Health Questions

What kind of shots, vaccines, and inoculations will I need?

Check the Center for Disease Control website for up-to-date recommendations for the particular country to which you are traveling; consult with your doctor for additional recommendations. If you are departing from a country other than the US, be sure that additional inoculations are not required for those traveling from your departure location.

Traveling & Trip Questions

What will my travel experience be like?

ISL programs offer a combination of both international service AND learning opportunities through professionally developed life-changing experiences around the world!  ISL’s project experiences tend to move at a fast pace and you can look forward to traveling a great deal either by bus, boat, 4X4, horseback, or on foot. You will get to see it all as teams move to different locations every few days, thus providing you with optimal exposure to service and learning in the country or countries of your choice. These programs can be very demanding and often challenge volunteers to push themselves harder to achieve their service goals. The motto “Work hard, play hard” is definitely applicable and volunteers also have a variety of recreational activities ranging from zip-lining to visiting ancient ruins to choose from! Your housing will vary from hotels, to guest houses, to home stays, to orphanages with spare classrooms converted to sleeping areas. You will always have safe food, bottled water, a shower (maybe not always a HOT shower), and a bed (except in special cases where you are informed ahead of time or are on a Hike for Humanity project). Because your safety is our responsibility and number one priority, certain rules regarding conduct and will be implemented. Drinking alcoholic beverages is permitted, but only when allowed by your ISL team leader. So as not to endanger the team, participants who can’t follow the rules are sent home. The satisfaction of ISL travelers has allowed our organization to provide service learning opportunities in over 60 universities, involving over 600 students learning and serving in 8 countries every year. Students often refer to our programs as “MUST DO” experiences and frequently refer us to friends. Your experience with ISL will be one you’ll never forget! Welcome to changing the world–one adventure at a time! Are you ready?

To see what past team members have shared about their experiences see the Volunteer Voices on our ISL Blog.

What kind of experience do I need before I join a team? Do I need to be a medical student to be on a medical team?

You do not need medical experience to be on a med team, and any undergrad or graduate is eligible to join an ISL team. We also have team members who are not students.  Spanish is not required, but is always helpful in Central and South America. If you are planning on an extended stay program in a Spanish speaking country, it would be wise to be knowledgeable in Spanish.

Will I be safe?

Although there can be no guarantee of safety when traveling anywhere, including the U.S., risks can be managed and minimized. ISL has a reputation for safety for the following reasons:

  1. We don’t travel in any politically dangerous situations.
  2. We only work in areas where our full-time staff and families live and work.
  3. Our staff to student ratio is one of the highest in the country.
  4. We travel with medical teams to make medical services available to our students as well as to those we serve.
  5. Unlike other programs, there are no strangers in our program.  Drivers, cooks, and guides are all part of our ISL network.

What kind of housing do we stay in?

In most cases, ISL teams are housed in modest hotels/hostels so that we can remain together as a group. Each team member will have a bed and a shower. Lodging for Hike for Humanity is more basic and does include camping.

What happens if my trip or flight is canceled for any reason?

Please contact your trip cancellation insurance company for a refund.  Unfortunately, ISL is not an insurance company and we can’t insure trips or flights.  It’s very important, regardless of where you travel, to purchase the appropriate insurance.  See theGetting Ready to Go guide or click on Travel Insurance under FAQs on the ISL home page for insurance options.

Will I be able to contact family and friends while traveling with ISL?

Normally, we are able to purchase phone cards and get students to a phone within the first few days of our trips.  We are also often able to offer periodic e-mail access while in the cities.  Other contact is unpredictable, but we always have access to emergency communications, if needed.

Will we receive a detailed itinerary?

Changes may occur due to weather and other uncontrollable factors and due to this itineraries are considered “tentative”. No two ISL programs are exactly alike, as we are continually reassessing the needs of our field clinics, projects and program partners.  Team members receive a tentative itinerary prior to departure and a more detailed itinerary upon arrival in their destination country.

Do I have any liability exposure if I am involved in administering health care in a foreign country?

Unfortunately,  most developing countries don’t have tort law relating to medical malpractice–such insurance is actually non-existent in most countries for that reason.  If there was an occasion for any concern, local recipients of any services provided only have recourse to filing a complaint against the sponsoring org, in this case ISL.  Using a reverse example to illustrate, if a Brazilian doctor assisted in a procedure as a “guest specialist ” in the U.S. and the patient felt there was malpractice, the patient can’t sue the Brazilian citizen visiting the U.S., only the hospital or sponsoring organization as a U.S. legal entity could be sued.

What if I want to arrive early and have ISL pick me up and take me to my housing?

If you arrive or depart at other than the team dates you will be charged a fee of $150 for airport pick-up, delivery to housing, housing and breakfast.  You will need to tell your team manager about your plans.  If you arrive more than one day early you will be charge an additional $100 per day for housing and breakfast.

Cost & Financial Questions

How do I pay for my trip?

You can use the financial sponsorship program available through Good Samaritan Missions. You can find out how the sponsorship program works by visiting Funding Your Trip which offers information on fundraising, then go to Sponsorship Program – How it Works. Also, crowd funding sites like volunteerforever.com have proven to be useful tools for volunteers.

How does the sponsorship program (financial aid) work?

Americans today want to help the poor, but often don’t because they’re not sure just how much of their gift will actually get to where it’s supposed to go.  For this reason they will welcome the opportunity to sponsor you, someone they know, to “go and serve” on their behalf.  Good Samaritan Missions (one of our partner organizations), will provide you with an individualized sponsorship request letter and the necessary envelopes to mail to your church, friends, family, neighbors and community service organizations.  Donations can also be made online.  The funds generated will be applied to your costs. You’ll receive a list of those who sponsored you for proper accounting and a thank you list. For more financial aid information, check out Funding Your Trip.

How do I get academic credit and pay tuition?

There’s usually no extra tuition costs if you register your course as an independent study for the NEXT regular term. You will need to arrange for approval of your seminar with a professor from your home school.  We can help by being in direct contact with your professor and providing resources, outlines, and more.

How much does this program cost?

One of the key advantages to the ISL program is the availability of financial aid through our sponsorship program.  Student costs range from $965 – $2195, depending on the program.  Check the teams schedule for specific trip costs by clicking on the trip you’re interested in.  Many students raise enough money through sponsorships that they only pay the $85 application fee and their airfare.

What’s included in the cost?

Two meals per day, all lodging, land and water transport, guides, tips, museum and event fees, field academic program costs, border costs, security costs, project supplies.

What is NOT included in the base cost?

Passport costs, personal recreational expenses during “free-time ” periods, an average of one meal per day, trip insurance, the application fee and round trip airfare to your destination are NOT included.  Check team schedules and costs on the ISL website.

How is my program fee used?

For full financial disclosure, visit our Financial Stewardship page.

How can I raise money to help pay for my trip?

Visit our Ideas for Funding Your Trip page for a list of ideas and programs you can use to raise money to help you pay for your trip.

Other

Can I get a customized Proof of Participation Letter?

ISL provides a Proof of Participation Letter to every volunteer in order to document ISL program participation. These letters can be useful in applying to higher education programs and building resumes. The Proof of Participation Letter is free of charge and will be sent automatically upon completion of an ISL program.

If you require a more personalized Letter of Reference, you can find information about that here or contact ISL at reference@islonline.org with the specific information, format, and method of submission required. This letter will detail your ISL experience, verify your participation level, and can be further customized as needed. Letters of Reference are subject to a fee of $75. If you select this option you can make your payment here.