I was going to add an additional weekend post until I realized this is worthy of a weekday inclusion. If you’re thinking about vacationing in Spain this year or want to conduct some prep work before enlisting in a teaching English as a second language course you might want to consider applying for VaughanTown volunteer program.
It’s a 2-week program, unpaid but they do provide housing and meals. They’re not leaving you in a hostel room with 12 people either! For example, one of the accommodation schemes offered is at the Sheraton Santa Maria de El Paular in Rascafria, which is one hour outside of Madrid. If you check out the photos from the website the surrounding areas look gorgeous.
Why are they offering this? Director Richard Vaughan explains —
In July 2001 we did something that had never been done before: we transformed an abandoned Spanish village into a tiny but bustling metropolis whose official language was English. We “stocked” the village with 20 English speakers from all over the world and brought in 20 Spaniards, leaving the 40 to fight it out and have fun over 10 days.
The battle was fierce, and when the dust finally settled, we clearly had a draw on our hands: the Anglos had the most memorable 10 days of their life and the Spaniards were three times more fluent and confident with the English language.
Since our pilot project, we have conducted over 160 programs and attracted more than 6,500 English-speaking volunteers and Spanish clients. Gradually we are transforming this innovative cultural and linguistic experience into an ongoing venture, thereby establishing a true enclave for English improvement deep in the heart of Spain.
Participating in VaughanTown is a great way to connect with locals, school administrators and other travelers alike. Hopefully, if you are planning to teach professionally through one of the schools you can avoid a situation described in this post about a teacher being discriminated against as discussed at the Life Behind The Wall blog. As always, you must VET VET VET: men, friends, jobs, especially when you are moving abroad!
If you’re casually traveling it’s also a way to meet and mingle! You never know what opportunities may emerge. You will be working, though so you’re earning your keep and you are still responsible for getting to Spain. I think this is a great program worth checking out for the more adventurous reader.
Applications are first come, first served and on a rolling basis. So don’t let the grass grow beneath your feet.