A fantastic program, I had a lot of fun and met some great people. From the city life of Quitto to the tranquil, surreal heights of the cloud forest, this program has a lot to offer. Those who are interested in conservation this is perfect, working in the cloud forest taught me a lot about life in the remote endangered parts of the worlds forests and with Galapagos on Ecuador's doorstep, this trip makes for an amazing adventure!
How can this program be improved?
If the AV students could be closer together whilst on the home stay.
AV Mexico= the best!
My experience in Mexico was unforgettable, the most amazing experience. So rewarding and so much fun! AV is a brilliant company, very supportive and there whenever you need them, and the placement schools are so welcoming. We taught lessons to enthusiastic kids (and keen teachers joining in), joined in with all the festival celebrations, and almost daily we were invited to different peoples houses from the village for food. Everyone was so friendly! We had great accommodation in a lovely village and there was a lot to do nearby in the afternoons and weekends. Mexico is a fantastic place to travel around and we went on lots of adventures in our time off. Whenever people ask about gap year advice, I always recommend AV. Best experience ever!! Thank you AV!
My time in Mexico
Where to start? The teacher training we received from AV on arrival was golden; we learnt tricks for teaching vocabulary from numbers to verbs/tenses to objects, and songs, and keeping their attention span high. We were also taught about how to cook ingredients most commonly found in the markets.
We were a small group of 15 volunteers and bonded straightaway.
Our village was big with a supermarket, numerous corner shops selling snacks and drinks, and a big outdoor market on Sundays. Unfortunately our house wasn't equipped with a fridge (something that the locals found inconceivable as they all had fridges, ovens, toasters, kettles. It meant that each day we had to plan our meals on the spot, and go food shopping every day. (I learned the hard way by eating one day old eggs that were left on the window sill.) There was a taxi rank, and numerous internet cafes.
I taught with another girl, who didn't speak any Spanish. We wouldn't have felt safe or confident enough to teach every day had it not been for my A-level Spanish. We taught in San Juan, a tiny village about a half hour away, walk along the main road. We got some odd looks and unwanted attention, but nothing harmful as we were sensible and kept our blond and ginger heads down. The most sound advice I can give is to simply make use of common sense regarding what could be conceived as 'dangerous' situations. The police were scary, but we were told that their weapons were rarely armed, and we didn't engage with them ever.
The children were so cute! Aged 5 to 18. The little ones marveled at the crayons and pencils we brought in to class for 'drawing days'. The students were more interested in asking about our countries than learning English. They enjoyed simply hearing us speak (English or Spanish). They loved knowing that we were interested in helping them. Sports days at the secondary school are memorable, when we joined in under the scorching mid-day sun! Food at the schools was typically Mexican (not Tex-Mex) refried beans and scrambled eggs, spicy sausage, maize tortillas. The food ladies (mothers) were adorable and kept us our respective favorite things!
We didn't drink the tap water. Do take anti-diarrhea tablets if you need them - they are the only way to get over travelers' flu! Support staff provided help if someone was down (either physically or mentally).
We managed to get away and explore a lot of Mexico which is a vast and diverse country. I would love to go back, to see how Amanalco has grown from a town into a small industrial cityn and to go back to the fantastic destinations we explored (Merida, Isla Mujeres, San Luis Potosi, Cabo San Lucas)
The way to travel is by overnight bus or plane. Travel in even numbers. Use common sense about leaving belongings unattended or flashing desirable objects (wallets, passports, ipods, cameras).
My time in Mexico made me more mature, improved my Spanish and worldliness, and gave me a thirst for teaching young Mexicans. I would recommend the experience to anyone who is looking for a rewarding, leisurely, emotional, and fun-packed time!
About Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Africa & Asia Venture (AV) offers unique immersive summer and gap year volunteering and work experience programs in Africa and Asia for those aged 17 to 25.
We build groups of individuals and, normally in pairs or fours but never on your own, you...