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Budget Volunteer Vacations: Glorious Week of Food and Conversations in Spain

As part of our on-going series, Budget Volunteer Vacations , we spotlight low cost, no frills volunteer travels to various destinations around the world. These trips do not include airfare, but meals and lodging are often included at no cost or for a minimal cost of $100-$200. These trips are great add-ons to your vacations!

Finding a volunteer vacation that doesn’t require you to master the local language can be hard. That’s why Pueblo Ingles might be just the kind of trip you’re looking for!

Literally, “Pueblo Ingles” means “English village”. Established in July 2001 as a complimentary tool to traditional English language teaching, Richard Vaughan and his team transformed an abandoned Spanish village into a tiny metropolis whose official language was English. Since then, they have conducted over 160 projects with more than 6,500 English-speaking volunteers and Spanish clients. They now have four locations throughout the rural villages of Spain.

Photo by sedoglia

As a volunteer, all of your food and accommodations come as part of the package; all you have to do is speak English to the Spaniards to help them better their conversation skills. Programs are available from mid-January through the end of November, with the most programs available during the summer months. Because Pueblo Ingles provides accommodations, you just need to pay for your flight(s) and possibly one or two extra days of accommodations depending on when you fly back home.

Programs last one week and your days consist of one-to-one, two-to-two and various group conversation exercises. Rather than teaching English in the traditional sense, the goal is to expose Spaniards to normal, everyday conversation – including presentations and light-hearted group activities, like theater sketches.

“Total immersion,” however, means just that. In a recent ABC article, “Good Morning America” weekend anchor Bill Weir tells of his experience with Pueblo Ingles. On his arrival, there was a fire burning in the common area’s hearth, and the rooms were a “Romeo and Juliet” two-story style. To help enforce the rule of “English only”, a Spaniard stays in one room while a volunteer stays in the other and they share a living space and a kitchenette. With the exception of a 2-hour break after lunch, every hour is scheduled and the tolling of the bell means that it’s time to talk. As previously mentioned, this isn’t just polite small talk, either: there are skits, games and group presentations, as well as phone calls, pretend business meetings and intense one-on-one conversations. Weir describes his experience as, “…summer camp, with constant conversation instead of archery and s’mores,” While the break is a welcome respite, just as Weir is relaxed and comfortable, the bell rings and it’s time to go back to work.

Since Pueblo Ingles requires only that you be on time and speak English, this volunteer vacation is a great way to meet new people, enjoy some good food and wine, take in the beautiful sights and – best of all – be yourself.

For more information, visit http://www.vaughanvillage.com.

Contributed by Heather Berkowitz

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