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Twice the Fun! A Double Tribute to Mexico

By Nickelle Hale and Jess Ward 2 years ago
Categories Yucatan

Nikelle

I cannot believe I am already on my last stretch. A week and a half left on this two month journey, and it has been a more than incredible experience. From touring ruins, to reading a book everyone has been talking about, to seeing the kids everyday and hoping what you have to offer makes a difference. This has been beyond incredible.

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I never thought coming to volunteer in Mexico would be so fun! Not only have I been able to visit/be apart of some pretty amazing places/things, (including dia de Los muertos, dos ojos, chichin itza, merida…etc) but I have been immersed in a culture I never would have imagined. The people here are friendly and so accepting. The kids at the Ludoteca are adorable. They work hard to help you learn the language and are always very excited when you are able to teach them something new.

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I think my favorite part of the whole experience has been when I was able to help out in the Esculita, the special needs school. Those kids are so fun! But I’ve noticed no matter the project, you are needed, and the staff here works hard to include everyone in lesson planning and activities for the kids.

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I have learned so much from these fantastic people I am surrounded by everyday. I find it amazing that a bunch of people from all over the world can come together and have experiences together that will define and change our lives forever. From having thanksgiving dinner, to eating all types of different food from different cultures, we have created our own culture in the house that is constantly changing as people come and go. These people and kids are people I will never forget, they have changed my life for the better. I cannot wait to see what this next week will bring!

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Jess

I have just finished one month of volunteering in the Childcare & Arts volunteer program in Playa del Carmen. I spent my program volunteering at the Special Needs School (SNS), which is attended by seven children with disabilities. My mornings here involved helping the therapists with sensory, movement or developmental therapy. I would also supervise breakfast, join in with singing, and play with the students. We would play with puzzles, toys, or playdough and zoom around outside on scooters and pushcars, which was always a lot of fun. The children are so sweet and I loved spending time with them. There is never a dull moment! The three therapists at SNS made me feel very welcome and were wholly supportive as I learned the ins and outs of the work and practised my Spanish.

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I really enjoyed assisting with Equine Therapy on Monday or Saturday afternoons, which is one of the therapies run by the SNS. My role was to lead the horse around a training ring while the therapist worked with a child on the horse. It was wonderful to see how much the children enjoyed being on the horses and I found it relaxing to spend an afternoon with the children, their parents and therapists in a beautiful setting outside of school.

As part of my volunteer program, I organised an art project for the children at SNS. I chose the Arts & Childcare program because I love arts and crafts, and I hoped to bring that enjoyment to the children too. For the project, I gave each child sponges cut into different shapes, brightly-coloured paint and a canvas each, and just let them paint! It was such a fun activity and everyone ended up with a lot of paint everywhere. One student even decided it was a good idea to paint his smock, t-shirt and his belly! The paintings were amazing and each so unique. The younger students were able to paint without any help and it made me very proud to see what they created. The teachers plan to sell the children’s paintings to raise money for the school and it makes me so pleased that the project will contribute to the future running of the school. I only wish I could take the paintings home with me!

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I had plenty of free-time outside of volunteering. I relaxed on the beautiful Caribbean beach and explored Playa del Carmen downtown, which has some delicious local restaurants, juice bars and ice-cream shops to discover. I loved to go out salsa dancing every Friday night (beginners welcome, thank goodness!). Another favourite activity was Wednesday night Mexican cooking classes followed by card games, which could get very competitive! My weekends were spent exploring sights around the local area with other volunteers, who are now close friends. I loved visiting the ruins of Tulum and Coba, swimming in the many cenotes, snorkeling with turtles at Akumal, driving a golf cart around Isla Mujeres and sailing around the lagoon in Bacalar. I feel so lucky to have seen such beautiful places!

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To anyone thinking about volunteering overseas, I highly recommend GVI and the Childcare & Arts program. The GVI staff are so supportive and passionate about their work, the projects are valuable and important to the community, and you get to meet other amazing volunteers from all around the world. This has been an unforgettable and rewarding experience. Adios Mexico!

– Jess (Aus, 25)

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