WHO WE ARE
ELI's full name, Experiential Learning International was founded in 2001 by Director Dr. Kevin O’Neill. Here at ELI, we believe that the most compelling life lessons come through experience, and that international experiences are among the most profound influences on our sense of self and our view of the world. Our mission is to help others to establish their own international experiences. We see learning as a lifelong journey: our participants have ranged in age from 18 to 82 and come from all over the world. To date we have had participants from 44 countries! Many of our volunteers have gone on to work in the non-profit sector, or even form their own foundations.
A REGISTERED CHARITABLE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION
Did you know that anyone can buy a .org web address? Many for-profit companies use these to give the appearance of being non-profits. To become a non-profit is a long and difficult process. ELI has had non-profit status for many years now. We partner with organizations from around the world that make a difference in their communities. We work closely with these groups to ensure ELI volunteers get meaningful experiences at reasonable prices. Any "profits" we make go back into charitable causes that we support and into the programs that we offer.
ELI's full name, Experiential Learning International, reflects our philosophy. We believe that the most compelling life lessons come through experience, and that international experiences are among the most profound influences on our sense of self and our view of the world. We see learning as a lifelong journey: our participants have ranged in age from 18 to 82 and come from all over the world. To date we have had participants from 44 countries! Many of our volunteers have gone on to work in the non-profit sector, or even form their own foundations.
WHAT MAKES ELI DIFFERENT?
Our staff is experienced and knowledgeable. Our program fees are among the lowest. Our relationships with our foreign partners are based on mutual trust and respect. We work hard to build long lasting relationships with all our partner organizations and take pride in the long term benefits the communities we work in have experienced as a result of the hard work done by ELI volunteers.
Because of our 501(c)3 non-profit status granted by the US government, US taxpayers may be able to deduct much of the cost of their volunteer program, including airfare. Everyone's tax situation is different, so it is best to consult with an accountant or tax professional for more information on making itemized deductions. As a non-profit organization, we believe that full transparency is essential. Should you have any questions, please feel free to ask us. All of our previous financial statements are posted on www.guidestar.org.
WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
We set up all placements on a completely individual basis depending on the information in your application and the needs of the organizations at the time you will be in the program. For an application to be considered complete, we need to receive your application form, application fee, CV/Resume, cover letter, questionnaire, and waiver. If you applied to a program in Latin America your CV/resume and cover letter should be in Spanish. You will receive the questionnaire, waiver and a request for the CV and cover letter after receipt of the application fee. Once we have your complete application, we send the information to our in-country coordinator. The coordinator submits the application information to local organizations for their approval. Matching an applicant with a position usually takes 4-6 weeks, but it can take more time or less time. Once the coordinator has finalized your placement, we will send you the details and an invoice for the program fee. We need to receive the program fee 30 days before you depart in order to make sure everything is ready for your arrival.
WHEN SHOULD I APPLY?
It's best if we receive your application at least 2 or 3 months before you plan on starting a program. We will accept applications earlier, of course. Many programs can be set up much more quickly. But don't forget, you'll need time to get ready as well!
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST AND WHAT’S INCLUDED?
The cost will depend on the program you choose. Most programs have a onetime program fee based on how long you will stay. This fee covers our costs associated with setting up the program, accommodation, some meals, and in-country administrative expenses.
Please see our costs page for more information.
WHEN DO I PAY?
The program fee is due 30 days prior to departure unless your confirmation is still pending. If you apply within 30 days of your start, and we are able to arrange a program quickly, you will be expected to pay your program fee upon confirmation of your placament.
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HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I BRING WITH ME? DOES IT NEED TO BE ALL IN CASH?
We definitely suggest you carry some cash with you at all times, in case ATMs are not working, you need to pay for a visa at the airport, etc. The quantity of cash you need to carry will vary, depending on your destination, the services/items you need to pay for, and your proximity to reliable sources of money (ATMs, Banks). Some volunteers manage to live mostly on the program fees while others choose to spend extra money on activities like socializing with other volunteers and locals, buying snacks and souvenirs, eating at cafes or restaurants, transport and weekend travel. Feel free to ask us for specific recommendations for your individual program.
WHAT SUPPORT WILL I HAVE WHEN I ARRIVE?
From the moment you arrive in the airport, the in-country staff will be there to guide, inspire, share, and support you in every way. Led by an experienced and incredible country director, each team is there for you 24/7. All of our in-country staff have a deep passion for their communities, and the experience and knowledge to lead an immersive and memorable experience.
WHAT WILL MY ACCOMMODATIONS BE LIKE?
It depends on the program! Please check the locations page for more information about the accommodations available in the country that you are interested in. Participants stay either with a local host family or in volunteer housing associated with the project.
ELI truly believes that this is the best way to fully immerse in another culture and get the most from an international experience. All families are carefully screened and are well-respected members of the community. Most host families do not speak English, creating a full immersion environment to help participants improve their language skills. Participants will have either a private or shared bedroom with secure storage (volunteer must provide own padlock). Bathrooms are shared with the host family. Volunteers will be provided with breakfast and dinner daily.
The shared apartment option provides you with your own room in an apartment with locals and people from around the world. This housing option is a great way to make friends and contacts your own age while providing the opportunity to optimize your language practice. Participants staying in the shared apartment will have a private, furnished room. Meals are not included.
WILL I HAVE TIME TO TRAVEL OR SIGHTSEE ON MY OWN?
Although the schedules vary by program, there is often time for participants to do their own exploring in the evenings or on weekends. Once you apply for a program and are accepted, we will send you more detailed information about your placement and the times that you will be working.