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Volunteer at a Youth Community Center in Nicaragua

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The placement is a great resource for the community

The application process was good. Every step was clear and the coordinator was available to answer questions which helped a lot. The chat option was especially useful. The Eli Portal was very effective, it helped monitor what needed to be done and what has been approved. My advisor was Clara Shushunov and she was very helpful. She seemed very knowledgeable and was available to answer all my questions and concerns.

I received orientation upon arrival. The day I arrived, I got a quick welcome and introduction to the school guest but was told that the proper orientation would be provided the next morning. I arrived late in the afternoon and so was told to get dinner somewhere close by. However, it was a little vague where I could actually buy food or go out to eat. Otherwise everything went well. But, I spent my first two nights at the school guest house alone and was only informed that there was no security or staff present at the school at night. However I had a key and was shown how to securely lock the door and there was a telephone at the school I could use in case of emergency.

I worked at a community center about a 40 minute walk away from the school guesthouse. This center is open for children between the ages of 2 to teenagers, as well as for women who were often the mothers of the children. The typical day was from 2-4pm. Sometimes I would arrive earlier to set up or stay later depending. And sometimes I would arrive later because of unpredicted situations such as a flat bicycle tire. It is a great center, the people there are so amazing and they want to learn. I have never experienced such respect from individuals towards a teacher. The director was very helpful and open to any ideas for lessons I would bring. As well as providing materials for a lesson I had in mind. Due to the situation of the center, the materials were limited which is totally understandable. The only thing I would say is that there was no running water at the center, there were buckets which would fill up with rainwater and that was what we used for cleaning or whatnot. I wish there was at least drinking water available at the center for the children and women to drink and maybe toilet paper. I was told that the people lived close to the community center and sometimes students would leave in the middle of the lesson asking if they can go home to drink water, they would come back quickly though and sometimes brought their own water bottles. I was hoping that some of the money of the program fee I paid went directly for the center but it didn't seem so, which was the only thing that did not meet my expectations. Other than that, the placement is a great resources for the community and I feel very lucky and grateful to have taken part in it for a short time.

I stayed at the program guesthouse, it is also a language school that offers Spanish, English and French to Nicaraguans or foreigners like myself. I took 20 hours of Spanish language class upon arrival at 7 usd$ for each hour. I loved the guesthouse. The staff was very supportive and nice. They were an excellent resource for any questions, concerns or needs. There was a kitchen we could use and every week we Carmen our in country coordinator would go around with a list asking us what we needed for breakfast. There was in my opinion always enough food in the refrigerator for our breakfasts. My only problem was another volunteer who was 18 years old, couldn't cook and had an aggressive attitude at times. Besides that, everything was fantastic and my overall experience was awesome. One more thing, I think it's important to inform applicants beforehand that they will have to pay for drinking water meaning that it is not included in the fee at the guesthouse. For someone from Canada, I expect this to be a basic necessity which is covered by the fee I'm paying. It would be best if this was mentioned beforehand to applicants.

My in-country coordinator was Carmen. She was amazing, really friendly, accessible and helpful. The only thing I would say is that I felt like she assumed we had a lot of money and didn't really inform us that much about places that are more economical. For instance, during orientation she took me to a big shopping market called Colonial which is great because it's bigger. But is not the most economical or convenient. I only found out later through my Spanish teacher that there is a supermarket 5 minutes from the guesthouse which has things cheaper and is closer. Colonial is about a 30 minute walk from the guesthouse. Also there is an outdoor market for fruits and veggies that is 2 minutes away from the school guesthouse which I only visited with my Spanish teacher not Carmen which is the best and cheapest place to buy such things. Otherwise, she was amazing.