Volunteer Review: Carolyn G., Teach English and Other Subjects in Mexico
My two month placement in Mexico has flown by so fast, and it seems like only yesterday that Candy and Francisco, Projects Abroad staff, were welcoming me at the airport. They truly made me feel at home.
First days in Mexico
From the start, Francisco took me with him as he covered various events as a journalist and photographer. Most of the time I had no idea where I was going, and had only the vaguest notion of what was going on, but I got to meet lots of people who overwhelmed me with their hospitality.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a lecture on the role of women in the Mexican society, a policy speech at the University, a sculpture exhibition and a women's breakfast for International Women's Day.
Initially, I was asked to participate in two one-hour Conversation Club sessions; however, I felt that I wanted to do more to contribute to the local community. My supervisor accepted my request and I was able to assist her and one of the other teachers with their English classes as well.
Working at the teaching project
The Conversation Club was quite relaxed; it was only an option and not at all compulsory, and there were no credits accrued for attendance. The students came from different courses - Tourism, Psychology, International and Agri-Business and Medicine.
The number of attendees varied according to the pressures of assignments and exams, but there were students who would attend these classes more regularly, sometimes up to four times a week. The genuine openness and friendliness of the students made my task an easy one.
I mainly used the similarities and differences between life in Australia and Mexico as a focus. After giving the Australian perspective of some topics I then had the students tell me, in English, how it was for them in Mexico.
Some of the topics covered were family and celebrations, fashion, sport, holidays and heroes. One of the liveliest discussions was having them tell me, again in English, about traditional Mexican dishes.
Working out the names of the ingredients and how to describe the process for making these dishes was quite hilarious with many side tracks to translators and dictionaries. Added to that was the fact that the students came from different places and had their own variations for each dish.
Each student also presented a talk on any subject they were interested in. The size of the group made it more comfortable for the more shy ones to speak. It also gave me the opportunity to note any possible errors in pronunciation or grammar that could be informally incorporated into a following session.
The topics we spoke about ranged from Japanese anima to Mariachi music, to modern inventions, a family industry and of course, one on what a great city Guadalajara is.
My final thoughts
Volunteering in Cuidad Guzman has given me the opportunity to visit other places such as Barra de Navidad, Colima, Tapalpa and Guanajuato. Mexico is truly an exciting country.
I have been able to experience some of the indigenous cultures by attending events in Tuxpan. Perhaps the highlight of all that I have experienced would have to be being able to see first-hand the devotion of the people during Semana Santa, Holy Week, and to take part in the Via Crucis.
I have some wonderful memories of the places and people of Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco and Mexico. They will always remain a part of me.
Gracias y Viva México!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.