Why are we different?

ICYE works differently from many gap year organisations for the following reasons:

  • There are many international volunteering organisations that send volunteers worldwide but very few that also host volunteers in community projects in the sending countries. ICYE strongly believes in the importance of reciprocal exchanges and intercultural learning. The ICYE Federations enables volunteers from the North and South to experience living and working as volunteers in another culture and country.
  • It is a Federation of local ICYE Organisations: volunteers are exchanged only between countries where there is an existing ICYE Member or Partner Organisation. In order to be a member of the Federation, partners have to be a registered charity in their country or a non-profit organisation. ICYE partner organisations are run by local staff and volunteers. This helps ensure better project relations and in-country support for volunteers, as well as providing employment and work experience for local young people.
  • All ICYE Members and Partners are registered NGOs that are run by volunteers for volunteers.
  • Sustainability: The ICYE Federation was founded in 1949 and has been supporting volunteers around the world ever since. The majority of the projects that each ICYE member country works with will host volunteers on a regular basis from one exchange year to the next. This helps provide continuous support for projects and also means that work can be built upon year after year.

High degree of Satisfaction from ICYE Participants

ICYE international volunteers should fill in the Evaluation Forms Online – after the on-arrival orientation, mid term and final evaluation seminars.

  • 93 % of the long-term volunteers are satisfied with the support by the receiving ICYE National Committees – 74 % rated it between excellent and good!
  • 90% of volunteers indicate that their tasks at the voluntary work placements met or exceeded their expectations; 96% of the volunteers indicated that their learning experience during their volunteering met or exceeded their expectations!
  • The long-term volunteer experience abroad was rated by 97% as a positive one overall – of these 90% rated it between excellent and good!

What are you paying for?

First of all, it should be clarified that you are not paying to volunteer. You are paying for a reliable preparation and support system that will ensure a successful volunteering experience. The main programme services are:

  • pre-departure arrangements and  preparation
  • health, accident and third party liability insurance / 24-hour medical assistance
  • pick up at the airport and on-site orientation on local culture, history, and customs
  • selection and preparation of voluntary service placements and host families
  • introduction to your host family and voluntary service placement
  • on-going support and assistance to volunteers and hosts / 24 hours ICYE emergency phone numbers
  • evaluation of your experience and drop-off at the airport at the end of your stay.

In addition, part of your participation fee is used for:

  • Programme Development: our in-country staff carefully selects, inspects and trains voluntary service placements for quality and risk assessment.
  • Constant contact and safety system: the ICYE in-county staff and, if needed, in  the sending country are always there to provide logistical and emotional support, and to efficiently manage emergency situations.
  • Administration and staff salaries: your fee is also used to partially cover staff salaries, administration and training costs of the ICYE offices in the sending and hosting countries. As for many other non-profit organisations, in absence of public or private grants and donations, ICYE relies on the programme fees to sustain itself and grow.

ICYE staff ensure that your volunteering experience unfolds in a safe and stimulating environment and benefits the local community.

Where do you pay the programme fee?

The ICYE  participation fee has to be paid to the ICYE Sending National Committee. Please click here to find out where you can apply and request more information about the terms and conditions for participation and programme fees.

What is it like to be abroad?

Watch the following videos and hear former ICYE exchange students talk about their experiences abroad:

What our former volunteers say about us!

Through the years, our organisation has gathered comments from former ICYE volunteers who shared their experiences and feelings about their volunteering programme.

“I was born and grew up in Japan, an island. Now I could make a lot of foreign friends through the ICYE program. They give me many opportunities to know their county and the world.”

Kayoko Negi Japan to Sweden

“I truly believe ICYE is doing an excellent job, it is obvious that the organisation is concerned with the volunteers’ well-being and go to extreme lengths to provide support.”

Phillippa Herbert United Kingdom to Uganda

“This year has been incredible, particularly in terms of self-growth.”

Preethi Gundaram United Kingdom to Bolivia

“I think the most important experience for me was to realise that every culture has its own ways to see and value things, and there’s nothing right or wrong. All we need is to understand each other and communicate with each other.”

Muyin LoTaiwan to Denmark

“I met people that became great friends, places that became home, work that became my own responsibility.”

Marie-Louise WaserGermany to Ecuador

“Meeting new people from different cultures has made me appreciate them more and allowed me an opportunity to share my culture.”

Sharon BosireKenya to Germany

“It made me know who I Am. Keep on doing the good work. You’ll make a world of integration.”

Justin JosephIndia to Sweden

“I would say that everything that I have experienced abroad, good and bad, gave me a very good feedback for my professional and personal development.”

Victor RiosMexico to Sweden

“Contact with all the international volunteers really opened my eyes to how different and unique everyone´s cultures can be, how big the world can seem and how you really have to get to know people before making any judgements via stereotypes.”

Akash KotechaUnited Kingdom to Costa Rica

“Like we always say: “what you get from people is always too much, what you can give is always too little.”

Cheng-Yu Wei Taiwan to Belgium