I flew to Chile in pursuit of both a professional and cultural experience. Professionally, I wanted to further develop my management, presentation, and organization skills. Culturally, I wanted to become absorbed in another perspective of the world than what I had been previously exposed to.
I had taken a TEFL class before the going to Chile, but most of the others in my EODP training in Santiago had not done so. I could not speak Spanish when I arrived. Some others in my training program could speak Spanish, but a large majority could not. The program asks that you only use English in the classroom.
I worked in Chillan, 5 hours south of Santiago, in the Bio Bio Region (8), teaching both elementary and high school level students (which was rare, normally an EODP teacher would have either one age group or the other). My school and host family received me warmly. The program meets with all of the host families before sending a volunteer to make sure the house is acceptable. I know that some volunteers had better home situations than others, but if there is a serious issue you can reach out to EODP and they will change your living situation. Small issues should be dealt with by the volunteer communicating with the family.
The EODP team is responsive to volunteers' problems. For example, I had a problem with the extension of my visa and EODP jumped on it that day--calling the office who had turned down my application, following up with me the next day and the next week to ensure all was sorted.
EODP has their main staff team in Santiago, but each region has a representative who is also available to help if needed. Personally, my regional representative was great--observing my class and providing constructive feedback, welcoming me upon my arrival to the region, and more generally providing another source of support should I have had an issue.
Because EODP volunteers only know their region when traveling to Santiago for training there are a lot of variables which one cannot control. You do not know what specific town you will be in, who your host family is, or what grade your students will be in. That said, you will know your region so you can anticipate the weather and pack accordingly, you will know that you have your own bedroom, and you will know that you will be working with students in elementary or high school (I think high school age was more prevalent amongst the volunteers when I was teaching, but that is no more than anecdotal).
So, with many variables to be determined, you must come to Chile with an open mind as to what your experience will be. Chileans value spending time with one another greatly, so putting in time with your host family, the teachers at your school, or whoever you interact with in your town is vital to develop the bonds that will improve your experience.
I found Chileans, in general, to be extremely friendly and happy to help me with my Spanish or whatever I needed help with. If you can pick up a few Chilean slang words and use them that will be a real crowd pleaser.
In short, you have to create your own success and happiness in this program, but EODP provides you with the framework to do so. There are many variables, and most likely not all will be ideal. But, you have the resources (host family, school, EODP, regional representative, other volunteers) to ask for help or advice when navigating a new or tough situation.
Tip: Bring down a little portable speaker (not wireless) for your class, as well as loads of newspaper clippings for your classroom wall or activities.