Learning Spanish? One of the best ways to really pick up a language is to immerse yourself in it, preferably in a location where it is spoken as a native language. Since Spanish is spoken as an official language in twenty countries around the world you have plenty of places to choose from. So where should you start? And what about the cost involved; travel can be expensive even if you budget well, meaning you might have to head back home before your Spanish really improves. One way around this is to volunteer in a Spanish-speaking country, like Bolivia. Not sure what volunteering opportunities to look for? Here are some suggestions!
WWOOF is one of the largest volunteering networks you can find. Focussing entirely on work that is environmental, ecological, and socially beneficial, WWOOF posts thousands of opportunities from all over the world. Would-be volunteers then read through these posts to check what work is wanted, for when and how long, what accommodation they will get, and any other information they need to know. Volunteers and hosts then communicate to see if they are a good fit, and other plans are made. This is where you find out if the country you are going to requires a visa, what you might be expected to bring with you, and so on.
So what kind of WWOOF opportunities are there in Bolivia? In Tarija, you could help harvest crops for sale as artisan food products, and help with marketing ideas. Or in La Paz you might help with arts and crafts, learn how to collect honey, and how to make medicinals. Or in Tiquipaya, you could learn about soil conversation through terracing, and how to make preserves. So much to choose from!
Workaway, like WWOOF, is a large volunteering network that features opportunities from all over the world. Unlike WWOOF, jobs do not only involve those dealing with environmental and social issues. So while you might find yourself on a farm, you could equally end up in a classroom teaching English, at the reception desk of a yoga center, cleaning bathrooms in a guesthouse, or looking after children. Like WWOOF, when volunteers read through the opportunities on offer they then contact the hosts, asking all of the questions they can think of before traveling. This way you get to know how many hours you’ll need to put in per day or per week, if the host expects you to contribute anything financially, and what there is to do on your days off. So neither party is in the dark about what is going to happen this conversation has to be thorough and honest before you even consider going anywhere!
So what could you do through Workaway? How about heading to Santa Cruz to help with a guest house with a host who is offering Spanish lessons for his volunteers? Or what about Rurrenabaque, where you can help with a wildlife rescue center in the jungle? Or for a smaller, more family-oriented opportunity what about Samaipata, where you can help a family finish building their house and taking care of their medicinal herb garden. The choice is yours!
Other volunteering opportunities
If you can’t find a volunteering opportunity on either of the above sites, all hope is not lost! There are other, smaller networks where you might find the ideal post for you. Remember to, whenever possible, organize your volunteering through a trusted site instead of going off your own back. And if that is what you need to do, well, then research properly beforehand! Volunteering should be a great experience for all involved; make sure that is what you get! Try places like Free Volunteering, or Hostel Jobs, whose opportunities for Bolivia get snapped up quickly because there aren’t a lot. Try this hostel in Sucre to see what kind of things might be expected of you. Wherever you end up volunteering we wish you happy travels and success!
Itching to be off already? We don’t blame you! Volunteering in Bolivia is a wonderful experience both for practicing your Spanish and getting to know some incredible people. We are offering a scholarship that might be the perfect opportunity to get your language and travel dreams on their way. Visit our language travel scholarship page to find out more!