Like chocolate and strawberries, like white wine and summer, studying Spanish abroad is best served with a hint of volunteering on the side! At Ailola Galapagos we’ve been offering our students the chance to volunteer for years. And, while pretty much all of the administration for your volunteering experience falls into our hands, volunteers on the Galapagos Islands can also take on an active role. This is how:

Ask questions!

Beach on the Galapagos Islands — © Nino Müns.
Beach on the Galapagos Islands — © Nino Müns.

Depending on the complexity of your volunteering project on the Galapagos Islands, your ability to ask questions (and good ones) will certainly send you in the right direction in terms of ensuring you enjoy yourself from the beginning. It’s also a top opportunity to show your curiosity about the project to your teammates, a gesture that will always go down well!

Make a commitment to your project!

Volunteering is no doubt one of the most rewarding activities a traveler can choose to get involved in. That said, while being on vacation often means doing things your way, it’s crucial to remember your responsibilities as a volunteer, with a commitment to yourself and your project the right thing to do by everybody involved! This might mean turning up on time, completing tasks, and even putting on a big smile, for example.

Go the extra mile!

Snorkeling on the Galapagos Islands — © Nino Müns.
Snorkeling on the Galapagos Islands — © Nino Müns.

Given the economic and logistical constraints that many not-for-profits face, a lot of tiny tasks and minor roles within an organization often get pushed to the side. And voila, a visitor to the Galapagos Islands volunteers to lend a helping hand! If you see something’s missing or needs doing at your volunteering project on the Galapagos Islands, don’t feel shy — get in on the action, and show off your intuition and willingness to help out!

Respect your leaders!

While you might have some good advice or tips (even criticisms) about your volunteering project, always keep in mind the serious commitment some of your teammates would have made to the project you’re working on! Under the pressure of funding and other logistical issues, the permanent staff you work with will certainly appreciate your respect and kindness as a volunteer when offering advice or participating in more complex tasks.

Respect the environment!

Underwater on the Galapagos — © Nino Müns.
Underwater on the Galapagos — © Nino Müns.

This archipelago is one of the strongest examples of biodiversity in the world. But it also happens to be one of the most fragile! While it might seem obvious, it’s worth repeating the importance of respecting the Galapagos Islands’ natural environment, especially if you don’t want to tread on anybody’s toes at your project, where conservationism is bound to be a top priority!

Expect to be challenged!

The level of difficulty of a volunteering experience varies from project to project. That said, it’s important to step into an organization with a willingness to learn and be challenged. Not only will this ensure you participate properly in your project, but you’ll also be in a better position to gain more personally, professionally and even linguistically from your time volunteering on the Galapagos Islands.

Got your hand in the air ready to volunteer? Learn more about the Ailola Galapagos Volunteering program!

Originally published on Ailola by Jayson McNamara on October 11, 2016.