Reviews from Past Volunteers

Reviews from Past Volunteers (224)

My Four Months as Volunteer in Buenos Aires

By Sebastian Aristizabal (VG volunteer) Noting that I had never before seen an Argentine note when exchanging money at Heathrow Airport, I realised I knew very little about the country I was to spend four months living in. That was when I first fully took into account what a different experience Argentina was to be in comparison to any I had encountered before. I did my best to inform myself on Argentina once I had decided it was going to be where I would spend the second half of my year abroad, but even then, that was little over a month. When I arrived in Buenos Aires it was everything I had expected - a lively city with a thriving cultural scene - but what surprises me now, even after four months here, is what I am still experiencing in the city and how much I am still discovering about it. True, this can be said about all global cities like Buenos Aires, but as a Londoner this is not my first experience living in a city of this size, and there is something about this city which makes it very unique. I recently overheard a group of backpackers at a hostel saying that four days was enough time to spend in Buenos Aires. I realised however, to fully appreciate the city and embrace all it has to offer, can only really be achieved through spending a long amount of time here. The city has a great number of tourist attractions – (many of which can be seen during a short visit) - but what I now like most about this city, is the feeling of fulfilment you get from actually living here. Everyday I am overwhelmed by the amount of things there are to do in Buenos Aires. Working for Voluntario Global and Red de Turismo Responsable has also helped enrich my time here. The work I have done for the communications team has taken me to certain places allowing me to see a different side of Buenos Aires. Visiting a day-school in the impoverished villas on the outskirts of the city was a hard-hitting reminder that Buenos Aires isn’t all about fine dining and boliches. My work at the Red de Turismo Responsible taught me a great deal about what it means to be a responsible tourist. I even found myself thinking about it whilst travelling through Argentina, and enforcing responsible travel upon the friends who I was travelling with. It is not just about the environment but also about the people who are affected by the tourism industry,- including the locals. Part of responsible travel is to protect and respect the cultural heritage of the cultures which draws us to go and visit these places. Working for three months with the organization has allowed me to see many volunteers come and go. It’s interesting to see all the people who come here; people from all different walks of life and all volunteering for different purposes yet all having the common aim of wanting to work for a good cause. I feel very fortunate to of met these people. I left England with the hope that this experience would broaden my mind and teach me new things. As my time here draws to an end, I can honestly say that Argentina has defiantly met all my expectations and exceeded them. Buenos Aires now means a lot to me, and for this reason I intend to return some day. I would like to thank Voluntario Global and Red de Turismo Responsible as well as all the people I worked with and met during my stay, for making it such a wonderful experience. I finish with a quote of one of Argentina’s best writers, Jorge Luis Borges. “Siempre estaba (y estaré) en Buenos Aires”

What are the expectations of a VG Volunteer?

To the people reading this, hello, a little bit about myself since none of you have actually met me yet J My name is Eddy, I grew up and currently live in New Zealand, (born in South Korea though). I will be volunteering with Voluntario Global from mid November, so if you are coming in November well then I guess I will see you soon! I am a university student. I love food, I love music, and I love to travel. Jesica and Mayra suggested that I write a blog post before I come to Buenos Aires about what my expectations are and what I am doing to prepare etc so here it goes. It’s funny I feel like I have already been to Buenos Aires in some ways from reading so many articles and other information related to Buenos Aires. I have also regularly checked the VG website and facebook page. What can I say I am looking forward to volunteering. I guess every volunteer before they leave thinks about; would I like it? Would I pick up the language quickly? Will I have fun? Will I actually make a difference? Hopefully I will say ‘yes’ to all those questions when I get to Buenos Aires. I expect Buenos Aires to be a place of extremes. At one end you have the fancy neighbourhoods with a plethora of restaurants, cafes and boliches and at the other end you have the remnants of the economic crisis and the devaluation of the Argentine peso. I expect Buenos Aires to be full of culture. You all know the stereotypical ‘Argentine culture’ that travel agencies like to portray; tango, football, La Boca, the obelisk. But hopefully I will be able to discover and experience something more than that – the people, local customs, the language (I will have to get used to the Argentine castellano). I guess I don’t just want to be a ‘half-assed’ volunteer and go to Argentina for one week or something just to put on their CVs that they have ‘volunteered’. I want to get to know the kids, the VG family, other volunteers, share stories, tell them about my life, about New Zealand. Make everyone at Hogar Querubines smile, happy, so when they look back they think that the summer of 2011 was the best summer ever. I feel fortunate that I am getting the opportunity to stay in Buenos Aires and volunteer there. True, it would be even better if I could stay longer than 3 months but I will try my best to make the most out of my stay. To prepare for the trip I am brushing up on my Spanish in my spare time. I have studied Spanish at university for one semester and traveled to Mexico last year. My goal is to reach at least an intermediate level by the end of my volunteer program. I wonder if that is achievable? It sucks I don’t really get to practice Spanish much right now since I have to study for my university exams coming up in October. To be honest going to Argentina hasn’t hit me quite yet because I’m so busy doing my university work. Anyway, to the Voluntario Global family and future/present volunteers who are reading this, see you soon I truly look forward to meeting you all. Email me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you are volunteering around the same time I would love to hear from you about how you are preparing for the experience.

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VOLUNTARIO GLOBAL

Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.
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Location: General Pacheco. Buenos Aires. Argentina
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