I spent the month of October working with Iko Poran in Rio de Janeiro on projects teaching English, Art, and Dance. I met some wonderful people, some of whom will hopefully remain friends forever. It was good to make a difference, even for a short while, to the lives of people who in some cases have so little. But what they may lack in resources they make up for many times in their enthusiasm for learning. I was able to contribute on a number of programmes and I think the more adaptable you are, the more you will get out of the experience. Rio de Janeiro is an amazing place, not without its problems, and you do have to take care travelling around, however one of the best aspects of the experience for me was being able to live almost like a local, travelling miles on the rattling buses, eating very economically in “local” restaurants, really feeling a part of the community. You just would not get that coming as a tourist. A tourist will get to know places….a volunteer will get to know people!
I would have liked a brief sheet with information for the projects.
Address, contact details, history of the project, website if there was one, just to be as familiar as possible before getting struck in. Also some projects are quite far away and the prospect of getting lost was always there, although it didnt happen.
Just completed a month of volunteering in Rio de Janeiro with Iko Poran. I worked in programmes in teaching English, Art, and Dancing. It felt good to be making even a small difference in the lives of people who in many cases have so little. Iko Poran were excelent hosts and made sure my time was well spent in projects that suited my skills and abilities, as well as leaving me time for my own tourist activities, and pursuing my own drawing and painting hobby.
– Bob Black
Volunteering in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities of the world – dubbed as “Cidade Maravilhosa” by the Cariocas, residents of Rio. Cidade Maravilhosa means the Wonderful City, as it stretches out with curving hills overlooking magnificent beaches, and protected by “Christ the Redeemer” on top of Corcovado.
The residents of Rio are open-minded people and will welcome you with open hearts. Even if there is a language barrier, local people will communicate naturally with you. Pretty soon you grap some words of Portuguese. If you have any chance of learning some Portuguese before travel, the people will love it. With just a few words like “Bom dia” or “Tudo bem?” you will make local people very happy! With volunteer programs of four weeks or more, Portuguese lessons are being provided anyway.
Find out more about volunteering in Brazil.
Had an amazing experience with Iko poran in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although I signed up to volunteer for the art and design program, I was essentially more so of a student myself because the students at the program were my age and mostly independent with their studies.
Despite this, I was accepted and treated with extreme kindness even though there was a language barrier. I made some amazing friends with the students who taught me so much about Brazilian culture, Portuguese, and art (as I am an art student myself). The other volunteers who I was staying at the accommodation with were doing other programs where they were actually volunteering. Although I still had a lot of fun at my program and feel as though I made special and hopefully lifelong connections with the students, so to me it was fulfilling.
I was staying at Felipe’s home (the Director of Iko Poran), and he and his family were very nice and would check in to see if me or the other volunteers were satisfied with our program placement. We stayed in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa which had a gorgeous view of neighboring favelas and the christ of redeemer. Because the accommodation is so close to favelas, it is not the safest place but if you have common sense and listen to the directors advice you shouldn’t have any problems. I didn’t have any issues and had to commute back and fourth to my program on my own, getting back at night. Remember that if you come it isn’t for a nice luxurious vacation, but rather to make a difference helping abroad. So being able to adapt and work with what you get is essential. My only complain is that I wish I had more time getting Portuguese lessons since I stayed for 4 weeks and only received a week of it. Otherwise everything was good for me and I still got to practice Portuguese at my program. Overall its an extremely rewarding experience that helped me get out of my comfort zone and I would highly recommend it.
Find out more about volunteering on Arts & Design in Rio de Janeiro