Argentina has been luring in travelers and expats for decades. With salt flats to the north, sublime mountain ranges to the west, Iguazu Falls to the east, and the end of the world on its southern tip, it’s no surprise that Argentina is an attractive destination in South America. Not only does the scenery invite, but the people, culture, and food of Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires, radiate passion, vitality, and an unbeatable zest for life. With a large variety of volunteer programs in Buenos Aires, volunteers can snag the chance to experience this lusted after country while giving back to local communities.
Volunteer Programs in Buenos Aires
As there is so much difference between the northern, central, and southern regions of Argentina, in terms of climate, there are many different ways to volunteer in Buenos Aires. Argentine society is moving forward very quickly, so there aren’t as many social work placements as there are in less developed parts of Latin America, but that is by no means to say that they don’t exist.
Those who volunteer in Buenos Aires can also offer their time in projects that help struggling communities, especially in more densely populated areas. Through community-focused volunteer work in Buenos Aires, volunteers will be immersed in the local way of life through living with host families in the neighborhoods they work in and combating the issues they see daily in impoverished neighborhoods. Activities like promoting women’s rights, conducting life skills classes for youngsters, and providing nutritional education are all common in these placements.
Among the most ardent soccer fans in the world, Argentines across the country basically come out of the womb kicking a soccer ball. This provides a great opportunity for volunteers to work on sports projects that focus on child and community development through coaching soccer, rugby, and hockey. Sports volunteering in Buenos Aires can take on several different approaches, but many sports placements focus on helping children develop leadership skills and teamwork.
Life in Buenos Aires
The capital of Argentina and one of the biggest cities in South America, Buenos Aires is a city that bustles and hustles through life. As the leader of commerce and business in Argentina and the region, the city offers volunteers a never-ending supply of entertainment. Learn tango, catch an opera production at Teatro Colón, and take advantage of the fact that Buenos Aires offers the highest bookstore-per-capita in the world. Volunteer work in Buenos Aires will most likely focus on issues such as child poverty and education.
Argentina can be a very affordable place to volunteer abroad, as long as you stick to the local way of life. The cost of living is lessened by the fact that most volunteer programs in Buenos Aires place volunteers with host families who provide volunteers with two to three meals a day.
Traveling from one end of the country to the other requires a plane hop (or a 72+ hour bus ride, take your pick), so weekend trips to foreign places might not be as accessible as in Europe. However, there’s plenty to taste and discover in each region, so devote yourself to the local attractions, or even to Buenos Aires alone.
The most expensive part of volunteering in Buenos Aires will likely be the plane ticket, followed by the program fees. Volunteer programs in Buenos Aires vary in cost depending on the organization, how long you volunteer for, and what type of project you work on. For example, some volunteer organizations in Argentina place volunteers for only two weeks, so their programs can be as low as $10 a day. Other costs to consider include meals, which are relatively affordable in Argentina, and extra clothing, since the climate in Argentina can leave you unprepared with what you brought, even if you are the best of packers.
Accommodation & Visas
While volunteering in Buenos Aires, you’ll most likely stay in a well furnished apartment that might be a little cozy in size. The other most common housing arrangement for volunteers in Buenos Aires are homestays with Argentine host families. Since accommodation can vary from program to program, be sure to ask your program advisor what to expect, so you can keep your expectations realistic before arrival.
Bureaucracy is the bane of volunteers, but visas are a necessary part of any traveler’s life. Unless you’re planning on volunteering in Buenos Aires for longer than 180 days, the only visa you’ll need is a tourist visa, which will be issued upon arrival to the country. However, if you’re from a Western European country, the U.S., or Canada, you’ll need to pay a tasa de reciprocidad or reciprocity fee before you travel to Argentina. How much this fee is depends on where you’re from, but it’s basically paying what an Argentine would pay to enter your country. Additionally, check out GoAbroad's Embassy Directory if you have other needs or questions that need to be solved through an Argentine consulate.
Benefits & Challenges
Argentina is home to some of the harshest climates known to mankind. The key is to pack different types of clothes and layer them so that you can strip down or bundle up as the weather changes. You’re surely going to adventure beyond the city’s boundaries at some point. Whether you are fighting the heat in the Atacama Desert of battling the cold in Patagonia, consider the elements as a force to be awed and appreciated, not intimidated by, as a volunteer in Buenos Aires.
While Argentine steaks are delicious and asados are fun social events, Argentina can present a bit of an obstacle if you’re vegan or vegetarian, as these volunteers will likely have to subsist on a pretty starchy diet. However, if you’re working on a farm or you learn to improvise with the basic vegetables, diet will not be an obstacle for you as a volunteer in Buenos Aires. If it is, just uncork a bottle of wine!
Volunteering in Buenos Aires is an opportunity that is as expansive as the country’s landmass. While most people just hop to Argentina for a romantic stroll around the “Paris of South America,” you’ll do more. The time and effort put into understand and solving the issues of Argentina allow you to not only help this beautiful country, but also to build your own character. Whatever interest you have, put it into play, and see the rewards grow in front of your eyes.