Preparation Tips for Volunteering in Latin America
Author: Volunteer Work Latin America
To volunteer in Latin America you can really contribute and give something back to the local communities where you are travelling. It does, however, require a lot of effort and dedication on your side. The following tips will go a long way to ensuring that you are well prepared for your time in Latin America:
- Learn some Spanish! Either study a bit before you come or take classes when you arrive. The ability to communicate with others is indispensable, wherever you are volunteering. This, along with a bit of country research, pays dividends as you will feel settled-in much faster. We can arrange for online Spanish lessons over Skype with some of most established Spanish Schools in South America. The teachers, from either Peru or Argentina, will be able to teach you some important verbs in a very intuitive manner and meanwhile you can get used to the accent!
- Keep in mind the reasons for volunteering; there may be times where things get a bit too much and have your reasons set clear will help you when you’re feeling low.
- Be realistic. You are only one person, unable to move worlds; but together as a team effort you can make a tremendous difference to the lives of the people you are helping. Your attitude is what counts.
- You’re all participating for the same reasons, and all working towards the same goal. Remember this whilst you work, and forge relationships with the people around you, whether they’re other volunteers, the project leaders or the local participants. If you can accomplish this, you’ll surely wake up looking forward to volunteering, and there is nothing better than an enthusiastic volunteer.
- Be open-minded. It sounds cliché, but things just don’t work the same here in Latin America. Schools aren’t as well equipped, and often things happen a lot slower! Especially when working with children be prepared for everything! Take into account that social situations here may be very different from yours at home. Be energetic, and come with a few activities ready for them, children’s songs from home, games etc.
- Know what you can expect by talking to past volunteers. In addition to asking our experienced staff, Volunteer Work Latin America can also put you in contact with volunteers that have worked at the same project before you, and are motivated to help you prepare for your time here.
- Be willing to learn! The more you learn, the more you can help in different ways. Work will vary daily and will include things you’ve probably never done before.
- Respect your surroundings. With regards to way you dress as well as taking photos. Many people in Latin America believe the eye of the camera yields bad luck; not all people do, but it’s worth asking before snapping away!
- Volunteering can sometimes be rather exhausting, so make sure you have time to yourself to relax and enjoy your surroundings. After all that is also one of the reasons you decided to participate in a volunteer project in South America.
Before you jump on that plane to Latin America, please take some time to read our resource page about health, travel guidelines and other preparative suggestions. Once you are volunteering you might find yourself in a state of culture shock, therefore prepare yourself by reading this page.
Of course your volunteer coordinator is always available, before, during and after your volunteer placement in South America for any question, problem or just for a chat!
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