What is a Conversation Partner? Volunteer to be a Conversation Partner and you will be speaking conversational English to the local police department, hotel staff, local business professionals, teachers, local tour guides. You do not need to be a teacher or to have teaching experience to be a Conversation Partner. You just need to meet with the group each day (up to 25 hours each week) and converse in English with them. It's fun and rewarding.
Become a Conversation Partner in Vienna, Austria on GeoVisions' newest Conversation Partner program. Volunteer 25 hours a week helping kindergarten students with Conversational English. Partners may tutor in several kindergartens or stay in just one. Conversation Partners will live with a family of one of the children who attends the kindergarten. Breakfast and dinner are provided by the host family. Lunch is on your own or taken at the Kindergarten.
This is a high-energy and really fun position. GeoVisions provides the suggestions and helpful documents; you provide the personality to liven up an informal conversation class! Find out first-hand how Austrians live and work day-to-day. Sometimes there are opportunities to take part in activities. Plus, the locals can show you landmarks and hidden gems.
Conversation Partner volunteers must be native English speakers. They need to have earned a high school (secondary school) diploma or certificate, and be in good health. Placements are available year 'round and range in duration from one to three months.
- Match you with the right family of one of the kindergarten students.
- Place you in a kindergarten near your host family.
- Pay for two months on Pongo Resume so you can update your cover letter and your resume and provide you with job listings.
- Provide Premium membership in the ESL-Lounge so you can use flash cards, workbooks, and download lesson plans.
- Award you The President's Volunteer Service Award including a lapel pen, letter from the President of The United States and certificate.
- Provide counseling about the program, your duties, pre-departure, provide support 24-7 in Austria and here in the U.S., provide local orientation and extensive health and accident insurance.
To find out more about this program, CLICK HERE
to see the program page.
This Blog Post first appeared on the GeoVisions site June 2007 as a "Monthly Letter From Our Exec." It is being recycled here on this Blog.
At St. John's University in Queens, NY today, AFS is doing a re-entry orientation for 40 teachers returning to Thailand and China who have been here in the U.S. for an academic year. They depart this weekend for home and family...and to pick up where they left off in their old school.
Re-entry orientation assists visiting teachers prepare for their return home by providing them an opportunity to discuss with other visiting teachers the differences in culture, education, and students they encountered over the course of the school year. Going home after teaching in the U.S. one year is as stressful as the day they arrived in the U.S., about a year ago.
Many teachers I spoke to from China have learned to be more assertive. Impolite in China, it is almost a rite of passage in the U.S. and they had to learn how to stand their ground in the U.S. schools. But in this orientation they are reminded that they probably want to tone that down when they meet with their Principal! And that is actually a topic during the orientation-how to bring home the new ideas, creativity, excitement and new teaching methods, then implement them in a way that meets cultural norms and expectations back home, blending the best of both worlds.
At one of the tables I met 3 teachers from China. One left a 4-year-old daughter and a husband. Another left her 15-year-old daughter and husband. Grandpa has been taking care of the 15 year old this entire academic year. The third teacher left her husband and 18-year-old son behind for the year. All 3 of these children celebrated birthdays since their mothers left China to teach here in the U.S.
At another table I met 2 teachers from Thailand. One left a fiancé and the other a very ill mother, who had to be taken care of by this teacher's 3 sisters. The two teachers from Thailand will arrive home on Sunday and will take up their full time teaching duties at their home school on Monday. Unbelievable.
I was caught unawares with my emotions. I was in a room of 40 teachers who had traveled here a year ago. Could I have been able to leave my children for a year, like many of these teachers? Technology helps with Skype phones and web cams. But I cannot imagine not feeling my six-year-old's skin, the softness of his hair, his arms around my neck, helping with his homework, putting a band aid on his knee, watching him play with his friends, washing his clothes. But many of these 40 teachers did that, and more. I was in awe.
One of the volunteers who started volunteering with AFS in 1960 uses an exercise when the teachers first come to the U.S. She and her grandchildren collect stones. They clean them and lacquer them. She places the stones in a basket. At orientation she asks the teachers to find a stone they like and to then study it. A bit later she asks the teachers to return their stone to the basket. Adele explains to the teachers, using metaphors, that each stone is different in texture, color, and size.
A bit later, each teacher is blindfolded and asked to dig in the basket to retrieve their original stone. They feel all of the stones and try to pull out the stone they originally had picked.
I mention this only because 90% of the teachers today brought their stones with them to the re-entry orientation. They had kept these stones for 10-months. As they spent the year living with families, teaching, learning about different communities, teaching far-different students than they were used to, they used the stones as their own metaphor. Today they told Adele about how the stones had (realistically and metaphorically) pulled them through difficult times and gave them strength.
I came back to my office at the end of the day so energized. I sat down at my desk and ironically; I noticed a stone that I keep on my desk. It's a flat stone, about 3 inches by 2 inches. It's grey with a white stripe through the middle. There is a red heart drawn on one side and a yellow flower on the flip side. When my oldest daughter was 7 she gave me that stone when she visited me in New Hampshire. 14 years later, it is still with me and never leaves my desk.
And so now it is my turn:
Dear Adele. I am safely home after a remarkable day. I am changed in the last 12 hours. Again. I am holding my own stone, which I have held for 14 years. As a former teacher, and having spent 31 years doing this work, I wanted to write to you and underscore what you already know so well. Teachers who inspire realize there will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping-stones; it all depends on how we use them. Stepping-stones allow us to keep going. I spent a day with 40 stepping-stones, and I am better for it. Thank you.
Closing with an old adage about stones, I hope each of you gathers no moss. Here's to keep on rolling...
Thanks to our good friends at Brilliant Trips who showed me an article on Isabelle's Travel Guide, we wanted to make this available to all the volunteers in Madrid and for those who are going soon.
The attached link is a post on how to use the Metro in Madrid. Again, thanks to Brilliant Trips who showed this to us and thanks to Isabelle who is writing a great travel journal and offered up this very detailed guide (with photos) on using the metro in Madrid.
Click here to read Isabelle's entry on how to use the Metro in Madrid and while you're there, take a look at the entire Journal. It's truly amazing.
Interested in using the metro in Madrid? Join the Conversation Corps in Spain!
Alex says she is an "average girl, born and raised in Los Angeles." Alex is also a member of the Conversation Corps in Germany. We wanted to share her most recent Blog post and give you a link to Alex' Blog so you can keep up with her.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2009
The Meat Platter
So, maybe one day I'll adjust to eating meat (bacon, ham, salami etc.) for every meal. But, probably not. Last night we had just plain meat on a plate with bread for dinner. So I thought, this is it. This is my chance to really try something new and like it. Christoph suggested I try the bacon. And, I thought, yeah sure. I mean, I don't really like bacon, but I know what it tastes like and I know it's not surrounded with a skin I have to take off before I eat it. So, I try it. Hmmmmmm. It was the toughest, stringy-est, saltiest bacon I have ever tasted, and the second I bit off a piece I had a clear vision of eating the actual pig. And then I gagged. Right there at the table, in front of everyone. So, I'm not there yet. I don't like the meat. But, I'm close. I can feel it.
I jumped up from the table, ran to the bathroom and spit it out. When I came back, Jasmin and Christoph were laughing their heads off. Luckily. They must think I'm completely crazy.
I am. But, at least I'm trying. Miss you and just plain old normal meat that doesn't come on a plate.
Read the entire Blog and subcribe to Alex' Blog by clicking here.
GeoVisions has 3 families in Italy in need of quick tutors. To fill this void we have lowered the Conversation Corps-Italy fee. Save $175 on a 30-day assignment. Save $265 on a 60-day assignment. And save $370 on a 90-day assignment.
One family is in Northern Italy. Two families are in Southern Italy.
Volunteer 15 hours each week in Italy in exchange for free room and board. Weekends are normally free to experience the culture by traveling around Europe.
This is a high-energy and really fun position. GeoVisions provides the materials; you provide the personality to liven up a family class or dinner conversation! Find out first-hand how an Italian family lives day-to-day. Sometimes there are opportunities to take part in family activities and to meet extended family. Plus, they can show you landmarks and hidden gems.
Conversation Corps volunteers must be native English speakers. They need to have earned a high school (secondary school) diploma or certificate, be in good health and abide by the family’s rules and habits. Placements are available year 'round and range in duration from one to three months.
If you can depart in the next 30-days and qualify for this program, Apply Now and save hundreds of dollars on the program fee. If you have questions first, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to you quickly.
Act now if you have time to get away. Once these families are taken by tutors, we will set the program fee back again to it's normal rate.
Yesterday I saw a Tweet from a large volunteer company about people who volunteer for 2 days in an orphanage and that their effort doesn't help. It was a RT (Repeat Tweet) from two individuals who ought to have known better. It's an age-old, very tired yawn of a topic these days. Still, I can't just let something like that pass without at least an observation.
GeoVisions, where I work, doesn't have 2-day volunteer experiences, but we don't see anything wrong with them. In fact, I'm actually starting to think it's something we should consider offering. And here's why:
If I only have 2 days to give, who are those Twitterers to tell me I'm not helping? I love it when the do-gooders stand up and pass judgment on the only 2 days I have to give. I'm not at Foxwoods gambling. I'm not on the beach. I'm not in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn and a beer. I'm over at the orphanage reading to kids, cleaning the toilets, changing beds, washing clothes and preparing a meal. Twice.
Maybe I have only a one-week vacation this year. And what if I go abroad on a tour? I want to see Thailand and hit the beach and recharge my batteries. And my hotel has this two-day option to volunteer at a local orphanage. (The Ritz-Carlton Group has just that in real life called "Give Back Getaways".) I've never done anything like that so I think I want to give that a try. I've always wanted to volunteer. I love kids. At the end of those two days, the experience is great. I wish I had 2 more days or 2 more weeks or 2 more months. But I don't. I have this tour, I am here with friends and I need to get home to get on with my job and my life. I only have a one-week vacation.
But the experience in Thailand has moved me. Enough to come home and volunteer two Sunday mornings a week at a shelter preparing 80 meals. I bring a friend the 2nd Sunday. Next month 4 of us show up.
I doubt I'd have done that if I had not had the 2-days when I was vacationing in Thailand.
So stop Twittering about me. Please don't judge the only two days I have to give, or my values. I have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of money. I'm giving 2 days. I'm giving all I can at this time in my life.
At GeoVisions, we are looking for people who want to give. No one can be helped if we don't have people to give. A day, a month, a year. Of course, whatever you have to give will help. And it might even help if we pass judgment less and thank the givers more.