Joined: 03 Dec 2009
|Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:28 am Post subject: English Opens Doors sucks
|I gotta say, I just finished the 8 month English Opens Doors program. Well actually I finished back in December but I'm still in Chile.
I really love the country and the people are very friendly, its a safe(ish) country. The stipend doesn't go very far and you WILL be using your own money, but not that much.
That being said, English Opens Doors sucks.
The kids are the usual and the co-teachers are fine, overall its like teaching ESL in any public school (I've taught in Japan and Korea).
The problem is the homestay part. Sure, some people got great families, but the vast majority of volunteers were placed in horrible places.
They give absolutely no thought to where you want to go or your lifestyle. For example: A gay guy was placed with an intensely super devout family. Some people had to change host families 3 or 4 times. Sometimes the family members steal from the volunteers, yell, are violent, etc. And the support for problems is terrible. My regional support sent me emails and called me right up until I did the survey, after that I didn't hear from her for months, even when I called and emailed her. They told some people to go find a place to live themselves, using the paltry stipend and housing allowance, if they had problems. Not enough.
Want to be in the desert? Too bad, they'll put you in Patagonia. Want to be in Patagonia? To bad, they'll put you in Antofagasta. Want to be in a big city, well, you get the point. I was left wondering, why not just switch up the Patagonia guy and the desert guy? Wtf?
At the end of the program when we all met up in Santiago again it was a non-stop comparison of horror stories. Thinking about how people were at the beginning of the program, aftewards everyone was subdued, quiet and kept their distance.
The strange thing is that I absolutely love Chilenos. So I kept asking myself, what went wrong? With all these great people here, why did so many volunteers end up miserable? The conclusion I came to is that there must a bit of typical Latin American laziness and procrastination going on. My own co-teacher just asked the other teachers at the school "who wants to make some extra money with a boarder?"
Indeed, my host family had absolutely no interest in the US, English or me. They made no effort to help me with my life or Spanish. They fed me noodles and beans, but on the weekend had grand asados (BBQs) at the grandparents' house. The mom had side businesses and her friends were always trying to sell me things and pissy when I didn't buy. In the end I had to move out. I'm far from being the only one with this type of story. Most were much much worse off. Volunteers dropped out in droves.
So, long story short, if they could spend a little more time and effort in finding good families for the volunteers it would have made so many people's lives better.
I certainly wouldn't do it again, nor recommend it to others.