International Cultural Youth Exchange volunteering program:
ICYE volunteering periods start each year in August-September and January-February. August-September is the main start of the program.
There are two application rounds: the first round closes at the end of October (October 31st) in the year before the August-September departure. The second round closes at the end of January (January 31st) of the same year of the August-September departure. The second application round will include those locations for which there are positions remaining after the first round.
The first step is to fill in the application form (available for download on the page of application instructions) and send it, together with the attachments, to Maailmanvaihto. All those who submit an application will be invited to an interview. We will organize a selection interview for applicants a few weeks after the application deadline. Within roughly two weeks of your selection interview, you will be informed whether or not you have been accepted as a volunteer.
If you are selected as a participant, within approximately two weeks of your selection interview, you will receive a participation and payment agreement with cancellation conditions to sign and you will need to pay a deposit of €350. In the contract, you will decide whether to pay the rest of your participation fee in one, two, or more installments. Your participation fee must be paid in full before departure.
We select participants on the basis of personal suitability and motivation. We pay attention to factors such as being open to new experiences, flexibility, the ability to tolerate failure, and adaptability. In order to be selected, applicants must also have a realistic understanding of international volunteering
Practical English language skills are also required. It is not necessary to know the target language before departure, but we do recommend studying it beforehand if possible. Language is the key to understanding the culture of the host country.
Usually, the majority of applicants get selected. Most applicants meet the selection criteria and most applicants are placed in their preferred country. Sometimes there are more applicants than there are positions in some countries. In these cases, we will ask applicants who will not be placed in their preferred country whether they would be willing to do the volunteering in another country.
The ICYE program is open to people of age. The program is aimed at young adults, but most ICYE countries also welcome volunteers over 30 years of age. In the case of applicants who are older than 30, we will consult the ICYE organization in the host country about their possibility to host the applicant in question.
Internationally, the majority of ICYE participants are young people. This means that most of the participants in the program’s orientation training and evaluation meetings are young people.
Possibly. If you would like to spend your volunteer year together, please mention this in your application. We will then ask the ICYE organization in your preferred country whether they can receive a pair of friends or a couple. In the past, we have sent a couple for example to India, Nepal, and Uganda.
Volunteering in a new environment is a demanding experience. To make it successful and rewarding for both the volunteer and the host community, volunteers, volunteer placements, and host families are carefully selected and trained for their roles.
We organize a pre-departure orientation event for volunteers, as well as a meeting for returning volunteers. In the hosting country, the volunteers are provided with an orientation training, a mid-term evaluation meeting (in one-year terms), and a final evaluation meeting, as well as local language lessons.
Volunteers will be insured and their daily commuting expenses will be reimbursed. ICYE offices specializing in volunteering in Finland and in the host country will support volunteers in dealing with practical matters, adapting to the new culture, and solving any problems that might arise. The fee covers also some of these operational and administrative costs.
To ensure the safety of its activities, ICYE has an international office and an international board of directors to develop and monitor its activities in the host countries. A small part of the participation fee goes towards the costs of the international office and administration.
Volunteers’ participation fees cover only part of the costs. Maailmanvaihto receives a grant from the Finnish Ministry of Education, among others. This helps in keeping the participation fees as low as possible. A large part of the activities of ICYE organizations is carried out by volunteers.
Volunteers are responsible for their own flight and visa costs. Visa costs vary from country to country and change from year to year. You can ask us for more information on visa costs for the country of your interest.
Volunteers are also responsible for their personal expenses, such as telephone bills, toiletries, hobbies, and leisure trips. The volunteer will be responsible for their own upkeep when away from their place of residence, e.g. during travel.
As an ICYE participant, you can apply for a scholarship from Maailmanvaihto. We grant them to ICYE volunteers on a financial basis, up to a maximum of €500 per participant. The duration of the volunteering period will affect the amount of the grant: the maximum grant is often only granted to participants whose volunteering lasts for a whole year.
In addition, educational institutions may provide scholarships for their students to support participating in volunteering programs, and grants may be sought and applied for from various foundations.
It is an asset, but not a requirement, to know the language of the hosting country already before the departure. If there are more applicants than there are open placements in a specific country, we will take local language skills into account when allocating the volunteers. The level of your local language skills will be taken into account when planning volunteering tasks for you.
Local language skills will help you to understand the culture of the host country. Once in your host country, you will be offered the opportunity to study and learn the local language. You will receive a minimum of 30 hours of tuition for a one-year volunteering period and a minimum of 20 hours for a six-month period.
To take part in the ICYE program, you must be proficient enough in English to manage using it in everyday life situations.
ICYE volunteer placements build intercultural understanding through everyday cooperation, and intercultural learning takes time. We want to give the volunteer and the host community at least six months to get to know each other and build cooperation, trust, and understanding. We recommend a full volunteer year – during this year you will get to know life in your host country in more depth.
An orientation training for volunteers is organized in each ICYE country in August-September. This training is an important part of your volunteering period: it will give you additional information about the culture and society of your host country. You will also learn about volunteering and the practical matters of the country.
The orientation training often includes a local language course as a part of the program. You will also get to meet the volunteers from other countries and the staff and the actives of the local ICYE organization. Some countries organize orientation training also in January or February.
There are openings in many fields of work. You can spend a year volunteering in areas such as youth or elderly work, daycare or school life, human rights work, environmental protection or disability work. You can browse the ICYE volunteering placements by themes on the ICYE International Federation’s search engine.
When you apply for an ICYE volunteer placement, you are applying to volunteer in a specific country. In your application, you can specify the field in which you would like to do your volunteering work.
If you are selected for the program, you will be asked to fill in an application form in English to tell us more about the type of volunteering you would like to do. The ICYE organization in your hosting country will organize your volunteering placement and accommodation based on your application requests. Your preferences will be a key factor in the selection of your volunteer placement.
If you so wish, we can make sure with the ICYE organization of your host country that you are eligible to volunteer in a specific sector or volunteer placement before you commit to participating in the program. Please include this request in your application.
Volunteer placements offer volunteer work for a minimum of 20 hours and a maximum of 40 hours per week. The specific days of the week and workhour schedules depend on the workplace.
It varies from organization to organization how many volunteers from abroad they host at a time. Often a few, but sometimes only one.
Even if you are the only volunteer from abroad in your volunteer placement, you will not be alone: you will get to know other volunteers and people from your local ICYE organization during the training sessions of the program.
We ask for a criminal record report from all volunteers.
Most vegetarians have had a sufficiently varied diet during their volunteer period. Unfortunately, for vegans, it can be a challenge to provide a suitable diet by some of our partners.
Before confirming your participation in a volunteer program, we can check with the host organization to see if they can arrange a volunteer placement and, if necessary, also a host family that can provide food that meets your dietary requirements.
We cannot guarantee the nutritional variety of vegetarian or vegan diets. Therefore, vegetarians and vegans should be prepared to take care of their own dietary variety.
Accommodation varies from one volunteer placement to another. Typically, volunteers stay with a host family, at their volunteer work placement site, or in a shared apartment with other volunteers.
The accommodations are specified in the description of each volunteer placement in the ICYE Federation search engine.
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