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VolunQuest

About

VolunQuest's volunteers are all professionally trained, supervised and given a certificate of teaching hours completed from the Secretary of Education of the state of Quintana Roo. Our goal is to provide an exemplary volunteer experience that mutually enriches the local community and the lives of our volunteers. In addition to teaching English, VolunQuest sponsors projects that aid the local community and environment. These projects have diverse aims including health & safety education, environmental awareness, animal rights, and arts education. Specifically, volunteers can be involved in our Library Reader or Summer Camp projects. Please inquire for our most recent opportunities.

Founded
2013
Headquarters

La Gloria
77400 Isla Mujeres, QROO
Mexico

Reviews

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Maggie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Getting to live and work on the beautiful island with the cutest kids was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Being able to make and create lessons and materials following a national set of guidelines from a curriculum was an invaluable lesson on teamwork, creativity, and collaboration. Teaching twelve classes twice a week was a lot, and definitely an important exercise in independent facilitation of teaching; however, it was really nice to only teach for half days. The rest of our days we spent at the beach, exploring the island, or working on materials for the next days/weeks. Going into the program I was worried about having to come up with lesson ideas out of nowhere without an idea of where to start, but the program and the national curriculum provide the guidelines and support to do so while giving leeway for creativity and innovation. The training for the program is hands-on, not theory based. This helped me ensure that I could actually go in and teach the classrooms rather than just knowing the theories on how to teach. The set-up of the program also helped me learn from my own, but also my other intern-colleagues successes and mistakes.

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Jasmine
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I completely regretted not having done a study abroad program while I was in college, so when I received an email from an old professor about VolunQuest I impulsively applied right away. I didn't do much research, mostly because I was in the middle of finals in my first year of grad school...I'm so happy about both those decisions. While there were some logistical downsides in terms of accommodation (bunk beds at 25 years old wasn't ideal) and some communication problems, my entire teaching/living experience on Isla far outweighed the few issues I encountered.

I was a scholarship recipient for the gap year program. I had no teaching experience prior to arriving on the island and I was petrified. However, all my students helped me feel so welcome and my first day jitters quickly disappeared. Working with the PNIEB curriculum was different and interesting, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to challenge myself. While sometimes having to work within the curriculum boundaries felt like our lessons were a little dry, the kids were always receptive and excited to learn. I remember plenty of times when my students would beg for english class on days they didn't have it. It was such a great feeling! I do wish the training part of the program was a little longer and maybe more in depth. However, I came in halfway through the semester and there was a bit of a time crunch so I understand.

Besides the great teaching experience I had, I also made amazing connections with the people of the island. Everyone I met was nothing but friendly and generous. As my final project with my first graders during summer camp, I had them design two murals that we covered in bottle caps that they collected. I knew we wouldn't have enough so I went around town asking bartenders and restaurant owners if they could collect them for me and they were more than happy to help. The Mural Festival was also going on at the same time and a few of the artists were generous enough to work with my students. They taught them how to make their own stamps and how to spray paint their murals. They were so excited and happy to come to camp every day. It was so amazing!

All in all, Isla is an incredibly special place full of warm, kind hearted people. I wish my time there had been longer. It's such a beautiful island with tons of things to do on your downtime (like swimming with whale sharks). I've made some incredible friends through VolunQuest and I know I'll be back in the future.

What would you improve about this program?
More rigorous training since it's only a week long.
Communication between directors could improve.
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Jordan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went to Isla as part of a class, having not traveled outside the US much before and it was an amazing experience. I got to teach English in a classroom as a head teacher while also having the vacation of a lifetime. The island is a great vacation location and so after teaching in the morning then lesson planning for a couple hours the rest of the day was up to me to do what I wanted. The beaches are amazing and so I would love to just go to the beach after class. Then there were tons of options for dinner and a great nightlife. For the actual teaching, the kids seem interested and I was teaching at a preschool and playing games with the kids while teaching really set me up for activities I will do in my future career. I would recommend this to anyone who loves teaching!

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Carlee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Throughout my time at Volunquest, I received the best experience of my life! I made great friends and contributed so much to the surrounding community. Before traveling to the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres, I had zero teaching experience. Throughout the program, I impacted the lives of over 800 students by teaching them everyday and am now certified to teach ESL anywhere in the world. One of the great things about the program is truly seeing the impact made every day in your students. The people of this very small island depend on the program for English in tourism, as tourism is the driving force of the economy on the island. Not only did I feel great about giving back to the community, but I got to experience so much of the Mexican culture and improve my Spanish. Additionally, the program allows for plenty of free time to explore the Yucatan as there are many three day weekends and holidays during the school year. Another thing unique to this program is that I got to teach multiple grades, teaching 1st-6th grade. This program is great because it is mutually beneficial for the students as well as the intern.

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J
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Working with VolunQuest has been an incredible, eye-opening experience which I believe I have gained so much from.

Living within the local community of Isla Mujeres, teaching English to the children in the public schools on the island, making new lifelong friends and enjoying the benefits of this beautiful island has been everything I could have hoped for and expected it to be.

VolunQuest benefits almost 2,000 children on Isla Mujeres by providing free English lessons. And the children really do appreciate your presence… the feeling when walking down the street, into your school, around a shop or anywhere else on the island and hearing the word ‘Teacher!’ whilst being greeted with a running hug from one of your students, really is one that fills you with a sense of pride.

When I was looking for an opportunity to work abroad and teach English, I loved the look of this one and am now so glad that I found it. I have not only adored working with the children and teaching them English, but I have also loved learning about myself, learning about different cultures, improving my Spanish and have completely fallen for this little island paradise.

One of the goals of the programme is “to provide an exemplary full-immersion experience abroad that mutually enriches the local community and the lives of our program participants.” And I believe that this goal is definitely met. The interns not only work together, but live together in a house provided by the government within the local community, with friendly neighbours and only a short, cheap taxi ride to anywhere you’ll need to go. I have learnt to live simply and with less than we do back at home. I feel like I have truly learnt so much, benefited from this wonderful experience and given so much back to the children and community, making a difference and would love to stay on for longer to see this programme evolve even more.

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Tara Woessner

Job Title
Director of Marketing & Recruitment
A woman and four little girls.

Tara lives and works locally in Isla Mujeres as a member of the VolunQuest team. She is in charge of Marketing and handles program inquiries and applications. Having been a VolunQuest intern herself, she adds a special dynamic to the application process, helping applicants pursue the same adventure of Teaching English abroad in the Caribbean!

What is your favorite travel memory?

In Isla Mujeres, my favorite memory was when I swam with manta rays and whale sharks. I felt like a mermaid, and was in awe swimming next to these gentle giants in their large, ocean home. It was a memorable day as I was reminded of the amount of beauty and adventure Isla Mujeres has to offer beyond its sandy beaches.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Since working for VolunQuest, first as an intern and now as a Director, I have grown in so many ways. As a teacher, I became more creative – whether that was for lesson planning, or impromptu moments in the classroom when a lesson didn’t go as expected.

As a Director, I have gained confidence and adaptability. I have been given leadership opportunities and taken on tasks I never thought I’d be able to handle. I enjoy my role in the recruitment process because I get to help an adventurous spirit take on the same journey abroad that I was lucky enough to experience.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Being in charge of hiring, I get to learn how people heard about VolunQuest. I often hear of applicants being recommended by a friend who has previously volunteered with us. It is extremely rewarding to know that our past participants are just as passionate about our programs as we are, and that they wish the same special experience for someone close to them.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

As a previous scholarship recipient to the VolunQuest internship, I feel a little bias toward this program. Not only did I learn and grow as a teacher in the classroom, but I gained so many unforgettable memories.

The island is a special place, and you truly immerse into the local community. I was working in the public schools, but would see my students every time I left my house. I enjoyed the length of the program because after being abroad for five months, I felt confident as a teacher, learned about the culture, and improved my Spanish immensely. Above all, this internship has purpose – you feel and see that you are making a difference every single day.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

VolunQuest is unique because we are the only volunteer program in Mexico whose teachers are allowed into the public elementary schools of Isla Mujeres. We work side by side with the local teachers and government, and teach Mexico’s National English Curriculum. Our program works with around 1,500 students on the island, and all of their families.

This is why I feel I am a part of the community. I am especially proud of our team every time I step foot in the classroom; this is where I see the progress of our students as a result of the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and interns.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe a company is successful when there is passion and purpose. We are successful because we are passionate about the work we do for our students. Our company believes in the programs we offer and our purpose here as educators in Isla Mujeres. We seek this same passion when hiring interns and those eager to volunteer with us.