Meet Patricia (Chicago, USA) – The EG Storybook

 

About me

 
Patricia Caffrey, volunteer at English Getaway

My name is Patricia Caffrey and my story is a strange one. I was born in Chicago, Illinois in the United States, but my vagabond parents, looking for the home of their dreams, moved all 7 of us from place to place for many years: we lived in Spain, Austria, England, France, and, of course, the US too. We were enrolled in the local schools in all those places and we learned to cope in many languages at a young age. This nomadic childhood gave me a love of travel and of foreign places that I have not yet recovered from. I believe it made me become a volunteer at English Getaway too. At my age!

I studied theatre and literature at university, and, after teaching English in Paris for many years, I finally went back to theatre, co-founding a bilingual theatre company in Paris. Dear Conjunction still exists and we produce 2 or 3 productions every year, most often in English, but sometimes in French, and then we perform the plays for several weeks in different languages.
Working in theatre changed my life of course, because it is a passion and a life style. If you don’t like hard work and sacrifice, don’t even think about it!

 

Being a volunteer at English Getaway

 

A good friend from university who’s a Spanish professor told me about English Getaway so I volunteered and was accepted! The whole experience was wonderful: the travelling to you by train from southern France, meeting fellow volunteers from all over the world, and then the exchange with the Spanish students.
 
English Getaway comida
 
I met people I will never forget, and even though the programme was a tough one, requiring a lot of concentration and hard work on their parts, we had a lot of fun together, played, got to know each other. We ate, drank, learned and played together, and they were always ready to go, ready to try, ready to give. All this in a beautiful setting. That’s not something you see every day. I think it was a real “cultural exchange”. Thank you!

 
English Getaway participants and volunteers
 

Meet Ellie and Nik (England, UK) – The EG Storybook

 

About us

 

Nik and EllieWe’re Ellie & Nik. We met on a Yoga Trip in Greece in 2016 and since then have been pursuing a life of sustainability, self-sufficiency and eco friendliness. This passion made us try the volunteering experience at English Getaway.

Ellie studied English Literature & Linguistics at the University of Manchester, and Nik achieved a first class honours in Philosophy at Newcastle -upon-Tyne.

Both have been excited by different methods of learning through travel and experience from a young age. Ellie flew to Girona on her gap year to spend 3 months as an au pair teaching a family how to speak English, Nik went to Brazil and volunteered on a rainforest restoration project called Iracambi. Ellie picked up some Spanish as well as some understanding of Catalan, and Nik became comfortable with casual Portuguese.

After finishing our respective degrees in June of 2016, we agreed we wanted to make something of our own eco-community, something with land, natural structures and lots of vegetables. First Ellie went volunteering in Ghana with a women’s charity called WOSAG where she introduced reusable sanitary pads to rural communities as a means of hygiene as well as income. Nik got a job in a local restaurant to save some money and get some experience before our planned journey.

We left for Asturias in March 2017, drawn to the North for the mountains, luscious scenery and the amount of permaculture projects listed on workaway.info. Now we have a base of our own, amongst making compost and bashing brambles. Nik is studying a TEFL course in order to work as a language assistant in local schools. We are both intending to teach privately to support ourselves and help the local community.

 

Our volunteering experience at English Getaway

 

We came to the Getaway directly from Finisterre, as we’d just finished walking El Camino De Santiago. Zach & Paula gave us such a warm welcome and we connected instantly as they told us how they had met on the camino.

 

Cena Asturiana

 

It’s easy to see how their project is inspired by the camino; with a mixture of people from English and Spanish speaking cultures exchanging knowledge and experience in Northern Spain. The magnificent Asturian-style menu also honoured the food traditions of our surroundings, which gave the program a balance of maintaining respect for Spanish culture whilst teaching another language.

The structure of the program was packed with a range of activities to keep motivation high and enjoyment at a maximum. As a volunteer, it was very enjoyable to get to know so many people through the one-to-one discussions and participation in group activities. Both teaching and learning was made easy by the fact that volunteer to student relationships quickly progressed into friendships.

 

intercambio-cultural-the-getaway-asturias

 

We’re still in contact with everyone we met on the Getaway, and even lived with one of the students a few months later, to help with work needed on their land. English Getaway is not just about learning another language, through meeting a range of people knowledge grows and one can’t help learning about places, experiences, stories, other lives and opportunities in the world.

As teachers, we learned so much from the Getaway experience, and were so happy to see the incomparable progress of each student in just seven days. If there was ever a doubt about the immersion method, English Getaway eradicates that. It’s truly inspiring to see projects such as this in rural Asturias working so successfully. Thank you Zach and Paula, we’ll surely see you in the mountains again soon.