Frequently Asked QuestionsTestimonials
Jerusalem/West Bank
Study Trip 2007 Itinerary
Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina
Study Trip 2006 Diary


What is a study trip?
It is a 7-14 day journey towards understanding, relationship building and listening. Since 1992, IOCC has sought to address root causes of hunger and poverty, by empowering people to find solutions within their own communities and resources, and to challenge structures and institutions, which perpetuate poverty. Study visitors meet these people, listen to their stories, learn about their innovations and return home impassioned and empowered to advocate on their behalf. Study visits may focus on a theme such as HIV/AIDS, fair trade, food security, peace building or healthcare.

Who participates in a study trip?
Orthodox Christians and others who care about serving vulnerable populations. Travelers include clergy, laity, couples, singles, families, seniors, fathers, young adults, lawyers, doctors, stay-at-home mothers, students-people with open hearts and minds who seek to be in a more collegial relationship with neighbors in developing countries.

IOCC Partners and project participants. People who wish to share their joys and sorrows, innovations, and challenges as they work to improve their communities and the world.

IOCC Staff. People who seek to provide a safe, educational and inspiration experience; ensuring hospitality for travelers and an occasion to share triumphs and trials for partners in the field.

What are the expectations of participants?
All parties-travelers, partners, project participants, IOCC staff-are expected to treat one another as colleagues and children of God before, during and after the study visit. In part, this means moving beyond “have/have not” or “we give/you receive” relationship. A document called the “IOCC Study Trip Code of Conduct” is read, discussed and signed by all parties before the trip embarks. This discussion is part of the Day 1 orientation for travelers.

How is a study visit different than a traditional mission trip?
IOCC study visits are mostly “listening” trips. The itinerary usually does not include a physical aspect. For example, a study visit group may learn how a community improved their literacy rates, but the group would not likely participate in the building of a school. A study visit group offers project participants a platform to share their innovations and successes. Study visit participants become cheerleaders, encouragers, learners-but not the doers. A listening trip is in harmony with the way IOCC has related to partners for more than a decade-we do not come with answers. We come with open hearts and minds, to walk with people as they identify their own problems and unlock their own solutions.

How can you share the study trip with your friends, family, and parishioners?
Before the trip: IOCC provides a detailed information packet that includes the Code of Conduct, issue papers, travel ethics papers, partner information and a packing list. Additionally, group members are provided with a bulletin insert/flyer to inform others about the web diary (see next point)

Following the trip: IOCC provides a news release for local newspapers and church newsletters. Study visitors may personalize and use as appropriate. Study visitors may share their experience through slide shows and other presentations.

What is a visit like?
A study visit is really a series of shorter visits with a variety of people and settings. A visit may take place in a remote lush countryside or on a small family farm. The family may proudly show their one goat and diversified garden, both representing great strides for the farm. The neighbor slated to receive the goat's kid may stop by to say hello, upon learning that there are guests.

A visit may take place in a conference room of a partner organization, who may share their methods of enlisting participants, which could number in the thousands. Flip charts, handouts and tea might be part of the presentation. A visit may take place under an awning in an urban slum, among a circle of shy but excited teen-agers who eagerly tell about their recent youth event, clearing litter and distributing educational leaflets.

Following such a meeting, visitors may be surprised to discretely learn that the handsome and enthusiastic youth are either orphaned or have mothers who must prostitute themselves for a living. Each visit may conclude with warm pleasantries, shared gratitude and prayers. It is almost like old fashioned visiting-just meeting the neighbors.

Who pays for the study trip?
Travelers pay their own costs. IOCC study visits seek to enhance the existing community development program, not take its place. Therefore, most expenses related to the trip are covered via registration fees. Travelers may seek support from their home parish, jurisdiction, diocese, community, friends, family, foundations or other sources. IOCC is conscious of the fact that the cost of just one registration fee could equal a partner organization's budget for a whole year or more. We approach the expenses with humility, in respect to the traveler who must make financial sacrifices and to the people to be visited, most of whom shall never leave their home communities, much less travel around the world. IOCC challenges travelers to consider supplementing travel expenses with additional funding to support the actual programs to be visited.

Why is there a study visit program?
IOCC's way of working has always centered on relationships. A milieu of mutual respect and learning is one of the pleasures of working with partners overseas. The study visit program seeks to broaden the interaction and share the joy. One of the greatest learning that a returned study visit participant may hold is that people in developing countries have some much to teach us! IOCC's study visit objectives include uplifting project partners by the visit; and empowering study visit participants to further support the important work they're doing, via joining the IOCC speakers' bureau, joining the IOCC volunteer network, writing and other artistic endeavors, financial support, enlisting other travelers and in other ways.

How can I contribute to a project that especially touches me?
Partners are usually small-scale agencies with big ideas on how to improve their own communities. Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” IOCC simply seeks to support the good work that local agencies are already doing. A partnership relationship may look different, depending on the country, partner, needs and resources. IOCC's work with a partner agency may be:

  • as simple as helping to open up a bank account
  • as interesting as convening a regional conference to share ideas
  • as technical as training finance officers in budgeting and accounting techniques
  • as ordinary as contributing to the overall budget of the partner organization
  • as challenging as expecting complete accountability

It is usually not a simple matter of handing over a check and expecting results. It is cooperation, mutual learning, connecting, sharing, improving, challenging, questioning. It is a dynamic give and take through good and difficult times. It is love.

IOCC invites Orthodox Christians to join in the partnership-not only by seeking to support the people who benefit from the project, but also by supporting the partnership methodology. IOCC asks that study visit participants please respect the uniqueness of each partner relationship and allow it to take its natural course. Please do not give cash or material goods directly to partners. Support may be given via IOCC in Baltimore. It is not as sensational, but it allows for the best outreach to the greatest number of people around the world.

What is included in the registration fee?
Almost everything, and much more: lodging, meals, transportation, tips, international airfare, visa fees, most administrative costs, educational materials, private listserv access. Additionally, travelers receive “double accompaniment,” including a U.S.-based escort and a field-based host who guide the group at all times. This ensures the highest quality of personal security, project and political knowledge, and cultural authenticity.

How are logistics arranged?
IOCC works with a travel provider, Group Travel Directors based in Minneapolis, who makes air arrangements, handles financial transactions, processes visas, and offers helpful travel tips. GTD representatives are available via a handy 800 number to answer detailed itinerary questions. GTD can also arrange add-on trips, for people who wish to extend their personal vacation on the study visit. GTD can also help you make personal plans to visit friends and family before of after a study visit. Field arrangements, such as lodging, meals, and transportation are made by local nationals, whether they are staff from an IOCC regional office or an IOCC partner agency that is especially practiced in hosting guests. IOCC, GTD, and field contacts works together to provide the best value for the traveler.

Click here to download the Study Trip FAQ sheet in PDF format.

For more information, contact Dan Christopulos
email: Click Here — phone: 1-877-803-4622

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