VOLUNTEER IN UKRAINE

Stepping in this country is like stepping into a fairytale. Find massive churches that are painted a rainbow of colors, ancient castles that peek through green hills, and a sprawling capital city.  Oh, and did we mention beachy getaways down by the Black Sea or falling in love with the L’viv chocolate shop?

Ukraine is vibrant, splashed with bright murals. Ukraine is historical, with little reminders of what this country used to be. But to you, Ukraine is home.

THE EXPERIENCE

For some, it’s the stunning colorful cathedrals all over the city, others are enchanted by the history, and some love the people. You’ll just have to see what about Ukraine you love the most! A semester in this country is all about living like the locals. You’re living with your own host family and will hop on the bus or metro to get to school (and around the city). You also have so many adventures right at your fingertips: churches, cafes, museums, plus historical sites galore all across Ukraine. And on vacation? Plan on traveling to your favorite European countries.  There’s lots to love in this country, that’s for sure. In Ukraine, your day to day adventures look a little bit like this …

Glimpse a day in Ukraine

Wake up to the sound of the tea kettle about to go off on the stove — You pull on slippers to wear around the house and shuffle over to the kitchen for breakfast. Your host mom is running out the door to take your host brother to school but left breakfast out for you. Today’s spread? Bread with butter and jam, a warm bowl of porridge, and tea (of course). Yum. You love all the homemade food you have with your host family! You’ll have breakfast at your host family’s house and lunch and dinner will be at the schools you teach at, so lots of local dishes. A semester with ILP is all about the local experience and a big part of that are the meals. Get ready for all the Ukrainian food! Not quite sure what that means? Eastern European food is really hearty: lots of soups, bread, meat, stews, dumplings, and other dishes full of dill, sour cream, and potatoes. 

Groups in Ukraine are typically 8-12 people. Everyone in your group will be living with their very own host family. Even though you started out as strangers, you quickly call them your Ukrainian family now. Peer over your host mom’s shoulder as she shows you how to make borsch, celebrate birthdays, and play a game of chess before you go to bed. Apartments in Eastern Europe are small, so plan on sharing space with a host sibling. Besides, who don’t love some “brush your teeth” parties at night in the shared bathroom? 

You’re not teaching until the afternoon or early evening, so you have some time to yourself before … maybe more than you anticipated. That leaves time for you to jump on the group text you have going with your ILP group and plan a spot to meet up and hang out in the city. It’s much too easy to just stay home at watch Netflix when you aren’t teaching (especially when it’s cold out) … However, you can see so much of your city if you go out and explore! It’s only cold for part of the year, so take advantage. Snowy days are perfect for a day at the museum. And on sunny afternoons, find flea markets or parks to explore.

Most host families don’t live close to the schools you are teaching at, which gives you the chance to master the public transportation in your city. In no time, you’re hopping on all the right buses and metro stops even though you don’t speak a word of Ukrainian! The commute to your first school is long, but you don’t mind. Instead of just riding, you get lots of lesson planning done on your way to and from school. You get home just in time to flip through your camera roll and show your host family all of your adventures before bed. Welcome to Ukraine!

HELP KIDS LEARN ENGLISH IN EUROPE

In this Exchange Program, you’ll be making a difference by helping children learn English, up to 20 hours per week. No experience is needed, we provide training on our teaching method! Volunteers in Ukraine are teaching a huge range of ages: little kids who are just learning to speak English, all the way up to teenagers who are practicing their language skills for college exams. You’ll be teaching at one or two schools that are spread all over the big city of Kiev. Working with a few different schools and staff which makes for a busy, but very rewarding schedule.

Volunteering and Costs

$2,520 — Includes your roundtrip airfare to Ukraine, visa, housing, meals, language and culture experiences, as well as training and support throughout the entire experience.

Volunteers can also earn discount for referring a friend to come to Ukraine with them!

Ukraine is one of our Exchange Programs which is the most budget friendly option while still giving you all the perks of a classic ILP experience. We’re able to keep your costs so low because the families of your students help subsidize the program for you and your service by paying a fee to have their child attend ILP classes. 

WHERE
The heart and capital of the country, Kiev!

WHEN
—Spring: Depart early to mid January – return the end of April (with the first group) or stay a bit longer and explore more until early June (with the 2nd group). Your semester dates depend on which group you join, but let us know if one works better for you than the other.
—Summer: Depart mid April — return home mid July
—Fall: Depart end of August — return middle of December, just in time for Christmas

WHO
—8-12 volunteers in a group
—Single males/females and married couples
—18-about 25ish years old
—US and Canadian volunteers
—No experience needed!

EXPLORING EUROPE

Not only do you get to travel to our favorite destinations within Ukraine, but you can also travel throughout the European Union. See how many countries you can knock off your bucket list this semester. In fact, Ukraine volunteers live right in the capital which is the perfect place for jumping on budget flights that take you all over the continent like Paris, London, Prague, Stockholm and so many more!

Here are just a few of our favorite European spots to go exploring …

Ukraine — See castle-like fortresses and green stretches of land in Kamyanets-Podilsky. Or head south to the Black Sea coastal towns like Odessa and Yalta for sandy beaches. You can even travel to Pinterest-made-popular spots like the “Tunnel of Love”.

Czech Republic — Arrive early, before other tourists, to walk along famous Charles Bridge. Then, plan on hiking up the hill to Prague castle, and some shopping in this capital city.

Hungary — Spend the weekend in Budapest! This city is all about relaxing in famous thermal spas and a walk around castle hill. Lastly, explore the gray turrets of the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Austria — Visit museums and photograph detailed architecture in tranquil Vienna. Before leaving, try so many local dishes like wiener schnitzel and warm apple strudel.

Slovakia — Trek up to castle ruins, have lunch on the streets of Old Town Bratislava, and fall in love with a country most tourists miss.

Norway — Island-hop around scenic archipelagos. Or, take a hike to one of the world’s most scenic hanging cliffs. Norway’s all about the outdoors.

Sweden — Tour through winding alleyways of the capital city’s Old Town. On your trip, enjoy live music in downtown Stockholm, and try famous Swedish meatballs.

Poland — Head south for hikes through the mountains to swimmable lakes. Stroll through a lively Old Town full of drool-worthy treats. Step back in time at numerous world famous WWII history sites. Poland is a volunteer favorite.

Germany — Explore fairytale castles, take a train through the scenic Black Forest, then check out the artsy side of Berlin. Munich is also a can’t miss spot. 

Slovenia — Boat across a lake to the medieval Bled castle? Take the train through the underground network of caves? Hike through ravines and canyons? Slovenia has all of that and more.

Switzerland — Hike or take in views of the Swiss Alps by train. Or paddle board on Lake Geneva. But because you’re in Switzerland, you have to get your fill of chocolate before leaving.

Croatia — Ancient coastal towns like Dubrovnik, Roman amphitheaters, and some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. All in all, a dreamy vacation spot. 

Estonia — Jump into medieval times in Tallinn. Ride your bike along the Baltic Sea, and kayak around Saaremaa Island.

Latvia — Get a glimpse of Riga’s skyline from St. Peter’s church tower. After, admire the picturesque Old Town then test out night kayaking.

France — Fulfill your childhood dreams by having a picnic in front of the Eiffel tower. Go spend an afternoon in the Louvre, or soak up the sun on the coast.

Ukraine is so much more than I can even put into words ...

“A few months ago Ukraine was just a word, a country somewhere near Russia. Now, Ukraine is so much more than I can even put into words and it has left its thumbprint on my heart forever. When I think of Ukraine now, I think of my students that I have taught here, I think of the beautiful city of Kiev, I think of the metro system and eternal escalator rides, I think of all of the new foods I’ve tried and my love of Georgian food, I think of living way out in Boyarka with 10 other girls all summer, I think of hearing Russian everywhere, I think of a thousand different memories that have all become a part of me over the last three months.”

— Kristin