Informative Interview With Our Amazing English Volunteer: Kelly!

In this #InterviewSeries post, we interview Kelly, a volunteer from Greece who joined us in January. She shares all of the details about her time and experience as an English Teacher Volunteer with One Two… Tree! in Guatemala. Let’s get started!

 

Question (One Two… Tree!): Hi Kelly! Thank you for joining us for this interview.

Answer (Kelly): Hello! Thank you for inviting me to share my experience!

 

QCould you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

A: For as long as I can remember I have loved traveling, meeting people, and being a (non-formal) teacher :). I am a youth worker back in Greece and manage many global education projects. So, I thought, “what could be better than some action in the field with One, Two…Tree?”

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

Q: Could you provide some details about when and where you volunteered with us, and for how long?

A: I volunteered with One, Two…Tree! in rural Guatemala (I recommend always going to rural areas for such projects), in the village Santiago Atitlan on the Lake. I was there for 1 month; the first month of 2022 (wish it could have been for longer) for the best start to the year!

 

QCould you tell us a bit about what your daily life was like as an English volunteer?

A: My daily life was more than exciting. You are always doing so many different things with different people and with so many stimuli that you take with you back home. You are busy with the classes in the mornings, then have lunch with your host family or explore the colorful market and prepare your own food. Then, you prepare for class materials, grade, complete worksheets, participate in team meetings – you know… the teacher’s life!

 

Team activities on the weekends range from day trips around the lake to hiking and Mayan ceremonies, interactions with the locals- students or others – exploring the rich culture of Guatemala, and enjoying the warm hearts of the people. The list is as endless as your imagination!

English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

QWhere did you stay in Santiago, Guatemala?

A: I stayed with a lovely local family, in a private room with a nice balance of autonomy and blending at the same time. Maritza, the host mom, was cooking for me and helped me practice Spanish in the most efficient way. Pedro, the host dad, was caring and also explained a lot about the institutions and situation in Guatemala. Azul, the sweet girl, was one of my students and it was amazing to see her at home and at school. The stay was very comfortable and very interactive. I really miss them!

 

Q: Did you feel that your volunteering work had an impact on the community?

A: Absolutely, from day 1. The engagement with the students in the English classes and beyond is so direct, and much needed. The classes are helping them to improve their lives, increase their employability and have a more dignified future. It is much more than that though, as it is a very enriching intercultural engagement, a beneficial way for both sides (volunteer and community) to gain more self-confidence, more ideas, self-esteem, deep connections, and life satisfaction.

One Two Tree Volunteering

Q: Did you have an opportunity to learn any Spanish?

A: ¡Absolutely! This was one of the highlights of the experience. Staying together with a family is the best way to learn the basics and beyond and become proud of it. Knocking down the language barrier also opens up the heart and makes the connections and your impact even deeper. You can also have a language exchange with your new Guatemalteco friends to boost your language skills!

 

QWhat is something you wish you knew before coming to Guatemala to volunteer?

A: I wish I knew how much you can do, give and learn – I would have scheduled to stay longer!

 

QWhat is the best memory you have from your experience?

A: It is impossible to pick just one, I have so many precious moments, connections, activities, smiles, and hugs. I think if I had to choose, it would be the first opening day of the One, Two…Tree! learning center that took place in February, thanks to the amazing teamwork by the volunteers. The reward of the emotions felt when the kids, teens, and adults were coming to learn English cannot be put into words.

Teaching English to Children in Guatemala

Teaching English to Children in Guatemala

Q: Do you have any advice for future volunteers who want to start this adventure?

A: Come live this life-changing experience, serve a community really in need, and receive more than you will give! Come with an open mind and an open heart leaving every fear from the Western world behind!

 

One, Two…Tree!: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Kelly!

Kelly: You’re welcome!

 

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com

One Two Tree English Teacher Volunteer

Our First English Learning Center in Santiago, Guatemala!

Our English Learning Center opened in Santiago Atitlan in February to provide more English classes to more students, both children, and adults of all levels.

 

Our Learning Center Brings More English Classes to More Students!

 

At the beginning of February, the doors to our new Learning Center opened in Santiago, Atitlán. Since our work was affected by the pandemic due to the constantly changing rules around classes and restrictions in public schools, we decided to open our own center in order to bring more English classes to more students! We will still be bringing our English teachers and curriculum to schools, however now our classes can continue regardless of government restrictions in public areas. 

English Teacher Volunteers at our Learning Center

English Teacher Volunteers at our Learning Center

We found the space in a central location, close to the schools we work with. With the help of our current volunteers, we painted the building and cleaned it up in order to open our doors quickly because we were receiving lots of inquiries from families in the community. We have already begun teaching our English curriculum to both children and adults in the center.

Volunteers Painting Our Learning Center

Volunteers Painting Our Learning Center

How the English Learning Center Works

The Learning Center is open every day and classes are available for students during after-school hours. Classes for children are available between 4-5 pm, and teens and adults can join us for classes between 6-7 pm. There are three classrooms in the center, meaning that multiple groups can study simultaneously. We currently have two classes for each age group; one is for students at the beginner level, and the other is for more advanced levels.

English Classes in our Learning Center

English Classes in our Learning Center

We are using the same curriculum as we have been using in public schools. This curriculum follows the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) programming and includes lectures, activities, short quizzes, and some homework assignments. Some of the materials, such as books, that we are using in the Learning Center are provided by Puerta Abierta, a nonprofit organization that we partner with here in Santiago. These materials help to enrich our English classes and enhance the experience of the students.

 

What Does This Mean for Our English Teacher Volunteers?

One Two…Tree! volunteers will still work with us for approximately 16 hours per week, however, now those hours will be divided between working in public school classrooms and teaching at the Learning Center. These hours will vary depending on the current government restrictions for public schools, as well as the demand for classes at the Learning Center.

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

The Learning Center will provide our English teacher volunteers with a home base that they can help develop and contribute to. So far, our volunteers have helped us set up the space and ensure the classrooms are optimized for learning at all levels.

 

The Space Will Be Open to the Community

Our Learning Center will also be open to other local programs and organizations. The intention behind the Learning Center is to create a safe learning space for everyone in the community. For example, Instituto Tzanjuyú, the secondary school that we partner with, has lent us chairs, tables, and whiteboards, and in exchange, they will use the space to host a chess club and guitar lessons for their students and anyone who wants to join.

 

The Learning Center will also be a recycling point for the community. Our friends at Amigos del Lago will come every Monday to pick up everyone’s recycling. Currently, the community throws everything out together in the garbage, so not only are we providing a space for recycling to be easily dropped off and picked up, but we are also educating the community on the importance of recycling and what items can be recycled in our programming.

Adult English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

We are excited to continue to develop our Learning Center to ensure it is an open space for the whole community to come together and learn.

 

If you are interested in learning more about our Learning Center or volunteering with us in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 

Informative Interview with one of our English Volunteers: Dani!

In this #InterviewSeries post, we interview Dani, a volunteer who joined us last year. He shares all of the details about his time and experience as an English Teacher Volunteer with One Two… Tree! in Guatemala. Let’s dive right in!

 

Question (One Two… Tree!): Hi Dani! Thank you for joining us for this interview. 

Answer (Dani): Thanks for inviting me.

 

Q: Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background? 

A: I am Dani Thomas and I live in Pontypridd in Wales. I have been a Computer Programmer for many years and I have an interest in music and politics. I also have a great interest in Spanish and Latin American issues. One of my ambitions was to spend some time in Central or South America possibly doing voluntary work.

 

Q: Wow – sounds like you achieved that ambition! Can you give some details about when and where you volunteered with us, and for how long? 

A: I started volunteering with One, Two…Tree! Guatemala in August 2021. This was the first opportunity for a while, as foreign travel was blocked by the pandemic. I stayed for three months and I was based in Santiago Atitlan.

English class in Santiago, Guatemala

English class in Santiago, Guatemala

Q: Could you tell us a bit about what your daily life was like as an English volunteer?

A: As the pandemic was still affecting things, we were not able to do as much teaching in the schools as was originally envisaged. It was limited to explaining and retrieving the homework, and the classes were split in order to keep the classroom numbers down. However, we did start a twice-a-week adult class which included a number of workers from the local coffee cooperative. This had to go online as the Covid rules changed. We also got involved with Friends of Lake Atitlan helping with their recycling efforts.

Volunteers at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Q: Sounds like you were able to pivot successfully! Where did you stay in Santiago, Guatemala? 

A: I stayed in the house of Señora Argentina. This was great as she was always very helpful and welcoming and knows everyone in Santiago, pretty much.

*Argentina is one of the hosts One Two…Tree! collaborates with. She is a retired teacher from Guatemala City and is respected and appreciated by the community for her work with local projects. 

 

Q: Did you feel that your volunteering work had an impact on the community?

A: Yes. Despite the difficulties due to the pandemic, I believe that both the children and adults made real progress during the time I was there.

Volunteers in Guatemala

Q: Did you have an opportunity to learn any Spanish? 

A: I was already fairly fluent in Spanish but it was great to get the chance to use the language daily. However, since Tzu’tujil is the main language spoken in the area, I decided to start having lessons in that language which I found very interesting and fulfilling and gave me a great insight into Mayan culture. After coming home I wrote a song about Santiago in the Tzu’tujil language which mentions a number of places and people I met there. This can be seen here.

English teacher volunteer in Guatemala

Q: Wow – that is incredible! What a lovely song, Dani, thank you for sharing. What is something you wish you knew before coming to Guatemala to volunteer? 

A: Nothing starts on time!

 

Q: Ah yes, Latin America is notorious for that! What is the best memory you have from your experience? 

A: It is difficult to think of one in particular. I really enjoyed preparing for the adult classes and was able to use some ancient Welsh myths and legends as part of the comprehension. Exploring the various towns and villages around the lake which all have their own characters was great. Visiting the ruins of the prehispanic Tzu’tujil capital Chuitinamit. Also just the friendship and companionship with the other volunteers.

English teacher volunteers in Guatemala

Q: Do you have any advice for future volunteers who want to start this adventure?

A: I would say it is absolutely worth doing. Definitely go for it.

 

One, Two…Tree!: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Dani! 

Dani: My pleasure! 

 

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 

 

What does Teaching English in Guatemala look like in 2022?

Our Objective in 2022 Is To Provide More English Lessons in Guatemala

 

English teacher volunteer in classroom with children in Guatemala

Teacher Pauline with students.

You may be wondering what our programs and teaching English in Guatemala will look like in 2022, entering a new year with the pandemic still ongoing. 

 

Our objective remains the same: to introduce English lessons in public schools in Santiago Atitlán, one of the Maya indigenous communities on Lake Atitlán, in order to help kids and teenagers have the best possible education. 

 

At this moment, we are still collaborating with elementary schools in Santiago, and we are also establishing a relationship with our first secondary school, where our volunteers will teach English to children of various ages in 2022. Through these lessons, we are preparing the students for their English classes in school in the following years. They can also use this knowledge in their future professional lives, as the tourism industry in Central America is one of the main contributors to the local economy. 

 

How Does the Pandemic Affect Volunteer Teachers 

 

English lessons in Santiago Atitlan

English lessons in Santiago Atitlan

The pandemic impacted our work greatly, however, we did reactivate our programs in 2021, and we are looking to expand our work again to maximize our impact in Central America as soon as possible.

 

Currently, our teaching schedule in public schools is subject to the local authorities’ decisions regarding covid restrictions and safety measures. Due to this, we have part-time opportunities available, which gives you, the volunteer, more flexibility to work on personal projects or part-time work. We also have full-time opportunities available for those who want to immerse themselves completely in our work and help out where restrictions allow.

 

 

 

 

Enhance your Volunteering Experience in Guatemala

 

Volunteers participating in local projects in Santiago, Guatemala

Volunteers participating in local projects in Santiago, Guatemala

Although classroom time in schools may be restricted due to changing safety protocols, we also teach English to adults and teenagers through collaborations with local projects and encourage volunteers to participate in community-building activities in other ways as well.

 

There are multiple chances to help the community grow and to immerse yourself in local culture by getting involved in local projects, such as taking care of the environment, helping at a local community farm, coffee cooperative, or artisan cooperative.

 

We have collaborations with Cojolyá, a collective of artisan mothers; Cope Atitlán, a coffee cooperative; Amigos del Lago, an environment preservation program; and ADECCAP, a local community farm, and waste management program.

 

Become an English Teacher Volunteer with One Two…Tree! in 2022

 

Although the situation on the ground in Guatemala is constantly changing, there are many opportunities for volunteers to join us in 2022.

 

There is still a great need for support in the communities we work in and your volunteer experience with us will not go to waste. Whether you are teaching in classrooms or helping with local projects, we are dedicated to the development of Santiago Atitlán.

 

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 

Volunteers in Guatemala

Volunteers in Guatemala