What is your favorite travel memory?
One of my favorite travel memories occurred during my volunteer service with this program in 2013. My Dad came to visit me during a school break in the second semester and we chose to travel to Patagonia to visit the lauded Torres del Paine National Park.
The trip was a series of unforgettable moments, but if I had to identify one of my favorites, it would be one that occurred during the van trip we took from the nearest city (Puerto Natales) to the Torres del Paine National Park.
The road leading up to the park was lined by open fields, which were in turn cradled by craggy hills, in which herds of sheep calmly grazed. However, the sheep were not alone. To my amazement, they were grazing alongside….wait for it…pink flamingos!
Before traveling to Patagonia, I never would have imagined that two species so different could share the same habitat. It was a huge revelation for me and a sight that I hope to never forget.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Our returning volunteers are chock full of such funny, inspiring, and diverse stories! During orientation week, one of my favorite sessions is the “Returning Volunteer Panel” in which our returning volunteers take a moment to share these stories with new volunteers.
After telling their stories, new volunteers get a chance to put returning volunteers on the spot and ask more specifically about their triumphs, challenges, and everything in between.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
While our volunteers are able to indicate placement preferences, the program ultimately decides where a volunteer will be placed, which could be anywhere within this incredibly geographically diverse country.
Volunteers can choose between one or two semester long services and if I had to choose (which I did when I volunteered for this program in 2013), I would select the option of a two semester long volunteer service again in a heartbeat.
For me, two semesters was the perfect amount of time to adjust to Chilean culture, feel as though I was a part of my host community, and also to become an effective teacher and resource for my students.
I was thankful to have two semesters to cultivate positive and lasting relationships with my students and school community.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
The English Opens Doors Program is a unique initiative that was created by the Chilean Ministry of Education in an effort to increase the level of English fluency among its citizens.
Unlike many other volunteer programs out there, there isn’t any monetary profit involved for the organizing body. It is a project that was created by a country that is looking out for the best interests of its citizens in a world where English knowledge is essential.
In order to volunteer, participants do not have to pay a fee and are in fact eligible for a number of great benefits, including a fee free visa and a host family stay. I am proud of my team on a daily basis because I see first-hand the constant positive energy and dedication that they invest towards the success of this initiative!
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
One of the many contributing factors to the English Opens Doors Program’s success is the amazing teams that work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the longevity and positive impact of this initiative.
So much is involved in ensuring that Chilean students and teachers have access to this initiative, and in making our volunteer opportunities known in the international community.
The work required goes above and beyond the job description and I count myself lucky to be part of a team that strives for success.