National Volunteer Center

National Volunteer Center

English Opens Doors Program

Advice From Former Volunteers

At their end of their service, volunteers are asked, “What advice would you offer to someone considering a volunteer position with the National Volunteer Center?” Here are answers from alumni throughout the years

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Advice for Prospective EODP Volunteers

At their end of their service, volunteers are asked, “What advice would you offer to someone considering a volunteer position with the National Volunteer Center?” Here are answers from our alumni.

2014 Volunteer, Los Lagos Region

“This is going to be a life changing experience and you will definitely not be the same after this experience. It’s mind boggling how every single person you meet loves you and instantly makes you feel like a part of their family. Chileans are warm and welcoming people curious about the world and its people. When you come to Chile, keep an open mind and you’ll be dazzled beyond your wildest imaginations by the beautiful nature and equally beautiful hearts of the people.”

Eunice Yu

A volunteer dancing cueca!

2014 Volunteer, Metropolitan Region

“This is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and learn so much about life yourself in the process. Take the leap. You won’t regret it.”

2014 Volunteer, Antofagasta Volunteer

“Go for it – dive in and do your best! Keep in mind all you’re told before you start, stay positive and enjoy the experience. Don’t expect anything, keep an open mind and get ready for hard work and special rewards.”

2014 Volunteer, O’Higgins Region

“If you are brave, if you are willing to go with the flow and willing to work hard, you will never have a more positive experience than the one here!”

2014 Volunteer, Atacama Region

“The EODP volunteer program provides volunteers with an amazing opportunity to be completely immersed in another culture. You have to be ready to work really hard and have a lot of patience and flexibility as you learn to teach in Chilean schools and become a part of your community. Having the passion and drive to teach children is a must. I would not trade this experience for the world. I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of. Chile is a beautiful country filled with amazing people and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to spend 4 months here, being part of the community and taking on the challenge of teaching English to some really great kids.”

Students spell out “We love English!” during class!

Students spell out “We love English!” during class!

2014 Volunteer, Tarapacá Region

“If you are willing to work hard to be a positive influence in a large number of young lives, it will be an incredible and unforgettable experience. It isn’t a vacation, but if growing as a person and doing good for other people is something that is important to you, then it is an invaluable opportunity.”

2013 Volunteer, Atacama Region

“Your experience is what you make it! In every circumstance, you will be faced with a choice: to embrace it with a positive attitude or run from it and cheat yourself of a learning experience. Personally, I have had many challenges for the few semesters I have been here, including a host family change. I chose to stay because my students are my first priority. I could be in a bad mood but as soon as I walk into school and hear “Helloooo Miss Amanda!” about 1000 times before I arrive to my classroom, my spirits are always lifted and I feel ready to face the day. With an attitude of positivity and Chilean friends to support me, I have been able to overcome a lot. My advice: Find a community of people to help you pass the time outside of the classroom – this could be your host family and their friends, other volunteers, a church, or even the other teachers at your school. Express yourself and communicate – don’t bottle those feelings up. And finally, don’t let one bad day become a bad four months! Just breathe and go with the flow…”

A volunteer with her students in Atacama!

A volunteer with her students in Atacama!

2013 Volunteer, Antofagasta Region

“Coming to Chile with the English Opens Doors Program can be a challenge but surely has many rewards. Working and living here is a great opportunity to immerge into the culture and to learn Spanish. You can have a big impact on your students and give them the opportunity not only to practice their English with a native, but also to learn about another culture.

During my time here, I experienced a benevolent and competent supervision by the program. The training in Santiago is well structured, fun and gives you the tools you need to teach even if you are not a teacher. Also, the monthly allowance is something a volunteer should not take for granted.

However, do take your time to thoroughly research the very informative webpage in order to have an idea of what to expect. You have got to be open minded, flexible and willing to work long hours. So with a little luck and the right attitude, you can have an awesome experience. If all this applies to you… what are you waiting for? “

Antofagasta Region Volunteer

Antofagasta Region Volunteer (second from right) with her Public Speaking students and head teacher (far right)

2010-2011 Volunteer , Coquimbo Region

“Expect the unexpected, and be patient! Things can change al tiro, or might not happen completely as you had thought, and this can be a very bothersome aspect for a gringo accustomed to order and stability. If an incoming volunteer knows this well in advance, they will have a much easier transition. I would encourage them to follow though with a lot of the advice in training and establish routines/classroom style right away. I know this was mentioned various times in training, but I think a lot of us ignored that valuable advice. I would also encourage people to get involved in their community as possible and get to know people. My colleagues and host family have been great to me, and made the experience what it has been.”

2010 Volunteer, Valparaíso Region

“I think this is a valuable program. Not only for the students, but it’s also great practice for the teachers. I would tell a [prospective volunteer] to go with the flow. As frustrating as it can be, there are days when my students don’t want to leave my class and those days are the best. Be interested in them and their culture. Learn a local dance, try typical food and ask questions. Chileans are very proud of their country and are more than willing to share it.”

2010 Volunteer, Araucanía Region

“My teaching experience was a fantastic challenge. Teaching a foreign language to students who have no motivation is very difficult. However, my motivation was to be creative with my lessons and activities. I wanted to create a fun learning environment and I believed it worked. Even though my students may not remember much of what they learned, they will remember me. I wanted to be a good role model by emphasizing the importance of education and opportunity. And I believe I made an impact. It was a soul satisfying adventure and a great experience.”

Students celebrate during the World Cup!

Students celebrate during the World Cup!

2010-2012 Volunteer, Los Lagos Region

“It’s a lot of work. It really, really is. If it’s not, then you’re not doing your job. Don’t expect miracles. I came with such high expectations that in the beginning I was let down, a lot; I felt like a failure. Chilean education is very different from the US. And you can’t expect to change the way of life of a whole community. You have to find your place and be flexible or you’ll go crazy. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

2011 Volunteer, Arica Region

“Only apply if you’re laid back enough to not be upset when things don’t go as planned and that you adapt well to sudden situations that pop up. Likewise, if you’re not flexible with your diet or daily living habits, living with a host family could be difficult, so just be willing to suspend your personal preferences for a couple months while you’re here, it’s not that bad, even if the food does make you fat. If you plan to teach high school, you should be able to relate to teenagers well and enjoy being around them…the whole point of this program is to teach and it will be the focus of your life here, so don’t take that responsibility lightly when thinking of how much traveling you’ll get to do. Oh and learn Spanish. That’s a good thing.”

2016-2017 Volunteer, Arica y Parinacota Region

Keep an open mind, be spontaneous, and say yes to everything (even if your students make you sing in front of the entire school)!

2017 Volunteer, Aysén Region

“I would definitely encourage them to go for it! There are times where it is hard and I definitely had some days where my students were just driving me nuts! However, as my time with them comes to a close, I am amazed by how quickly it went by and I’m already so sad about leaving them and Coyhaique. Life is so short, and this is truly an experience I will never forget. The opportunity to live and work in this community has enriched my life and I’m not sorry for one minute that I quit my professional job in the US to become a volunteer. This experience (and your adorable students) will change your life forever, if you let them into your heart. Seize this opportunity!”

2016-2017 Volunteer, Bío Bío Region

“I think flexibility is absolutely essential. There are always interruptions to classes, changes to schedules, challenges to overcome – which ultimately makes it all rewarding. It’s OK to be a bit frustrated in the moment but as long as you’re able to see the big picture and adapt yourself to the situation, then you’ll be alright. You need to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – whether that’s doing new things in lessons, not being afraid to speak Spanish, interacting with colleagues and people in the community. You need to have energy in your classes. I learned something very important in my third week of teaching in Los Ángeles. It was Thursday afternoon, I was still getting used to everything, I was exhausted, I didn’t want to teach that class! But I went in there and pretended that I had the energy, that I did want to be there – and within five minutes I was no longer pretending. The students feed off the teacher’s energy and then you feed right back off their’s – but you have to bring the energy to begin with.”

2016 Volunteer, Arica y Parinacota Region

“But, I’m not a teacher!” “But, I don’t speak Spanish!” Don’t worry, you’re not the only one thinking this; when I arrived to Santiago, I was relived to find that the majority of other volunteers were in this exact boat. And does that matter? Not at all! The NVC and Ministry of Educaión are offering an amazing opportunity to come to Chile and work (very hard!) to strengthen English Education in the country’s municipal schools. They will give you all the training and support you need to become an effective teacher in Chile, focusing on building student’s confidence to communicate in English. You will directly impact the education of hundreds of Chile’s youngsters and there’s a great chance that your students will have a big impact on your future too (you will never forget this experience, I can promise you that!)

2016 Volunteer, Coquimbo Region

“If you are signing up with this program with an open mind and a heart dedicated to service, you will only have a valuable experience. If you haven’t taught before (and perhaps even if you have) the learning curve will be a big one, but you will have support from some of the kindest people you’ve ever met (the NVC staff, your co-teacher, host family, and even students) to help you through. The time flies, and if you’re anything like me before you know it Chile will have hooked you, your flight will come to go home, and you might just not be on the plane.”