I wasn't sure what to expect when I signed up for the FREE Pueblos Ingles volunteer program, but I figured a week of speaking English with Spanish business people couldn't be too hard.
After some of the more "roughing it" volunteer placements in Africa, India, and Vietnam, I was ready for a Volunteering Lite experience and what a fantastic experience it was.
All you have to do is get yourself to Madrid, take care of your hotel on either end of the program, and get to the meeting point for the bus by Friday morning at 9am - then the dedicated Pueblos Ingles staff takes care of every little detail for you for the next 8 days.
We drove 4 hours to the tiny town of La Alberca and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had my own room in the bottom of a quaint chalet. The orientation started at 5pm the first night and from then on, it was non-stop talking. The only rule? Absolutely NO SPANISH to be spoken for the whole week (which suited me just fine).
Each day included a combination of one on one conversations, group discussions, presentations, pub quizzes and skits - all with the aim of helping improve the conversational english skills of the Spaniards. With delicious three course meals for lunch and dinner and an unlimited supply of Spanish red wine, the conversation flowed even more freely.
By the end of the week, the 19 Spaniards and 18 Anglos had become fast friends and no one wanted to leave our little country hide-away.
I would not hesitate to recommend to any of you to travel to Spain and participate in a Pueblos Ingles program. Although you may sacrifice on sleep and your jeans won't fit you nearly as well by the end of the week, you will make great new friends and experience the graciousness and hospitality of the Spanish culture.