Laura Volunteered as an English Teacher in Argentina
At my placement, my hours are more or less 9-11am, and then I come home for lunch with the family, and then I go back to the institute from 5-9pm in the evenings. I am rarely in a situation where I take a class by myself (only in certain circumstances – if a teacher is sick, or travelling etc) however when I have had this opportunity, I have come away feeling positive, as it has been a success, and the children I have worked with have all been extremely cooperative and respectful. At my institute I do a variety of different things each day, such as helping children of all levels with written work and pronunciation, marking exercises, as well as helping students study for first certificate English with conversation skills. I think that my time here has been extremely fulfilling. I know all the students names, and I feel like a have really built up a relationship with the institute during my time here. The teaching staff have been absolutely fantastic, and make great use of my presence here.
Back home I enjoy sport and going to the gym, and here I have been able to continue that. On the weekends and on public holidays we have also had plenty of opportunities to travel, which has been excellent. As soon as we arrived in Neuquen, our Lattitude Representative organised Spanish lessons for us which have been very useful. We attend these classes twice a week, and, looking back to when I first arrived in Argentina, my Spanish has definitely improved a lot.
My accommodation here is excellent. I absolutely love my host family – they are like a second family to me. I have a wonderful host brother and two wonderful host sisters whom I adore, and get along with like a house on fire! At the house I share a room with one of the sisters which is no problem at all. The house is situated about 11 blocks from the institute where I work and about 20 or so from the city centre, so getting around on my own is never a problem whether it be by bus or on foot. Although my Spanish is quite basic, and my host parents do not speak English, I feel as if I have been able to build a strong relationship with them, and I will be very sad to leave. Having sisters has also meant that I’ve been able to meet a lot of new people and make friends outside of my school. I would recommend that future volunteers be as open as possible about their placements (school and accommodation). You cannot predict what kind of family or work you will get, so you just have to be completely open-minded, and make the best out of your situation. Of course it will be different to what you are used to at home, but in my eyes, that is the essence of this kind of program – to immerse yourself in another culture, and to find each new day fulfilling. I think the aim is to go home with no regrets, knowing that you took advantage of every opportunity that came your way.
Our Local Representative here in Neuquen has been absolutely fantastic – in fact, I couldn’t think of anyone better for the job. She is kind and caring, and has given us all a huge amount of support in terms of building a comfortable relationship with us, so that we feel able to talk to her about any problem we might be having.
I would just say that this is definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I would recommend anyone to do this if they have just finished school and are unsure of what to study as a career, or wish to take a break from their studies, as it is a wonderful opportunity. I have made some amazing, lifelong friends, and feel like I have grown a lot, in terms of being independent during my time here.