Volunteering with Vaughan Town in Spain is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the Spanish culture. During my week mingling with 15 Spaniards and 15 Anglos, strong bonds were formed, and we continue to write to one another even thought the program is over.
- So what is the Vaughan Town program and what are you expected to do during your week in Spain?
As a volunteer, you’re expected to arrive the Saturday before the program starts and on Sunday morning, you board a bus with all the participants to your hotel in the Spanish countryside. Our town was Torrecaballeros, and the hotel was called, “El Rancho.”
There are four towns in Spain, (all outside Madrid) to choose from. Depending on the dates you select, you will be allocated to a different location.
After our one hour and fifteen minute drive, we had a cafe con leche (latte) at the hotel, and friendships and conversations started sprouting. We had time to unpack before lunch which was served at 2 p.m. Yes that’s normal for Spain, and siesta time is after lunch, from 3-5 p.m. I used siesta time to catch up with my e-mails.
The food was outstanding, especially the fresh fish, and local dishes. We were given options to select from daily. A bulletin board outside the bar, listed the menu for the following day and there were two choices for the first course, two for the second and two for dessert. Salad and fruit were also available daily, for those who wanted to stay trim, and not gain too much weight. Wine and bread were also served at lunch and dinner. Breakfast was buffet style.
Andrew, a fun Scottish guy from Edinburgh, started a daily ritual of getting a cafe con leche at the local bar across the street at 8:30 a.m. For me, a coffee addict, waiting until breakfast at nine, seemed way too long. Local Spaniards were already starting their first shot glass of local liquor before going to work.
Our job after breakfast was to check our schedules, and a list of the following activities were posted.
- One-on-One where you talk to a Spaniard for one hour. You get to choose if you wish to walk and chat around town or in the lush green pastures where rabbits race across the green fields and hide behind bushes.
- Conference calls/Telephone sessions, where 3-4 Spaniards are in a conference room on speaker phone and you answer their call in your room and discuss real-work/life related situations for 30-minutes.
- Help your Spaniard prepare a 5-minute presentation in English which they will be expected to make in the evening before dinner at 9 p.m. Yes, dinner is at 9.
There were other games and fun things like skits, presentations, acting, singing with Pete and his guitar, that we did in the evenings.
I took the opportunity to make a short power-point presentation about my family’s year in Belize, which the Spaniards enjoyed. I asked them to please give me a review on Amazon Spain, after reading my memoir, Freeways to Flip-Flops.