Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM)
Some details you might be wondering about… When is the application deadline?
The preferred application
deadline is February 1. The final deadline is February 15. Applications received after February 15 cannot be considered.How old are Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) volunteers?
We accept volunteers between the ages of 19-29 with at least one year post-high school experience. All programs except the U.K. require volunteers to be either college graduates or have equivalent life experience.How many people usually apply each year?
We typically receive about 80 applications and can accept up to about 50 volunteers.Do I get to choose which country I’ll go to?
It is important to remember that you apply to serve in the YAGM program rather than in a specific country. Your preferences regarding country of are definitely taken into account, but the final decision about where you’ll go is made by Global Mission staff and the country coordinators in mid-April. Rest assured that everyone involved wants to make a good match for you, where your gifts and interests intersect with the needs and considerations of the ministry settings. Though it will seem difficult at times, you will continually be reminded “trust the process”!What’s the screening and interview process like?
After submitting an application, YAGM applicants typically have one or more phone conversations with a Global Mission staff person and a YAGM alum. During these phone conversations, you will have an opportunity to learn more about the YAGM program, ask questions and express why you are interested in the program.
After the application deadline Global Mission staff reviews all applications and references. At this point an invitation is extended to 50 or so candidates to attend a “Discernment, Interview, and Placement” event (DIP) in mid-April where you will interview with one or two specific country programs. The interviews tend to be relaxed, focused on really getting to know you in order to make the best match possible. You will also hear a presentation about each of country programs for which you will interview. DIP is also a great chance to meet other potential YAGM volunteers, YAGM alum and ELCA staff.
At the end of the DIP event, country placement assignments are made. You will have about a week to accept this offer. The actual placement/ministry site within the country of service will not be determined until early summer.
The ELCA covers all costs, including travel, for the DIP event.How long will I be abroad?
The program begins with orientation in mid-August and runs 11-12 months, depending on the country of service. You should not expect to take a summer job in the year following your year of service as you won’t be returning to the U.S. until at least mid-July.Where will I live?
This depends on your country program and work site. Volunteers most typically live either with local families in homestays, in apartments (alone or with other volunteers), or in hostels or guest houses.Who will be my support person abroad?
Each country program is staffed by what we call a “country coordinator” or in the U.K. by a “field officer.” That person lives in your country of service and will be your point person for everything from housing and work sites to retreats and emotional and spiritual support. During your year of service you will have periodic communication with family and friends back home, but there is a danger in relying too heavily on them for your support. Instead the relationships you form in your host community are a gift and will become a significant part of your support system while you’re in service.Will I be safe?
While there is of course a certain amount of risk involved in any international experience, each country program site has been carefully developed to provide as safe an experience for volunteers as possible. Security training is provided for volunteers, communication and contingency plans have been developed, and your country coordinator or field officer abroad is well-equipped to handle emergencies that may arise.What if I don’t speak another language?
In order to be considered for Argentina/Uruguay and Mexico, you must have at least a conversational level of Spanish knowledge. In other countries of service where English is not the primary language, basic language training is provided.What if I’m on medication or have a medical condition?
Though its not required, it is helpful if YAGM candidates let the staff know about potential medical concerns or medication needs before or during the interview process. This way, we can help you think through the best ways to manage these issues and to ensure an adequate supply of prescription medication, if needed, while you’re abroad.What if I’m a vegetarian or have special dietary needs?
Many vegetarians have served in the YAGM program. However, depending on the country, living as a vegetarian or managing special dietary needs can present some challenges and difficulties. It is often helpful if vegetarians consider expanding their diets to include at least chicken and fish during their year of service. Also, a ready supply of fresh fruits and vegetables or a wide-variety of food choices cannot always be assured. If your dietary needs are specifically health-related, please consult with the staff to talk through potential concerns.How much does it cost?
The direct cost of sending a YAGM volunteer into service is about $10,000. Volunteers are responsible for raising at least $4,000 of that support before beginning the program. Global Mission will provide you with some resources to help in your fundraising efforts.What kind of financial support is provided while I’m abroad?
You will receive full room and board as well as a modest monthly stipend meant to allow you to live at a level similar to the people with whom you are serving. Roundtrip travel to and from your country of service is also provided.Do I get health insurance?
Basic health insurance is available and covers illness or injury that occurs while in service. If you have a pre-existing condition or require on-going prescriptions, staff will work with you to ensure adequate coverage.Can I defer my student loans?
Student loans can normally be deferred. More information is available later in the process.Can I receive visitors from the U.S. during my year of service?
Visits from family and friends can be a powerful way to share your YAGM experience with the people closest to you. It is important, however, to take into consideration the impact that visitors will have on your ministry sites and host communities. Before arranging visits from family and friends, YAGM volunteers are expected to consult with their country coordinators and site placement supervisors. It is strongly advised that volunteers not receive visitors before the Christmas holiday.Can I go home during my year of service?
By participating in the YAGM program, you are making a commitment to be away from home for the duration of the contract and to become fully immersed in the host community. Exceptions may be made for emergency situations, but you need to realize that you will be absent for certain milestones (e.g. weddings, graduations, new babies, etc.). These events, along with reunions, job interviews, etc are not
considered emergencies! If an emergency situation develops, be sure to discuss any potential plans with the country coordinator or field officer prior to making arrangements.Do I get vacation time? Can I use it to travel to other countries?
The amount of vacation time you’ll receive depends on your country of service and its labor laws, but generally ranges from about 2-3 weeks. When planning vacation time we ask that you consider the principles of simple living to which the YAGM program ascribes, and to reflect on your own privilege – financial and otherwise. Though we want you to experience as much of the wonder of your host country as possible, your primary role is as a servant and guest and not as a tourist. Any travel outside your placement area, for any purpose, would need to be scheduled around work priorities and done in consultation with your local supervisor and country coordinator. What about communication? Will I have internet access? Will my cell phone work?
You will have at least periodic internet access in your country of service. Your U.S. cellphone may be too expensive to be practical, even if it is capable of making and receiving calls in your country of service. Though YAGM volunteers always find creative ways to maintain contact with family and friends in the U.S., communication back home may not be as simple or as frequent as you are used to. While this will feel challenging at times, it can also be a wonderful gift in helping you develop deeper relationships with your host communities.Can I bring my laptop? Ipod? Digital camera? The kitchen sink?
In general, packing should be done with an eye toward simplicity. The distractions of technology to which we’re accustomed in the U.S. can inhibit your experience in another culture if they’re allowed to become a crutch. Check with your country coordinator about the laptop. In some ministry settings it’s helpful to have one, but if you don’t need it for work think twice about bringing it.