There’s no room for doubt, traveling is always a unique and thrilling experience, because you don’t only get to see new and exotic places, but also meet people, learn about their customs and traditions, etc.
Different places offer a different outlook on the experience and though every trip is special in its own way, nothing ever really compares to traveling in order to volunteer abroad, which it’s on a league of its own.
Volunteering not only allows visitors to interact with locals on a deeper level, it also gives them the chance to see and learn things that are not usually shown by the tourist guides, mainly because they are not considered that important nor attractive, or simply because tourist agencies don’t know about them.
In the end, volunteering makes for a great learning experience, but it’s not without little hiccups, especially in the communication area, because while English has basically established itself as the main language for tourist destinations, the truth is that even in those places, not everyone talks English, least of all in places where volunteer work is done.
And while there are plenty of ways to get around the language barrier, such as using google translate and other language apps to help you say what you wish, as well as the use of body language and gestures, and talking slowly and clearly, nothing can substitute being able to actually talk the language.
Talking the natives language comes with plenty of benefits such as:
Blending in.- Natives from most countries, especially the Spanish speaking ones, are often suspicious of foreigners, which is why being included and completely taken in by them can take some considerable time, and in some cases, it can just not happen. Therefore speaking the language or actually making an effort to do so, could very well open them up more for you since they would see you respect them and their culture.
Avoid misunderstandings.- As it was previously mentioned, the use of language apps can help you communicate, but that’s not without its missteps, some words cannot be translated literally word by word, and there’s also the cultural aspect to consider, what’s proper in your language or country might not be in the one your volunteering. And while there are very detail orientation sessions, there’s always the chance of something not being mentioned.
Speaking the same language can help you a great deal to avoid this.
Learn new things.- Speaking the same language as the people of the country your volunteering on can help you not only to integrate but also learn even more things about their culture, traditions, etc. Knowing Spanish, for example, could make it easier for you to learn some traditional dancing, poetry, and many other arts.
Therefore, in order to make your volunteering abroad an even better experience, why not take a few hours of your time to learn the language? Nowadays there are plenty of ways to do so even if your already abroad, there are always spanish classes online as well as instructors who can reach you by skype, the only thing you need is to really want it.