Get A Free Vacation In Spain While Speaking English

The "Crazy" Vaughan Town"Anglos and Spaniards

The “Crazy” Vaughan Town”Anglos and Spaniards

 (Part One of  Volunteering with Vaughan Town.)

Lock 15 “crazy” Anglos together with 13 “shy” Spaniards in a remote Spanish hotel and what do you get?

28 freaked out Spanglos by the end of the week.

If you’re longing for an unusual experience where you help people practice their English through games, one-on-one conversations while walking through the Spanish countryside, delicious three-course meals with wine, a beautiful hotel room and nightly entertainment then Vaughan Volunteers may be just the program for you. Now here’s the amazing part; all of this is paid for so you are only responsible for your airfare to Madrid, and any extras you wish to purchase.

Last year, while attending a writers’ conference in Orange County, California, I was fortunate to discuss volunteering abroad with a fellow writer. She  asked me if I’d heard about the Vaughan Volunteers program in Spain, and said she signed up for the Fall. At first I was surprised as this lady was in her late seventies, and I thought you had to be young to sign up. I soon find out that this is a popular program for volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, and that they encourage non-teachers to sign-up. They are looking for different accents so that Spaniards can learn to communicate with British, American, Canadian, Australians an other native English speakers from around the world. It is mainly sponsored by Spanish companies, who pay the fee for their employees to improve their English conversation skills. Those fees pay for the Anglos to attend.

Needless to say, I am anxious to sign up, however, the program fills up quickly as it is extremely popular.

I book my ticket to Madrid and stay at the EuroBuilding 2 Hotel (photos), where the Vaughan Town headquarters are located. I land at Barajas International airport early on Saturday morning, which gives me sufficient time to do a quick tour of Madrid’s famous, “Mercado de San Miguel,”  a must for all foodies with its selection of tapas, breads, cheeses, meats, sweets and drinks. Who would have thought Spain was still suffering from a recession after seeing the local crowds enjoying a Saturday outing with children, parents, grandparents and friends. Check out the mojitos served in the mercado.

The indoor Market in Madrid

On Saturday evening,  the Vaughan Volunteers program starts with a festive tapas reception to meet the other Anglos; most of us are from the UK , the US and Canada. I am surprised to find out that many of the Anglos are on their 4th or 5th volunteer program.

Sunday morning we meet our “Spaniards” transfixed to the sidewalk, gripping onto their suitcases and loved ones. They are searching for a friendly Anglo “date” to sit next to on the bus ride to a small village called Torrecaballeros, one hour and fifteen minutes from Madrid.

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I sat next to Maria Jose, my new Spanish friend

I put myself in their place. How nerve-wracking to speak English to Anglos from all over the world, with such diverse accents. How long will it take for them to feel relaxed?

 

Check out the video of my beautiful hotel room with a view over the pastures of TorreCaballeros.

We arrive at the gorgeous “El Rancho” hotel on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The weather is sunny and warm, and after placing our suitcases on the stunning hotel lobby mahogany floors, and admiring the paintings and interesting artifacts from Africa, we order a cafe con leche at the bar, and the bonding continues.

Please tune in June for Part Two.

Pete or MC from the UK

Pete or MC from the UK

Pete and Marisa, are the two wonderful organizers of our week at El Rancho.

 

 

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Comments (14)

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  1. Oh, Sonia, I feel like I was there with you! You have down masterful job of bring us all into your experience. I visited Spain ( Malaga and Granada) when my daughter Leigh Ann was an exchange student during her junior year in college and it brought that wonderful memory right back. It really does pay to be gutsy, doesn’t it? So much richness to explore in other cultures. Can’t wait to hear more. Thank you!
    Kathleen Pooler recently posted..Google+ Hangout Interview with Mary Gottschalk on Writing a Novel After Writing a MemoirMy Profile

  2. Sonia Marsh says:

    Kathy I feel like going back to volunteer next year. The people are so friendly. Thanks for sharing your time in Spain with your daughter.
    Sonia Marsh recently posted..Get A Free Vacation In Spain While Speaking EnglishMy Profile

  3. Alana Woods says:

    Sonia. do you need to be able to speak Spanish? It sounds absolutely wonderful for everyone involved. Better get my name on the list!

  4. maria says:

    glad you had a great time and so cute the way you describe the shy Spaniards. I’m sure you made them feel comfy! I can hardly wait until I go over!

  5. What a brilliant idea! I’d love to do it – and of course spend sometime practicing my Spanish somewhere too 🙂
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot recently posted..The Best Years of Your Life and How to Live it Right NowMy Profile

  6. H J Thomas says:

    A great article! I have participated in 15 or so programs, and each has been a wonderful experience. No matter whatever venue a particular program may be, they have been filled with excitement and adventure….this is because of the Anglos and the Spanish. I have made many Spanish and Anglo friends around the world with whom I stay in contact…I am sure you will as well.

  7. Vicky Hart says:

    Great article! I am in the process of planning my 7th and 8th Vaughan town! It has become an annual event for me! I hope others will also get bitten by the bug!

  8. Sonia Marsh says:

    Vicky,

    That’s amazing. Good for you. Have you tried all locations? Which did you prefer?
    Sonia Marsh recently posted..My Gutsy Love StoryMy Profile

  9. Fleur Prim says:

    I would like to know a bit more about being a volunteer to speak English with host sSpanish families.I am a host family in the UK and would like to have a go at your program.i have met a lot of Spanish students of all ages, they are very charming.

    Hoping to get a reply.

    Kind Regards Fleur

  10. Sonia Marsh says:

    Fleur, You need to contact Vaughan Town in Spain.
    Sonia Marsh recently posted..I’m Going Crazy Getting Ready For the Peace CorpsMy Profile

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