So you’ve been thinking about volunteering abroad? Great! Volunteering is extremely enriching for both the volunteer and the recipient. You get to see a new culture, improve your self-confidence, make new friends, as well as give something back to help change the lives of others.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about travelling to Argentina too? Dotted with breath-taking natural wonders, charismatic cities, verdant pampas, and glistening glaciers, it’s easy to understand why you’d want to visit this country! Unfortunately, budgets, studies, and career commitments can often get in the way of explorations.
All is not lost, however. Adding together your wish to volunteer with your dreams of travelling is an equation you can do outside of the classroom or office. Immersing yourself in Argentine culture has the ability to enrich both your heart and mind as well as provide you with an invaluable experience which will constantly shape your life in the future.
In this article we will share 10 reasons why you should volunteer in Argentina.
- Apply your skills
Bored of the current 9 to 5? Looking to use and build on existing skills and knowledge in a more interesting setting? If so, volunteering in Argentina is for you. For example, if you have a background in business, you could find yourself working alongside local artisans selling their handicrafts at traditional street markets. If you’re a medical student, you could gain key experience by working in health centres and caring for those in need. If your goal lies in education, there are endless programs across the country which will allow you to teach English to inquisitive children. Maybe you have marketing experience which you could apply to projects aiming to expand their organisation, or maybe you want to experience the vast rural areas of Argentina by working with sustainable development projects.
- Learn more skills
Volunteering in Argentina will not only benefit the local community, but you yourself as well. In terms of your professional career, volunteering in Argentina will allow you to boast international work experience, an ability to work in and adapt to an unfamiliar environment, as well as an acquisition of new skills which you can add to your CV/résumé and use time and time again in the future.
- Two languages for the price of one
If you’re looking to improve the Spanish that you learned in the classroom, Argentina is the place for you! Argentines love to chat, and they love to chat fast, so you’ll have no option but to keep up. Through volunteering, you’ll meet a number of Argentinians who may not speak English or your native language very well, so being able to speak the lingo will be very advantageous indeed! What’s more, Argentine Spanish is very different to that of the rest of the world. The ‘y’ and ‘ll’ are pronounced with a ‘sh’ sound, they have a very particular slang known as ‘lunfardo’, and they even use a slightly different grammatical form to that of typical Castilian.
- Cross-cultural exchange
Despite being located far in the south, Argentina attracts like-minded volunteers from every corner of the world. If you choose to stay in accommodation provided by a volunteer organisation, meeting a wide range of nationalities will be unavoidable, thus allowing for an enriching cross-cultural exchange that cannot be found in your living room. Group interaction is also an essential element of any project, so be prepared to embark on a journey of personal growth as you meet many different creeds and cultures.
- 5-star hospitality
If experiencing local customs is high on your to-do list, Argentina is the place for you. The people are very friendly indeed; as soon as you have stepped out of your comfort zone, you’ll find approachable Argentinians making you feel right at home. They will offer you mate – a caffeine-rich infused drink – and probably invite you to a traditional asado, or Argentina barbecue. This seems like an opportune moment to mention the staple diet of steak and empanadas too – whatever you do, don’t miss out on these gems!
You won’t be volunteering every day, so there will be plenty of chances to travel around for a truly enriching experience. Head west to the cultural capital of Córdoba, the wine-region of Mendoza, or even Chile. Head south for the winter and discover the pristine Patagonian glaciers. Head north and you won’t be able to miss awe-inspiring Iguaçu. It’s even possible to head slightly to the west where you’ll find Uruguay.
- Become an Argentinian
Travelling is one thing, but volunteering will allow you to really dive into the true Argentine culture and society! You could read about the day-to-day life of a typical Argentine in books or online, but to truly experience a community and learn about the issues concerning the locals, you have to be in the country. If you want to return home as a prolific meat-eater or a professional tango dancer, there’s no better place to go!
- Slow down and relax!
There is so much to do in this vast and varied country (it measures a massive 2,780,400km2!) – getting bored is simply impossible! But the ability to properly relax is something Argentinians have mastered. They know how to make a proper coffee – be it a cortado, a lagrima, a submarino, or a simple café con leche – and they know how to sit down and enjoy it. Forget the fast-paced custom of grabbing a coffee to go and trying not to spill it on the street, take a few minutes to sit down and act like a local whenever you’re not volunteering.
- Life lessons
The chances are Argentina is not going to remind you of home. There are exotic waterfalls bordering the country, aggressive buses dominating the roads, outspoken citizens protesting their beliefs. This idea may seem a bit daunting initially, but the most challenging aspects of volunteering in Argentina can often be the most beneficial. Placing yourself in an unfamiliar environment will force you to use your initiative and your self-confidence will improve dramatically – something which sitting in a classroom or an office will never teach you.
- Influential impact
Argentina is a very big country, so don’t expect to completely transform the lives of all its citizens in one stay. It’s much more likely, for example, that it will be you who is completely transformed by the impact the Argentinians make on you. Volunteering is a great way, if not the best way, to learn from others and have others learn from you.
With all of its quirks and traditional customs, a visit to Argentina will be a unique cultural learning opportunity that you simply won’t be able to replicate anywhere else. Add in the satisfaction that comes with helping those in need as well as the opportunity to enhance your skills and knowledge, and you have a very appealing recipe for a life-changing experience. Whatever you do in the future, you will carry a piece of Argentina with you.