costa Rica to the US. These new volunteers had the opportunity to meet Kris from Switzerland, Yu-ri and Munseok from South Korea, Paula from Mexico and Camila from Brazil who
are current volunteers and have been in the USA for several months.
As a part of the United Planet team, I have the opportunity to spend some time with incoming and current volunteers during their week long orientation in Boston. I decided to interview them because I was curious to hear their stories and understand what made them choose such a unique experience that is volunteering abroad and what they are doing while they are in the US.
Upon arrival in Boston for orientation, the two groups of volunteers had the opportunity to meet and chat. They explored Boston, one of America’s oldest cities, learned more about US culture, American stereotypes and holidays, played games and went shopping! Volunteers also met and chatted with the United Planet team, gave them a presentation about their hometowns, their families and their culture, and even brought some gifts such as exquisite chocolates from Switzerland.
United Planet has many projects across the United States where our incoming volunteers are placed. Some volunteers I met were located in the beautiful New Hampshire in a home for the disabled. Usually volunteers live with the residents, assisting them with life-enhancing activities, including fitness activities, arts and crafts, cooking, and singing.
I learned that the homes host parties for some holidays or big events like birthdays, Halloween (where everyone dresses up), and the Superbowl and many more to try and have fun every day with the residents!
One of the volunteers was placed in a project that focuses on agriculture and sustainability. At this project, volunteers assist with the maintenance of the lands, the animals, and the “live off of the land” mission of the project.
Another volunteer was placed in a project in New York shelter, homes for abused or disadvantaged women, families, and children. Here, volunteers assist in supporting the residents and the general upkeep of the homes.
If you are interested in volunteering abroad and you want to know more about a real life experience you can visit the United Planet Youtube channel! Here you can watch and listen to the stories of our volunteer in 2012. Click here to learn more about United Planet‘s other short term and long term programs.