Volunteer Review: Tessa A., Teach English and Other Subjects in Mexico
"Three months is a long time". I can still recall myself repeating those words constantly in my head on the plane on my way to Mexico. With my time here almost finished, I now realised that three months just wasn't enough. Being half French, half English but living in Belgium I'm very familiar with the European way of life. I therefore expected to have an immense "culture shock" when I arrived in Guadalajara.It never came. Instead I was embraced by Mexico's warm and friendly way of life.
It was the city itself as a whole which took me completely by surprise. Retaining the charm and beauty of an ancient Mexico, Guadalajara is also very industrial depicting a flourishing modern city. The bustling market streets are a kaleidoscope of colour. Shopping is a must, potentially leading to an empty wallet by the end of the day. Everywhere you go, you are greeted by a friendly "hola amiga, que onda?" This is a place where, young people especially feel free and independent.
There is always something to do from the buzzing extravagant nightlife (where good news for girls, most clubs have free entrance for women) to trips to the many surrounding towns, my favourite being weekend trips to the beach for instance to Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. You make so many friends very quickly. Everyone here is very laid back and easy going, further emphasised by the lack of punctuality. No one in Mexico is ever on time, which foreigners immediately catch on. Time seems to have no importance, enabling you to enjoy yourself at the fullest.
However the true Mexican experience I found was in my volunteer placement as an English teacher at a primary school. I was immediately made welcome into what felt like a big family. The children bombarded me with questions, keen to know where I was from and what I was doing. I taught six classes of fifty students a week and although it demands some effort, the feeling you get when you see the look of recognition on a child's face keen to know a language is quite exceptional. It was an extraordinary experience which taught me a lot about myself.
I particularly recall the day of "La Bandera" on February 24th, honouring Mexico's flag. The children sung the Mexican national anthem. I didn't know it so I just watched in silence. A little girl came up to me, tugged at my sleeve and asked me if I wanted her to teach it to me. I nodded and found myself watching a little six year old with a big smile on her face, sing the Mexican national anthem to me. Ironically that day the teacher was being taught a lesson.
Words cannot express what an amazing time I have had here. As Mexican painter Frida Khalo once said, "Viva la Vida". Something Mexico truly embellishes in all of its uniqueness and wonder.
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.