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IPSL Institute for Global Learning

About

IPSL engages students, educators, and grassroots organizations around the world in hands-on service to promote equitable relationships, social justice, sustainable change, and a commitment to our shared humanity.

IPSL, the founder of Service-Learning, is a global education institute within the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM.edu). They invest over 83% of their revenues directly back into the communities where they serve.

Website
www.ipsl.org
Founded
1981
Headquarters

4110 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
#200
Portland, OR 97214
United States

IPSL is a registered Social Benefit Organization that is committed to its mission and dedicated to promoting an ethic of service. We invest over 83% of our revenues directly back into the communities where we serve.

Reviews

Default avatar
Majo
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was the first time the program was run independently from any school and it was a bit disorganized.
My service site (the main reason I did this program) was an 2:30 hrs away from where I lived and getting there was pretty expensive. The program director gave me 100€ to pay for the transportation but it only covered one of the three months I was there. I found my own service in the city and volunteered there as well. The program was only two students and this made socializing hard. Overall, it was a good experience but there was still some things that need to be taken care of if they want to have a very successful program. My host family was great, the food was always excellent and Thessaloniki is a fun city to live in. I wish I had spoken Greek and had more Greek classes.

What would you improve about this program?
There needs to be more organization with the program, especially academically.
Default avatar
Sydney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The study abroad program and service learning provided by IPSL was an amazing experience that will last a lifetime. The classes I took were Swahili and a class about the community, which met three days a week. These taught me a lot about the community and its culture as well as the basics of the local language. Not many people in the U.S. can say that they have taken a Swahili class in their life before. I also loved the service incorporation part, I volunteered in a small, private clinic four days a week and absolutely loved it. In my future, I would like to be a doctor, so this exposed me to what this is like, not only the field but in another country, which is a priceless experience.
My program director made my experience even better. He would take me on excursions on Fridays, he provided me with different places to go for food, excursions, and shopping, and he gave me advice for when I was feeling homesick. I was the only student in the program at the time, so there was a lot of one-on-one time, which was very helpful when he was teaching me Swahili and about the community if I had any questions.

What would you improve about this program?
Providing more information to students about their host family and living situation as well as the neighborhood would be nice to know.
Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Traveling to Peru with IPSL changed my life. Everyone says that happens when they study abroad but for me it is true. When I decided to go abroad with IPSL I was looking for a program that could help me increase my Spanish language skills, was academically rigorous and had service-learning so that I could learn to become a better activist and engage in the community. I did not want to be another tourist abroad. IPSL checked all these boxes for me. What it also did was help me change my life path through their eye-opening and engaging volunteer placements. Not only did I build skills that has allowed me to become the activist I am today but my volunteer placement working at an animal sanctuary helped me realize that I wanted to work with animals, something I never thought I would be engaged with. My experience with IPSL was so profound that I changed colleges and went on another IPSL program to Greece! There are many choices that you can make in your life but one choice you will never regret is studying abroad with IPSL.

Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cartagena was a life-changing trip! I was a Spanish minor with hopes for a chance at study abroad that would fit my busy nursing schedule. IPSL gave me just that and more! For a whole week, I had morning Spanish classes with Centro Catalina, a school dedicated to sharing and teaching the culture and history of Cartagena, that worked with me on my own level and pace. But I also had afternoon tour throughout the city of Cartagena guided by teachers and assistants from Centro Catalina. The whole week was dedicated to the learning of the rich culture and history of Cartagena and Colombia. But not only was I receiving so much back from this school but they also gave me a chance to give back by volunteering at a local school to help teach and play with an elementary school. It felt so rewarding when the kids had rushed over to give me the biggest hug of thanks! This trip showed me not only to step away from my comfort zones but to dive right in to experience a culture entirely different from own here in the US. This study abroad was definitely a once in a lifetime trip!

Response from IPSL Institute for Global Learning

Dear Sarah...we are so glad that you enjoyed your IPSL Faculty-Led experience! We try to put as much into a short-program as we can and we're happy that you found your time in Cartagena so rewarding (& not absolutely exhausting!). We thank you for your kind words and being a part of the IPSL experience!

Default avatar
Jayne
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

During my time in Thessaloniki, Greece, I had the opportunity to learn about and experience Greek culture through a variety of hands-on opportunities. I had the privilege to volunteer with refugees in Thessaloniki, go on many guided tours of the city, experience a wine and olive oil tasting, and go on a few excursions to nearby towns - including a day hike on Mount Olympus. I really feel as though I had a well rounded experience during my time in Greece, and would love to do it all again. IPSL did a great job facilitating my experience not only in Greece, but also my experiences in Spain and Italy, which were also included in my program.

What would you improve about this program?
This program could be improved by having more immersion activities. The immersion activities that I experienced during my program were great, however I wish there were more opportunities for this kind of experience. Although I felt like I learned a lot about Greek culture, I would have loved to go out in the community more and had the opportunity to really interact with the locals.
Response from IPSL Institute for Global Learning

Hi Jayne...thank you so much for your kind review. I'm sorry that you did not have as much interaction with the local people as you desired. On short term Faculty-Led programs (like yours) our structure needs to be altered to allow the faculty to incorporate their required material. This often cuts into activities that would normally be a part of all IPSL programs such as living with a homestay family to experience family life and participating in 15+ hours of volunteer service with our grass roots, community organizations. These elements as well as the opportunity to do advocacy research with our partners provide in-depth interaction with locals and immersion in their culture that is not possible on other type of programs. IPSL tries to incorporate as much of these experiences as we can in every type of program and I am pleased that you were able to take part in some of these things.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Study abroad, or you will always regret it. College is the perfect time in your life to spend a few months in another country. It's such a transformational experience. Not only will you immerse yourself in another culture and maybe language, but you will gain so much confidence and independence by being on your own.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Take advantage of every opportunity presented! Also, see my review for all kinds of detailed tips.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

There was a huge traffic jam that last over 24 hours on the tiny mountain road on the way to the rainforest, where we had planned to stay a few days. Which seems like it would be a terrible experience. But we made friends with people from all over the world that were on the many buses surrounding us. We talked and played card games in a sheep farmer's field. The sheep became annoyed with us and started head butting us. We were laughing so hard as we ran away from the creatures we once thought of as adorable and harmless. We found another spot and continued talking with folks from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Israel, Argentina, and Canada. That hiccup in our trip turned out be a great experience. And of course, the two days we stayed in the beautiful rainforest were incredible.

What is the best way to prepare yourself mentally for the experience?

Go in without any expectations, good or bad. For me, it was much better to take things as they came. This way, you won't be disappointed or surprised. I'm a Type A person, but just taking it easy and enjoying and absorbing every moment turned out to be the right approach.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Dana Johnson

Job Title
Lead Management and Director of Faculty Led Programs

Dana worked for 20+ years in the wine business. Her final position was with an Australian wine company, which she represented in five US states. The wine business treated her well (& she still loves wine) but she was looking for something more meaningful and found that in IPSL. She is grateful to be working with the awesome people at IPSL as well as loving her interaction with students, faculty and site directors around the world!

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have had the good fortune to do a lot of traveling in my life. I have loved every trip that I’ve taken but perhaps my first, as a foreign exchange student to Turkey, has left the biggest imprint on my heart. It opened my eyes to our world and taught me a lot, including things about myself. I believe that it helped me become the person that I am today. While it wasn’t always a perfect situation, the frustrations, fears (& tears) and confusion, that I experienced, are never the memories that come to mind today.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have definitely been made more aware of the stresses that students are under (from school, family, general societal expectations) which has made me even more dedicated to helping them have the best study abroad experience possible.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Any time a student relays that an IPSL program has “changed their life”, “meant so much”, “opened them up for change”, “inspired them”, etc. and have continued to lead their life with service to others foremost in their minds…those are the best stories. And I’ve heard that a lot!!!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of many of IPSL’s programs around the world! And, I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. Each has its own highlights but it would be impossible to choose just one so I will say that Thessaloniki Greece, Cusco Peru & Cartagena Colombia hold a very special place in my heart. Our partners abroad are so awesome…I have always felt that I have not only departed a country with new insight and knowledge, I have departed having gained new friends.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Diversity in experience but commonality of beliefs & goals.

More Interviews

Professional Associations

The Forum on Education Abroad Logo
Institute of International Education Logo
NAFSA Logo