Friday, August 15, 2014

An interview with UK volunteers, Kate and Antonella

You're half way through! How are you finding it?

K: it's gone so fast! It doesn't feel like enough time to have the impact we want to achieve now we know the community and the kids. But now we have a better idea of how long things take and how to be most effective. The people who we buy our food from and who drive the local taxis send their children to our programmes so we've really been welcomed into town life, it's really lovely.

A: I really enjoy it! I love all the projects and volunteers who I work with.  I haven't been homesick yet which is great. I find the people really welcoming, everyone says hello, which is so different from the UK! I feel at home and being able to use my Spanish is a big advantage.

What's the best thing about being an UpClose volunteer?

K: living so far away from town makes it really hard to socialise with the other ICS volunteer, but at UpClose we have a ready made family of volunteers from all over the world. Between the 7 projects and our group of up to 15 UpClose volunteers at a time we have a great network of support and there's always someone to do dinner or washing with! It's also much warmer down here compared to the city.

A: I'd say it is not only we work with ICS volunteers, we have the the opportunity to work with volunteers from all over the place. We have so many different projects, there's so much variety and a chance to get stuck into something you really enjoy. Everyone we work with we also live with, and the warm weather doesn't hurt!

What's been the most frustrating thing about your projects so far?

K: We put so much planning into our projects, but since we've been here there have been about 5 days set aside for public holidays making it very hard to pick up any speed with the classes we run. 2 of the projects I work with, the English class in Mallasa and the Nuestro Espacio after school club, we have planned minute by minute and have a theme per week. Losing days out of our timetable means we have to do a lot of shuffling around and its hard making sure everyone's on the same page.

A: I've experienced some health problems which have inhibited my involvement with some projects which I care about. So I've moved my timetable around quite a bit, I'm now helping with football classes, which come with their own challenges. At the moment we're struggling to find a coach who will attend more than one session!

Tell us about your favourite project

K: The English school is going really well so far, but my favourite project at the moment is working in the zoo. I didn't expect to like it so much, but being able to go in and make something physical which directly contributes to the work they do is very rewarding, especially when our other projects are much harder to pin down. Every morning at the zoo is different and we've gone from making beds and food piñatas for the monkeys to painting llama troughs, but I get to come away having produced something tangible,  which means a lot.

A: Although football has been challenging, today I ran a class of 40 children using both my Spanish skills and football coaching experience! It's nice to see the impact on the kids and how much they can enjoy something that I'm teaching. I think these classes will make a huge difference, not to mention our Action Friday, which will focus on improving the pitch and we hope to get some investment from local businesses for some turf. It would be great if we could achieve that.

What do you do in your down time?

K: The 'Greenhouse' is the volunteer house at UpClose where I live with 4 others. We have a big living area so we often have movie nights and dinners in together with the other volunteers. We've been bowling and there are lots of lovely places to eat in the local towns of Jupapina and Mallasa. I'm slowy working my way through the local cuisine! Every Wednesday we have a social with everyone from UpClose,  from finding somewhere to watch the Bolivar game to having pizza altogether in the place down the road.

A: As we have been working a lot and haven't had the chance to travel yet, me and the other volunteers have gone for meals and gone bowling together. As Bolivia is a very festive country we have attended 3 parades so far already, and one on the way. It was so cultural, we got to see lots of Bolivian dances and colourful outfits.

What picture best sums up your time so far? 


This is a picture of one of our after school club sessions where the volunteers are helping the children make planters to grow sunflowers in. They all had to put a value on their planter that would grow with their flower!


This is a photo of me and Jade at the zoo, sewing together hamocks for the monkey's new beds. its fun as its something you wouldnt usually associate with volunteering over here.

Written by Kate Clark and Antonella Scaccia from the UpClose team.

Edited by Kelly-Marie Roberts.

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