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.