Volunteering in an Elementary School

By Lena Rothfarb - College 2016


   Volunteering as an English teacher in an elementary school was absolutely one of the most rewarding parts of my semester in Salamanca. It was a great way to get to know another part of the local community, to break up my weekly routine, and to gain a new perspective on just how hard it is to learn English! The kids were so much fun to work with, and were always excited to see me and show off their English skills.

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Volunteering in a High School

By Camille Dirago - NHS, 2016

     I volunteered for two hours per week at the high school Instituto Venancio Blanco. I had one class of students that were about 13 years old and one class of Formación Profesional students that were mostly in their early 20’s. I do not plan to go into education later in my life or become a teacher, so I mainly chose to volunteer because I was so used to participating in some kind of community service or even just extracurricular activities in general at Georgetown that I wanted to continue what I’m used to and thought it would be interesting to see Spain’s education system. Once I started volunteering and got to know the students and teacher, it became a lot more than that.

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PYFANO Volunteering Experiences (NGO for children with cancer)

By Rushika Athia - College, 2016

     Café con leche, hidden coffee shops, sunshine, and the best talks. These are just some of the highlights from my volunteering experience with PYFANO (an organization for supporting childhood cancer patients) during my semester in Salamanca. Each week I met with Carolina, a 22-year-old university student studying mechanical engineering, who wanted to practice her English speaking skills. I didn’t know what to expect the first time that I met with her. Little did I know that Carolina would become one of my closest friends in Salamanca, my confidant with the best advice. We helped each other with the nuances of Spanish and English, shared our day-to-day stories, and this volunteering opportunity quickly became the highlight of my week. Carolina was one of the first people in Salamanca to make me feel welcomed and cared for in this completely new environment. She inspires me in so many ways and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with PYFANO this semester.







By Alejandra Báez - SFS, 2016

     When I volunteered to serve as an English tutor with the organization PYFANO for a 15 year old Spanish girl, I worried that I would be extremely underqualified. I have a strong grasp on English grammar but explaining the concepts is difficult enough in English, let alone in Spanish which is not my dominant language! Another challenge I anticipated would be trying to explain rules or exceptions in English grammar that I myself did not understand or only knew because ¨that´s the way it is¨or it just ¨sounds right.¨ I certainly could emphasize with the student; occasionally I myself will come across a Spanish language rule that seemingly makes no sense and that I am forced to just memorize and not question.

     That said, I am very happy that I signed up to be a volunteer with PYFANO. It was a great way to stay involved in Salamanca during my free-time and put my English-speaking skills to use while abroad in Spain. At the beginning, both of us, the student Noelia and myself, were shy and still new to the tutoring system. I loved that we were discovering it together. She was always patient with me when I struggled to express a concept in Spanish or to come up with examples of the new material she had learned. And in return, I also was understanding of her learning pace as we reviewed old concepts and kept practicing to keep them fresh in her mind.

     Noelia and I have built a strong relationship through our weekly meetings. She is such a sweet and kind girl, whom without PYFANO I might never have met! I wish her all the best of luck in her English-learning journey and her travels to the UK this summer.

By Bernadette White, Human Science, NHS 2013

     When I signed up to volunteer in a bilingual colegio, or elementary school, I wasn't sure what to expect. I certainly was not prepared for the teacher to greet me and say, "what would you like to teach the students today?" I spent my first hour babbling about my life - what my name is, where I've lived, why I'm in Spain, etc. - and quizzing the students on what they knew about the United States. I'm fairly certain now that the kids only understood a quarter of what I said, but they were polite and fascinated by the simple fact that I was from the US. Thankfully, the rest of the program was more structured. I would go to the school three hours every week, and rotated between different classrooms and grade levels (second, third, or fourth) according to a schedule they made for me. A few teachers gave me complete control of the classroom and expected me to teach, but the majority had activities planned for me to do with the students. I read stories to the kids, played bingo with vocabulary words, explained the water cycle, and even spent one hour learning Spanish geography from them. Volunteering in the school was as fun and fascinating as any of the trips around Europe I took while studying abroad, and when I look back on my time in Spain it will definitely stand out as an experience that I would not have traded for anything.


By Elizabeth Lippiatt, COL, 2013

        Before beginning my volunteering, I expected to be little more than a teacher’s aide in class and to work with one group of students the whole time. However, rather than having me aid the teachers with their typical routines, the teachers were so excited to have a native English speaker that they wanted to share me and distribute me to all of the grade levels and classes in the school. Basically, they just wanted the students to hear a native English speaker, so they had me give mini presentations to the students about cultural differences or interesting facts about the States. We talked about typical American holidays, foods, sports, and houses among other things. It didn’t require very much preparation; just collecting some photographs and putting them on a zip drive. The students loved the pictures and would get very excited about the presentations. I would really recommend doing this program. The teachers were all very nice to me and even invited me to take a coffee break with them. The students were, for the most part, excited to have a change in their routine and really loved seeing pictures of a different country and culture. My last day at the school, I received numerous hugs from the children and the teachers told me that the students always asked if I was coming to their classroom that day. Even though I’m not someone with a particular affinity for children, I really enjoyed this volunteering experience and thought it was a valuable way to utilize my free time in Salamanca.