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

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

One Two Tree English Teacher Volunteer

Entrevista informativa con uno de nuestros voluntarios: ¡Dani!

 

En esta publicación de nuestra #SerieEntrevistados, entrevistamos a Dani, un voluntario que se incorporó a nuestro equipo el año pasado. Él nos comparte todos los detalles sobre su tiempo y experiencia en Guatemala como profesor de inglés voluntario en One, Two… Tree!

 

Pregunta (One Two… Tree!): ¡Hola Dani! Gracias por acompañarnos en esta entrevista.

Respuesta (Dani): Gracias a ustedes por haberme invitado.

 

P: ¿Podrías presentarte y hablarnos un poco de tu trayectoria? 

R: Soy Dani Thomas y vivo en Pontypridd, en Gales. Soy programador informático desde hace muchos años y me apasionan la música y la política. También tengo un gran interés por los temas latinoamericanos y lo relacionado con el idioma español. Uno de mis sueños es pasar un tiempo en América Central o del Sur, quizás haciendo algún tipo de voluntariado.

 

P: ¡Vaya, parece que has hecho realidad ese sueño! ¿Podrías darnos algunos detalles sobre cuándo y dónde fuiste voluntario con nosotros, y durante cuánto tiempo? 

R: Empecé a colaborar como voluntario con One, Two…Tree! Guatemala en agosto de 2021. Fue la primera oportunidad que tuve en un tiempo, ya que los viajes al extranjero estaban prohibidos por la pandemia. Me quedé tres meses y estuve viviendo en Santiago Atitlán.

 

P: ¿Podrías contarnos un poco sobre cómo era tu vida cotidiana como voluntario?

R: Como la pandemia seguía teniendo repercusiones, no pudimos impartir en las escuelas todas las clases que se habían previsto en un principio. Se limitó a explicar y revisar las tareas y las clases se dividieron para mantener el número de alumnos. Sin embargo, iniciamos una clase para adultos que se impartía dos veces por semana y que incluía a varios trabajadores de la cooperativa local de café. Luego tuvimos que impartirlas virtualmente porque las normas de COVID cambiaron. También colaboramos con Amigos del Lago de Atitlán ayudando en sus proyectos de reciclaje.

 

 

Clase de inglés en Santiago, Guatemala

Clase de inglés en Santiago, Guatemala

 

P: ¿Podrías contarnos un poco sobre cómo era tu vida cotidiana como voluntario?

R: Como la pandemia seguía teniendo repercusiones, no pudimos impartir en las escuelas todas las clases que se habían previsto en un principio. Se limitó a explicar y revisar las tareas y las clases se dividieron para mantener el número de alumnos. Sin embargo, iniciamos una clase para adultos que se impartía dos veces por semana y que incluía a varios trabajadores de la cooperativa local de café. Luego tuvimos que impartirlas virtualmente porque las normas de COVID cambiaron. También colaboramos con Amigos del Lago de Atitlán ayudando en sus proyectos de reciclaje.

 

Voluntarios en el Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala

Voluntarios en el Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala

 

P: ¡Parece que pudieron adaptarse perfectamente! ¿Dónde te hospedaste en Santiago, Guatemala?  

R: Me hospedé en la casa de la Señora Argentina. Estuvo genial, ya que siempre fue muy servicial y atenta y conoce prácticamente a todos en Santiago.

*Argentina es una de las anfitrionas con las que colabora One, Two…Tree! Es una profesora jubilada de la ciudad de Guatemala, muy respetada y apreciada por la comunidad gracias a su trabajo en proyectos locales.  

 

P: ¿Crees que tu trabajo como voluntario ha tenido algún impacto en la comunidad?

R: Sí. A pesar de las dificultades ocasionadas por la pandemia, creo que tanto los niños como los adultos hicieron verdaderos progresos durante el tiempo que estuve allí.

 

Voluntarios en Guatemala

Voluntarios en Guatemala

 

P: ¿Tuviste la oportunidad de aprender algo de español? 

R: Aunque ya hablaba con bastante fluidez el español, fue estupendo tener la oportunidad de utilizar el idioma a diario. Sin embargo, como el tz’utujil es el idioma principal que se habla en la zona, decidí empezar a tomar clases en esa lengua, lo que me pareció muy interesante y enriquecedor y me permitió conocer la cultura maya. Al volver a casa, escribí una canción sobre Santiago en tz’utujil que menciona varios lugares y personas que conocí allí. La puedes ver aquí.

 

Dani, profesor de inglés voluntario en Guatemala

Dani, profesor de inglés voluntario en Guatemala

 

P: ¡Qué increíble! ¡Qué canción tan bonita Dani! Gracias por compartirla.  ¿Qué es lo que te hubiera gustado saber antes de venir a Guatemala como voluntario? 

R: ¡Nada inicia a la hora prevista!

 

P: ¿Cuál es el mejor recuerdo que tienes de esta experiencia?

R: Es difícil pensar en uno en particular. Disfruté mucho preparando las clases para adultos y pude mencionar algunos mitos y leyendas antiguos de Gales como parte de la explicación. Fue increíble explorar los distintos pueblos y aldeas que rodean el lago, cada uno con una personalidad y carácter diferentes. Visitar las ruinas de la capital prehispánica tz’utujil, Chuitinamit. También la amistad y el compañerismo con los demás voluntarios.

 

Profesores de inglés voluntarios en Guatemala

Profesores de inglés voluntarios en Guatemala

 

P: ¿Tienes algún consejo para los futuros voluntarios que quieran unirse a esta aventura?R: Yo diría que vale la pena hacerlo. Sin duda alguna, hazlo.

 

One, Two…Tree!: ¡Muchas gracias por compartir tu experiencia con nosotros, Dani!

Dani: ¡Ha sido un gusto!

 

Si quieres conocer más sobre el voluntariado en Guatemala este año, escríbenos a nuestro correo: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 

 

#Interview Series: Teacher Totó

 

Welcome Everyone to the first of our #InterviewSeries. In this new section, you will get to know Former Volunteers, their stories, and past experience in One, Two… Tree! and take inspiration for your Future Volunteer Experience, when hopefully things will get back to normal. Enjoy!

 

This time we get to know Totó, a former Volunteer-Coordinator who has volunteered with One, Two ..Tree! for more than a year and who is currently working.

 

First, thank you very much for making this interview possible! As a fresh start, I would like to ask you a bit more about your background.

I am from Spain, from Vigo. I am Thirty-four and I was Thirty-two when I started working with One, Two… Tree! I’ve studied Journalism and worked in Marketing for many years. Then, back in 2018 I decided to quit that and went to Cambodia to volunteer as well. When I was there, I kind of knew about One, Two … Tree!, and Pedro; he told me that they were going to open a new project in Mexico. He already knew I wanted to volunteer with One, Two .. Tree and told me that it would have been great if I wanted to start a new project and collaborate with them. So, I decided to leave and start over again, because I didn’t like my job in Marketing, so I went to Zinacantán.

 

That’s very cool! And how long did you volunteer?

I was two weeks in Guatemala, in Santiago with Gergana and then I was for around a year with One, Two… Tree!

 

The project actually started in Nicaragua, which was the first project, and then it was April 2018 when a revolution started against the Government, and at that point, we were kindly asked to leave. Basically, right now Guatemala is the biggest one and Mexico is restarting again.

 

What was your daily life as a volunteer?

School starts at Nine or Ten, until Three o’clock. Each volunteer has one or two grades that they teach. They go to the school for three hours and then go to another school, which is a boarding school but not the kind of boarding school we are used to. These are proper schools made for kids from families who have poor resources, therefore they pay almost nothing and had numerous kids from 6 to 12/13 who live in a school by themselves. They have dorms, make their beds, etc.

 

And we would teach them another couple of hours and that is basically the beginning. Then we decided those kids from the boarding schools needed more support so we decided to go every afternoon. But it wasn’t always about English classes, it was more about being with them, playing some games, sometimes. We wanted to make those kids loved. It is hard to say but sometimes kids just need a hug and just need to know that they can be loved. Therefore, sometimes, we just had fun with them and that was the nicest thing we did during the second part of the year. In the end, we were also a big group of volunteers, around eight.

 

What I used to say to the volunteers was to try to take your mind out of everything you know and just enjoy it. If you want to do “this” with the kids, just do it. Just be respectful and kids are going to love it!

 

That’s also very rewarding from the human aspect.

I know that for me the important part was to enjoy what I was doing. If they liked an activity, I would repeat it until they stopped liking it.

 

Which was the best memory that you bring with you?

Well, there are many. But I guess at the end of the year when we were going to play with the kids in the afternoon, we had very close bonds with them and by the end of the term, we ended up painting the wall with the One, Two Tree Logo. And also, on that wall, we painted six trees. Those were really good days! But I might say that the best memory I had was during the last days when I had to leave, I was really sad to finish. Because, you know, when you start to connect, and all the volunteers are cool with each other. We all had good ideas. So yes, the last couple of weeks were the best, and also the summer camp that we made which was a lot of work, 4 weeks and 60 kids and our duty on the school. Everything went very well and the kids enjoyed it a lot!

 

Would you say your contribution had a social impact on the community?

Well, I believe the kids understood the meaning of learning English. For the development of the community and learned how to interact and bond with people from Abroad. “To break the walls”: that was one of the most relevant things.

 

I think the biggest impact was the kids learning and being able to make such connections which is really cool. They still don’t realize how important it is for their lives, to know that people from abroad don’t’ come to take advantage of them.

 

How is the Covid-19 impacting the Project at the moment?

I can speak for the Mexican Project. Schools are still closed, so even if we had volunteers, they would not be able to do anything. So I guess that is one thing that affects us, because they do not have this ‘continuous’ of volunteers. We really hope to restore the project as soon as there will be the safety conditions to do it!

 

As the last thing, what would you recommend to Future Volunteers who are willing to start this new Adventure?

Do it! Don’t think about it Twice. You won’r regret it. Just Enjoy the Experience! Time literally flies, so try to get the most of it from the very beginning. Especially if you go there for a month. It is really something you will remember and it is one of the best «job» to do.

 

It is always inspiring to listen to past Volunteers’ Experiences. Totó has certainly made a life experience that will always remember. And with him, also all the kids he had the chance to teach to. We sincerely hope to restore the projects as soon as the Health-Emergency will be over.

 

Thanks again to Totó for his time and we Wish the best of luck to him with his new Projects and Work in Central America!