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!
Q: Could 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?”
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!
Q: Could 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!
Q: Where 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.
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!
Q: What 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!
Q: What 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org