Family meals together were my favorite because they were genuine and full of love and laughter.
The staff was great. They were on time for everything, extremely helpful, very friendly, and very welcoming. Any problems or questions I had were always answered quickly and and help I needed was quickly given.
The most surprising thing I experienced with the Program was how much support the orphanage had and how so many of the kids had type of family and ended up going home during my stay. With the host family, it was how relatable they were to my own family and how casual they were. And with the country I was surprised by how little people speak English, and how community based the country is.
most challenging thing I experienced with the program/the host family/ and the country was not being able to speak fluent Spanish, take Spanish lessons while in Chile.
Some tips I would give to future volunteers are:
a. If you are coming in the winter bring warm clothes and plenty of extra warm socks.
b. If you do not speak fluent Spanish, start studying before you come and do the immersion classes, they really help to further your Chilean Spanish and then apply it while here.
c. Bring as little things as possible.
d. Check and re-check your flights and flight times.
Other things volunteers should know: It won't be what you expect it to be but it will be wonderful, and worth it
Bring cash with you from home, I did not do this and I regretted it.
b. Bring a reusable water bottle
c. Bring something small to carry your things around in.
Coming to La Serena, it was not what expected at all. But I fell in love with this place and the people and the carefree nature of everyone. It is a very casual place where everyone is very accepting and friendly. Living here for a month really has showed me how similar people are not matter where in the world they are from. Working in the orphanage filled me with so much love for those children, I missed them on the weekends when I was gone. I would not change any part of my trip here and I definitely want to come back. There is just too much to do here.
My accommodations were wonderful. The house was much nicer than I was expecting it to be. I had my own room and there was wifi. My meals were wonderful, I felt very spoiled here always being cooked for and having food waiting for me. I also felt very safe everywhere I went, I have never once felt unsafe in Chile, and I have been all the country now. Everyone here has been friendly and welcoming and understanding of my lack of knowledge of Spanish.
My favorite memory:
Program: My favorite memory was finally getting one of the babies to smile the entire time during working there.
Host Family: Family meals together were my favorite because they were genuine and full of love and laughter.
Country: My favorite memory was traveling to San Pedro de Atacama. It was such a beautiful and interesting town and I had so much fun there.
I had no problems during my trip except for missing a flight in which case the ABV directors were very helpful and prompt in helping to change my airport transfer, call the emergency number. Everything was very quick.
The reservation system was very good and uncomplicated. I had no problems with it.