Volunteer in South America: 8 Ways to Teach and Work
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Multi-Country South America

Volunteer in South America: 8 Ways to Teach and Work

7 min read

Aug 4, 2011


By Conrad McGarvey

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Last updated on February 13th, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Volunteer Opportunities in South America

Want to travel to South America, but not in a tour group? Maybe you want to take your time to get to know the continent or a tiny speck of it. Many foreigners with a gap year or at least, a few months at their disposal want to spend their time using their skills to help others. Check out these 8 Ways to Teach and Volunteer in South America.

Please note: SouthAmerica.travel does not arrange teaching opportunities, language classes, host stays, or volunteering gigs. We specialize in 4-star and 5-star custom travel packages to South America. Please only contact us for more info if you are interested in booking a vacation to South America.

1. Teach English in South America

If you speak English, chances are you can land a job, internship, or volunteer position in just about any corner of South America. Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Lima, Peru, are two of the most popular places for English-teaching jobs, but there are plenty more. Interested in a particular city? Do a quick search online to see if there are any advertisements for English teachers. Or better yet, visit the city itself and ask around, you will find plenty of ways to Volunteer in South America.

Even remote cities and towns are looking for English teachers, and not all require certification, although the highest-paying organizations will require it. Don’t plan on making it rich in South America; many schools will pay the bare minimum, or provide only room and board. Some organizations ask that you pay a volunteer fee. Hummingbird in Peruvian Jungle South America

One unique opportunity for teaching English is Intercambio Selvatico or Jungle Language Exchange. This organization in the Amazon of Ecuador offers to teach individuals, who would like a jungle experience, how to teach English to indigenous communities in the Amazon.

No certification is required, and only a month-long commitment. There is a volunteer fee. Another Rainforest volunteering option is with Corto Maltes.

2. Teach math or computer skills

Do you know how to build a website? Are you a professional architect? Another very useful way to Volunteer is to lend your knowledge and expertise to others in the developing world. Often, positions such as these require basic or intermediate Spanish language skills, so brush up on your Rosetta Stone. There are scores of organizations that bring together skilled workers to donate time, energy, and resources to the developing world so that you can join in one of those efforts.

Architects Without Borders, for instance, join skilled architects with slum settlements and other building projects. Or, if you prefer to fly solo, approach an organization on your own and ask if they need a helping hand. Chances are, they do – or know someone who does. The Amauta Spanish School offers volunteer positions in exchange for free Spanish classes and room and board.

Volunteer opportunities depend on skill sets, including teaching English, teaching computer skills, working on their website, or helping their marketing efforts. They ask for a commitment of 4-12 weeks and require low to intermediate Spanish speaking skills. Positions are available in Lima and Cuzco, Peru, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

3. Work or Volunteer for environmental causes

Passionate about preserving the globe? Or just love being outside? An environmental cause may be the perfect way for you to travel and volunteer in South America. Hopefully, South American governments will begin to realize that sustainable tourism is an integral part of their economic success, and will be more friendly to environmental causes that promote sustainable tourism. Sheep on Ruta 40 Patagonia South America

An ambitious and wonderful environmental cause is already underway in Patagonia, where the owners of the North Face and Patagonia companies have made great strides in restoring the landscapes of wild Patagonia.

Conservacion Patagonica, the organization responsible for the opening of Patagonia National Park, has an internship program as well as a volunteer program, allowing travelers to participate in the hard work that is necessary to restoring Patagonia lands.

4. Be a receptionist for a South America hostel

If you are willing to brave the cold showers, lumpy mattresses, and noisy roommates, consider working for board, in a hostel is another way to Volunteer in South America. Many times hostels are looking for reliable volunteers to check-in newcomers late at night. Many chain hostels are not so bad either. Really, the only difference between a hostel and a hotel is the shared sleeping quarters. In return, you get free rent, and sometimes other perks.

You should probably be able to speak some Spanish, be willing to do late nights, and stay at least a week, depending on the hostel. Hostel chains like Loki Hostels have volunteer positions in all their hostels in Peru and Bolivia, allowing you to choose where you want to stay.

In return for a few shifts each week behind the bar and the reception desk, you get free rent, free dinner, and discounts on tours and events planned by the hostel. But the minimum stay of one month and Loki Hostels also have longer-term positions available.

5. Write for an English-speaking volunteer organization

If you can form a proper sentence in English, chances are you are employable. This is another great way to Volunteer in South America. Offer your time and expertise to an organization that needs more English content on its website, a better brochure, a social media guru or blogger, or other marketing materials.

There are plenty of English-speaking news organizations, blogs, schools, and travel agencies that are looking for English writers. The South American Explorers Club is always looking for more writing based interns. The club is dedicated to providing affordable services and events for independent travelers. They put on weekly events, Spanish classes, book exchanges, and provide trip reports and maps for travelers.

They have offices in Lima and Cuzco, Peru, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Quito, Ecuador. So these unpaid internships often include free or discounted rent and free club memberships as well as other perks. The Matador Network also recommends a few Peru internships.

6. Volunteer for a social cause

Lake Titicaca Catamaran Cruise South AmericaThere is a slew of organizations in South America dedicated to helping the less fortunate. So you can work with children, impoverished families, communities, and hospitals are always available and will take anyone willing to lend a helping hand – regardless of whether you can speak a word of Spanish or if you can only commit to a couple of days, its still an amazing way to Volunteer in South America.

If you can speak the language, and/or have a skill that you would like to share, even better. Whether it’s a girl’s sports camp in Cuzco, Peru, or a larger organization building houses for impoverished communities like Habitat for Humanity, there’s an opening for you.

7. Volunteer for a religious cause

Plenty of churches are looking for people to Volunteer in South America to help them reach out to their communities. Sometimes it’s helping the church in practical ways, like building a new roof or running a health clinic. Other times it just means helping English learners practice their language skills on native speakers.

Calvary Church English Service Lima in Lima, Peru, holds an English Camp every summer and has English speakers from the US visit Peru and talk and hang out with Peruvians, who are encouraged not to speak a lick of Spanish throughout the camp. Find out more about Peace Brigades in Peru.

8.  To Volunteer in South America, Sometimes you need to get creative.

Something else caught your eye? Maybe it’s a specific company or just a general interest, but if you can get specific enough about what it is that you want to do and how to help, Volunteering in South America, you can probably find someone or some organization that’s looking for help.

So think about what skill sets you to have, and then identify what organizations might need those skills the most. And if the place you’ve got your eye on doesn’t seem to have any volunteer or internship opportunities, don’t be afraid to ask!

Find out more >> Volunteer in Latin America  Combine Peru and Ecuador on a multi-country tour, and be the helping hand of both countries. Peru isn’t the only place you can volunteer, as Ecuador is looking for talented people for community help!

Please note, these are recommendations only; SouthAmerica.travel does not endorse or have any affiliation with any of the organizations mentioned.

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Last updated on February 13th, 2021 at 12:55 pm

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