I spent two weeks as a teaching assistant at a rural kindergarden. The experience was way different than I expected.
The children live very difficult family circunstances and you have to be ready to see and hear some heartbreaking experiences. Nonetheless they are very loving and affectionate to volunteers so you instantaneously feel welcomed. Then is up to you how you want to make an impact.
In my experience I came to the realisation that you cannot educate them in two weeks, and what these children really needed was love and support.
I recommend Iko Poran for this type of program because they offer support at all times if any doubts or concerns arise.
I was able to contact the Peruvian based advisor by whatsapp at al times regrding my situation and even touristic doubts and the host family was always there for a chat if you are having trouble adjusting.
Adriana has been volunteering in Cusco, Peru
Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand. Experience Thailand from a local perspective & make lifelong friends.
Join the centuries old tradition of training ‘domestic’ elephants by mahouts in Thailand.
The volunteer program aims to offer a responsible and sustainable alternative to the fate often faced by elephants in Thailand. Because of the dissolution of the logging industry, many elephants are taken to urban areas to beg for money and are often mistreated. Therefore, our elephant volunteer program continues to lead the way in Surin in helping to change attitudes towards elephant care for the better.
Since all the activities are about caring for the elephants and treating them with respect, we put our strict no riding policy. Therefore, your work schedule will include walking them to the river to bathe them, harvesting and planting food, feeding the elephants, everything is based around a new approach to elephant care that puts the elephant first.
The program will bring you in touch with the elephants. Therefore, the close and personal contact with these magnificent creatures on a daily basis will be an unforgettable beautiful experience. At the same time you will see the real Thailand, the daily life of its residents. Living in a traditional long house with other volunteers, that’s rural Thai life at it’s very best!
Not available at the moment. Please choose from one of our other Teaching English Programs in South America:
This summer I had an unforgettable experience in South Africa. Thank you Iko Poran for this exceptional travel! Sure, I will do it again!
Ute Heinzel from Germany goes to Brazil, she wants to teach English in Rio de Janeiro. On a visit to Belo Horizonte she learns to see the land of her childhood with new eyes, and spontaneously decides to leave her life as a marketing executive in chic London for a year to give something to the poorest of the poor in the favelas, to teach them English. At the beginning, her Portuguese is still basic and she has yet to get used to being considered a “Gringa” in her childhood country.
Every morning she has to get up just after six to get the bus in time, which then has to find it’s way through the morning traffic jam in the Avenida Brasil to the suburb Batan. But Ute quickly gets to know the people from de Favela, makes friends, and gets her English students on their toes. Also, the life in the hostel, where she is housed as a volunteer, she appreciates very much.
The shared chats with the other volunteers, excursions and barbecues, where she is invited by the project coordinator Felipe, quickly make her forget the simple conditions in the dorm of the hostel. After all, Rio de Janeiro lives more outside. In the end, contrary to her original intentions, she meets a love, begins on joint excursions to see Rio through the eyes of a Brazilian.
Brasil was the country of my childhood, as my Dad took me to Rio when I was eight years old. It took me 26 years to return to Brasil. In 2014 I went to Belo Horizonte, but my views on life changed with this visit. I’ve lived in Berlin and live in London now, so I’m used to homelessness and poverty, or so I thought. Seeing drug addicts and homeless people in Brasil made rough sleepers in London almost look cushty. That was when I felt that I had been extremely lucky in my life and that it was time to give something back, and so I decided to volunteer.
Once I had made the decision to volunteer, I did some research and was overwhelmed with the possibilities and organisations. I actually wanted to build houses in a favela, but the particular organisation that offered the program allowed volunteers only to stay for a maximum time of four weeks. As it was clear to me that I’d apply for a sabbatical at work and that I’d like to stay for at least three months, I decided against it. Instead I thought of how people at work always told me that I train them so well, so I thought “Why not teach English?”.
Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city, one of the best places in the world. Despite the fact that more than six million people live there, you can actually manage to meet the same people over and over: at the bus stop, at the many Botecos, at the beach. I loved the diversity in the city and how widespread it was. I was never really scared and felt pretty safe most of the time. That said, I think it does make a difference if you make sure to dress as simple as possible to not attract unnecessary attention. I will always be spotted as a
gringa, my skin will just not get dark enough and my Portuguese is still slow, but if you make the impression to have everything under control, I experienced that people are cool with you.
The program itself is surely not unique, teaching English to underprivileged people in favelas is something that every organisation offers. What made it unique for me was that Felipe, the manager of Iko Poran, was always hands-on with everything; from picking the volunteers up from the airport to driving them to the placements to going out for drinks and organising spontaneous BBQs, he was always up to get together and interact with us. His life experience makes a huge difference in how he handles things and I felt in really good hands during my three months stay in Rio.
My experience at the turtles project was amazing. I had a lot of fun and met fantastic people from all over the world. The village is totally safe and local people are really kind.
The patrols at night were fine, you have to walk for four hours on the beach with guides, and if you’re on a lucky night you’ll get to see turtles coming slowly from the ocean, crossing the beach and laying eggs just in front of you. It’s something you want to live in your life, and something you want to protect.