How to make sure you have a great experience
When choosing a volunteering project, be sure to ask all of your burning questions! You need to feel confident about your decision before arriving on the doorstep. Find out all about how your volunteer fee will be used and how you will contribute to the community. Double check that your work will be sustainable, ask about what your working day will look like, see how much time you’ll have to explore in your free time and work out what you can do if you don’t like your placement.
We have all of these answers and plenty more! Don’t be afraid to hit us with dozens of questions in advance. It’s important that you make the right choice and we’re here to help you do exactly that.
Learn the language and adapt to the culture
Learning the local language will enrich your volunteering experience a thousand times over. You’ll be able to really talk to the community, learn about their lives and help them understand your own background. In doing so, you’ll be building bridges between totally different cultures and growing as a person at the same time.
Speaking the language will bring meaning to your experience, boost your confidence and help you really get to know everyone around you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! People will appreciate all of your efforts and mistakes are, without doubt, the best way to learn. Just dive right in! It’s easy to schedule classes around your volunteering hours and we can get everything arranged for you in advance.
Be (truly) flexible
Working with people, children and animals in struggling circumstances is something beautiful and highly unpredictable. You’ll need to approach your placement with a truly open mind, adapt to lat minute changes and be flexible about your work. During your volunteering stint, you’ll be faced with all kinds of surprises, challenges and tricky situations. These might not be easy to handle, but they will often be the most rewarding moments of your stay.
Keep a positive attitude, an understanding mindset and a sense of humor at all times. If you do, you’ll come home wiser, stronger and armed with new skills for the rest of your life. It’s a unique experience that will put you to the test and help you become an even better person.
Volunteering is not an easy ride, that’s for sure. You’ll be working hard during your stay, often doing full-time hours and learning a language around your placement. Be prepared to get stuck in, lend a hand wherever it’s needed and go the extra mile. The harder you work, the more rewarding your experience will be. And don’t worry! You’ll still have plenty of free time to get out and explore Latin America or swing in a hammock with a good book. Work hard, play hard, and make a real difference at the same time!
As a volunteer, you’ll need to be very independent and proactive. Often, you’ll need to make your own way to your placement by public transport and, when you arrive, you’ll need to be prepared to jump straight into all kinds of situations. It’s all about common sense and using your initiative to handle surprising scenarios that crop up. In doing so, you’ll discover that you’re more capable than you ever imagined! Offer an extra hand when it’s needed, take on tasks outside your own remit where necessary and help out fellow volunteers if you see them struggling with something. Every minute of your time will be really appreciated and contribute directly to improving the lives of others.
Be communicative to your local team leader
Your local team leader will be your mentor, your friend and your lifeline during your stay. Be sure to keep them updated about your feelings, relationships and struggles throughout your placement. That’s exactly what they are there for! Don’t hold back if you spot opportunities to help things run more smoothly at your placement or you’re struck by new, exciting ideas for the project. This is your chance to make a positive impact, so grab it with both hands!
Listen and learn
Yes, you might be on a teaching placement, but you’re 100% guaranteed to learn just as much as you teach. Working with struggling or isolated communities, you’ll be immersed in a totally different culture with very different traditions and world views. Talk to the local people, learn about their lives, families, dreams and histories. Listen to the experiences of your project leaders and fellow volunteers. Soak up as much local culture as you possible can. In doing so, you’ll be deepening your understanding of the world, developing an open mind and building lasting relationships with inspiring people from all walks of life.
Change happens fast on the ground while you’re volunteering, so you’ll need to adapt quickly, cheerfully and willingly. Your shifts might change, your role might develop, your tasks might switch and your fellow volunteers will come and go. You’ll need to take these transitions in your stride, be patient at your placement and always keep an open mind. Adaptability is one of the most valuable, essential life skills that you can pick up, so get ready for a crash course in coping with change! You’ll come out the other side as a stronger, calmer person. Trust us.