Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Teaching English in the Public Schools Guatemala

 

Description

We are a non-profit organization working on education in Central America. We introduce English classes to underprivileged primary school children in local public schools and with local non-profit organizations. We also conduct fundraising campaigns to promote specific educational projects or objectives. The idea is simple. We cooperate with loca […]

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Details

Organisation:
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Location:
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Qualifications/Skills:
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Dates of program:
Year round - January through October

Duration of program:
1 month minimum

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+

Cost:
No registration fees, volunteer fees, etc. Volunteers pay for their transportation cost and their living expenses. Host family accommodation typically costs between US$150 – US$330 per month depending on the accommodations available and the volunteer’s preferences and options. This cost is paid directly to the host family.

Other information:
We believe in education as a long-term investment to tackle poverty. We also believe that education is the best tool to combat intolerance, violence and aggression; prejudice, hatred, war, racism, sexism, indifference and ignorance. Education creates the infrastructure for future economic development and growth that will provide many times more returns for the communities and countries that make this investment in their children. We are aware of more urgent and dramatic needs in many countries in the developing world – security and hunger among them; however, we are taking the long-term approach to fighting poverty. We need to specialize to be most effective; therefore we are choosing teaching English.


Reviews

Great volunteering teaching English in Central America and staying with a local family
"I did 5 weeks of volunteering and it was a really great experience. I was teaching English to children and adults in Nicaragua. The program was well organised in the sense that the adult classes had a good track record and were well attended. There were suggested lesson plans for the children's classes that you could follow if you wanted to or do your own thing. The people there in the town were really friendly and welcoming. The great thing about this organisation was that they placed me with a local family. They sent a fact sheet about the family in advance and when I arrived I was made to feel welcome and part of the family, really. There were also lots of other volunteers around from a variety of different countries. There were always people to meet up with in the evenings to discuss our volunteering experiences or go out with or do weekend trips together. During my time there I visited volcanoes, tried surfing and saw some of the historic towns of the region. All in all I had a great time and would recommend the program to other volunteers!"- Richard Hooker
Terrific!
"Having traveled and volunteered with more than 30 NGO's (non-government organizations/non-profits) around the globe, I can honestly say some of my fondest memories were made with the students, staff, and other volunteers at this project! Prior to arriving communication was quick and thorough and once on site I was immediately welcomed. And, I don't just mean with a kind "hola" and an introduction to the family I would be staying with, but I was also with an invitation to join the staff and volunteers out that afternoon/evening for a cultural event being held in the town! The family I stayed with was incredibly kind. They were engaging, asking me questions about my life and sharing stories about the town and their family. In addition, they were also very patient with my Spanish and encouraged me to continue to try even when attempting to share a quite complicated story. The home was clean and safe. In fact, I even had my own bedroom and attached bathroom with hot water! The time spent teaching at the school was structured, but not so much that we were not allowed to be creative in our lesson plans, incorporating games we knew and/or information about ourselves and our lives. This freedom not only provided good traditional classroom content, but also cross-cultural education. In addition, it fostered an environment where not only were we teachers, but students ourselves, learning from the children in our classroom about their way of life. Weekends were generally open to explore areas outside the town and many of the volunteers traveled together to share in the fun and amplify the experience. We created great relationships and I still keep in touch with quite a few of the other volunteers to this day! The staff was available to us to answer questions about where we should go and how to get from Point A to Point B and always a phone call away if we needed additional assistance while away. For anyone looking for a safe, welcoming, and engaging experience in Central America, I would (and have beyond this review) highly recommend this project!"- Tracy Stayton
Thanks for everything
"The time I spent in Diriamba, Nicaragua was from late November 2014 - end of March 2015. It was nearly four months of adventure and passion that came from the locals and volunteers. At the time of arrival, Alejandro was leading the volunteers and it was refreshing being able to work with over 30 students daily by teaching them English and for a couple weeks, I was able to teach them dance classes. The students were attending even though it was a holiday break from their public schooling at that time. The streets were filled with festivities throughout December and nearly all of January which wasn't something I had been accustomed to however it kept the drive to teach alive and strong. There were some volunteers that will always be close friends no matter where we are in the world and even to this day I am strongly influenced by the time I spent here... It was made clear in the beginning that volunteers had to take initiative in teaching and all of the volunteers I had met were always engaged in new ideas and projects. In January and February, a group of volunteers put our head together to create an English curriculum that was successfully presented to the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education. There was a lot of sweet and tears that went into this as it involved the input of volunteers that came from several different backgrounds. After it was finished a group of 6 volunteers took to explore the inspiring island of Ometepe over the weekend. The homestay family that I was living with was more than welcoming and had always given me plenty to eat and taught me about the local culture. Gary, in particular, was such a loving and caring coordinator. with his oversight, learned more than how to teach and work with others but also the importance of being a good person. I will forever treasure my time here and wish them the best in the future to come."- Samaquias Lorta
One Great Year as the Volunteer Coordinator!
"What volunteer experiences bring to you is so big, that it is difficult to explain in a few lines. In my case, after spending almost a year as the coordinator of the project in Nicaragua, I think I gained a lot, both personally and professionally. In Latin America, life and work are quite different, and you need to adapt. But that difference is so beautiful! I learned to be organized with all my tasks, to prioritize, to become a leader, to be decisive, to separate work and leisure…but my experience went beyond that. I also learned to be more tolerant, more empathetic, to value what I have, to give importance to what is important, and to find the positive side of each situation (it’s always there). During this year I opened my mind and my arms, I explored as much as I could, I seized every moment and I immersed myself in Nicaraguan culture, which changed a small part inside me. Let me tell you about it. Diriamba is a small town, 1 hour from the capital by bus, where the atmosphere is really calm but the streets are always full of people. As it is 500 meters above sea level, its climate is temperate compared with other Nicaraguan cities (translation: sometimes you can feel a breeze). From the famous clock of Diriamba, 2 blocks down, half a block south, you can find the organizations office. This is a small organization, what makes it very homely and fuels a strong team feeling. The volunteers used to be quite tight-knit, and apart from spending time together at the office while correcting exams or preparing for the next classes (and sometimes just to chat or practice some salsa moves ha-ha), there was always time to go for a milkshake to Riquiciosos, to grab a “bicha” (beer) at La Plaza Eloisa, to meet at Gary’s to watch a couple of Game of Thrones’ episodes or to have some “pupusas” for dinner. I lived with a local family, as the rest of the volunteers. This is something very special. Which better way to know their day to day life and traditions than living at their own house? Moreover, apart from providing them a little economic boost, the culture exchange is mutual and positive for both the family and the volunteer. And really, there’s nothing more rewarding! Every morning I would get up and have “gallopinto”, eggs and a coffee for breakfast, I’d put on my project t-shirt and bike to the office. I’d be there in 5 minutes. Sometimes, depending on the time, I’d open the office or find there Gary or any of the volunteers. I’d do some administrative stuff and prepare my next classes at Francisco Cordero or La Salle School. For me, the best moment of the day was arriving to each class and being welcomed with the chants “Teacher Diana! Teacher Diana!” and the hugs from my students. Nicaraguans are super loving and warm, and kids don’t hide it. They love their teachers from the first day! During the weekends, there were always multiple plans to choose from: visiting the city of Granada, practicing volcano boarding in the Cerro Negro, next to León, taking a boat to the Ometepe Island, renting a house at the Apoyo lagoon, or discovering beaches like la Boquita, Playa Gigante or Playa Hermosa. Nicaragua is a gorgeous country with thousands of possibilities. Throughout my time there I was able to travel as much as I wanted, and I even took some long holidays that I spent at the Corn Islands....paradise! Travelling changes your mind, and volunteer experiences are a great way of travelling."- Diana Garcia
My volunteer experience
"It was a really good experience for me. Teach English for kids when you don’t really understand Spanish was a bit difficult for me. But after that, it’s just amazing. I have just some regret for two things: the family life and the community life. We were separate and didn’t have a real connection between us. Sometimes I felt a bit alone. I was in one family, but they didn’t’ have a living room to share. My family was very kind about me. But I felt to be alone during all of my journey. I expected to be with a family but finally, I was most of my time alone. For me it was a chance to spend that time with the project. The volunteers were really kind, the staff amazing. If I would like to go somewhere to visit some friend or place, it was easy to just ask and change my schedule with another volunteer. I felt free and happy during all my experience in Santiago. The shame was that I don’t really felt to have been with a real team. But in only two months, I can understand. Thank you for GERGANA, she was so kind, understanding about me. She took lot of time to teach me Spanish and she was patient. I will recommend this project for sure and maybe will be back if they accept!"- Raphael Seelen
Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
"I turned 46 on December 15, 2018. Just a few days ago. As I`m writing this review I`m reminiscing on what was and ruminating on what could`ve been. Prior to 2012, I had lived an ordinary and dull existence, very much like every other person on this planet. I had a thankless soul-sucking career in the financial industry. I was a zombie and unlike most people, I knew it. In early 2012, I was fed up with the mediocrity that comes when you`re living in a comfort zone. If the world was going to end later in the year, I might as well start doing more of what I desired more than anything else – to see the world. I decided that volunteering and teaching English was the perfect mix of travel, adventure, self-growth and education. And so my adventures began. In 2015, after having lived in a couple of countries, I came across this volunteer organization which operated in a tiny town in Nicaragua. They boasted of a unique and authentic teaching and volunteer experience. During your tenure, you`d be living with a local family in an ordinary town situated along the Pan-American Highway in a country not so well known as a tourist destination. It was perfect! I intended to stay in Nicaragua for only three months. I stayed almost a year. I was assigned to a very small school located within the town`s local market. I taught grades 3,4, 5 & 6. The children and the staff welcomed me with open arms. The projects coordinator and director were very supportive and ensured all of its volunteer teachers were safe, healthy and had all the support we needed. I stayed with a local family assigned to me by the project. Each host family is screened carefully to ensure living arrangements will be met. Any discrepancies during your time with a host family is ensured a swift resolution by the hard-working coordinator. I bonded with my host family. Even to this day, we have managed to stay in touch. Every day was an adventure in that small town, punctured by moments of head-spinning randomness such as seeing a small 5 year old boy on a large horse trotting along the road. Or a very drunk one-armed man causing a ruckus inside a moving, overly crowded chicken bus. He was eventually kicked out by the fed up passengers – while the bus was moving! This is what you`re signing up for when you`re teaching and living in a country that`s so opposite of yours. I don`t think I ever had a dull moment. In order to survive living and teaching in a country like Nicaragua, you must have a naturally open-mind, tough skin, be open to meeting all kinds of people, expect the unexpected – always. And just go with the flow of things. It also helps when you have a good organization like this one that tries its best to ensure things go smoothly for its teachers. I don`t know if I changed any young lives in Nicaragua but Nicaragua surely changed me. And yes, no matter your age, Life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone."- Ryan Torres
Teaching in Diriamba, Nicaragua
"My experience in Nicaragua was exciting, tedious, fascinating, informative, exhilarating, exhausting, fun, demanding, and hair-raising. I have been teaching internationally for more than 20 years before arriving Dec. 2017 for a year gig as Volunteer Coordinator of this 4-year-old organization doing fantastic work teaching more than 1,500 students in seven local schools in rural Nicaragua. The amazing aspects of teaching novice volunteers how to teach more listening, speaking and writing in a formally neglected part of that country, while working with local adults who themselves were studying to be teachers, business people or gain enough command of the language to work at one of the two Call Centers, was fascinating and exhilarating. My older brother, Gary, as the Director since 2014, had begun Adult Classes, Women's Empowerment Program through Vega Baja - a local NGO working to give women more skills in the Service Industries, and Rap Sessions where teens and adults with a greater command of English could simply "rap" about the day; practicing Critical Thinking skills and learning more about their surroundings and anything else on their minds. I worked more with this project than I had with some teaching jobs, because it was full of some many facets that I'd never been exposed to nor ever had a desire to part take in: managing others, finances, meetings with EVERYONE, coordinating new volunteer pick-ups, orientations and a myriad of other tasks that might come easier to others but, at first, were beyond me. Still, I believed - BELIEVE - in the cause and teaching has always been my #1 passion, so I gave it what I could. I love this projects system, where volunteers have a great balance of working with up to three days traveling (some Fridays were partial work days grading and planning to avoid last minute Sunday night work); exploring the country and continent during longer school holidays or other breaks. But don't get it twisted, teaching will ALWAYS be a lot of work - and preparation and grading are a must. But once you get into a groove, where things become automatic. However, this usually happens around month 3. With this projects system, all Middle-People are removed from their platforms and all money paid goes directly to the Host Families or Homestays, which are highly recommended as you can learn the language, cultural norms, get three home-cooked meals a day, may be invited into the best parties, "locals" joints and other points and people of interest more readily than taking a tour, hostelling or many other forms of volunteering where it seems exorbitant sums of money are going to invisible people in the name of volunteering while the locals meek out existences somewhere in between. I have met, and remain in contact with several young women and men whom I had the pleasure of getting to know during my five months there (we had to leave abruptly due to political problems), and I look forward to a reunion sometime soon. Their energy and passion to improve their community and country and world, via self exploration and self-empowerment is inspiring. Many of the older locals were extremely helpful, informative and supportive, and I wish them all the very best. I met some incredible people from bus drivers, vendors, travel agents, to hotel clerks, hostel workers and everything in between. Being fluent in Spanish, I was able to better understand some of their fears, hopes, dreams and trials and hardships. Most strangers were friendly and open. I will never forget the kids taught, the way they could make you want to pull your hair out, and how all that would be washed away as they crowded around you in group hugs as you were about to leave...and often as you were arriving the next day, whether you taught them that day or not. There's something to be said about the human spirit and how it can save one's surroundings and nourish the soul. While I will never coordinate or be in charge of anything every again, I'd gladly return to this project in Guatemala (never been there), and teach for a school year, and probably will when I'm finished teaching in Hawaii for a few years."- Shawn Carson
An experience that should be lived at least once in your life
"Since a long time I was looking to do some free volunteering work and mix it with a cool destination where I could get a 100% immersed in the culture and obviously get to explore a little bit around. This organization based in Nicaragua couldn’t be a better decision, it not only met my expectations but exceeded them 200%. I had the opportunity to work with 150 lovely children’s, live in an authentic Nicaraguan family house, breath the day to day activities offered in the town of Diriamba and on the weekends I could surf amazing waves in places I never dreamed off in a 3 hour drive radius. The love I received in each class form the students was something I never experienced before and has been one of the most satisfactory experiences I had in the course of my life. The experience was such that I made a Video of my daily life to encourage more people to get into this organization."- Louis De Vos
Guatemala, the eternal spring in my life
"Hi everybody, I am Jonas from Belgium. Last year, I went to Santiago Atitlan Guatemala, to do my internship. I was doing my last school year to be graduated, I studied International Cooperation. I will speak about my scholarship but firstly let us have a review about my internship with this organization. November 2017, evening in Bangalore, India. I was on Erasmus in the Indian Silicon Valley, Bangalore. I went there to study abroad with the Erasmus’ program and because I had found an internship in an organic farming organisation. My journey touched its end when I learned that my internship in Cuba for the second semester was refused because of my VISA. My first motivation was learning Spanish and organic farming. After few days of negotiation, I began to search internships in other sectors and countries. Friend of friend of a friend of another friend… puts me in touch with Pedro. Pedro is the founder of the organization. After few video calls and paper filled I’m on my way to Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. The NGO works with the primary schools to teach English. I arrived in Santiago Atitlan in February 2018, the project there as a year old. Quite new. The process to have new volunteers and open courses in many schools as we could was exciting and emotional. I teach English to small kids in quite closed village. So, for me and them It was interesting to meet up. We exchanged culture, passion and love. I was not the best teacher, but I directly understood that the other main point of my presence with them was sharing love and attention. And It was one of the best parts of my volunteering. Learning by seeing and hearing. I worked with them for five months, five months of exploration and entertainment. In Santiago Atitlan, they speak a Mayan dialect but hardly everybody can speak Spanish. There is also a community volunteer or social workers from all over the world and we work hand by hand on our works. I lived with a Guatemalan family, what a beautiful experience… After my journey I was a new member of the family. It was hard to leave them, but I thank them a lot to give their earth to helped me in my personal growth. My first goal was speaking Spanish, now I’m bilingual. But what I discovered during this trip was too much to explain. I learned to be empathic and patient. Teamwork is important also when you work abroad. Some people of my team are like my family now. Relationships are stronger and deeper when you share the same day-to-day life. My experience in Guatemala was one of the most powerful in my life and I recommend all the people to have this kind of experience. This project helped me to reach some personal goals and discover a huge part of the human values. I’m grateful with all the people I met there."- Jonas Posset
A great experience!
"It was great for me that you can volunteer for a short time, because I wasn't able to spend longer than one month, but I would suggest that people try to stay for at least a few months to allow enough time to develop a good relationship with children and teachers in the schools you serve. I really liked the fact that there is no fee to volunteer - this is a non-profit organization that runs on a very limited income. The cost of living with a family is very reasonable and a great experience that helped me improve my Spanish. I really enjoyed an opportunity to teach adults and it would be great if this project would be able to offer more classes for adults."- Carrie Regenstreif
It opened my eyes and open up my dreams!
"My experience with this organization started in March 2018. I am a student in Finance and at that time I had this strong desire to break up with my habits, opinions and convictions. Then I decided to fulfil a project I had since so much time in my mind: Sharing my knowledge’s with children's from other countries, sharing with children’s who didn't had the chance I had to learn what I learnt in France. Here I was, determined to share as much as possible in exchange for discoveries. Today, all I can say is how much the project in Nicaragua gave me so much more. For 3 months I spent my time teaching English to students from 8 to 13 years old. Well, officially I "taught" English. From my point of view, it is students who taught me everything. They taught me to come out of my comfort zone and made me see life from fully different perspectives. I sang, danced, screamed, laughed with them, we created together all kinds of crazy games and I get from that a huge self determination to enjoy every single moment of life. Far from the comfort I had in France, I learnt how to smile without any artifices! This organisation made this fantastic experience possible. They are not just an NGO, above all, it is a family. A family which going from Guatemala to Nicaragua including Spain, where the direction is also watch over there volunteers. It is family always eager to welcome new members, a family where cohesion and well being is a priority and more than everything, a family who will never give up any volunteers. I saw this solidarity from my eyes, and I can only recommend to anyone who is wondering about trying the adventure to take a deep breath and fulfil its dream."- Jean-Marin Rolland
Great Experience!
"Working with this organization was amazing! This was my first experience with a volunteer organization outside of the United States and it was great. The application process was easy and the organization was very accommodating with living and travel arrangements. I believe in what the organization does and their mission to help young children learn English. It was so exciting to work with so many eager and energetic children. I would highly recommend volunteering with this organization."- Linda Williams
The family that grows dreaming, ends up going far
"The experience in this project was for me a different way of traveling to the other side of the world. I am a person who loves working with children and being able to collaborate with the people of Guatemala was very satisfying for me. I think that being able to work for children, so that they have a better future in a selfless way is a great task. The way to welcome volunteers and design educational projects for students seems right to me. This organization must continue working to get more volunteers each year, feel integrated in a large family and its role has an important impact on the people of Guatemala, and personally for this experience to leave its mark forever. Just as he did with me to meet some extraordinary people in that country."- Alejandro Ruiz Jiménez
Unforgettable 5 weeks in Nicaragua
"This was my first time in Latin America and it became one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life. I worked as part of several public school teams where I was absolutely welcome and made friends among local teachers. My host family house is now my home and many people in Diriamba are among my best friends. I had the chance to improve teaching skills thanks to the Nicaraguan teachers and the organization director in Diriamba who led me. Also the Spanish coordinator was a wonderful support. Of course the kids were excellent and friends of mine nowadays. I could visit some places during the weekends like the beaches on the Pacific ocean, Masaya, Granada, Managua and I am sure I will come back to this amazing country again and again."- EDUARDO DIEZ GUTIÉRREZ
Volunteering Experience in Nicaragua
"Volunteering in Nicaragua is the most amazing experience that I had. Worked in a local school and taught the children English was my job at the time. Although I only stayed there for 3 months, I've learned a lot from the local school, the children, the local family that I stayed with, and most importantly, I got to know many other volunteers from all of the world and heard their stories. I believe in experiencing as many as you can then so can you grow as much compassion and love to the world."- Yaling Chou
Teaching English in Nicaragua
"I stayed for 2 months in the town of Diriamba in Nicaragua teaching English and helping out as volunteer coordinator with this organisation. The organisation allow for all volunteers to stay with a local host family, which was a big plus for me. I loved my host family, and it really integrated me much faster into he language and the culture. My host family made me feel incredibly welcome, including me in family traditions, celebrations and daytrips. I had an overall great experience with the very warm local people of Diriamba. The English teaching was given both to children, adolescence and adults, of which I mainly taught the adult class. I had some amazing students that gave me a lot of joy, some of which I am still in contact with today. The volunteers were a fantastic group of open minded people where I made some good friends. The people running the organisation, for example Pedro (founder) and Gary (local director) are some of the most warm hearted people, and are incredibly passionate about this cause. The teaching was definitely not problem free is such a politically unstable country as Nicaragua, but this organisation does all in its power to overcome that."- Ella Svahn
Helping to close the opportunity gap
"I can heartily recommend this well-structured and well-intentioned organization. Some background: They place volunteers in the public school classrooms - alongside the local, licensed teachers - to provide instruction in English as a foreign language. The schools are chosen for their current lack of access to English language resources. In most cases the teachers never learned it, or only the basics, yet English study is mandated by the government for these students. So the volunteers fill an important and justifiable role in these communities, bringing enthusiasm and their knowledge of the language where it is needed. Even better, like all good development organizations, they are actively working to make themselves redundant, by teaching English and TEFL instructional techniques to the teachers, as well. If you work hard, you can feel good about what you've accomplished here. There are decent materials and training available, and the directors are amazing people and a great resource themselves, but you will have the most impact with some academic foundation. Study a little about TEFL and middle childhood education if you can - even just one day of reading - before you come. (Also Spanish, obviously.) You'll be happier and more able to notice your accomplishments if you stay at least two months. The students are a delightful mix of behaviours and aptitudes; accept them as they are and you will have so much fun together. In Guatemala, I worked in schools near the beautiful and vibrant Lake Atitlan area, with primarily Mayan people and plenty of Latin influence, as well. It was a fascinating immersion in two cultures and an experience I will always treasure. In Nicaragua, I worked in a small town well off the tourist trail and definitely experienced "real" Latin America (reggaeton 24/7, anybody?)! There is time to travel more widely on weekends and holidays, and your expenses can be very low if you live like a local. Overall this organization attracts good people who take their work seriously, so it's a much nicer place to work than some others in the region. The homestays are fine for long-term, though be aware that they will be a bit different from the type of homestay offered by Spanish schools in Central America and NGOs in other parts of the world. Ask questions in your interview!"- Kimberly Z
A Fantastic Experience
"Working here was one of the best months of my life thus far. I grew and stretched in ways that I would have never through possible, and I made friends that I still keep in touch with today. I loved being able to explore Nicaragua at a local level, and being able to connect with the fantastic students that I taught was incredibly rewarding. Working with this organization I improved my teaching immensely, and opened my eyes to the wider world. I would 100% volunteer again, and I hope to be able to do so again someday. I HIGHLY recommend this organization."- Kassandra Cox
Volunteer Impressions in January-February of 2015
"The organization was still in a start up phase working with another established Spanish organization which had some internal strife between the staff and the European volunteers. This Spanish organization also blocked some of the elementary English classes taught byvolunteers. Consequently Gary used the volunteers time to develop standardized classes suitable for Nicaragua for 3 grades, allowing new teachers to progress in an orderly fashion. The group co-ordinated very well and hung out during off time for Nicaraguan adventures. My interest was in teaching adults English to qualify for jobs in the hospitality industry. We taught them enough English to qualify for further training for the Hilton Hotel. The classes were small but a number of our students did qualify for employment. There was hands-on training simulating work conditions which was good. One of the volunteers was a Spanish Chef, very demanding, scaring some of the students, but preparing them for what Chefs are like in real life."- Clarence Buhr

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