Leading Student Groups Abroad
Rewards Make the Summer Work Worthwhile
By Slawka G. Scarso
Children and teenage programs are offered around the world, most with the objective of creating a fun environment where students can learn a foreign language. You can find out about these organizations online (see below). These programs vary widely.
English Summer Day Camps (ESDC), has openings for leaders (called counselors) who are responsible for about 10-12 children in summer camps in Austria and Germany. The Swedish born organization EF looks for group leaders for its 2- to 3-weeks summer language vacations in locations ranging from Rome to Quito, from Malta to Nice; group leaders in this case are required to organize leisure time activities or take the group of teenage students they are responsible for on sightseeing tours after their language classes. Similar openings are available with Abbey Road Overseas Programs. Another organization, LEAPNow, seeks trip leaders for groups of teenagers spending a whole semester in Central America, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, or India.
Group leaders are often required to be 25 or older (ESDC accepts younger leaders). Previous experience with teenagers or children is very important. A strong knowledge of the country leaders are traveling to and its language is also relevant and in some cases a must.
Application forms for summer programs need to be sent by January-February of the same year, and six months prior to departure for semester programs. If the candidate passes the first screening, an interview will follow. Before the work starts, compulsory weekend or week-long training sessions are offered, to give group leaders all the information they need to work properly. Companies usually provide accommodation along with the students, and pay for travel to the country.
The best thing about such jobs is that you travel and experience life in a new country at low cost. Companies such as ESDC, though requiring candidates to be available for the duration of summer, give weekends free so leaders have time to do some sightseeing on their own. As foreign leaders work side by side with local ones, it is an excellent chance to get to know the country of destination even better by meeting locals.
I've slept very few hours each night during those weeks, and there were times when the kids really got on my nerves. Still, when we eventually got back home, I couldn't help to be moved as I saw all the students crying while they said goodbye. Even thinking about it now, makes me want do it again.
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