I wanted to travel. I wanted to experience a different country and culture. I wanted meaningful work and to engage in a new language. And I wanted to be done in a couple of months. Apparently I am a millennial.
When I started researching, I wasn’t sure if I would find anything, but I was delighted when I discovered GeoVisions' Tutor English Abroad to a Family in Chile program.
I'm now a month into my tutor English abroad program, and I am still delighted. I tutor a Chilean family in English for 15 hours a week, in exchange for meals, room, and wanderlust satiation.
Family & Teaching
Since arriving, I have been welcomed with open hearts and kisses on the cheek. I landed in Santiago and met the staff of GeoVisions’ partner program, Experiment Chile, who gave me a tour of the city. (Incidentally, the manager was a former member of the National Dance team, and my tour guide was a former National Soccer player.) Afterwards, I took a bus to Quilpué, a suburb of the well-known coastal cities Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, to meet my host family.
My experience with the family has, by itself, made my trip worthwhile. I have a soft spot for artists, and the children in particular are very artistic.
I appreciate the work GeoVisions and Experiment Chile did in connecting us to tutor English abroad.
The oldest son plays guitar, specializing in jazz fusion. The middle daughter is choreographing a dance for a festival at her school, and the youngest daughter is hilariously theatrical, on and off the stage. As well as being artistic, the father is an electrical engineer and combines both passions by producing music in his at-home recording studio. The mother loves raising her children and vegetable garden, and despite the language barrier (I speak very little Spanish), she has introduced me to her friends at her hydro-aerobics class, and has been out-going and kind.
They are a self-reliant family, and as the father told me, proud to be independent in thought and free of debt. I have been on family outings and introduced to friends, and despite my best efforts, they have repeatedly been too generous--taking me on tours of the cities, driving me to new locations or concerts, and cooking me delicious food.
I teach the whole family, and although scheduling can get a bit tricky, it's a joy to teach them because I get to talk to and learn the personalities of each family member. With those who understand English well (the father and two older children), I converse and correct pronunciation and other faux-paus. To the mother and youngest daughter, I teach vocabulary and some basic grammar. I didn’t have experience teaching English, but fortunately for me, there are many teaching resources available.
Geography & Travel
Fifteen hours of work a week is, well, easy, so I have plenty of time to explore the dramatic landscape. Chile outlines the southern Andes as they slope into the Pacific ocean--snowcapped peaks in the south becoming green as they extend into the central regions, browning as they reach the dry and salted Atacama Desert. It is, in short, a country overloaded with perfect sunset spots.
My favorite things so far all involve the landscape, and a few examples follow:
- Valparaíso: A city famous for its multicolored homes stacked from the beach to the peaks. The home of Pablo Neruda made me jealous I'm not a wealthy and renowned poet.
- Viña del Mar: A beach city, and although I am too fair skinned to be a beach person, it's hard not to love hearing the huge waves crash into the beach while looking at the mountains, sea, sky, and city scapes. The sand dunes of Concon offered my favorite view.
- La Campana: A mountain close to Quilpue in a national preserve maintained for hiking. While camping there, virtually nobody else was on the trails, and the solitude made everything seem all the more remote and exciting.
- The Weather :Ideal in February; there is usually fog in the morning, but the afternoon welcomes the sun and 70 degree temperatures.
A Happy Trek
The best way I could have visited Chile was by finding a host family. It's not a hot-bed of tourism, and there are a handful of peculiarities (like the stray dogs, understanding typical schedules, and Chilean slang) that were helpful to have explained.
If you are thinking about a GeoVisions Tutor English Abroad program, consider Chile!
This was my first time living outside The United States, and the transition has been mostly pain-free and very rewarding. I have felt welcomed and connected.
It's not difficult here to find common ground for conversation because there is so much United States and European influence on television and the radio. For instance, the youngest daughter calls me Harry Potter, and a few weeks ago, there was a music festival in Viña del Mar headlined by Lionel Richie and Rick Astley. (My host family had not heard about getting “Rick Rolled,” but appreciated the humor.)
Experiencing Chile was the right decision for me. I have learned more than I can express --which is why this program is an “experience.”
I feel energized to start the next thing. ¡Salud y buena suerte!