Volunteer Review: Rebecca D., Teach English and Other Subjects in Ecuador
I study English at university and I’m considering teaching as a career after I graduate, so the opportunity to teach English abroad was something that immediately appealed to me. I was quite keen to volunteer in a Spanish-speaking country, as I have previously studied it at school and wanted to further my knowledge of the language and hopefully become more fluent.
When I found that Projects Abroad offered the Teaching project in the Galapagos Islands, I knew that was where I wanted to spend my month volunteering. I’d never been to South America before but I’d always wanted to go and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to not only pursue my long-standing interest in teaching, but also to travel to new places and try new things.
Arriving in the Galapagos
When I arrived in San Cristobal, I was completely exhausted but so excited to finally be there. I was picked up at the airport and was taken to my host family’s house. I was really nervous to meet them, but they all made me feel so welcome and like part of the family as soon as I arrived. I quickly realized that none of my host family spoke any English whatsoever, which was quite daunting at first. However, within a day or two, I got used to speaking Spanish again and if there was any doubt, Google translate works wonders!
Something that I always looked forward to was dinner. It gave me the chance to catch up with the other volunteers, as we were on different projects and had varying schedules during the day, as well as chat to my host family. My host mum was an amazing cook and I loved the chance to try traditional Ecuadorian food. We ate a lot of rice, plantain and soup and my host mum always made fresh juice every day.
One day, my host dad arrived back home from fishing with a lobster and an octopus, so we had a little seafood feast the next night. I was a bit dubious, but it actually tasted amazing! I also have a new-found love for ceviche and empanadas, both of which I really miss back in the UK. When it came to leaving my host family, it was really sad; they got me a cake from the local bakery, bought me a few, small presents and told me to never forget about my new family in the Galapagos and to come back soon!
For me, teaching English was undoubtedly the most rewarding experience of my trip. I taught two English classes in the afternoon at the Projects Abroad office, which I thoroughly enjoyed as it gave me the chance to plan activities and actually lead the lessons. I arrived quite timid and unsure, but by the end of my placement, my students and I were joking and smiling every lesson as we got to know each other. I quickly learnt names and faces and it became a lot easier; I developed a daily routine and formed good relationships with both of my classes. If I ever saw any of my students whilst walking around the small town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, they would always wave and shout “teacher!” and chat to me.
Usually the lessons went well; they proved to be fun for the students but also conducive to their learning. I was given books to use for my classes, which provided an outline of the lesson with suggested material and ways of improving their English skills; they were really helpful, especially when planning. My classes were always incredibly eager to complete the puzzles and activities in their workbooks to get a sticker at the end of the lesson. There were a couple of days where teaching proved difficult, but on the whole, my time teaching was amazing. Before I left, I brought sweets in for my two classes and they presented me with cards that they’d made, which is a lovely reminder of my time there.
As my classes didn’t start until the late afternoon, I had plenty of time in the morning to explore. I can’t count how many times I went to Playa Mann, a local beach, and lay in the sun with the sea lions. I also visited Kicker Rock and swam with sharks, turtles, rays and so many species of exotic fish. In my free time on weekends, I visited a couple of the other islands - Santa Cruz and Isabela - as well as exploring more of San Cristobal with some of the other volunteers that I met. Whilst I was island hopping, I hiked up a volcano, snorkeled in flooded lava tunnels and saw so much of the incredible wildlife that the Galapagos is known for.
To sum it up, my month in the Galapagos Islands was the best time of my life and I didn’t want to leave! It’s an amazing place, I met some lovely people from all over the world and my students were fantastic. It’s such a brilliant experience; I would recommend it to anyone and I can’t wait to go back!
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.