Want to do some good and give back to society whilst taking a vacation from the normal routine? Volunteer in Mexico City, the capital known for tacos of every variety known to human, pyramids dedicated to sun gods, and the busiest metro system in the world. Though hip and modern, tis bustling metropolis still has plenty of areas that need lots of love and cuddles from good Samaritans like yourselves. A society overflowing with kindness, it welcomes everyone from all ages to come and explore the city whilst giving up some of your time to help those in need. Todos son bienvenidos! (Everyone is welcome!)
How to Volunteer in Mexico City
Super excited and keen to get on the plane, but no idea how to volunteer one of your many skills? There are many volunteer programs available; whether you’re fluent in Spanish or only speak English but are awesome at teaching the language, there’s a program that’s waiting for you in Mexico City.
Popular causes/projects in Mexico City. If you love children and want first-hand cultural immersion, volunteer in a local community school. Imagine niños clambering over each other to get your attention and greeting you every morning with a chorus of buenos días señor/señorita! You’ll be giving them the chance to practice and learn the language that could be pivotal in achieving their dreams. English is a coveted skill which always lacks native speakers; so if you enjoy being around little ‘uns, wiping guacamole from their chubby cheeks, this is the program for you!
Know how to swim and love sealife? Consider marine conservation expedition. Coupled with Spanish immersion courses, this duo allows you to learn Spanish on the get-go to communicate with locals! The project requires applicants to already have their PADI Open Water qualification, but at the end of the program, you’ll qualify for PADI Dive qualification too. You’ll be part of a team that preserves coral reefs, trains fishermen in diving, and monitors skills for the bright future of Mexico. You’ll learn fishermen slang Spanish version too. ¡A huevo!
Short-term volunteer projects vs. long term volunteer projects. Lasting three months to a couple of years (you’ll definitely have time to explore every tlayuda topping and agua del dia flavor), there is plenty of flexibility to suit your plans. Spanish isn’t a requirement for most projects, but it doesn’t hurt to check; some only require “vamos a la playa” kind of range of vocabulary, while some teach the language along with the volunteer placement. Perfecto!
Life in Mexico City
Sip cafe con leche at the local Punta del Cielo whilst watching the world go by (albeit slowly, with its hopelessly-tangled traffic), and relax to the music of norteño bands and mariachis who tour bars and restaurants. A city of legalized gay marriage, the progressive government has preserved the Mexican culture and the ultimate hipster vibe through the economic development. It’s insta central on every street corner, from chimichangas oozing with cheese to the street kids running through the narrow alleyways with colorful kites.
There’s a good chance that the abuela next door will cook daily chilaquiles to start your morning en route to your volunteer placement. The local communities are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. There’ll be no chance of homesickness with plenty of abuela/los and tías/os to adopt you as their own! Each neighbourhood has its own distinct style: Roma, lined with fashion boutiques, Cuauhtemoc, with Aztec style buildings and recognized for its coffee shops or Zona Rosa, the gay/party district. No matter where you end up, there’ll always be some part of the buzzing city to keep you busy and enchanted.
Mexicans can sometime be overly welcoming and beyond generous; most mean it from their heart. However, beware some take advantage of the cultural norm and trick unsuspecting travellers. They also love to gossip - so if you’re a single, there’ll be lots of “dateable” suggestions coming your way! It’s part of the Mexican culture and you’ll leave knowing you have a second home, and a second (very large) extended family.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
The act of giving, no matter how big or small, has a tremendous effect on a community. Mexico City has one of the highest poverty rates in the region, and every volunteer will have a positive impact on the city and its people. How can anyone not take the life-changing experience to both you and those you help? It will be an unforgettable experience, gifting you new life lessons, as well as deep insight into another culture otherwise impossible to gain. Take the leap and trust yourself.
Throughout the volunteer placement, there will be endless opportunities to make awesome friends from far fetching corners of the world. The diversity of people you meet and build relationships with will be the foundation of your future network. Seize the chance to volunteer with like minded individuals and grow together. Plus, next time you travel you're bound to know someone who lives there.
At times, Mexico can seem like a completely different planet, with a very distinct culture. Whilst for some it can be a delicious shock, others might need to take a few days to adjust. Sin preocupaciones (no worries); culture shock is part of the package and one you'll come to appreciate as you realise the subtle differences between cultures that make Mexico City so special. For example: joining the bicycle fests every Sunday morning along with tens of thousands of riders along the main streets of the city. Crazy, but “so Mexico City.”
In the country that invented tacos, tequila, and burritos, there'll be no regrets by choosing to volunteer in Mexico City. The savings that you promised yourself for the once-in-a lifetime experience; the time-out you always wanted; the vacation you want to spend meaningfully: this is it. Volunteer in Mexico City, work alongside incredible people, and make a difference to society — que ni qué (no doubt about it!).
Feeling inspired? Read more in our full guide to adventure travel in Mexico.