I believe what we offer is a lesson in how to adapt to a third world environment in which time, space, expectations are radically different from they world our volunteers know. This does not mean that they should not be prepared. What they must be prepared to do, though, is give up their reliance on preparation once they get here. The whole point of coming to a place like this is to become vulnerable to a new experience and alive to new possibilities and strengths they discover within them. There would be nothing worse than a person coming here with a lesson plan in hand and an exact methodology. If carried out, the person would have only taught the lesson plan and not the child. He would have only practiced what he already knew and never discovered something new.
The best way to prepare for the trip is to thoroughly read this Volunteer Guide and do what it says, to arrive at the airport with an open heart and mind, be flexible to adapt to what comes at you, be creative to use all your skills and talents, and be cheerful to be there. As volunteers, we often want to do extensive planning and preparation to get ready for the trip, so we can maximize our usefulness and effectiveness during the week. So we can make sure to make a difference.
It is really not necessary to do a lot of preparation for your trip. You have such a huge reservoir of talent, skills, and experience within you to draw on when you arrive in country. You’ll be ready.
When you become so focused on what you can do to make a difference, you are likely to miss out on a lot of the trip. Dominicans and Nicaraguans live more day to day, in the present. They are more into “being”, not “doing.” In our ten principles, we call it “This is it.” It’s a great gift thelocals can give you, if you are willing to accept it.
When we are so committed to our planning and preparing and doing, it’s almost impossible to be receptive to this gift.
Dale Johnson, one of our former Team Leaders, says it this way:
Every volunteer who has come here and gotten the most out of the experience has been well prepared, but most of the time the joy of the experience has not occurred in their prepared activity. It has happened in the least likely moment, in the most obscure place. The only thing to prepare on a trip like this is your heart. So, I invite you to relax a little in regards to preparation for the trip. At the same time, be prepared to share your skills and talents and interests with the kids. If you’re a musician, bring an instrument or a song you’d like to teach the kids (English or Spanish). If you juggle, be ready to teach the kids. If you hackeysack, bring some extras so you can teach. If you’re an artist, think of some projects you might do with the kids. If you love science, bring a science photo book to share with the kids, or bring some ideas for small science experiments. If you know judo, be prepared to lead some judo classes with the kids. Let me know if you have any questions about this. If you don’t do any of those types of things, relax.
There is no typical weekly or daily schedule. Some volunteer teams are large, some are small. Sometimes the kids are in school, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes the weather is dry and hot, sometimes it’s cool and rainy.
That said, you might expect a normal volunteer week to consist of travel on Saturday to Jinotega, Sunday is orientation and prep day, Monday-Thursday are work days, Friday is usually a day for a volunteer field trip to see some culture, a visit to a women’s black pottery co-operative and a trip to a organic shade grown coffee farm. And most volunteers travel home on Saturday.
And you might expect a daily work schedule to consist of:
8:30-9:00: Announcements/Prep Time
1:00-2:00: Prep Time/Flex Time/Siesta
5:00-6:00: Free/Culture Time
7:00-9:00: Prep Time/Educational Talk/Games/Movie/Church
9:00-10:00: Free Time
10:00: Quiet Time
You will be working with other volunteers to prepare lesson plans. These are not complex lesson plans, and do not require pre-trip preparation. You will be provided learning objectives and a curriculum overview by your Outreach360 Program Leader during program orientation.
There can be significant walking during the week – from the Outreach360 Volunteer Center to your teaching location. Perhaps one mile each way, four times a day. Please bring comfortable walking shoes. If you believe you will have difficulty with this walking schedule, please communicate with us prior to the trip.