Highlights: The highlight of our volunteer experience was the human interaction we had while volunteering at the public health clinic. It was very cool to be involved in local health care provision and to, in small ways, help out the clinic and the people it serves. More than anything, I feel like I learned a great deal from the staff as well as the patients.
The highlight of my experience overall was probably a combination of my Spanish classes and homestay through MN. My instructor at MN was simply amazing. She was very engaged, and she personalized our curriculum so that we learned the most Spanish we could in our short two weeks in country. The staff at MN Antigua is just INCREDIBLY hospitable and helpful and fun and thoughtful and capable. They really care about their students/volunteers and go WAY out of their way to make sure you get the most out of your trip. The homestay family was so gracious and kind to us as well, and again.....the food was.....amazing.
Morning: Since we were doing a medical/dental volunteer trip with MN, our worksite was a public health clinic (Centro de Salud) located about 30-45 minutes outside of Antigua in the village of Sumpango. To get to the site, we rode the local bus, which was a great experience in itself, because we were able to interact with locals in Spanish and also learn how to navigate the area comfortably on our own. In the clinic, we assisted the doctors and the dentist by triaging patients and assisting with dental procedures. We also helped the children in the waiting room wash their hands/faces and provided them vitamins. Only one other person at the clinic spoke any English whatsoever, so it was really cool to be thrown into the midst of a clinic where, although we were well-prepared to do our duties (taking vitals, asking med hx questions, assisting the dentist, etc.) we still had to figure out how to do it all in Spanish!
Afternoon: MN gives you a lot of freedom in setting up your program, so we set up ours such that we took Spanish classes in the afternoon. Typically, after working from 8am-1pm, we would head home for lunch and then go take classes at the MN school. Some days we would take day hikes outside of the city/to a volcano or would participate in MN's "Conversations" program where we would help local students learn to speak English. MN's flexibility and wide variety of volunteer/travel/language acquisition opportunities were key to our choosing them for this volunteer trip, and we really enjoyed getting to do a diverse range of activities in our afternoons.
Evening: After class was over at 6pm, we would head home to eat a homecooked dinner and hang out with our homestay family. The homestays at Mn are INCREDIBLE. We had an amazing experience with our family, and the food was absolutely delicious....every day.....no exceptions. Usually at night, assuming we weren't travelling outside the city, we would go out and explore the city with our fellow volunteers. Since the Olympics were on while we were there, this usually meant trying to find a place to watch the games. There are tons of options in Antigua for things to do in the evenings.