Volunteer Experiences

When volunteers have finished with their time here, we ask that they complete an exit form assessment. Two of the questions we ask are “what was your best experience?” and “what was your worst experience?” Below are some recent responses from past volunteers. Hopefully these real-life experiences will help you understand the ups and downs of volunteer life and of working in an impoverished country.

  • Best experience: Seeing the kids I worked with starting to read and the fact that they started telling me private issues.
  • Worst experience: Realizing that a 6 year old boy stopped coming to school and not being able to change anything about that.
  • Best experience: Contacto con los niños y ver su progreso en algunos casos [Contact with the children and to see their progress in some cases]
  • Worst experience: La falta de comunicación sobre los niños con la mayoría de los profesores. [The lack of Communications between the children with the majority of the teachers]
  • Best experience: Tener la oportunidad de enseñar a los niños las cosas basicas: (A,E,I,O U, Los Colores….). [To have the opportunity to teach the children basic things (vowels, colors, etc).]
  • Worst experience: No tengo malas experiencias. [No bad experiences].
  • Best experience: Helping the kids grasp a new concept or area of knowledge and actually seeing them doing and applying it.
  • Worst experience: The confusion of what to do and how to handle the kids at first. There was no one to help you out except the other volunteers.
  • Best experience: Que tantos niños todavia me conocieron aunque no estaba en la escuela por un año. [That so many children still know who I am even though I haven´t been in the school for a year]
  • Worst experience: Los momentos con un niño que tiene problemas con sus tareas, pero no tienes ningun idea como ayudarle porque nada funciona. [The moments with a child who has problems with his homework, but you have no idea how to help him because nothing works]
  • Best experience: Ayudar a unos pocos chicos a sumar. [Helping some of the little kids to add.]
  • Worst experience: Going to the school and finding it closed for the day with no advance warning.
  • Best experience: Working with English team and generally trying to help out in office.
  • Worst experience: Occasional doubts about the balance between volunteers enjoying life in Granada and the actual work they are doing.  Unease as a result of incidents like thefts etc.
  • Best experience: The best experience was working directly with the kids in their community. It was very easy to grow attached and learn to know them. It was great to provide them with positive feedback and guidance and learn about their families and ways of life. I really loved going into the community and doing after-school tutoring and homework in their houses because that is where you really get a sense of what life is like here. More importantly, it is less chaotic in the home environment with a handful of kids than in the schools so the time seems better managed and more productive. Another great experience was summer school. The volunteers had more responsibility, direction, involvement, and creativity in mapping out the lessons. The group of students whom I worked with came almost every day and because there were 3 solid hours planned, progress was seen!
  • Worst experience: It was difficult in the beginning to get to know the school system and ayudante. The role of the ayudante did not seem to be fulfilled as intended in that initiative was lacking to make volunteers feel welcome and learn the ropes of the schools. However collaboration between all members, ayudantes, volunteers, teachers, etc could be improved upon with joint weekly or bimonthly meetings with the volunteers and ayudantes to problem-solve. Progress with the kids was hard to make give a number of variables (attendance, allotted time to work with kids, daily schedules, and teaching strategies that focus on copying rather than skill building).
  • Best experience: Para mi, era las clases de arte en general, porque experimentía que los niños disfrutaron mucho las clases, y porque me gusta tener la responsibilidad d ela clasa y enseñarla. Tambien tenías un experiencia excepcional en escuela de verano, porque de trabajar tan cerca con un proprio clase, ayudante y voluntarios y trabajar juntos y hacer que las cosas funcionen. [For me, it was the art classes in general because I Could experience the kids enjoying the classes, and because I like to have the responsibility of giving and teaching a class. Also, you have an exceptional experience in the summer school, because you work so closely with your own class, ayudante, and volunteers and work together to make things work.]
  • Worst experience: None
  • Best experience: Seeing the progress in the reading & writing skills of some of the children.  Raising donation money and thriving the identification and purchase of useful school investments (i.e. seeing that little donation money is effectively used to make a big difference at the school).  Teachers and kids saying “gracias” after work (i.e. feeling useful)
  • Worst experience: Teachers who do not seem to care about the children’s progress or learning.
  • Best experience: Pretty hard to pinpoint. In general, I’d say working with the kids and actually seeing that moment where they get it. Or seeing the kids get excited about a topic, like space, geography, music or even sports.
  • Worst experience: The fact that once I became truly comfortable in the schools I have to leave.
  • Best experience: Las excursions porque ellos adoran y los clubs mientras la pausa (deporte, arte, geografía). [The field trips because the kids really enjoyed and the clubs during the break (sports, art and geography)].
  • Worst experience: One of the teachers hitting a child, knowing that they get hit at home because of the wounds, apart from that none in particular, just lacks of organization.
  • Best experience: Working with the children. I love kids and it’s been really rewarding seeing their progress. It seemed like most of them really wanted to learn.
  • Worst experience: Didn’t have any bad experiences.

For some more experiences, read our blog.