Considering volunteering in South America? See these 6 Signs You Should Volunteer In Brazil to see if it’s the right destination for you!
1. You’re happy to help out however you can
No matter how many IVHQers you talk to, the key piece of advice you’ll hear for future volunteer is to come with an open mind and a willingness to be flexible. In Brazil, our teaching, childcare, sports development and construction volunteers work alongside each other in community centers around Rio De Janeiro. The collaborative working environment means there are often opportunities to support initiatives outside of the project you’ve signed up for. Many volunteers are also proactive in identifying areas within their placements in need of further support. IVHQers Melissa and Christine started a fundraising campaign back home in Canada to raise donations for their childcare placement in Rio. While working here, they identified that there was a great deal of work to do outside the creche so with support from the staff, they used the donations to purchase paint so they could restore the outside of the building, and some cement to allow for the development of a safe playing area for the children. Thanks to their initiative, future IVHQers can continue the renovations and support the ultimate goal of giving the children the opportunity to play outside in a safe and secure space. On top of this, the pair (who have recently completed nursing school) identified that illness was easily spread within the center and that food serving utensils were being shared between children, so they purchased more utensils and developed an education campaign to support the placement staff in minimizing the risk of spreading illness.
2. You’re sociable and love meeting people from all over the globe
The volunteer house in Brazil brings together a global squad of volunteers, collaborating a colorful collection of cultures under one roof. The inclusive and shared living space allows for international friendships to be formed instantly and the strong family vibe means you’ll never be short of weekend travel buddies, or a group to accompany you in experiencing the vibrancy of Rio. Don’t forget to spare some free time for day trips to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer or Ipanema Beach!
3. You’re independent but work well in a squad
The ability to take initiative and work independently is key to your success on any volunteer program. And your ability to work well in a team is equally important in ensuring you can make a valuable contribution to your placement and adjust well to life at the volunteer house. One of the unique features of our program in Brazil is the opportunity for volunteers to prepare their own meals together at the house. While your breakfast will be provided each morning, volunteers have food storage and cooking facilities available to get creative in the evenings. By shopping where the locals do, with what the locals have available, volunteers are able to experience further immersion within the Brazilian culture. Top tips: get in the mix of the weekend fruit and vege markets to get the best deals on your greens, try your hand at some traditional local dishes like Feijoada (a black bean stew with beef or sausage) or Mandioca Frita (fried yucca sticks), and head to the local Acai bar for dessert!
4. You’re ready to embrace a second family
You’ll be making no shortage of new family circles in Brazil, from your new-found family of fellow volunteers, to the staff at your placement who have huge respect for the support offered by volunteers. Word of warning for future IVHQers: the strong family bonds you’ll form while volunteering will make leaving Brazil even harder than it was leaving home - so you’ll understand why former volunteers always tell you to come for as long as you can!
5. You’re on a mission to see the World Wonders
While the list of World Wonders is always up for debate, there’s no shortage of debatable wonders within easy reach of volunteers in Rio! With Christ the Redeemer topping many a to do list, and Iguazu Falls being within a weekend’s reach. Plus the Harbor of Rio de Janiero is at your doorstep, so there’s a whole world of adventure out there to fill your free time with surfing, parasailing and hiking.
6. You’re prepared to learn
Whether you’re learning how to communicate with your placement staff in Portugese (while developing your fluency in body language), or how to get yourself from A to B using the local transport system, adjusting to life in Rio will require a willigness to learn and an openess to embracing a new culture and surroundings. While your first day at your placement can be overwhelming, you’ll be in the company of other volunteers to learn from and you’ll be well supported by the placement staff and our local coordinators. As you learn more about the people and community that your project is supporting, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the contribution of your work - whether you’re teaching English as part of an afterschool program, or supporting sports development among local youth. To ease you into the learning experience ahead, our local coordinators will be on call to support you every step of the way, and give you plenty pointers for making the most of your time in Brazil.
If you think volunteering in Brazil sounds right for you and you’re ready to be exposed to new challenges, while developing your global mindset and skill sets - learn more about the program or apply right here!