English Opens Doors Program: Teach in Chile for Free

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About

Are you interested in volunteering to teach English in Chile? Consider the English Opens Doors Program. Participation is FREE and placements are available throughout Chile.

The English Opens Doors Program is sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme-Chile and the Chilean Ministry of Education. The English Opens Doors Program seeks highly motivated individuals to work as English teaching assistants in public schools throughout Chile. A typical week for a full-time volunteer includes 24 hours of English teaching and 11 hours of extracurricular activities. Volunteers teach alongside a Chilean head teacher and work with students ranging from 10 years old to 18 years old.

Our 2020 Volunteer Initiative application process is now closed. Information regarding our 2021 volunteer service dates and application deadlines will be published on our website in mid-September.

Highlights
  • Chilean public schools
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • Fee-free
  • Education
  • Volunteer

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Questions & Answers

Hello, hope you are doing good. The first thing you should put in mind is that this is a volunteer service, and not a regular job for payment, whatever is given to you is not payment actually but compensation for some other extra expenses which the host family doesn't takes care (like transportation to school and to some other meetings called up by your regional representative and others) so you...

If you're asking how to become a volunteer, then you'll need to apply as per the website and go through the vetting process. All this information is on the EODP website.

The visa is free, all fees are waived. The only thing you have to do is make your own way to the embassy nearest you to get the stamp, and collate all the information and send it off.

Reviews

8.7 Rating
based on 47 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 74.47%
  • 7-8 rating 14.89%
  • 5-6 rating 6.38%
  • 3-4 rating 2.13%
  • 1-2 rating 2.13%
  • Benefits 7.6
  • Support 8.2
  • Fun 8.2
  • Facilities 7.7
  • Safety 9.3
  • Impact 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 8 of 47
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Sainandan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

OF LESSON PLANS AND GOING BEYOND

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
-Benjamin Franklin
Throughout my time as an English teaching volunteer, I have tried to live by these words. Whether it’s a lesson about flavors of the world, free-time activities or even something seemingly routine as talking about the weather, the aim was always to encourage students to participate and have an interactive experience in class.
OF LESSON PLANS AND GOING BEYOND
To help me in this regard, I designed a rewards system for individual and group participation, whereby students would receive a prize (which included stickers, color pencils, badges, medals and keychains) if they followed the 5 simple class rules i.e. 100% English, Respect, No Distractions, Raise Your Hand and Have Fun! (Yes, having fun was a rule since I wanted them to enjoy English class and not feel forced to learn the language since they’ve been instructed to.)
Since my task was to focus on improving students’ listening and speaking skills, the lesson plans were usually designed in such a way that gave the students a chance to converse in English, improve their pronunciation and understand the topics in a more practical manner. Games such as rock-paper-scissors, tic-tac-toe and hangman were quite handy in deciding turns and tallying scores. And since these games are already popular in Chile, it was not difficult to explain the rules of the game. The resources provided by the NVC help immensely in designing particular activities/games based on the topic in hand. Tongue twisters were quite a hit with the students too, as they tried to outpace each other by trying to repeat the phrase as rapidly as they can; all the while expanding their vocabulary and pronunciation.
The students’ enthusiasm, positive attitude and eagerness to learn English were the most satisfying aspects for me. In order to maintain that level of interest it is up to us as volunteers to think creatively, and go beyond the lesson plan. So once in a while, the students and I would exchange roles and they would teach me about Chile; its food, culture, festivities, and some slang. We would also discuss about music, sports, and movies; most of them were quite curious to know about India as well.
The extra- curricular activities such as Spelling Bee, Karaoke, Scavenger Hunt and The Amazing Race were also much loved by my students, as it wasn’t just a usual class; instead they got an opportunity to follow Rule 5 (Have Fun!) to a tee, by learning to spell new words, sing their favorite English pop songs, or decipher tricky riddles to win a race.
I would especially like to mention the support and guidance given by my head teachers in both the schools, the other teaching and support staff, and most importantly the directors of both schools who were all very warm, cooperative, and always ready to help in any situation. My experience at the English Winter Camp was also very positive. It was heartening to see students actively take part in all the activities and games, coming up with innovative ideas, and being very open-minded about their approach towards improving their English.
LIFE AT HOME AND WAYFARING
Coming to my host family, I couldn’t have hoped for a better living situation. Although my host family consisted of just my host dad and his son, their extended family and friends were equally gracious and welcoming to me. My host family was kind enough to provide vegetarian food, even though it used to be inconvenient at times to them. Their help and advice throughout my stay was of immense help and made me feel very comfortable. Living in a small and well-knit community, I became familiarized with the locals of the town. Everybody I came across, be it the neighbors, shopkeepers, barber or school bus drivers, they were all very friendly and helpful to me; and more often than not, they used to be parents or guardians of my students.
During me free time I used to play football and volleyball at the local gymnasium, which was quite refreshing and energizing. If there was a long-weekend (and there were quite a few!), I would travel to other cities such as Valparaiso, La Serena and Pucon to experience the array of beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage that Chile possesses.
PARTING THOUGHTS
The one outstanding feature for me during this Program has been the people of Chile. The breathtaking scenery, diverse climates and delicious cuisine are accentuated by the warm and friendly nature of Chileans, who are ever-welcoming and hospitable to foreigners. Coming from India, I didn’t know what to expect since the cultures and way of life in India and Chile are quite different, and so I was a bit apprehensive initially. However, this apprehension soon gave way to excitement and eagerness to explore the various facets of Chile and discover all the unique elements that make Chile what it is.
Although being a vegetarian I could not taste most of the typical food of Chile, I loved to gorge on ‘empanada de queso’ quite often. The traditional desserts and pastries were delicious too, apart from the renowned Chilean wine, which does not need any endorsement to be counted as among the world’s best.
In conclusion, to say that my experience with this Program has been delightful and satisfying would be an understatement. It has exceeded my expectations and has helped me make a lot of memories that I would cherish for a long time. Hence, for anyone looking to have an enriching teaching experience, I encourage you to avail of this wonderful opportunity and to be a part of this Program. It would be one of the best decisions of your life!

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Alla
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with English Opens Doors Program

I was just starting teaching English and looking for opportunities of volunteering abroad when I found the English Opens Doors Program. It was ideal for me, as I wanted to teach, travel, learn about Chilean culture and learn Spanish. And that's what I did.
It can be a little overwhelming sometimes, especially in the beginning, as there is a lot of new information, cultural differences and a language barrier. But it is what you make it, so I tried to be open to new experiences and learn as much as I could, while contributing to the Chilean society. It is great to feel that you are helping these kids not only to learn English, but also to feel more confident and motivated. You are making a change, you are this special person for many of them, supporting them and making them believe that things are possible, that they can travel and learn about different cultures in the future as well.
I lived with a host family, and they were great!
The coordinating staff in Santiago was always ready to help, and the orientation week in Santiago is exactly what you need to be ready to teach and live in Chile.
So, if you like teaching, want to learn Spanish and experience real life in Chile, if you are not afraid of challenges, this program is what you need!

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Focho
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience with the kids

The was the core of my service. The kids were so excited to meet their new foreign English teacher. I was well received y the school. I spent 4months with these kids and at the end of my program I saw a face of satisfaction from them, their desire for English was established and this was thanks to the English Opens Doors program thought the National Volunteer Center (NVC). Their training never
ver went in vain. The school was so encouraging, providing every single thing I needed coupled with that from the ENGLISH OPENS DOORS PROGRAM. The students started mounted great desire for the language and it turned out to be fun. The school took me out with other teachers to a beautiful touristic side(sorry I can't recall the nae of that place), it was fun out there. Another aspect of the school was the caring nature of every single teacher in the school the fun here was everyone wanted to talk to me in English even those who didn't know a single vocabulary in English.

What was your funniest moment?
Oh the camps were were the striking moments I had in this service. The struggle by these children to talk English, them trying to dance and the lipdub were moments never to be forgotten
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Sienna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience With the EODP

In 2017, I decided I wanted to do something different that included traveling and community development. I happened upon the English Opens Doors Program (EODP) after searching through a long list of online options. I chose the EODP over other programs for several reasons. First of all, you don't have to pay to participate in the program. The only fee you cover is your flight. Second, the way they integrate volunteers into the local community ensures that you're not taking a job that could be fulfilled by someone who already lives in the community. You're not replacing a Chilean English teacher; rather, your native English skills are put to use to complement the classes taught by the local teacher. Finally, I wanted a program that seemed like it was well-run, and I wasn't going to just be dropped in a foreign country with limited teaching experience and be told to have at it.

The EODP ticked all of these boxes for me, so I said yes to the offer and headed down to teach for one semester (~4 months). I arrived along with a group of about 70 other volunteers with an average age range of 22-30. Some volunteers have teaching experience, but it's not a requirement because the first week of orientation gives you a crash course on how to teach ESL. Since then, I've taken a variety of other ESL crash courses (and a longer TEFL certification), and I have to say, the week of orientation provided by the EODP has yet to be beat. It's incredibly well-curated, it covers all the information you could need to know, and not only prepares you to teach, but also makes you aware of the extensive support network available to you. The support within the program is super accessible and includes the National Volunteer Center in Santiago, other volunteers, a Regional Representative in your region, and staff in the school in which you're placed.

I was placed in the center of Chile, in the Bernardo O'Higgins region. My host family consisted of a single mom and her daughter. She was really enthusiastic to help me improve my Spanish and do everything possible to make sure I had a great time. I worked in the same school that she taught in, so we would drive to school together in the morning. I actually taught in two schools (something that occasionally happens), so I saw one group of kids for two days a week and another group for the other two (I had Fridays free). I enjoyed working with my co-teacher and getting to know the other staff in the school, but by far the students were the best part of the whole experience. I taught middle school, so my kids were 5th-8th graders, and they just have an energy that can't be beat. Although there are some days when motivation to learn English is low, the kids are generally just so excited that you're there that it doesn't take long for them to come around to a lesson. The most rewarding part of the whole experience is when you hear students use English outside of class. I remember hearing a group of fifth graders yelling directions in English at each other during recess, and it made me so happy to see that I was having an impact.

Outside of school, I had plenty of time to travel around Chile. Chile is a beautiful country that offers a little something for everyone. I went hiking and rock climbing in a number of national parks in my region and in neighboring regions. I traveled to Santiago every once in a while on the weekend to explore restaurants and museums. And, I went on a couple of trips with other volunteers, including wine tastings at vineyards and a longer trip to the island of Chiloé. I've never had such a full social calendar as I did in Chile. And, I think that's because, in my experience, my host mom and Chilean friends were really excited to show me around Chile, so I was constantly invited to things. That, coupled with all the things other volunteers plan, and I always had something to do.

But, time flew between when I arrived in July and the end date of November, and when my return to the United States loomed, I just knew that I had to come back. So, I applied for a second semester and came back to teach again in 2018. I was again impressed by the organization of the program, and I had a similarly great experience the second time around, this time in the surf town of Pichilemu.

If you're looking for an opportunity to go abroad, get involved in a local community, and contribute in a meaningful way, then you should look no further.

What was your funniest moment?
I think whenever you're in a new country and you don't speak the language well, pretty much every day is either full of self-deprecating laughter or tears of frustration, and most days have a good mix of both. There were only a few times that I felt frustrated by my inability to communicate in Chile, and whenever that happened I usually took my frustration as both a sign that I really cared about the people to whom I was expressing myself, and a sign that I probably needed to spend some more time on Duolingo.
Most of the time, my inability to communicate for the first few months was pretty funny. I joined a climbing club in my town that had gym with a bouldering wall (i.e. no ropes, just free climbing) where I would train a few days a week. One of the first times I went to the gym, I struck up a conversation with one of the members with the intention of asking him about the different types of climbing and what they were called in Spanish. So, what I wanted to say in English was:
Is there a different name for the type of climbing we're doing here, climbing without a rope?
My Spanish version of that:
Como se llama el tipo de escalar que estamos haciendo aqui, escalar sin ropa?
The English translation of what I said:
What would you call the climbing that we're doing here, climbing without clothes?
Needless to say, he gave me a funny little side glance and then laughed. I quickly realized that I had said "ropa," which means clothes, when I meant to use the word "cuerda," which actually means rope. I laughed pretty hard at that mistake and he laughed along with me, and I assured him that we do climb with clothes on in the United States.
Things like that happened all the time. But, what made it not feel quite so soul-crushing was how the Chileans always just laughed it off with you. They didn't judge your inability to speak their language; they just liked that you were trying.
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Lisette
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Really fun and meaningful program!

I went for a 4-month service last year (VS4 2018) and it was such a special experience! It can be tough at times, but for those tough moments you will get back so many rewarding moments! Although the program is aimed at teaching English, I learnt Spanish on the way, from speaking with my host family, colleagues and friends I made. It was not only an unforgettable experience for me, but I could also see a change in the children, becoming more excited about English and foreign culture.
The coordinating staff in Santiago is super helpful whenever you need them and they are all really nice! As a non-native English speaker like me, it is still possible to apply for this program if you can prove your fluency. So if you are up for a fun and rewarding challenge then I would definitely recommend this!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was teaching a couple of different classes, but there was this one class that never really paid attention and there would always be children messing around. I thought they just did not like English and although I kept my enthusiasm and excitement up, at times this group was hard on me. Then, one week before the program ended, I told them I was going to leave and the most surprising thing happened. All of them were like 'noo miss, we like your classes, please don't go' and 'but we are learning English so well now'. I was just so surprised by their reaction, as their behavior throughout the semester did not show any of these sentiments. To me this proves that keeping a positive attitude is always good, even when you don't think it is doing much.
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Charles
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in a Chilean public school

After a week-long orientation in Santiago where we learnt about the Chilean education system, TEFL theory, Chilean culture, lesson planning and classroom management, I was sent to Quillota, where I would spend the next eight months. Quillota is a small city located in central Chile's Valparaíso Region, and surrounded by huge plantations of avocado trees. There, thanks to Couchsurfing, I found an incredibly nice family that hosted me for free for a couple of weeks! They were so nice I ended up renting a room in their lovely house for the remaining of my stay.

The house was located in a rural area, outside of town. It had a swimming pool, a barbecue, a secondary house rented to six university students, hammocks, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and lots of animals (a dog, cats, chickens, turtles...). Needless to say it was quite a change from my Parisian life: exactly what I was looking for. The peaceful atmosphere that prevailed there left a strong impression on me.

Andrea and her son Luciano were incredible hosts. They took care of me, showed me around, cooked delicious meals for me, took me to football games, to the beach, to parties, introduced me to their friends, to their culture and their lifestyle. I will forever be grateful to them as they truly made me feel a part of the family.

The school I got assigned to was Colegio de Niñas Canadá. Like its name suggests, it is an all-girls school. There, I taught to grades 5th to 11th. I had my own classroom which also served as the music room. The various Chilean teachers I had the pleasure to work with divided their classes in 2 groups and would send half of their students to my classroom so I could teach them for 45 minutes, while they would teach the other half. Then, we would switch. This method allowed us to teach to smaller groups (15 to 25 students) which was a lot more efficient as students were less distracted and teachers could spend more time focusing on each girl.

Some classes were amazing, filled with students that were eager to learn a new language, while others were more chaotic. Indeed, as we were told to make our lessons fun and filled with games and entertaining activities, some of the students took my classes as the recreational part of their day. They often took advantage of the fact that I was a foreigner, didn’t speak perfect Spanish and was not allowed to punish them in any way. I almost wanted to quit at some point, after yet another tough class. Nevertheless, I remembered why I chose to apply to this program : I wanted to positively impact the lives of kids from underprivileged backgrounds. Therefore, I didn't give up and it was definitely the right choice as it ended up being a very enriching experience. I learnt a lot, definitely became a better teacher and hopefully managed to demonstrate the importance of speaking English to some of my students as well as the impact it could have on their life.

If you want to learn more about the program and my experience, check this blog post out : https://www.teachercharles.com/post/english-opens-doors

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have some extra money because you will need it if you want to travel and discover Chile !
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Jordan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great TEFL experience - but not for everyone

The English Opens Doors Program is a wonderful opportunity for those looking to gain TEFL experience in Latin America. If you’re more interested in traveling and/or are serious about learning Spanish, I’d look elsewhere as your vacation time is limited and you have to be dedicated to your classes. There are, however, ample opportunities to learn and improve your Spanish by living with a host family and through the option to take a basic or intermediate-level Spanish course, but keep in mind that – at least in my experience – teaching takes up most of your time.

The program doesn’t require any previous teaching experience and the week-long orientation provides you with basically everything you need to know about classroom management, preparing classes, working with Chilean students, Chilean culture, etc. The orientation is extremely thorough but informative, so pay attention. I had taught previously as a private ESL tutor before arriving in Chile and was pretty nervous since I had never taught multiple students in a classroom setting before. But after the orientation, I definitely felt much more confident to lead and teach in a classroom.

When you’re applying for the program, you get to select your location preferences based on Northern, Central or Southern Chile, as well as a large, medium or small-sized town. EODP tries to place you as well as they can according to your preferences, but ultimately be prepared to go anywhere. Before you decide, I recommend researching Chilean regions and cities, as both the weather and climate can vary significantly from region to region and city to city. In the South where I was, for example, winter was brutal (and I’m from Minnesota!) due to the cold temperature, constant rain and the fact that most people heat their homes through only a small, wood stove or oven. This isn’t meant to deter anyone, but just a fair warning for those of you that will be placed in the South!

I was pretty open in terms of my placement and ended up for two semesters at a high school in a small town called Lanco, in the Los Ríos region, located about 10 hours south of Santiago. The town itself had basically nothing to do, but at least the locals were very friendly.

Unlike some other volunteers, I happened to love the school where I was placed as the administration and teachers that worked with me were both outgoing and supportive throughout my entire experience. And my students – despite their low-level of English – were fun to work with and pretty well-behaved compared to those of some other volunteers in larger cities.

The orientation will go into more detail on Chilean students, but be prepared for the students’ low-level of English as well as the general lack of motivation and interest. When I arrived, most students at my school had little interest in learning English and at least those that I worked with, could not even respond to very basic questions, such as "How are you?" There are, of course, exceptions, but in general the level of English is quite low.

In terms of a host family – if you choose to live with one – it’s really a hit or miss. Many volunteers had wonderful experiences with their family, others did not. And while the norm is that most Chilean families are welcoming, outgoing and inclusive, this is not always the case. With my first host family, I didn't have a positive experience as the family barely interacted with me and we had pretty conflicting personalities. I was eventually able to switch to a new and much more suitable host family after I expressed my concerns to my regional representative and EODP staff, which definitely made the second half of my experience more enjoyable.

The staff at EODP is probably THE most dedicated group of people I have ever met in my life and they work hard to make sure you are well-supported throughout your time in Chile. Since they all are previous volunteers and have been living in Chile for many years now, they know what they’re talking about and can give some excellent advice if you’re encountering any issues whatsoever. I personally struggled with classroom management shortly after I had started and the staff gave me some awesome advice and recommended certain teaching techniques that helped significantly improve overall classroom behavior.

I agree with some of the other reviews on here that this program isn’t for everybody. Given all the uncertainties that you may face in terms of your family, school, etc., you have to be willing to participate in the program with a very open mind and be prepared to make the best of non-ideal situations.

Teaching through EODP is a definitely a challenging experience as you'll have to adapt to an entirely new culture and language (if you have no previous knowledge of Spanish), but overall, it is a great opportunity if you want to acquire international professional experience and improve your teaching skills, organizational skills as well as adaptability.

What would you improve about this program?
English Opens Doors is very well-run program. Nothing is perfect but EODP is always seeking opportunities to refine and make improvements where needed. They always send out surveys for you to fill out regarding your experience and they take them very seriously. Though this isn't exactly a suggestion for improvement, it's important for prospective applicants to know that one of the most difficult aspects of the program is the unpredictability. Depending on where you end up, schools can have little resources e.g., lack of technology, or there can be little to do in your town (such as in my case). Regardless of these issues, you have to be willing to make the best of your situation. And even in difficult situations such as these, the EODP team is always willing to help you out! So be sure to speak up if you encounter a problem, otherwise you're going to end up miserable.
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Jacob
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience Chile through EODP

My experience with the English Opens Doors Program was incredible, hard work, and rewarding. I signed up for one semester, August 2016 to November 2016 and was placed in Maule, about 4 hours south of Santiago (spoiler alert: I loved it so much I extended my stay and did another full year in Santiago from April 2017 to December 2017! But more of that later).

I had no previous English teaching experience, and didn't speak any Spanish, so needless to say I was a little nervous about signing up... There's only so much a degree in Philosophy can prepare you for. However, the week long orientation did a lot to put me at ease. The team were super supportive, and packed a lot in to that first week, and by the end (whilst still obviously very nervous) I felt a lot more prepared and comfortable. Then it was off to Cauquenes, Maule.

I had an incredible host family - Pati and Pedro, a lovely couple in their 60s, who spoke very little English but still went out of their way to make me very welcome in their home. I still talk to them now, and feel like we made a real impact on each others lives. I know in this I was super lucky, and that some of my friends had problems with their host families, but from what they told me, the program always stepped in and helped whenever there was an issue.

My school was amazing, and very accommodating. I worked with high school, and the students messed around a bit but on the whole were great for me. I got into the routine of teaching, following the teaching model that the program taught us in orientation, and as I got more comfortable, my classes got better and better (at least I thought so!). The semester passed so quickly I wasn't ready to come back home, so I spoke to the team and extended for another year!

My second school was in Santiago, and was a million miles away from my first experience. This time, I was working in a much poorer area, and the students were a lot more badly behaved. For me, this was tough - coming off the back of my first experience, I thought it would be a walk in the park, and I quickly learned that it was not. Luckily, I reached out to the team, and one came to visit me in school (this is normal practice, they visit every volunteer at least once throughout the semester). The advice they gave me, and the continued support via email and telephone, made a world of difference to my lessons, and gave me the confidence to see it through. It also improved my classroom control no end!

In Santiago, I lived on my own rather than with a host family. I felt that it was the right thing for me at the time, and it was definitely a great experience. But I only felt like I got the most out of it because I lived with a host family first, and had immersed myself in Chile and built up contacts in the city before I made the decision. I would highly recommend staying with a host family, because its a part of the experience you just can't replicate on your own. For me, becoming part of someone else family, immersing myself in their culture, was a definite highlight. I even started following my host dad's football team (vamos Colo-Colo!). Also, whilst the stipend is pretty generous, I did have to dip into my savings. The program had given us a heads up that this was normally the case, and I don't see it as a negative or a criticism of the program - Santiago is an expensive city from any country's point of view, and if you're working as a volunteer for a government program, you're not doing it for the money!

I feel very privileged to have seen two such distinct parts of Chile, and to have been able to volunteer in twice. Every experience is unique, because Chile is such a diverse country, and every town and region has its differences, so you'll never know what you're in for until you're stepping off the bus/plane and being greeted by you local rep! Its not for the faint hearted, but if you love learning about other cultures, testing yourself to the limit, and making a difference in someone else's life, then this is the program for you.

What would you improve about this program?
Its hard to improve the program when its a government program. Municipal schools in Chile don't have a lot in the way of resources, nor is English seen as a high priority - but that what makes the experience rewarding! Wouldn't be much point encouraging people to study English if everyone was already fluent! Whilst there are sometimes problems, in my experience the team always supported us as much as they could, and have been a huge help to me.