Volunteer Chile: Then coming to Vilma’s home I was very happy to be greeted with amazing food. And along came the first day of volunteering where I was very nervous but settled in after a couple of days, teachers started to talk to me more and the kids would greet me when the would see me come in
1.- Why did you choose to volunteer in Chile La Serena, what program(s) are you doing and why?
I decided to volunteer in Chile La Serena because me and my friends wanted to volunteer together in an orphanage to help kids. And Chile had room for me and all my friends. We are working in the orphanage and also the school attached to it not only playing with them also helping them in daily tasks at school.
Why Chile: Chile because it came up as an opportunity for me and my friends to work together
What program: Orphanage assistance and teaching/education programs
Why this program: I picked this program because I love working with children, babies and toddlers. Also I’ve always wanted to work with disadvantage kids so this was the right fit for me. Furthermore, interaction with children is a passion of mine.
2. What was the most surprising thing you experienced while volunteering in the program?
Volunteer Program: The most surprising thing is how fast the kids get attached to you. Also the love the teachers have for the children is truly awesome to experience it every day.
Host Family: The most surprising thing I found about the host family is how good the food was and how caring Vilma is while intersecting with us making us feel right at home.
Country: The thing I found to be the most surprising about Chile is how cold it can get at night during winter. Also how the culture is present everywhere you look from the street performers to the traditional dancing.
3. What was the most difficult thing you experienced while in the program?
Volunteer Program: The most difficult thing I experience is the fatigue from working everyday Monday to Friday, it can get very tiring but always worth it.
Host Family: The most difficult thing I experience with the host family is the language barrier was at times frustrating but with practice it got better.
Country: The most difficult thing I experience in Chile while in the program is again the Spanish was at times difficult to understand, the locals speak to fats, ask them to “hablar mas despacio” .
4. Any tips for future volunteers….
Clothing: Make sure you bring lots and lots of warm clothing because it can get very cold at night in the house. Also bring a tuque and mitts to keep you warm during the day as well as the night.
Sightseeing: Make sure to visit all the area in La Serena and also around to fully experience the culture. Also make sure to go on a couple guided tours to learn more about Chile.
Donations: Bring extra money
Laundry/internet: Make sure to bring extra money to spend on internet and laundry .
5. Other things volunteers should know about:
a.- City/town: It can get very confusing in center town so make sure you know where you’re going. And that Spanish is very important to communicate and get your point across.
b.- Weather: If you’re coming in winter (June-July) time make sure to bring all your warm clothe including a coat or jacket
c.- Local People: The local people are very friendly and always willing to help you if in need but to always be aware of your surroundings.
d.- Tours: The dolphin tour was super fun and also the horse back riding in the Elqui Valley.
6. Personal paragraph (volunteer program testimonial), detail as possible:
In arriving in La Serena I was chocked to see palm trees thinking it would be hot but when walking outside it was very cold. Then coming to Vilma’s home I was very happy to be greeted with amazing food. And along came the first day of volunteering where I was very nervous but settled in after a couple of days, teachers started to talk to me more and the kids would greet me when the would see me come in. This all made me feel welcome and this continued for the next two weeks of volunteering, where I fell into place in a class with 4/5 year olds.
7. How would you describe your:
Accommodation: They were very good and comfy. But I found it really cold without a heather at night, sometimes I would wear a hat to bed. Also the showers were usually very cold which I wasn’t used to so it was different
Meals (favorite): The meals were awesome, even as a picky eater I ate all the food she made. My favourite food was the bread always warm.
Security: The security in the house was great never felt worried about it once on the trip. But I did worry about security while leaving the house to go to centre town, but Vilma guided me and made me feel comfortable, no problems going to downtown after that.
Host family: The host family was great. Vilma would always talk to us and try to make us feel welcomed with her food and jokes.
8. What was your memory of this trip?
Volunteer Program: My memory of this program is getting to hangout with my friends all while helping out the less fortunate. Also seeing the children smile even when they don’t have much which made me appreciate my life in Canada.
Host Family: My memory of the host family is waking up to Vilma making breakfast and her coming to pick us up at the orphanage the first day with the biggest smile. Also going to visit areas with Vilma like the giant cross in Coquimbo.
Country: My memory of the country is the wonderful scenery rich is very different from what I see in Canada everyday. For example the big mountains and water views.
9. How was the local ABV Coordinator, the staff and the support provided in-country?
Airport: When walking off the plane I was greeted right away and felt welcomed with a hug.
Orientation day: The orientation day was great because we got to see the town a while learning about it at the same time. Also I learned the important area and historical facts.
Daily Support: The daily support was great from my host family. Vilma really cared about our well being always asking questions to make sure everything was Ok.
10. How was the information you received from ABV prior to traveling? (Emails, website, support) was there anything missing or should be included to prepare other volunteers?
The informations received before travelling to Chile was pretty good, received emails telling me what to bring to be very prepared. Also there was always somebody to answer my questions if I had any and that was very helpful.
11. Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers about your volunteer experience?