I was in the classroom with teachers from both the Horizonte Primary and Secondary schools. I would aid them with my knowledge of English as a native speaker. Also generally help out in the class (with any kids that need extra help). We helped with other subjects such as P.E. too. The teachers also had an English class which I went to, to help the teachers themselves learn English.
New Skills Gained on Volunteer Placement:
My interpersonal skills have improved immensely over the course of my placement. This was accelerated by my desire to learn the Spanish language. I would make an effort to try and talk to as many people as possible to improve my speaking skills. My time management and planning has become a lot better, because I have to organise my whole life by myself. This includes assignments for school, planning trips and thinking ahead for university. My Spanish has also improved a lot. Being immersed in a language is invaluable in helping your studies progress.
The best thing about being a volunteer:
The best thing about being a volunteer is how much everybody appreciates having you there, and how much you can really help. It is a really special feeling when you can inspire such enthusiasm in a subject for the kids, while helping them learn an important skill at the same time. The families really appreciate your efforts as well, and I was warmly welcomed into every home that I visited! It is amazing when you notice an improvement in the way your kids speak English, even over the short time you are there.
The value of family in Argentine communities is a lot more prominent than back home. Here the extended family takes any opportunity to get together, whether it is a Birthday, Christmas or just a Sunday! There is always someone new in your house to meet and talk to, which I found very interesting. Lobos (my host city) is very small so everybody knows everybody which is pretty crazy. Any time I walk down the street I am guaranteed to get recognised at least twice. It is a really nice feeling to be accepted into the community so quickly.
My future plans
My plans for the future were to study Physiotherapy at the University of Otago, and this trip has re-enforced my desire to do so. However, I am exploring the possibility of using my skills after finishing my degree to do more charity based work. This change has been shaped by seeing what a difference putting time into a community can really make.
One more great thing about volunteering overseas:
Another great thing that came from the experience has been getting to meet the other volunteers! We have become a tight-knit unit, and sharing these experiences with good friends makes it so much more enriching. I feel like we really have a special bond now, and we will continue to adventure around the world in the future.