Frequently Asked Questions

Does SID’s program take jobs away from local employees?

No! For every additional international volunteer or employee in our team, we are able to employ between 1 to 5 locals, depending on the nature of the project. Our global team members typically take on managerial and leadership roles that are relatively expensive and difficult to fill in low-income rural areas, allowing our partner charities to reinvest overhead money into program delivery.

Is it realistic to expect university students to effect significant change in a foreign country in the span of several months?

You may be skeptical, and rightfully so. The learning curve is steep. We don’t expect our members to move mountains, but we have seen them do pretty awesome things. Here are some of the achievements of some of our youngest alumni:

  • Building a maternity ward, latrine, water capture and storage system, stocking a dispensary with medical equipment, and having the dispensary taken over by the government (one person, age 20, 14 weeks)
  • Building and furnishing a medical lab taken over by the government (one person, age 21, 12 weeks)
  • Building or repairing six water springs (two people, 12 weeks; one person, 12 weeks)
  • Digging a 60ft well (still working 8 years later) serving 500 families and a primary school and authoring a successful government grant to maintain and repair 10 wells (2 people, age 19 and 20, 11 weeks)
  • Designing a 300-hour digital ESL program for 300 rural students (4 people, ages 21-23, 12 weeks)
How much should I budget to volunteer with SID?

Please see our costs page. Budget about $110USD ($135-150 CAD) per week overseas (or equivalent in other currency) to cover your housing, team meals, airport pick-up, support staff (i.e., local translators, field coordinators, house helps), and a small contribution to our overhead. Some costs are not linear, so the cost per week will be a bit higher for shorter stays and lower for longer ones. These costs are shared amongst all team members, and are paid through SID. Your offer letter will confirm the amount due based on the length of your stay, any major changes in foreign exchange rates, or overseas costs of living.

You are responsible for flights, travel medicine, visas, personal effects, personal phone and internet use, entertainment and restaurant meals.

See our costs page

What is the minimum work period overseas?

It varies by project. Typically 8 weeks. The vast majority of members work overseas for 10-14 weeks.

What is the deadline to apply?

We fill our project teams using rolling admissions, starting as early as 7 months in advance for more complex projects to give sufficient time for planning, training, and resource development. We recommend applying at least 4 months before your planned arrival date.

When can I work overseas with SID?

Our main project cycles take place from May – August, but we are interested in having people join our field teams year-round.

How much work is involved prior to departure?

Roughly 100 hours pre-departure, though it depends how far in advance you join our team. Budget at least 40-hours to complete our pre-departure training program. There are plenty of readings, case studies, and even a few written tests you’ll need to pass (for your own health and safety). Budget 10-15 hours for paperwork, travel medicine, visas, packing, and other personal logistics. Most importantly, you will work with an alumnus and/or a manager in one of our partner charities to create or augment funding proposals or campaigns for your project. Trust us, few people like asking for money, but this is an essential part of creating impact in the not-for-profit sector. Prior fundraising experience in isn’t expected; we only ask all team members to give it their best effort.

What happens after I finish the overseas component?

We need our alumni to stay involved so that our projects can grow. Here are a few avenues:

  • Become a “project champion” (volunteer to lead strategic planning and participate in future team member selection for your project)
  • Become an alumni mentor to a future overseas team member
  • Join our executive committee. You do not need to wait for an opening; if you wish to propose taking on a particular role or internal project, we will welcome your engagement
Can I do a independent study project / practicum for my university on the side?

Yes, as long as you will be able to commit regular full-time hours to your project with SID. If you require someone in SID or a partner charity to fill out paperwork to vouch for your hours or job responsibilities, please give us several weeks advance notice. If the paperwork is onerous, we would kindly ask you to assist your supervisor in completing it.

Is SID a charity or a 501(c)(3)?

No, SID is a non-profit corporation, but not a charity. However, SID has formal partnerships with Canadian, American, Kenyan, and Tanzanian charities that can issue tax receipts for donations to the international projects.

How many people have gone overseas with SID?

200+ as of 2016

What’s the typical age range of team member?

20 – 28

Is there a minimum age?

The greater of the age of majority in your home country or age 19.

Do I need to speak the local language?

In Latin America, intermediate-advanced Spanish is required (equivalent to third-year college Spanish). We may make exceptions for strong candidates who are enrolled in third-year level Spanish and who are willing to hire a tutor when they are in the field.