Intern Abroad HQ Responsible Practice
We know that people choose our programs because they want a travel experience that enables them to learn and develop while also making a positive difference in communities abroad. Our interns care about the impact they have and want to be supported to act as valuable and ethical contributors. We’re committed to making this happen.
Our commitment to providing safe internship experiences
We think it’s important to consider what it means to travel responsibly and to identify the potential ethical issues that can arise when taking on an internship abroad. Exploring these issues promotes responsible practice and leads to better outcomes for interns, for the projects they contribute to, and for host communities.
Every traveler leaves their mark on the places they visit. Whether that’s through relationships formed with others, the ideas that are shared, active contributions made to local projects, or the impact on the local economy as consumers, we all have a responsibility to make sure that the marks we leave are positive and sustainable.
Explore the following sections to learn more about Intern Abroad HQ’s commitment to responsible travel and the steps we take to help interns be both responsible and valuable while abroad. If you have any questions or concerns that are not covered here, please get in touch.
Our Responsible Practice principles:
To us, a responsible approach to international travel and exchange means that we do the following things:
- We provide thorough support to participants and help them to develop realistic expectations through information, resources and comprehensive pre-departure guidance.
- We only work with registered organizations whose roots and best interests are based within the communities where our program participants stay and work.
- All applications are personally screened by Intern Abroad HQ to assess the eligibility and suitability of the participant.
- All interns are required to obtain and present an original or certified copy of a criminal background check.
- All program participants must also provide relevant documentation to verify their stated qualifications.
- Program participants do not replace paid employment opportunities for local people – instead they work alongside local staff in local placements.
- We manage program capacity based on need. We will not accept more interns onto a program of the needs of that project are already being suitably met.
- We provide training and support to our local teams and we regularly visit programs in order to collect feedback and identify areas for improvement.
- We analyze costs with our local teams on an ongoing basis to ensure we’re being fair, cost-effective, and transparent.
- We request feedback from every program participant and utilize it to develop and improve.
- We measure the impact of our programs and produce a public report at least annually.
- We measure the carbon emissions produced as a result of our operations and offset them by purchasing carbon credits. We encourage program participants to do the same.
How to offset your own carbon emissions while traveling
We have partnered with Carbon Climate Care (a UK-based organization) and you can use their Carbon Footprint Calculator to calculate and offset the emissions of your flights. You’ll be supporting climate change awareness campaigns, environmental conservation efforts, and tree propagation initiatives.
Intern Abroad HQ and the local teams who facilitate all our programs are united in their dedication to upholding and maintaining the rights, needs and dignity of all children and vulnerable adults involved in our programs. We’ve defined a set to principles which we believe are important. all Intern Abroad HQ participants are required to agree and adhere to these principles, in accordance with our Terms and Conditions of Service:
- The best interests of an individual in care will be prioritized. Any decisions or actions made in regard to an individual must place emphasis on maintaining their rights, needs and dignity.
- Non-discrimination must be exercised at all times and each individual will be treated with equal compassion, respect and care.
- All Intern Abroad HQ program participants agree to provide a criminal background check to the host organization in their chosen country. Failure to do so will prevent them from beginning any program.
- Intern Abroad HQ reserves the right to cancel a participant’s program for any reason, or if a background check reveals that they are not suitable to work with children or vulnerable adults.
- All program participants involved with the care of others will receive, acknowledge, sign and abide by the Intern Abroad HQ Code of Conduct for working with children and vulnerable adults.
If something doesn’t feel right, speak up.
Various interpretations of children’s rights are not only influenced by deeply ingrained cultural norms, but also by practical limitations of poverty and resources. When working with children, local attitudes and norms will quickly become apparent and, while it’s important for you to adjust and adapt to what is culturally acceptable in your host community, always remember to speak up if something doesn’t feel right. Never be afraid to speak with the local team if you feel uncomfortable about a particular situation involving child or vulnerable adult in care.
All program participants involved with the care of others will receive, acknowledge and sign the Code of Conduct during their orientation. Failure to adhere to this Code of Conduct during the program is considered a breach of Intern Abroad HQ’s Terms and Conditions of Service and participants will be removed without refund. While the Code of Conduct is designed to protect children and vulnerable adults, it is also intended to protect program participants from false accusations of inappropriate behavior or abuse.
Code of Conduct:
- No child or vulnerable adult is to be taken outside of the placement site, without making prior arrangements with the placement staff.
- No child or vulnerable adult is to be taken to any participant’s homestay, guesthouse, hotel or accommodation.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants are not permitted to take any child or vulnerable adult to a cafe, restaurant or buy them food, unless permission has been given by the placement staff.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants are not permitted to share a bed or room with any children or vulnerable adults while participating on an Intern Abroad HQ program.
- No gifts are to be given by placement participants without prior approval from the placement staff.
- Photography and videography of children or vulnerable adults is only permitted with permission from the individuals themselves or placement staff. Photos/videos should not be taken in a way intended to belittle or degrade any individual.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants should not act in any manner intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children or vulnerable adults.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants must display appropriate language, actions and relationships with children and vulnerable adults at all times.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants must take extreme care when interacting physically with people they interact with on their program. Under no circumstance should any physical contact be, or have the appearance of being sexual in any way.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants must not exert inappropriate physical force when dealing with children or vulnerable adults.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants must not discriminate against, show differential treatment, or favour particular individual to the exclusion of others.
- Intern Abroad HQ program participants are responsible for their actions, and the reactions to children and vulnerable adults at all times.
- Where possible and practical, Intern Abroad HQ program participants should implement the ‘two person’ rule, whereby two or more responsible adults supervise all activities with children and vulnerable adults.
- Inappropriate conduct toward children and vulnerable adults including failure to follow the behavior standards stated above is grounds for instant dismissal from the Intern Abroad HQ program.
- Please note, this is not an exhaustive or exclusive list. The principle underlying this Code of Conduct is that participants and program staff must avoid actions or behavior which may encourage, facilitate or constitute abuse or exploitation of any kind.
- The care facility should be registered with the appropriate government bodies and should able to produce evidence of this registration.
- All staff members employed by the care facility should have been subject to criminal background check, in order to review their suitability for the position. Tourists and members of the public should also be denied entry unless an up-to-date background check has been supplied for review. No unsupervised time should be permitted to visitors unable to produce this initial indication of good character.
- The care facility should support and prioritize the rights of families, wherever possible and appropriate.
- The care facility should control the number of program participants present, in order to ensure that the best interests of the individuals being cared for are prioritized above all else.
- Care facilities must respect the personal freedoms, and human rights, of the vulnerable individuals that have been entrusted to them.
- No vulnerable individual under the care of another should be forced against their will or best interest to undergo any labor, interaction, performance, paid or unpaid work.
- Where possible and appropriate, care facilities must provide educational opportunity for personal and professional development, which is aligned with a regional/national curriculum.
- The care facility must be capable of demonstrating positive outcomes for the vulnerable individuals within their care. This includes evidence of how genuine needs are being addressed, in the absence of options for family-based care.
- The care facility must perceive international program participants as resources to assist the staff who act as the primary caregivers, and providers as assistance to achieve long-term goals of the facility, in order to avoid attachment and dependency issues.
- Care facilities must demonstrate an operating model that prevents attachment and dependency issues, such as strategies to rotate groups of children, reintegrate individuals back into family/community care when possible, and should have plans in place to support the employment and professional development of local team members.
- The care facility must have the capacity to deliver comprehensive introductory and orientation information to program participants in order to clarify expectations, roles and conduct.
- Care facilities must allow outside monitoring from third parties.
Think about the challenges of attachment.
It’s understandable that people get attached to the children they work with as part of their internship abroad. But children can also get attached and then become traumatised when you leave. Be conscious of this risk and be smart by spending your time with a range of children, rather than any one child in particular. Be aware of where you see attachment building and always think about what’s best for the child.
Program participants are not expected or obligated to contribute donations of any kind. Participation already provides a valuable investment of time and money to the project. However it’s not usual to to be asked for donations by local people or projects and it’s important not to take offence or rush to judgement.
Those who choose to make donations as an additional contribution are always welcome to do so, but it’s important that this is done in a responsible and sustainable way. We’ve created the following advice for those thinking about donating extra funds or resources to a specific cause or placement:
- Don’t make promises that you cannot keep. If you’re not sure whether or not you can deliver the donation - don’t even bring it up. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver.
- If you’re directly asked to help with finances and resources (which may make you feel awkward) it’s better not to set an unrealistic expectation or raise hopes - it’s always ok to say no.
- Always discuss your ideas and thoughts directly with the local team first before acting. You may have good ideas and good intentions, but there could be other priorities, needs and considerations that you are unaware of. Making donations via the local team will ensure they are allocated where they are most needed, and most useful.
- Be realistic about the “shelf-life” of the donations you’re making and what storage facilities are available to look after them. For example, consumables such as pens, paper, and stickers may provide a fun afternoon at a childcare placement, but are unlikely to last very long.
- Photographs of the placement (especially of any individuals) must not be used for fundraising efforts without the explicit permission, involvement and supervision of a senior staff member. Photographs from a different placement or area must never be used to incorrectly depict another.
- If you have initiated fundraising in advance, then keep an open mind in regard to what the funds can be used for. Perhaps there is a different priority, compared to what you initially had in mind, that you will not understand until you’re there. Speak to the local leaders, who will be in the best position to guide you.
We have a responsibility to ensure that any placements involving animals comply with strict animal welfare standards. Animal protection is also dependent on local communities, government agencies, and non-government organizations, however our involvement in placements that involve animals is guided at all times by the “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare. Examples of these “Five Freedoms” include:
Freedom from thirst and hunger
- Food that is provided must be appropriate, given the species, feeding habits, and individual condition or special needs of a particular animal
Freedom from discomfort
- Any enclosures that either temporarily or permanently house animals must be of a size and condition that are appropriate to the species and must provide facilities to ensure health
Freedom from pain, injury and disease
- If research is conducted that involves interaction with animals, then it must not cause harm or unnecessary distress. It must also be conducted with the ultimate objective of protecting the individual animal and its species, for the long-term. Any research must align with a registered and reputable conservation organization or institution.
Freedom to express their normal behaviour
- All projects must ultimately prioritize, as much as possible, the long-term welfare of animals in the wild, while never promoting or supporting captivity
Freedom from fear and distress
- Animal care/wildlife placements are as “hands off” as possible (unless working with domesticated animals, such as cats or dogs, who live in shelters)
- Animals must never be made to perform and suffer for economic or entertainment reasons
- Any transport of an animal must be arranged in a manner that reduces stress
We also expect that all placements must have the relevant permits/registrations that are required to operate, and are in line with current legislation and regulations. External third-party organizations must also be allowed to monitor the placement, in order to ensure that regulations are being met and organization is transparent.
We expect the clearly defined long-term goals and outcomes of the placement to be explained and demonstrated to program participants during their orientation. Program participants must receive relevant instruction from qualified staff, as it relates to animal care, personal conduct, and animal handling (if applicable). Participants that demonstrate non-compliance with animal welfare principles and placement instruction may be asked to depart, without receiving a refund.
”I think the most rewarding part of my stay is knowing that I helped contribute to the creation of useful content for the reserve. It is nice to leave knowing your work will assist them in the future. The highlight for me personally - outside of enhancing my GIS skills - is seeing the animals first-hand. As someone who does not frequent zoos or other such establishments, it has been incredible to see these animals in the flesh.”