Looking at a map of Chile one feels a touch of amazement that so much can happen in this long, narrow strip of land, tucked between the towering Andes Mountains and the endless Pacific Ocean! MondoChallenge offers opportunities to volunteer in Chile and teach English abroad on your career break.
Chile is a fascinating destination for a career break abroad. The Republic of Chile is a long, narrow country extending some 4350km down the Pacific coast of South America, from Peru down to the southernmost tip of the continent.
Its most populous region is in the centre with its especially fertile heartland around the capital, but beyond this are landscapes of dramatic and contrasting scenery. The Andes mountain range forms Chile’s eastern border, while to the north is the world's driest desert (the Atacama). To the south is a land of coastal islands, fjords and glaciated mountain valleys. Volunteering in Chile gives you the opportunity to explore this amazing country.
Chile’s economy is robust and well-fed by exports of copper (it is the third largest copper-producing country in the world), fruit and wine. It is also the world's leading fishmeal producer. 89% of the Chilean people are Roman Catholic, (10% Protestant), and the vast majority only speak Spanish, making a grasp of the language essential for volunteers on career breaks. The Elqui Valley, where our volunteer projects are based, is rural and underdeveloped in comparison to the more urban areas. However, recent increases in cultivation and tourism mean it is going through a process of growth. A volunteer in Chile will find the Elqui Valley to be a superb career break escape, as the pace of life is very laid back and the local people are friendly and receptive to visitors.
We offer volunteer teaching projects in La Serena region about 450km north of Santiago. The Elqui Valley is known for its artistic communities and spirit of tranquillity, but it is also famed for its grapes and the region is the major producer of Pisco, Chile's national grape drink.
Our projects to teach English abroad are in Pisco Elqui, Monte Grande and Paihuano. The region enjoys one of the nicest climates in the country as it hardly rains, but it can get cold in winter, particularly at night.
Our volunteer work is based mainly in primary schools, which provide education for pupils aged from 4 to 14 in rural villages in the area. In addition, there is currently a thrust to provide a voluntary English support service to all the schools in the Comuna, including some small rural schools scattered along the valley.
At weekends, volunteers to teach in Chile can go down to the lively small town of Vicuña, which has museums and some inexpensive restaurants, or seek the brighter lights of La Serena. Important both historically and economically, the seaside city of La Serena is a popular focus of tourism and the centre of a fertile fruit growing region, which produces papayas, custard apples (chirimoyas) and grapes. It is one of Chile's oldest post-Columbian cities and has a number of museums as well as some beautiful beaches.
More ambitious long weekend destinations for those teaching in Chile might include Santiago, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. For the more adventurous volunteer in Chile, (and for those willing to endure long bus journeys), the Atacama Desert to the north, and the lively Argentine city of Mendoza to the west are worth visiting while on a career break in South America.
Career break volunteers living and working in Chile will find it to be a very safe destination, and the valleys where we run our voluntary projects are very quiet areas. However, volunteers to teach in Chile should consult www.fco.gov.uk for the latest travel advice, and should always use common sense and trust their instincts.
It is essential that volunteers teaching English in Chile have or acquire some knowledge of Spanish prior to their departure. Previous volunteers have highlighted this as something which needs to be taken very seriously, as people in Chile, and in the Elqui Valley in particular, generally do not speak English.
You can also use the menu at the top left of this page to navigate projects in this country.