Meet Miranda (England, UK) – The EG Storybook

 

About me

 

volunteering in northern Spain: Miranda FloyMy name is Miranda Floy, and I’d like to share with you the story of the amazing weekend I spent last year volunteering in northern Spain with English Getaway.
I grew up near London and have lived there for over twenty years. I studied drama at university and then worked as an actor, performing in theatres all over the UK and in Europe, devising new work, workshopping new writing and delivering workshops to young people and adults. Later, I did an MA in writing and am currently working on a novel.

In 2016 I decided I’d had enough of London, so I gave up my office job and my flat to write and travel full time. I spent 7 months travelling all around Spain because I think it’s a such a beautiful country.

 

Volunteering in northern Spain

 

In spring 2017 I spent a wonderful weekend as a volunteer on the 3-day immersion programme. Everyone was so friendly, it was great fun and the setting was truly magical.

 

Volunteering in northern Spain

 

Not only were the people lovely to work with and the hotel a blissful place to stay, but I really enjoyed the experience of helping and encouraging others with their language skills. As someone who has been trying to learn Spanish and struggled with my confidence, I have huge sympathy for anyone who is learning a language. These immersion courses provide a safe and nurturing environment and are a really valuable experience for all involved.

 
Volunteering in northern Spain
 

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.

 

Meet Robert Esguerra (Australia) – The EG Storybook

 

About me

 

My name is Robert, and I’ve lived in Australia most of my life. About 18 years ago I went to the U.S., intending to stay a year, but ending up staying for good. I’ve also lived in at least seven other countries, for periods ranging from 5 months to two years. These experiences have certainly shaped my curiosity about and love of different cultures. I majored in Psychology and History with a sub-major in English, all the while working for the Australian government but I was bored with my job and didn’t think I could make a decent living with my degree, so I decided to do an MBA. For the next 40 years, I worked as a management consultant and also in senior management positions in different industries from Banking to Mining, travelling to different countries on assignment.

 

In 2014, having had enough of the stress and pressure, I decided to retire from the business world.  I wanted to keep occupied, however, and was looking for a job online, hoping to work with a non-profit organization, when I stumbled across an advertisement to do a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).  And thus began my third career, doing something I love!  After the TESL course, I immediately got a job in Mexico, followed by a one-year stint in Turkey.  I then got a position teaching English online.  I do find that my business and management background comes in handy teaching ESL because many of my students are young adults who work in companies and government institutions.  Having learned several languages, five of them reasonably well, I appreciate what it takes to become fluent in another language.

 

My adventure with English Getaway (EG)

 

Sometime early in 2017, I saw an advertisement posted by EG and was immediately interested.  I’d been to Spain several times before and had even done part of the Camino de Santiago by bicycle.  Apart from that, my ancestors on my father’s side came from Spain.  In short, I love the country, so I applied and to my great delight, was accepted for the August retreat.

My one week with EG in Asturias ranks as one of the memorable experiences of my life, which is high praise, as I’ve had multiple adventures, including five months hitchhiking in Europe and England and three months camping around the U.S. and Canada.  While this was a more sedate experience, it was endless fun for the other participants and me.  At the same time, I had the satisfaction of seeing our students visibly and markedly improve their confidence and speaking abilities.

 

 

Our hosts, Paula and Zach, were just incredible and warm and welcoming.   I felt at home right from the beginning.  We got off to a promising start.  On the first day, we had to “sign an oath”, under threat of expulsion (just joking) that only English could be spoken, even among the Spanish students.  We (more or less!) kept our promise not to speak Spanish, although it was sometimes difficult because I speak passable Spanish!

I don’t want to spoil the surprise by giving too many details.  Let me just say that I was expecting one week of just sitting around chatting and I was stunned by all the activities that were designed to maximize opportunities for the students to develop and practice their English and gain confidence with multiple activities.  Within a couple of days, we were all very comfortable with each other, and we got to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and talents, which were in abundance.

Our hotel, a converted palace, was beautiful and set in the gorgeous and idyllic countryside amidst the hills and mountains of Asturias.  The food was gourmet quality, and it became a challenge to try to limit my food intake.

The weather allowed us at least one outing that week, which meant hiking into the mountainside and nearby village.  One of the students was an environmental scientist and botanist who had extensive knowledge of plants, so some of us who were lucky enough to be walking near her got a detailed education on the flora along the way.

 

 

On the very last day. in the early afternoon when the program officially ended, we were finally allowed a break from English, and there was almost a reluctance to launch into Spanish, so conditioned were we by our “oath”.

Yes, I met some very interesting people, and we keep in touch through Whats App.  Three months after the program, I caught up with one of the students in Barcelona for lunch.  And if I ever find myself in the northern regions this year or next I will certainly look up the other students who came from there as I know they’ll be happy to see me.  I’m forever grateful to Paula and Zach for giving me this opportunity and would consider it a privilege if they welcome me back.

 

¡ INFÓRMATE AQUÍ SOBRE NUESTROS CURSOS DE INMERSIÓN EN INGLÉS !

 

Joan Linton from California – The EG Storybook

About me

 
Joan Linton, English Getaway volunteer - weekend immersion

I’m Joan Linton. I live in California in the USA. Last year I visited Spain to attend my first EG immersion program and do some volunteering.
When I was  younger I taught myself a second language, which has had a huge positive impact on my life. Nearly all my adult life has been spent earning my living using my bilingual skills. Because of this I know, better than many, the importance of, and enrichment from, being bilingual. I can read novels and poetry, and watch plays and films in their original (always better) form. I can appreciate lyrics to music that would otherwise be inaccessible to me. I always had the advantage over monolingual applicants for jobs. I can communicate directly with millions of people more than would be possible with only one language.

 

As everyone knows, English is the “lingua franca” of the modern world. Fluency in it opens doors. People of every nationality increase their options when they add English to their skill sets. So it’s no surprise that lots of Europeans look for opportunities to improve their English speaking and listening skills. Those of us who have unlimited supplies of English conversation can help them, and in the bargain, have a nice time making friends in a lovely place, for the cost of getting to the pick-up point for English Getaway.

 

My volunteering experience at English Getaway

 

 

I did a weekend program with English Getaway in June of 2017 and wish it had been longer. The venue was perfect, with kind and generous hosts, fabulous food, and an idyllic, serene setting. The EG staff were like instant friends, and the other participants, both Spanish and “Anglo” were wonderful. Good weather allowed us a variety of activities, but I believe that even confined to our lodgings we would have enjoyed every minute.

The typical traveler goes to see the sights and try the cuisine and such, but rarely gets to know new friends in any depth. By the end of the EG program, I felt I could visit any of the participants, and would welcome them in my home. It’s an excellent way to get to understand the world outside one’s own culture — seen from a new perspective. As for the Spaniards, I can only say that the improvement in their English is astounding. Being part of this metamorphosis is a true honor. It’s an experience I intend to repeat again and again. In fact, I’m already booked for a weekend in March.