So first things first: Name, nationality and where have you been volunteering?
Hey! My name is Pui and I come from the UK. For the past four weeks I have been teaching English at the academy in the Buenos Aires province of Pablo Nogues.
How does it feel to be coming to the end of your Voluntario Global experience?
I am finishing my placement after signing up for only four weeks, and it is quite emotional to be reaching the end so soon already! It was not a straightforward experience by any means – teaching with relatively limited resources definitely keeps you on your toes, and it can sometimes be exhausting, especially when you know only enough Spanish to get by in a restaurant – but I have gotten to know some great students as well as the legendary Silvia (who runs the academy) and will be leaving with plenty of amazing memories.
It seems as if you've become pretty attached to the life here. Is there any part of the porteño culture or language that has particularly resonated with you?
Well, partly due to the thickness of the Argentinian accent, it’s been tricky to pick up the local dialect. However, when a super pancho vendor asks if you’d like ‘papas fritas’ on your hotdog I get the happiest feeling. [For those of you who haven't yet had the pleasure, a super pancho is a hotdog like no other that can be picked up all over the city. And yes, they put potatoes ON the hotdog, as well as a plethora of sauces]. Most mentions of 'asado’ – the typical meat stew here – has a similar impact.
So other than trying a super pancho, what other piece of advice would you give to the next volunteer at the Academy?
I would say don't be afraid to go off-script in the classroom occasionally. During the first couple of days I stuck to the textbooks very rigidly but this wasn’t always the most effective method. Sometimes my lessons would veer from slightly off-topic, like teaching some curious students the relevant vocabulary in French or even Chinese, to extremely off-topic. In one particularly memorable instance, the lesson devolved into a weird combination of 20 Questions, Hangman and snippets of ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus (who the kids unsurprisingly love). It’s really just as much a cultural exchange as it is giving students the chance to learn English from a native speaker, which I found is equally appreciated all round.
And finally: can you sum up your time here in three words?
Challenging, tiring (but) rewarding.
Thanks Pui, we’re going to miss having you around the house!