Volunteer Service Examples
Following are examples of agencies where IPSL students have served in the past or may be able to serve. Other service placements may be available. Your placement will be determined by community and agency needs, as well as your language skills, interests and goals.
Open Heart – Association for Hot meal distribution for people in need.
Social Benefit Café for children and their families whose aim is to combat social isolation and provide interactive play with other children.
Catholic Relief Agency providing all means of assistance to the poor. Volunteers primarily work teaching English.
French organization providing relief to impoverished children in Southeast Asian countries.
AFTC – Association that offers help to people with cerebral palsy and their families.
Book Lending Library providing books to patients in hospitals with the aim of providing human accompaniment and social interaction.
Organizations for People with Disabilities
ATF - Organization that works with people with disabilities to facilitate social inclusion. English tutoring, accompaniment and participation in various social activities.
Rehabilitation center providing computer literacy skills to paraplegics and quadriplegics.
A humanitarian organization providing cultural and sports activities for brain injured people.
Home renovation association providing assistance to people with disabilities.
Social Benefit Café that organizes various activities and conversation facilitation for people wishing to improve their English.
English tutoring for Middle School and High School students. School for children to college age adults with disabilities.
Association fighting social inclusion by promoting access for all through culture and sport.
French Federation of UNESCO that works to promote the values of a civil society for a more dignified, just and united society.
Adult Job Training
Organization that provides job training for adults.
Retirement home for the elderly. Volunteers engage with residents in activities such as singing, English conversation workshops and outings in the community.
Organization providing art and cultural activities to the disadvantaged and the elderly.
At Risk Youth
Specialized school for at-risk children.
Ethical Service in France
As an IPSL service-learning participant in Montpellier, you will have the opportunity to perform volunteer service in one of several local partner organizations/agencies. IPSL does its best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others. You will play a role not only by actively participating with a determined role among the team members, but also by enriching the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, and hard work. Therefore, each project or program is improved and enriched with your participation. Your impact on other people's lives will be powerful and sustainable, even if you don't see the results right away.
Service-Learning™ versus Internship/Practicum
IPSL service-learning placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community needs. Central to the philosophy of service-learning is the notion of service. Service-learning is not the same as an internship or practicum although it may look very similar. The service in service-learning may or may not be career-related. An internship is designed mostly so that the student will benefit by learning about his/ her future profession. In contrast, in service-learning, the outcome of the student's work - that is, the service – is as important as the student’s learning. There are — or should be — identifiable benefits to those served. Thus, reciprocity is a key component in international service-learning.
IPSL Service Placements
IPSL's service-learning placements are in agencies that have sprung up from the grassroots, where locals have identified a need, and where the change effort is owned by them. What they need is additional assistance of all kinds from the outside. So, IPSL participants should remember that they are stepping into a moving stream of initiatives and efforts that began long ago, and that will continue after the participant departs. Your work is important, but your individual contributions may not be visible for many years. Change takes time. In the meantime, you are fulfilling an important need, and the needs are huge.
A single agency may need hands-on assistance from IPSL participants (direct service) or assistance in the background building capacity (indirect service) so that the agency can one day experience more stability in the delivery of its services. Either way, both direct and indirect service are needed to accomplish the goals. Each is valuable. In actuality, because nearly all non-profits and NGOs experience resource scarcity, IPSL participants do a little bit of everything. And this is as it should be. Nothing says "I'm a partner in your community" more than a willingness on the part of a service-learning participant not only to do higher-level tasks, but also occasionally to pick up a broom and sweep the floor so that the setting is clean and presentable to the client population being served. Such actions serve to break down stereotypes about Americans, and build relationships based on equality. That is why many of the service agencies with which we work have been our partners for years.
The IPSL website lists areas of service, and a few examples for each program site. This list is not exhaustive, nor static. The number and selection of service agencies may change at any time. Sometimes there are logistical (transportation, scheduling, etc.) issues that arise that complicate certain service agency placements and make them unworkable. Sometimes students need to be proficient in the local language in order to serve in a particular agency. Also, we do not place too many students in any one agency. Doing so would undermine the immersion environment for which IPSL programs are known.
Volunteer Service that Addresses Real Human Needs
As an IPSL service-learning participant in Montpellier, France you will have the opportunity to do volunteer work in one of several local agencies. We do our best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others. You will play a role not only by actively participating with a determined role among the team members, but also by enriching the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, and hard work. Therefore, each project or program is improved and enriched with your participation. Your impact on other people's lives will be powerful and sustainable, even if you don't see the results right away.
You will serve 15 hours per week in one or two service agencies, encountering France’s particular system of social services and practicing your French in the community. You might:
serve as an aid or tutor for disabled persons
assist in education or recreation at a rehabilitation center for children
tutor in English at the Institut St Pierre and high schools as a placement service
assist in a center providing social services for the underprivileged
help with stocking, sorting, and redistribution of foodstuffs at a food bank
work with specialists in psychiatry and social care in a social rehabilitation center
work with an occupational therapist at a retirement home