Volunteering in Chile

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Holidays are great. We all love them. But how well do you actually get to know your chosen destination and the people that live there? You certainly meet locals when you travel but usually you meet the ones who depend on your holiday spending for a living in restaurants, shops taxis etc.   Holidays allow you to see the sights too, but do you get a feel for real life?

I want to persuade you to spend long enough in one particular destination to become more of a resident than a tourist. This will enable you to understand the culture and the people but more importantly, to make a real contribution to local life. I would urge you to consider being a volunteer, to pass on your enthusiasm or skills and to make learning English fun. Although volunteering has its challenges, it is huge fun and the rewards and memories last a lifetime.

One popular programme that fits the bill for students is the Oyster Worldwide volunteer teaching programme in Chilean Patagonia that has been running since 2002. Patagonia is pristine, beautiful and one of the few remote parts of the world where you can walk on ground where no human has trodden before. Most volunteers go for 3-4 months and spend the first two weeks learning or brushing up their Spanish on a course run exclusively for volunteers. You live with a welcoming Chilean family and assist with the English teaching in schools in the town of Coyhaique. During time off volunteers enjoy glacier walking, hiking, horse riding as well as enjoying life in a friendly town.

The schools are delighted to have a sparky native speaking English teacher to encourage the children to work hard at their English – vital in an area where there is a growing number of tourists who like to speak English.   The long term benefits to you are huge. You should come back come back with near fluent Spanish as well as the confidence that comes with being a teacher and lifelong friends in Chile. All of this will give your CV a distinctive international flavour that should give you the edge in the job market. It will also give you lots to talk about when you are called for a job interview.

If you want to know more about this programme or any others that Oyster run in countries like Nepal or Tanzania please visit www.oysterworldwide.com or contact Roger Salwey at roger@oysterworldwide.com

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