‘A Life Enriching Experience’ - Volunteer Care Work Project in ArgentinaAn interview with Changing Worlds volunteer Sonja Brugger who joined us on a rewarding Care Work project in Argentina. Here Sonja tells us all about her best bits of her time in Buenos Aires and why she would definitely recommend it to others!
Why did you decide to go overseas?
I was looking for an experience in a different country, outside of Europe, but however close to our cultural background. Further, I wanted to study some Spanish while volunteering.
What did you achieve during your placement with Changing Worlds?
Organizing events with the kids, such as visiting museums, the Fox TV Channel Studios in Buenos Aires, handling recreation activities, such as movie afternoons, drawing and painting afternoons, group plays, treasure hunts etc. Further helping the other volunteers/workers with donations and other activities (preparing birthday parties, taking kids to school, etc).
What did you achieve personally from the experience?
Really a lot! It was a unique experience, the location became somehow my family for the two months. Besides getting to know the Argentinian culture, it was a great thing to work with the kids each day, getting them to know and helping them getting through tough times. The personnel of the local team is very professional, reliable and has a big heart. This place is outstanding in their achievements and devotion to the kids that they host.
What was a typical day like?
There are not typical days, but mostly we helped organizing the donations, helped out in the kitchen, babysitting the small kids, playing with all the kids either in their homes or at the playgrounds, etc.
What are your most memorable moments?
Spending time with the kids, helping the people on the grounds managing the kids on a every day basis, taking them on visits to museums etc., but also getting to know the other volunteers and people engaged in the orphanage.
What was the social life like?
We spend all of our time at the orphanage, thus the evenings – once off duty - were spend with other volunteers. That was also a great opportunity to learn more about the culture and religion.
What were the local people and culture like?
Super friendly and accommodating. Very helpful, open minded and easy to get along with. Speaking some basic Spanish was quite helpful.
What did you try that you had never tried before?
Staying with more than 10 kids every day playing, entertaining them and making them have a good time!.
What are your top 5 must-see places in Argentina?
Buenos Aires, the Glaciers in Patagonia, the waterfalls of Iguazu, Tierra del Fuego and Salta (last one I have not seen, but it is definitely on my list).
What are your top 5 things to do in Argentina?
Travel and again travel, learn Spanish, taste the great Argentinian food and dance tango.
What were you doing before you went away?
I was and am a manager working in the TV industry.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to go on the trip and how did you overcome them?
Understanding how to manage financial resources (Argentina has a high inflation, thus the best is to exchange cash directly in country); ATM’s are almost never working, so the worries how to get cash are tremendous. Learn at least some basic Spanish (I went to Spanish class for the first 10 days, which was highly helpful.
If you took a gap year or a career break, why did you do this, and what have you gained from doing so?
I was able to take just 2 months, but even if it was a short time, it opens your mind also when coming back home to your routine: you are more confident about what you do, and less worried about how to get over obstacles as they seem quite easy compared to what people have to face in their lives under tougher circumstances.
Has the experience affected your ‘life plan’ in any way and if so how?
Sure in terms of living without prejudice and fear. Sure in having learned that I could basically start over again from scratch if I needed to. Not in terms of dropping my current life and leaving it all behind, but absolutely in terms of wanting to continue to support social projects also in the future.
Would you recommend it to others and if so why?
Absolutely YES! It is a life enriching experience, I have gained new friends and views, and can’t wait to travel back to Argentina as to see the kids again and go visit some more areas in this beautiful country.
To find out more about this amazing project and how you can get involved check out our Argentina page here.
"The experience of becoming a ski instructor was out of this world. The group bonded and we all met friends for life! The local people were the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever come across."Samantha Platt , Sports, Canada
"I am extremely passionate about this project and being a professional photographer, meant I could teach a wide range of skills to the kids".Remy Whiting , Art & Craft, South Africa
"Having the in-country contacts to work on my own photography stories was perfect. Thanks to all involved".James Burton , Art & Craft, South Africa
"This law internship gave me a unique perspective on law in Africa and has certainly widened my options within the law field".Andy Smith , Business & Law, Ghana
"Thanks to all the Ghana team for making this law internship happen for me. Such an amazing experience and Ghanaians are sooo friendly."Jemma Mansfield , Business & Law, Ghana
"It was so interesting working into the law sector in Ghana and getting this experience. Such a great way to spend my summer doing something totally different."Mark Fulton , Business & Law, Ghana
"Costa Rica is such a wonderful country and being able to help out on the care work project with the children was such a privilege."Lara Gillard , Care Work, Costa Rica
"The whole team in Costa Rica were awesome and really helped me make the most our of my time there both on the care work project and showing me the adventures of the country."Tom Smith , Care Work, Costa Rica
"This placement gave me the mix of helping young children and also experiencing a totally different culture. My Spanish has really improved too."Kiki Jones , Care Work, Costa Rica
"I am studying in animal welfare and this placement was perfect in getting real life experience relevant to my career".Gordon Bennell , Wildlife & Conservation, Costa Rica
"The whole experience was fantastic from the staff at the rescue centre, to Andy and his family. Thank you for looking after me so well."Ruth Eales , Wildlife & Conservation, Costa Rica
Fab way to start my week, our guide was awesome and gave us so many tips. Met an amazing group of people and the team in the office really help you sort your time out after you've finished the first week. Would really recommend to solo travellers.Emma Lowton , Adventure, New Zealand
On arrival, I felt as unprepared as can be, knowing no one, having no plans nor ideas of how to get along in New Zealand really. The in-country team did it all for me. Organise my trip. Booking it. Coming from experienced backpackers you know what's going on and getting to know awesome people from all around the world and maybe even some mates to travel with.Sean Neitzel , Adventure, New Zealand
Had the best time travelling around New Zealand. The team made it possible and can sort everything out for you with no problem. I would highly recommend them and will definitely be using them for my next adventure.Annie Frances Pritchard , Adventure, New Zealand
The opportunity to coach and nurture the next generation of sportsmen and women in Costa Rica was an opportunity that I couldn't give up, and I am so glad that I didn't! I had a great time and made some lifelong friends!Jack Johnston , Teaching, Costa Rica
I had a such an inspiring and life changing experience coaching in Costa Rica. The kids had such an appetite for coaching and their enthusiasm was infectious. My fellow coaches and I worked well as a team and I developed some truly great friends as a result.Charlie Blaken , Teaching, Costa Rica
What a Blast! I can honestly say that I could not have had a better time in Costa Rica as I did. Everyone was so friendly, helpful and up for a laugh, all making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone, and might even come back at some point in the near future!Danny McVey , Teaching, Costa Rica
I had a really great time in Costa Rica, honing my Spanish linguistic skills, and I really improved over the 2 weeks that I spent out there. I would like to thank all of the in-country staff for all the effort they put in, it was an intense and thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience.Lewis Worthington , Languages, Costa Rica
This has been by far the most rewarding holiday I have been on. I'll be the first to admit that the idea of an educational holiday didn't at first appeal to me, but the improvements I made in the four weeks I spent out there means that my confidence in my Spanish has improved immensely.Charlie Jones , Languages, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is not only a truly stunning country with welcoming, hospitable people, but it is also where I conquered my 'phobia' of speaking Spanish, and for this I am incredibly grateful. Such a rewarding and exhilarating experience in a wonderful country.Max Foster , Languages, Costa Rica