A collage of people in different poses
Header photo caption: Upper left: Tri Sumarni going on hike with friends by waterfalls. Lower left: Monica Raharjo spending Christmas together with her friends. Center: Hyojae Kwak wearing her traditional clothes. Upper right: Angel Neri Carbot celebrating birthday with his extended family. Lower right: Christian Berambaye Nawai having lunch with his coworkers at MCC office in Chad.

Home sweet home. After four seasons of honeymoon periods, sharing of experiences, learning and hard times away from my family, I definitely had mixed feelings the moment I realized the time to go home was sooner than I expected. I had dreamt about how my family would hug me at the airport, how I would share the many experiences I had in the U.S., and last but not least, how I would spend time with my friends and share a glimpse of life in the U.S. with them.

On the other hand, I was sad to leave the new community and friends I made in the U.S., and I will for sure miss them. I wondered how I would be able to afford the many gifts in the U.S. and carry them to my relatives back home knowing that I had limited resources. I also wondered how I would find a job as soon as I returned back home and how would I survive knowing that I am not going back with the thousands of dollars I thought I would earn as a stipend through the IVEP service.

I knew as a volunteer I did not earn a salary at the end of the month. I received a stipend, therefore, there was no way I could afford to carry all the good gifts. Even if I could afford to buy everything, I could not bring them back to Chad. I just told myself I could not give beyond my limits. What was most important for me and my relatives was to reunite and catch up after the 11-month gap. To the idea of the activity or job I will be looking for, I know and trust God to provide. I was the logistics coordinator at the MCC office in Chad before enrolling in IVEP and I knew that I had to end my contract before traveling. However, if God was able to secure for me a placement in the U.S., secure a visa and allow me to have this experience, I do not need to worry about a job afterwards. Today, I am the logistics and project coordinator at MCC Chad. I was jobless for just a while when I returned but the experience I had during my service has helped me to get a job after all.

I can firmly tell you there is nothing compared to the experience I went through during this service. There is no school you can pay to attend and have that experience. You might not notice it today as you have mixed feelings, the very same way we felt, however, you will be forever grateful to yourself for accepting to serve as an IVEPer.

They that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength they mount up with wings like eagles wait on the Lord (Isa. 40:31). – Christian Berambaye Nawai, from Chad


I remember the day my host family picked me up at the airport. On my way home by car, I was both excited and worried about the future. I was also afraid that I had to live in the same house with people I met for the first time that day. I felt a similar feeling on my way back to Korea after about a year of IVEP. I was looking forward to meeting my family. But at the same time, I was afraid that I had to readapt in a country that was different from before I left due to COVID-19 and various political and economic changes. It was like a new world.

Leaving a lot of worries behind, I decided I’d had enough time alone and wanted to spend a happy time with my family who have waited for me for a long time. I ate Korean food that I wanted to eat and watched the shows I enjoyed in the U.S. When I spent time with my family, what I learned from the host family in America was helpful. I went to the park and enjoyed a picnic with my family. We had dinner at my parent's house and watched a movie together in the living room. We even looked for beautiful places in Korea together. I try to spend more time with my family now than before.

However, I could not help but feel something was missing. The world I experienced in a year was so different from the world my family experienced. They focused on the present where they continued to live and were not very interested in what I had learned.

The most disappointing thing was that I could not use what I learned properly and just let it go. At times like this, my IVEP friends helped me a lot. I shared what kind of hardships I was feeling with them, and I also had time to share in each other's experiences through retreat with my YAMEN friends who returned to Korea. Just being able to talk to people with the same worries was a great help.

What I felt through this is that I am still under God’s guidance. Through IVEP, I worked as a preschool teacher for the first time. Even after returning to Korea, I am continuously working as an early childhood educator. You may think that the year of IVEP is an incredible result because it was an impressive experience of living and learning apart from where you have lived for more than 20 years, but it is not. It was one of the growing processes as a mature Christian youth and we are still in the process of learning. God continues to guide us, as always. God is planning your place to lie, rest and work when you return home. God bless you.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8 ESV) – Hyojae Kwak, from the Republic of Korea (South Korea)


Returning home after one year in IVEP feels funny to me. I need to adapt again, and it is "funny" how I need to adapt to my own home. One year is neither a short nor a long time, but a lot of things change. I came back home with a lot of expectations. Meet with family and friends after one year, share the story I got over there, do the things that I list on my "things to do after my IVEP term finished" list and many more. But there will always be challenges in the process.

Not all family or friends want to listen to my stories and welcome me like I want. The first time I faced that I felt sad because I just wanted to share the things I learned, but some people don't care about that. Then I realized it’s always good to share, and tell stories about what happened and what I did during IVEP, but I need to take my time to listen to others too when they want to share with me what happened over here during my time in the U.S. It just needs to be balanced; speak and listen.

But I found joy when returning home too, not just challenges. Family and some friends welcomed me home, took me to places I wanted to go and spent time with me to make me feel at home. They knew a lot of things changed, so they wanted to make me not feel alone and know what happened here. So don't focus just on the challenges, but look to the joy we found too. The real family and friends will always be there for us, and don't forget that God will always be there. - Monica Raharjo, from Indonesia


Returning to my country was a great experience. I was very satisfied with the process that I had lived during the year of IVEP. God made me grow in my maturity and vision, then I came with a lot of encouragement for what awaited me in my country.

Meeting again with my family and church was a feeling that I had never experienced before; feeling at home again, with familiar things and with many experiences to share. The first service back in my church is something that I will never forget, to worship God again in my language and with all my brothers was incredible because the songs were not just empty words after my experience. Those songs were a reality in my life because I saw how God was my refuge, my provider, my help, my encouragement and how his love never left me at any time. On the contrary, he poured out his love throughout my year of service.

As the days went by and this honeymoon stage began to shift into the readjustment, something that I thought was going to be easier. I realized that it was not. Getting back into the rhythm of life, getting a job, and being an independent adult again was complicated, just as it was before.

It was complicated as well with friendships since it is not easy to recover from being away for a while. So it was another stage of recognizing things as they were and making an effort to see the new things that God was bringing to my life even in my own home. It has been this time of many challenges but also understanding and seeing the hand of God working how he has always done in my life.

Now finding work is improving little by little because I started a carpentry shop where I am in charge of the sales area. I also returned to be the youth pastor at my local church but now with a team of collaborators, which was what I had prayed to God for before leaving for IVEP. Lastly, and I think the most important thing, I met my girlfriend and started an incredible relationship with the most incredible woman I could have ever imagined.

So coming home is a roller coaster ride with ups and downs but with God's hand, I can see how there is purpose in every part and stage of life. – Angel Neri Carbot, from Mexico

Global Service Learning

Are you looking for a chance to travel the world, learn something new or serve in your own community? Look through our volunteer programs for young adults and find a program that's a good fit for you. 

Almost one year ago, I came back from the U.S. I’ve done a lot of things in Indonesia. Of course, I was happy after arriving at home: meeting with family and friends, my bed, of course, familiar foods, nature, my job and my church.

Thankfully, now I work at school that is the same daily routine that I had done in U.S. I am working as a teacher in private school in the small city of Purwokerto and serving God in church as Sunday school teacher.

It was challenging for me when people had certain expectations of me. They thought I was richer after I went to the U.S., that I was wiser than before, more beautiful than before, etc. When I finally came home, they saw me differently, perhaps not as they expected to. Also, the first month was so hard with the weather here — I complained almost every day that it was too hot and I needed to stay in a room with air conditioning.

Sometimes I speak English and the most challenging thing was I experienced new culture in the U.S. — that living individually is comfortable. I decided to live by myself, but my family did not allow me. They wanted to help me; I need to stay closer with them. They tried to interfere with my life. Indonesian culture is about family and living in community-centered society. We need to obey what parents or family say. My relationship with my best friend was broken because I was different and have new principles. I am trying to understand, accept and continue to be myself amid these challenges.

Remember that you can do all these things with God. Every time I have problems or don’t feel well, I just pray and worship God. If I believe in him when I feel insecure or unworthy, when there are a lot of pressures from outside, I will surrender all to God and surely, he will give relief and peace.

Another way that I find my calm is to walk in a park alone and enjoy and realize that I am enough that God has enabled me to face all of this. For the IVEPers who are soon returning home, do what you can, don't expect more and enjoy the culture shock process in your country again. Be grateful that you are allowed to return to your country of origin with the experience you got from other people's countries. Use your experiences on the people around you. The activities that I enjoy most are spending time in nature, serving God and teaching my students. Do what do you want to do and be happy. – Tri Sumarni, from Indonesia

In conclusion, returning home after IVEP was a mix of emotions and experiences for us. While we were excited to reunite with our families and share our stories, we also faced challenges and adjustments in readapting to our home countries. We encountered difficulties in being understood or accepted, and some of us struggled with cultural differences and expectations. However, amidst these challenges, we found joy in reconnecting with loved ones and discovering new opportunities. We realized the importance of finding a balance between sharing our experiences and listening to others, and we recognized the significance of God's guidance and provision in our journeys. Ultimately, we learned to appreciate the growth and purpose that came from our time in IVEP and embraced the different stages of our lives with gratitude and faith.