Volunteer Spotlight: Tom

Don't hesitate, go for it!

During the summer of 2009, I spent five fabulous weeks in COLOMBIA! I stayed at my native girlfriend's house in Medellin for the most part, whilst also travelling across the lush and plant-filled landscapes and trying as best as I could to immerse myself in a completely new, and rather 'wild' environment.

One way in which I thought I could get to know people from in and around Medellin was through volunteering. Globalteer was one of the first projects I found searching online for ideas before the summer began. Although working with these children sounded challenging, I thought it could be a worthwhile experience, for both myself and the children.

For about a week and half, I worked at the orphanage, not long after I arrived in Colombia. My Spanish was (and still is) pretty basic, but enough to communicate and get the message across. I was rather nervous on my first day, unsure of my role to play in the orphanage, although my nerves quickly passed after an hour or so. What I came across was a warm and welcoming environment, with children coming and going to school, and immediately I felt at home.

The children I met throughout my time were very open to me, and although they often spoke rather fast and all at once, I felt that we had found a common ground by teaching each other our mother tongue and enjoy each other's company. Whilst the English lessons I slowly put together and took part in were sometimes difficult and the children distracted, I think I managed to teach them some basic phrases and give them a chance at a productive future.

The most enjoyable part of the experience for me was simply spending quality time with the children; coming into their space when appropriate, talking, playing games, sharing ideas or thoughts and so forth. That time for me is often where most of the learning can be achieved. In a way, I wish I had stayed for longer, and if I do come back to Colombia next year, I am sure I will come back to Antorchas to a crowd of beaming smiles!

My advice to you if you are thinking of signing up for Globalteer... ? don't hesitate, go for it! Just remember to learn a bit of Spanish as it will help you tenfold!