Volunteer Abroad: Jane's Experience in Rural Guatemala
Volunteering abroad is one of the best ways to fast-track your language skills. At Spanish Marks, our volunteer projects abroad allow you to surround yourself in Spanish language, experience an amazing culture and make a tangible difference. We organise trips where you can travel to Guatemala and volunteer at our partner charity, Asociación Fatima.
One of our students, Jane, has just finished her 3 month trip and this is her experience:
My name is Jane and I am married with two grown up children. My career over the last twenty five years has been as a swimming teacher taking classes ranging from 3 month old babies to adults. I've coached in schools and clubs to county level. Lately I studied nutrition and have worked with groups and individuals that were suffering with weight and health problems.
Since having lessons with Spanish Marks for over two years I became more aware and interested in the charity that Spanish Marks support - "Association Fatima". I decided I wanted to help by volunteering and in turn improve my Spanish.
After much discussion, research and preparation, it became apparent that my experience in health and hygiene, nutrition and fitness would be the most beneficial for the charity.
A programme was put in place, and shortly after my arrival, myself, Lucy, and other volunteers (when necessary) went into rural communities, to assess their nutritional level by weighing and measuring hundreds of children from different communities.
During my stay we also completed a Cookery Workshop - Sport and Fitness Workshop - Foot and Personal Hygiene Workshop. These were all successful in different ways, and seeing the problems firsthand was humbling and most rewarding.
Guatemala is a beautiful country, with dramatic volcanoes, cobblestone streets and traditionally dressed women.
It was important for me to travel whilst volunteering, and Tikal and Lake Atitlan were certainly highlights.
Now, reflecting on my trip to Guatemala, I feel it was a great success; I've gained confidence in myself and communicating in Spanish. Working with the charity and traveling to the remote areas from my base "Quetzaltenango" (Xela), in many different forms of transport, and spending many hours with these mothers and children in the rural communities and schools, has helped me to understand the problems and difficulties of this country. Seeing how difficult everyday chores are in these rural communities can at times be upsetting, but, however difficult these people's lives are, the mothers and children are kind and happy. I feel now the charity and the people within it have become good friends and will always have a place in my heart.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering in Guatemala with us, please see here: Spanish Marks Programmes Abroad.