Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I am not an American Citizen – Can I still participate?
A. Yes you are most welcome. You need a B1/B2 visa. IICD will issue a letter, which you bring to the U.S. Embassy. We will guide you in how to proceed. You do not apply for the visa until you are enrolled.
Q. Is there an age limit?
A. The minimum age required is 17 1/2 at the start of the program. There are no age limitations after that.
Q. Can I bring my children?
A. No you cannot. As earlier stated to join our programs you need to be at least 17 1/2 years of age. The projects we work with overseas cannot accommodate children from abroad.
Q. Can I defer my student loans?
A. Yes you can. Many people who join IICD have student loans they took out for their college. There are 2 types of loans: * Government loans also called Stafford loans; meaning the loan program is supported by the government * Private loans - taken from a bank or another financial company. Get the appropriate papers for deferring loans and ask us to fill out whatever is needed to certify that you will be part of a program at IICD.
Q. What if we are unable to complete our designated time? Is there penalty to coming back early?
A. No there are no penalties for leaving the project early. If you need to leave you can. Although you should consider your role a key element within the scope of the project - abandoning your teammates may create an overload of responsibility for the remaining participants.
Q. No money – what can I do – can I still participate?
A. IICD has scholarships available for committed and willing participants in a wide variety of financial situations. The scholarships are not given according to your former experiences and skills. We will discuss this during the interviews we have with you. Many volunteers have fundraised the money - we can assist you in this by giving you a list of ideas how to get started, fundraising letters etc. We believe that financial matters are there to be solved so if you have the desire to, we will support you in finding a solution.
Q. What is the refund policy?
A. If you decide to abandon the program one month after start you get $1000. Two months after start you get $500 back and after that $0. If you have been given any kind of scholarship you will not be refunded.
Q. Why do we have a no drugs/no alcohol policy?
A. IICD has a strict no alcohol no drugs policy. This means that everyone, from staff to volunteers, must refrain from the use of drugs or alcohol while enrolled in IICD. This includes while conducting fundraising and other activities outside the school. Exceptions for this rule are when you have an open weekend which means leaving the school and will be staying somewhere else. You are expected to respect this policy in order to maintain the common wellbeing for everyone.
The policy aims to reinforce good habits and offer an environment where people can function in their full intellectual and physical capabilities. We are all codependent on each other within our learning environment and your abilities to remain focused are tested and needed all of the time. It will be impossible to maintain an adequate study and work habits when staff or students are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. If you have any doubts about the bearings of this rule, we suggest that you ask for clarification. Disregard for this rule will result in immediate termination from the program.
Q. Can I study English as a part of the program?
A. No we do not provide English learning programs however you are more than welcome to borrow any of the English Native speakers that are willing to teach you.
Q. Can I drive in the US?
A. Yes you can. You need an international Drivers License, which you can obtain from home.
Q. What about health insurance?
A. For the time spent at IICD, we advise our volunteers to arrange some form of insurance. We do offer a package for a fee for all non-US citizens.
Q. Can I leave Massachusetts during the 6 months?
A. Yes, other than our two weeks breaks over Christmas and open weekends, IICD has no objections to those who need to leave for special occasions, provided we are notified in advance and the travel has been arranged.
Q. Will it be possible for my family to visit me before I leave overseas?
A. Yes, IICD welcomes guests to come and see what their friends and family members are doing. There are open weekends where students can travel back to their homes or visit friends. If you are from another country other than the US and you want to go home before leaving, you would have to return to the US. You will not be allowed to travel overseas from your home country because of program constraints.
Q. What about the fieldwork training?
A. IICD prides itself on training hard working and dedicated volunteers whom, in the past, have gone on to make significant differences doing volunteer work overseas and within their local communities.
Q. Can I use the experiences from the DI program for further employment?
A. Absolutely, many past volunteers have gone on to work in other NGOs and have stayed on board with Humana People to People to work as Project Leaders.
Q. How often will I be in classes?
A. We have a daily structure that is divided into two parts, one is common courses and discussion groups with the students and the other is a tailored lesson plan specific to your program. This includes language, history, job specialization, an overview of the economy and many other varied topics. Courses start at 8 A.M. and finish at 4:30 P.M. Monday through Saturday.
Q. How many people attend the school?
A. IICD has from 30 – 50 participants training at all times and around 20-30 abroad in various countries.
Q. Can I choose the country and project I want to go to in Africa?
A. Depending on when you enroll and the program you choose you will be assigned to work with others within the same selection bracket. However you will be allowed to choose the line of work you enter while overseas. This is an interesting process where all partners involved will do their very best to guide you to find the most suitable position.
Q. What about my safety as a foreigner?
A. IICD believes in the safety of all volunteers and would never leave anyone in an unsafe area or condition. As soon as there is any type of instability, we will make sure to take immediate action. Furthermore IICD makes every effort to prepare students to be well-maintained and protected while aiding overseas. This also is includes extensive training in the cultures we enter overseas as well as important habits to maintain while completing the assigned tasks.
Q. If there is a coup or election that doesn't support the program what happens to us?
A. Humana People to People, the organization we partner with overseas, will make sure you will be removed from the country immediately and reassigned for the duration of your time.
Q. How much extra time would I interact on a one on one basis with the local community?
A. This is what makes the program so unique, you are always interacting with people in the community. It is all hands on work where you are visiting and talking with your neighbors in every setting, at the IICD campsite, while fundraising in the field, while overseas conducting business and so forth. There is no extra time needed to interact, we incorporate community interaction into our program which can be expected on a daily basis.
Q. How accepting is the overseas community to the new development instructors?
A. Very accepting. Humana People to People has received over 10,000 Development Instructors in Africa and South America over the past 30 years and because of hard work, determination, and long life friendships built along the way, the communities have opened their hearts and minds to new Development Instructors entering the field.
Q. What is the typical diet? Do we cook for ourselves?
A. The typical diet in Southern Africa is meat or chicken with a maize (similar to corn) and fresh fruits and vegetables from the region. The majority of volunteers does prepare their own meal or share the responsibility amongst them.
Q. Will we be in urban communities or rural areas?
A. Volunteers are sent to very rural areas usually living with other volunteers in the community.
Q. What are some of the precautions development instructors must take when in Africa?
A. Precautions and preventive measures students should take are reviewed in classes as in important element to ensuring safe travels.
Q. What medical care is available if we get sick?
A. While abroad, IICD has organized international health insurance for all volunteers. This gives you access to the best medical care in the country. It covers any and all illnesses and surgeries you may need. If a doctor certifies that you need to go home immediate action will be taken.
Q. How big are the teams?
A. There is usually between 10-15 volunteers in each team.
Q. In case of an emergency how can people contact us in Africa? Will we be able to contact our families?
A. All projects have access to phones and a majority to Internet either at the project or in a neighborhood village. In most countries you can buy a cell phone yourself.
Q. Do we need to bring money for food and accommodation in Africa?
A. No, you do not need to bring money for food and accommodations. Food is covered in program fee and Humana provides sufficient funds for food and necessities for overseas. They also provide accommodation while at the project.
Q. Does Humana People to People work in unison with any other humanitarian organizations in Africa?
A. Yes, Humana People to People works with many other international and local humanitarian organizations along with community-based organizations and government sponsored.
Q. Do I need a working visa to go to the projects?
A. Yes, you will need a visa. Either a work visa or a work exemption visa, depending on the country. IICD will help secure your visa prior to you leaving.
Q. Do you work very closely with local organizations?
A. Yes, while doing community outreach and working together with local organizations in the area on such projects as HIV/AIDS education, camps for the underprivileged and "at risk" children, ect. IICD wants our volunteers not only to take an active role in the issues of the world but also within the local community.
Q. Can I travel from one project to another?
A. During your volunteer time you can travel to visit some of the other projects your teams are working on.
Q. How many volunteers will be on the project at the same time as me?
A. You will be with other members of your team that have chosen the same project as yourself. The amount of individuals can vary from project to project and from team to team.
Q. Why do I have to pay to volunteer?
A. You actually don't pay to volunteer but you pay a part of the costs to train you and get you to the project in Africa. IICD as a non- profit organization is running a clothes collection to cover some of the costs as well.
Q. Is there an application deadline?
A. The starting dates for the Africa program are February, May, August & November and February, June and October for the Brazil program. There is no application deadline, but to guarantee your spot on the team, make sure to do it in advance.
Q. What are the average ages of volunteers?
A. Usually our volunteers are around 18 – 35 years old.
Q. Is the program tax-deductible?
A. Yes. IICD is a private nonprofit organization, registered as a 501(c)(3). IICD is tax exempt, IRS identification number: 22-2778876. All payments/donations to IICD are tax deductible for US Citizens.
Q. Can you put me in touch with other volunteers before I go?
A. Yes. Please the volunteer’s facebook https://www.facebook.com/iicd.volunteermassachusetts
You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our promotion staff will guide and assist you in getting in touch with a former volunteer.
Q. Do I need immunizations?
A. You must have an up-to-date tetanus booster. Please bring records of your vaccinations. Within the preparation period, vaccinations will be given for a number of diseases. For teams going to Africa these will include Typhoid and Hepatitis. If you have traveled before and have a yellow international vaccination booklet, please bring it to IICD. If you can get the vaccinations for free in your home country, please do so before arriving to IICD and bring the vaccination card.
Q. What qualifications or skills do I need?
A. The program is designed to give you the training and help you develop the skils you will need for your Project. Your interest, enthusiasm, passion and commitment will be the most important qualifications to get the best out of this experience.
Q. Do I need to bring my own supplies from home, or are they provided?
A. No. Personal supplies are provided by the volunteers. You will need some spending money for personal items such as stamps, shampoo, toothpaste, treats on the road, souvenirs, etc. We suggest you bring between $200 and $400. This should be adequate for the whole program.
Q. What’s included in the program fee?
A. The program fee, combined with fundraising efforts, covers food, lodging and transportation costs related to the program, as well as training materials, international travel, travel vaccinations (not standard US vaccinations) and international health insurance.
Q. Who covers the fundraising expenses?
A. During the fundraising your team will get a limited budget for food and transportation. You are going to work with your team and team leader to arrange the logistics, everybody is involved and you must work as a team in order to achieve your goals.
Q. Where do the teams go for fundraising?
A. Each teams is responsible for deciding where they will do the fund-raising. IICD has state issued permits in 15 states to help as a guide for selecting locations.
Q. I cannot speak English. Can I become a volunteer?
A. An intermediate English level is desired. At an intermediate level we could then work with you to grow your English to a level of effectiveness that is needed for the work you will do overseas. However we have English speakers that will help you become better at speaking and understanding English.
Q. What support and guidance can I expect?
A. Our Staff is comprised of dedicated and trained individuals here to provide you with the right guidance that you will need to complete the program comfortably. As part of the IICD community you will have support not only from our teachers and general staff but also from team leaders, your team members, and other volunteers as well.
Q. Do I get a certificate at the end of the program?
A. Yes you do. IICD is not accredited so you don’t get credits you can use towards a degree but you get a certificate and a whole world of knowledge and skills you can bring to any kind of job interview or further education. There are certain schools in America that give credits towards life experience. Check www.planetwalk.org
Q. How long can I stay when I enter USA?
A. You will typically get 6 months of stay when you enter the United States. If you stay longer you will need to extend your stay. It is your responsibility to remember this so you will have to make note of when your I94 (the white paper you fill out in the plane before landing) expires and then apply for an extension 45 days before the date runs out. IICD will support you with a letter. You need to cover the cost yourself.
Q. Can I smoke tobacco at IICD?
A. Yes but not inside the buildings at any time and you need to discard the buts in the designated pots outside the entrances.
Q. Do you know any good books to read about Africa?
A. These are just a few:
- James Michener: “The Covenant”
- Adam Hoschild: “King Leopold’s Ghost”
- The Poisonwood bible
- Owen Sheers: “The Dust Dairies”
- André Brink: “A Chain of Voices”
- Andre Brink: “A dry white season” - and more books
- Mandela: “A long way to Freedmn”
- Mark Mathabane: “Kaffir Boy”
- Charlayne Hunter-Gault: “New News out of Africa”
- Wilbur Smith: lots of novels
- Huge Lewin: “Bandit - seven years in a South African prison”
- Island in Chains - South Africa
- Who calls the shots - Mozambique
- Commission for Africa Report
- Food and Nutrition security report
- The State of the World’s Children
- AIDS Epidemic Update
- Economic Report on Africa
- Facts for Life
- UN Millennium Project
- Achebe: “Things falling apart” - and more books
- Chris Abani: Graceland
- Karl Meyer “Into the house of the ancestors”
- Karl Meyer: “Angola, promises and lies”
- Karl Meyer: “This house has fallen - Nigeria”
- Antjie Krog: A Change of Tongue - more books
- Basil Davidson: History of Africa
- Basil Davidson: In the eye of the storm
- Basil Davidson: “Black Man’s Burden”
- Wilfred Burchett: Southern Africa Stands Up
- Destructive Engagement
- John Reader: Africa
- The Scramble for Africa
- Ayittey: “Africa in Chaos”
- John Stoltenberg: In search of Emeries - CIA in Angola
- Majorie Shostak: Nisa - the life and words of a !Kung Woman
Q. Do you know any movies to watch about Africa?
A. Yes here are some:
- Basil Davidsons films on the History of Africa 1-8
- Shaka Zulu 1-4
- Cobra Verde
- Mountains of the moon
- Africa Addio
- Amandla - a revolution in four voice harmony
- Cry Freedom
- Worlds Apart
- A Dry White Season
- The Ghosts of Rwanda
- The God’s must be Crazy
- My country
- Hotel Rwanda
- Sometime in April
- The Battle of Algeria
- Red Dust
- Mandela and DeKlerk
- White king, red rubber, black death
- Soldier Child
- Invisible Children
- The Africans - # 1- 9
- Hollow City
- Beat the drum
- RX for Survival - 8 episodes about improving health - several are from Africa
- Robert Redford: “Heroes” - one of them is Moses Zulu from the Children’s Town in Zambia
- Guns, Germs, and Steel - part 2: Into the tropics
- The Real Eve - (we all come from Africa!)
- The Devil Came on Horse Back - about the conflict in Dafur
- The Power of one - South Africa during second world war
- The Color of Freedom - South Africa - Mandela and his prison guard
- Long nights journey into day - about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa