Suas Volunteer Programme FAQ

Do I need to be a student to be on the Programme?

No, the programme is open to all young adults. We are looking for a broad range of candidates, both those still in college, and those with a few years of work experience.  We do ask that participants be out of second level schooling for at least one year by the scheduled departure date, and all must be at least 18 years old by the time they travel overseas.

Do I need to have teaching experience?

Teaching experience is not necessary for this programme. Primarily, we are looking for people who are genuinely enthusiastic about working with children and young people, and who are willing to learn the skills necessary to work in a classroom environment. 

What skills do I need to be a volunteer on the Programme?

This is a team-based programme, so it is essential that each volunteer has the ability and desire to work in a team. We look for volunteers with strong leadership potential, excellent interpersonal skills and a high level of maturity. We select very diverse teams of individuals with a range of skills. While the primary role of a volunteer is to assist teachers in the classroom, volunteers have also completed short-term projects with our partners including: research, IT, curriculum development etc. There is scope to take the initiative and use a wide range of skills on the programme.

How many places are there on the Programme?

This year, we expect to have approximately 75-90 places on the programme. This will depend on our evaluation of the overseas placements and their needs.

I have heard that the Programme is very competitive, is this true?

Each year, we receive approximately 3 applications for every place we can offer on the programme.  However, we look for a very diverse range of skills for each team and, if you feel that the programme is right for you, we would strongly encourage you to apply. The recruitment process itself is an excellent way to build your skills, and the assessment centre (group exercise and individual competency based interview) is the equivalent, if not more comprehensive than a professional job interview.

What happens if I am offered a place on the Programme?

Places on the programme will be offered in December 2016. To secure a place on the programme, you must sign a volunteer contract agreeing to the terms and conditions of participation, and also pay a non-refundable deposit of €250.

Preparation

How much money do I have to raise?

This depends on the length of your placement. The fee for 6 week placements is €2,750 and for 10 week placements it's €2,995. This is in addition to the non-refundable deposit of €250 for all placements. The fee covers the cost of: flights, accommodation, insurance, training costs, “Global Perspectives” expenses, coordinators and in-country support, as well as a contribution towards the running costs of the programme. This sum does not include the cost of vaccines, malaria tablets, or visas; participants will also require extra funds to cover their daily transport and living expenses. While we recognise that raising this amount of money may appear daunting, Suas offers a comprehensive support package including: a fundraising mentor, fundraising training sessions, and on-going support, as well as advice from the office. Many volunteers have managed to greatly exceed their targets in recent years.

What happens if I raise more than the target amount?

Many of our volunteers raise sums over and above their participation fee.  All of the funds raised above the target amount go directly to our Partner Support Programme. This provides financial support to our partners, enabling them to deliver education within their communities, and funds teacher and management training programmes for the partners themselves.

What happens if I do not raise the target amount?

The participation fee primarily covers the running costs of your placement. If you do not raise this amount, you will have to forfeit your place. However, if you are having trouble with fundraising, you will have the support of both Suas and your team to help you to reach your target.

Do you have to attend all of the preparation weekends?

Yes. Suas believes that good preparation is essential to maximising your overseas experience. The pre-departure and return weekends are an integral part of the programme. If you are unable to commit to attending all of weekends, your place on the programme may be revoked.

Do I need to get vaccinations, or take malaria tablets?

Yes. You will need to complete a course of recommended vaccinations, and provide proof of vaccination before departure. Malaria tablets are also recommended in both countries. You are required to take any medication that is prescribed by your GP and/or the Travel Health Clinic (or equivalent) before going overseas. We will provide expert training on this during the preparation phase.

International Placement

How do Suas select their partner organisations?

To date, Suas has primarily become involved with their partners through personal contacts. We are currently producing criteria by which to assess our current partners, and to select new ones. It is important that both the organisation and our volunteers benefit from the partnership.

What is the level of English in the placement schools?

The level of English spoken by the children you will be working with varies. A small amount of language training for all volunteers is included in the preparation weekends; however, we strongly recommend that volunteers take the time to learn some of the local language prior to departure.
Management and administrative staff in the host organisations are proficient in English; however, the level of English spoken by the teachers varies.

How many people are in each team?

Team size varies depending on the placement but is usually made up of 10 volunteers and 1 Team Coordinator, supported by 1 Development Education Coordinator per city. There is also a Teaching Support Coordinator in each country.

Where will I stay when on the placement?

Suas will arrange accommodation for you; this will either be in an apartment or a house close to the school you are working in. You will stay with the other members of your team, and your Team Coordinator. The accommodation provided is very basic, typically with 4 Volunteers to a room.

What support will Suas provide while I’m away?

You will be working in teams when overseas. Your Team Coordinator will travel with you, and maintain regular contact with Suas in Dublin. Suas will be in touch with your placement organisation, and will ensure that all is running smoothly. Suas’ policies and procedures with regard to health, safety and security apply throughout the overseas placements, and provide guidelines for risk assessment and management in an unfamiliar environment. You can also contact us by email; we will send weekly update emails. Your insurance cover includes access to a 24-hour hotline for medical, and other, support.
While away, you will be required to submit several written reports to Suas back in Dublin. This will help us to see how you are getting on, and whether there is anything else we can do to support you; it will also allow you to keep track of your personal learning whilst on the programme.

What level of security is necessary for the placement cities?

At all times, Suas emphasises risk awareness, taking precautions and acting responsibly. Suas has policies and procedures which all volunteers must adhere to. Security protocols are agreed amongst each group. Health, safety & security remains the number one priority throughout the Programme. Suas monitors the security in each of the placement countries; the placements do not proceed unless it is safe to do so.

What happens if I fail my exams and have to return to Ireland before the end of the placement?

Our insurance is unlikely to cover any costs related to returning home for exam re-sits. The airlines we fly with occasionally accommodate a change in return date, but this is at their discretion, and they are constrained by the number of seats.

What happens when I get back to Ireland?

Suas organises a Return Day where all volunteers get a chance to reflect upon their experiences overseas. It is a time to process and work through the challenges you and your team faced during the placement with a team of experienced facilitators. It gives you the opportunity to find out about the experience of volunteers in different placements, while giving you the chance to showcase the achievements of your own placement. Suas also encourages volunteers to remain involved with Suas, and other service-oriented activities, through small action projects; this can be anything from writing about the placement in a local newspaper, to visiting local schools or organising a fundraising event.

Many previous volunteers have continued their involvement with Suas, and associated projects upon their return to Ireland.

Such activities have included:

  • Setting-up and/or participating in a Suas college society; getting involved in clubhouses, after school programmes, fundraising and awareness raising campaigns.
  • Active involvement in the Suas alumni association.
  • Offering Volunteer assistance to Suas programmes and helping to plan or deliver future Volunteer Programmes.
  • Fundraising for Suas and our overseas partners.

If your question is not answered here - please let us know at [email protected].