Tag Archives | volunteering

Meeting Marcos and the Angeles de Medellin

“This is a forgotten place,” Marcos says, as he unlocks the chain wrapped tight around a set of big blue doors. “But you’re with me. You’re probably safer up here than you are down in Medellin.” Eight years of living in the Colombian city, and Marcos knows what he’s talking about. “Up here” is Regalo […]

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Lessons Learned from 200 Hours of Teaching English Abroad

“¿Tres ensaladas de frutas, por favor?” I leave the tiny serving hatch, where three women wearing hair nets and harried expressions rush back and forth. Plates of food scattered around the kitchen are ferried to the multitude of teenage hands reaching through the bars at a speed my eyes can’t even keep up with. Heading […]

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Volunteering with Children Abroad: the Issues You Should Know

When looking for volunteering projects in foreign countries, one of the first things to catch people’s eye is working with children. There are so many orphaned and impoverished children around the world in need of love, care and affection, and those of us who want to help know that we have the ability to deliver […]

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A Fiesta of Fireworks at School Founder’s Day

It’s been two months since I started working at Collegio Miguel Merchan as a voluntary English teacher. In that timeframe, there a few things I’ve become certain of. Firstly, teaching is not as easy as I thought. Secondly, there are elements of the Ecuadorian school system that I can never hope to understand. And finally? […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Giving Up English for Lent

One of my major reasons for moving to Ecuador was to learn Spanish properly. I’ve tried learning languages before, and it’s never gone too well, despite my best efforts to the contrary. Years of primary school French resulted solely in a haphazardly memorised version of Frere Jaques; Italian GCSE threw me at the last hurdle […]

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Moving to Cuenca: the Art of Getting Lost

“Over there, across the trees, are the balconies, bordering the river. Los balcones. If you mention them, people will know where you are.” We stood at Claudia’s bedroom window, looking out over the view that would belong to me, temporarily, for the next four months. Eva Lucia pointed into the midst of buildings, anxious for […]

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Crisis at Christmas volunteering homeless

Helping the Homeless: Volunteering with Crisis at Christmas

My first volunteering shift with Crisis at Christmas was in December 2007. My first task was clearing the food trays in the canteen, after the guests had finished their breakfast. I was eighteen, slightly overwhelmed and completely unsure about how I was supposed to behave. The first instinct I had was to just keep my head […]

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Iceland Airwaves WWF volunteers party

Working for Free at Iceland Airwaves

Standing in a sweaty store cupboard, mere inches away from the main stage at Reykjavik’s Harpa concert hall, I held up a green tshirt against my bare chest with a certain amount of scepticism. I had been promised untold amounts of ‘female, size medium’ by the gruff bouncer out front. Clearly, these were all masquerading as […]

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Red, Yellow, Pink and Green: Teaching Songs at School

Mama is watching the hole for red ants, chewing on a lump of betel nut. She bends down to try a lift a log, buried upright, deep in the ground. She is 67, worn to the colour of mahogany, and the log, only 17 years her junior, used to be a buffalo’s yoke. She and […]

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Snakes, Scorpions, and Permaculture Farms

I arrived in Thailand at 7am after 12 hours in transit from India, via a brief stint in Colombo’s departure gate corridors, which offered me some very welcomed free wifi. As my taxi drove along the highway towards Bangkok, I marvelled at the cleanliness of everything. But something was a tad confusing. Where were the […]

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