Review Volunteer Iliana Buzan in La Serena CHILE at the Child Care Center Program
How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
The local ABV Coordinator was extremely helpful throughout my seven weeks in Chile. She went above and beyond helping me, whether it be going over maps, taking care of me through a cold, and booking reservations. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience with my coordinator! She exceeded my expectations in every way. The staff at the program was also friendly and supportive.
What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Host family: The most surprising thing about my host family was how comfortable I felt. I felt immediately at home and really had a wonderful experience getting to know them the past 7 weeks. It was definitely home away from home.
Country: I was surprised by how safe I felt while I was here! I felt comfortable going places by myself. Of course, like in any city I was cautious but felt safer than I do in my home town in Austin!
What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Program: The most challenging part from the experience was probably developing relationships with the tías at my volunteer site. It is important to be assertive while at the project site and seek out ways to help because they may not necessarily give a lot of instruction.
Country: The most challenging part about being in Chile was communicating with people who speak Spanish very quickly with a lot of slang words! However, the slang was really fun to learn! It just takes a little getting used to.
Any tips for future volunteers…
Speaking the language helps at the project site communicating with the tías and the kids, and also helps learn about people and the culture. It would also be helpful to study up some Chilean slang words before being in country…there are a lot! So do research before coming and take Spanish immersion while in country so you learn the basics. Also, bring comfortable shoes for walking! There is good public transportation, however, walking is a great way to get to know the city.
Other things volunteers should know before coming here.
Be prepared to fall in love and never want to leave!
Personal paragraph about the experience:
My overall experience in La Serena was really great and positive. I was very fortunate to have such a welcoming host family that went above and beyond making my stay here really pleasant. My volunteer site was at a daycare and I worked with 3-5 year olds. The kids were great and a lot of fun to work with! The tías were also kind, and I had the opportunity to get to know some of the other tías outside my room. The location of my daycare was about a 20 minute walk from the beach so oftentimes after work I walked to the beach. In my evenings I would usually go to zumba or hangout out with my family and other ABV volunteers.
How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality.
My accommodation was spectacular, as well as the meals. Be prepared to eat a lot of yummy veggies! I had no issues with my host family, in fact they are going to make saying goodbye the most difficult part about leaving. All the people I’ve encountered in La Serena have been very pleasant and kind. I felt safe walking around the city, the only thing I encountered was catcalling and comments, but I never felt unsafe.
What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Host family: One of my favorite parts about my trip was having the opportunity to stay with a host family. We oftentimes had dinner together throughout the week which gave me a unique perspective and insight that I would have missed had I not lived with a family. I learned a lot throughout our dinner conversations!
Country: One of my favorite memories was going to Elqui Valley and sitting around a bonfire with new friends, stargazing and listening to Andean music.
How was the ABV USA support prior traveling? (who helped you, emails, phone calls, chat online, how fast did you get an answer, did you get all your answers).
The ABV support was great in communicating quickly and answering any questions, always within a business day.
What do you think about the reservation system online?
I thought it was very effective! I had no issues with any of the online reservation systems.
How did you find Abroaderview website (keywords, search engine, word of mouth, recommended by, other)
I learned about a broader view through my dad who google volunteer opportunities with children in South America.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes, I absolutely am!