Katie Hughes is heading to San Alfonso, Chile

We have awarded one of our Footprinter Grants this year to Katie Hughes. She’s heading to San Alfonso in Chile to teach English at a primary school. It sounds like a thoroughly worthwhile volunteer year, and we wish her the best of luck!

Katie Hughes

Katie Hughes writes ahead of her time in Chile

In August this year I will be moving to a rural village outside Santiago, Chile with a partner whom I am yet to meet. But this daunting idea is something I have always known I’ve wanted to do. Travelling is a great passion of mine, and while given the opportunity to travel I will also be given the great responsibility and challenge of teaching English to young Chilean children in a local primary school.

Learning to navigate the language barrier

In Chile, I will be living in the home of a Spanish-speaking host family with my partner which I expect to be a great opportunity to learn, first-hand from my hosts, about the interesting culture of the country. I expect, to begin with, there may be a bit of a language barrier. I’m not sure how much English my host family will speak and I can’t say that I can speak fluent Spanish, despite sitting my Higher in 5th year.

Volunteering in the local primary school may bring the same challenge at first. However, I expect it won’t take long before I pick it up since I’ll be exposed all-day every day to the language. It’s hard to say how difficult I think the actual teaching job would be. I know quite little about what I’ll be coming to! What I do know is that there is an English curriculum I will have to follow to teach the students. I’ve also been advised to bring interactive lesson ideas with me! I imagine that the job will require a large amount of enthusiasm which is something I am excited to bring!

There might be tough times

Although I am really looking forward to my year away from home, I know it’s possible that I will feel a bit homesick at times. I think that could be quite hard to deal with. Having said that, I know that it’s really important not to get discouraged. I’m sure it’s inevitable to feel that way at some point and I feel confident that I’ll be able to deal with whatever hard emotions I’m faced with.

So much more to gain than to lose

From my year volunteering I hope to gain a great sense of responsibility and independence from living so far away from home for a year. I’ll be working in a job which requires leadership and control. I’m hoping to gain so much more confidence in speaking to new people and working alongside people I have never met before. That will be a great skill to set me up for going to University.

Fluency in Spanish is definitely an important goal of mine as I love the language and would love to travel to other Spanish-speaking countries later on. Mastering Spanish would be of great use to me! I know that the job I’ll have will be of great value. This comes from the high level of tourism in Chile – being able to speak English as a Chilean will really open up so many doors for employment in the pupils’ adulthood. So, there is potentially a great impact I can make on these kids’ lives.

I also hope to form good relationships with the students and learn about what life is like for them where they live. And on the other side, I’ll learn how it differs to my own childhood back in Scotland. All in all, I know my year away will be exceptionally rewarding and will give me a much greater sense of global awareness.

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