VOLUNTEER IN ROMANIA

Spend your week full of snuggling and singing to the children in the orphanage. On the weekends, venture out of your steeple-filled city to discover colorful neighboring towns and villages.

Romania is a country home to old traditions — the perfect place to uncover legends you grew up on (like Dracula), site-see the most stunning castles, or delve into quaint farming villages. All these postcard-worthy sites are sprinkled across rolling hills dotted with sheep and towering churches. It’s unreal. Whatever part of Romania’s untapped charm steals your heart, know that the kids you’ll be spending time with will really be the reason you love this country.

THE EXPERIENCE

Give a bit of your heart to the kids in Romania by volunteering in an orphanage. Volunteers in this European country dedicate their time and love to the kids who don’t have someone like a parent to give them that one-on-one encouragement and attention. Besides your service, you have lots of opportunities to explore the charming and colorful villages Romania has to offer. There are so many towns to see! On vacation, travel to countries you’re dying to see like Greece, Italy, and Poland. However, the focus week to week is all about helping the kids in the orphanage program, and experiencing local life in your Romanian city …

Glimpse a day in Romania

Wake up in your classic Eastern European apartment — you’re living in a Soviet-Era apartment which is old, with so much history to share. It’s smaller, older, boxier, and complete with carpet that’s been around since forever. There are some quirky surprises, like light switches on the outside of the bathroom. And the fact that wallpaper is definitely still a thing here. Good thing you have a group of new friends to experience it all with you and laugh about all the things that are just part of life in Europe! Groups in Romania are anywhere from about 10-15 volunteers. You  all share a couple of apartments, right next to each other, so you’re never too far from everyone in your group. 

After having cereal and yogurt for breakfast with your roommates, it’s time to walk to the orphanage. It’s about a 20 minute walk through the quiet streets. Make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes because you’ll be walking a lot during your semester! You get there right before 9:00, and volunteer until 12:00, then walk back to the apartment for lunch. Your whole ILP semester is all about an authentic Romanian experience, including the meals. You and your group will go breakfast food shopping with a provided stipend at local grocery stores.  Then, lunches and dinners are prepared for you and are full of classic Romanian dishes. Haven’t had much Romanian food? It’s lots of cabbage, potatoes, bread, and cutlets. Probably not what you usually eat on the daily at home, but this semester is all about giving you new experiences.

Since volunteering only takes up a few hours per day, there is probably more free time than you’re expecting. You can fill your afternoons how you’d like. Maybe you play games with your group in the apartment. Maybe you grab some of your roommates to explore the narrow streets of your little city. Go grocery shopping for the week, or have gelato near the Palace of Culture (which is your new fav hangout spot). You’ll have lots of opportunities to get out and explore the little city you live in, and travel around Romania on the weekends. 

We’ll let you in on a little secret about this country: it’s crammed full of the most charming little towns and villages. We’re talking Transylvanian hills, and colorful old towns tucked behind towering castles. So many of our favorite spots in Romania can be seen on a quick weekend trip, which leaves time for you to spend vacation days exploring the rest of Europe.

HELP IN OUR ORPHANAGE PROGRAM

Romania is really unique because it’s the only ILP location where you are not teaching English. Here, your service goes towards children in an orphanage program, helping them progress towards the ultimate goal of being adopted into a loving family.  The kids range in ages and in health and ability. Some are completely bedridden while others need your encouragement and attention to do basic things like learning how to crawl and walk around.

Volunteering and Costs

$5,470 — Includes your roundtrip airfare to Romania, visa, housing, meals, language and culture experiences, and training and support throughout the entire experience.

You’ll have the chance to show your kids the love and care that a parent would. It’s best for the kids that one volunteer works with them the whole semester long, so you’ll be able to spend all of your time with “your kids”, and get really close to them. Depending on where you’re serving, volunteers hold young babies, crawl around with young children, and play games outside in the yard with the older children. Stretch tired legs and arms while singing songs to the kids who can’t leave their beds. Work with children who don’t receive the attention necessary to develop basic social skills, like learning how to share or not to shout. Help parents who are fostering children with difficulties. Serve in apartments with orphans who are getting ready for a family-like life before being adopted. 

The way you are serving seems small and maybe even insignificant. Moments of singing until a sick child cracks a smile, laughing while you place stickers on smiling faces, or realizing that the shyest girl in your room now lights up when you walk into her room. They are small moments, but mark huge levels of success. If you’re excited to give back with your time, attention, and love through these acts of service, Romania’s the spot for you.

Why is the program fee higher here? In Romania, volunteers are working with orphans and with families, providing respite care for children with disabilities. Unlike the Exchange Program, the orphans and the families of the children you work with will not be helping to subsidize your costs. All the children you are working with come from very limited means. The service you provide is completely free for them. Thank you for wanting to provide the best care for these kids by volunteering in this humanitarian program! 

Interested in other ways you’re needed? Compare ILP’s Humanitarian Programs here. 

WHERE
A small city in northeast Romania: Iasi

WHEN
—Spring: Depart early January – return end of April
—Summer: Depart end of April/early May – return middle of August
—Fall: Depart end of August – return middle of December, just in time for Christmas

WHO
—10 to 15 in a group
—Single males/females and married couples
—18-about 25ish years old
—US and Canadian volunteers
—No experience needed!

EXPLORING EUROPE 

Romania may be small, but it’s packed full of colorful and peaceful towns hidden away from the tourist crowds. While we love exploring Romania (and highly recommend that you do!), it is also situated conveniently close to several favorite travel destinations. Time to country hop on vacations! You can cross the border and be in another country in less than a day. A semester in Romania makes it easy to cross off more than a handful of countries from your bucket list.

Plan on explore Romania, and planning vacations to countries throughout the European Union and Ukraine. Here’s just a few of our recommended spots to choose from …

Brasov, Romania Heavily influenced by Germany, this city makes you feel like you just stepped into western Europe. Visit old churches and of course … the oh so famous Dracula’s castle. Also home to the narrowest street in Europe (4 feet wide!). It’s a volunteer favorite.

Sibiu, Romania Spend the day wandering just one of our favorite hidden gem towns in Romania. Take photos of the streets lined with colorful buildings, wander art museums, and snag some treats from a vendor on the street.

Italy — Eat to your heart’s content in Naples! Then, stand in awe of historic architecture in Rome, or take a boat tour of Venice.

Poland — Learn WWII history firsthand by touring historic sites like Auschwitz and the Jewish District. Spend the day exploring Old Town Krakow, and take a trip out to the mountains.

Czech Republic — Arrive early, before other tourists, to walk along famous Charles Bridge. Then, wander up the hill to Prague castle, and shop a little in this capital city.

Austria — Visit museums and photograph incredibly detailed and beautiful architecture in tranquil Vienna. Your favorite artists are found in the museums here.

Ukraine — Soak up the sun at the Black Sea by visiting Odessa, spend a day in charming Lviv and don’t forget the capital, Kiev.

France — Fulfill your childhood dreams by having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. You also have to spend an afternoon in the Louvre, and soak up the sun on the coast.

Slovenia — Boat across the lake to medieval Bled castle, or take the train through the underground network of caves. You’ll need more time to hike through ravines and canyons.

Bulgaria — Stroll the streets of the capital, relax in famous mineral spas, and bike the mountains along the Black Sea coast.

Moldova — This country is all about cave monasteries, beautiful churches, and another chance to head to the coast. Get the true feel of a Russian culture here.

Croatia — Ancient coastal towns like Dubrovnik, Roman amphitheaters, and some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. We love Croatia!

Greece — Head to one of the top destinations in the world. The Parthenon, Mykonos, hilltop monasteries, incredible town views…need we say more?

Slovakia — Travel to Slovakia to take a boat ride to historic castle ruins, then visit Old Town Bratislava. The tiny city of Kosice is hiding one impressive castle.

Hungary — Spend the weekend in Budapest, relaxing in famous thermal spas, walk around castle hill, and take a short cruise for sites of both Buda and Pest.