Moana Ungrová

France, French Polynesia, Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie , 2023-2024

Raised by books and documents about the flora and fauna of various corners of the world and driven by a love for nature, I decided to pursue studies in the field of environmental sciences. In today’s time of inverted values, it may practically be considered as personal economic suicide, but the growing fascination with natural wonders around us, the awareness of the necessity of environmental protection, and the need to engage in meaningful work have solidified my commitment to this adventurous journey.

Over the years, my restless nature and a considerable dose of luck and stubbornness have taken me to different corners of the world, but my lifelong dream – Polynesia – a journey to the roots and self-discovery, remained a mere spark in the distant future.

And suddenly, the spark ignited. Here I am, in French Polynesia, collaborating on the conservation of the critically endangered bird species Pomarea whitneyi.

Julie Másílková

Spain, Santiago de Compostela, Centro Xuvenil Don Bosco, 2023

Hello! My name is Juli and I decided to go to Spain for half a year, more specifically to Santiago de Compostela. I don’t speak Spanish yet but I will try! I am 18 and I like foreign food and cats 🙂

Veronika Auerová

Armenia, Yerevan, HUJ, 2022 – 2023

Hello, my name is Veronika, I am 27 years old and I work as a saleswoman. I graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno, my hobbies include art history and handicrafts. For a long time I was looking for an opportunity to gain new experiences and move somewhere. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to go to Armenia, I couldn’t miss it. Now I am getting ready for my eight-month stay in Jerevan where I will be working with children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Lucas Ewers

Czech Republic, Malešov, Divočina Malešov, 2022

Hello my name is Lucas, I am 19 years old. I live Germany near Cologne. Before I volunteered I finished my training as an electrician.

I did the volunteering to see different cultures and countries, I like to work with kids and teenagers so I connected that with my volunteer project.

I am working in Malešov now at Eco-center Divočina where we learn how to live a sustainable lifestyle and how to teach and learn with teenagers.

Lydia García González

Czech Republic, Malešov, Divočina Malešov, 2022

I’m Lydia, a 25year old Spanish girl who after finishing my studies saw it necessary to make a change in my life.

I have decided to leave my comfort zone and enjoy my volunteering in Malešov, Czech Republic for the next 6 months.

I have always been used to life in big cities with all the comforts, in this project I will be able to carry out activities that I couldn’t do before such as; gardening and have a sustainable lifestyle in addition to being able to provide children in schools and summer camps with a new point of view, diversity and motivate them to do projects that will give them the opportunity to learn languages, cultures and travelling around the world.

Lenka Doškářová

Netherlands, Rotterdam, World Esperanto Youth Organization, 2022

Hello, I am a 22 year old girl who is preparing for her biggest adventure yet. I am going to spend the next 12 months as a volunteer in Rotterdam in offices of the World Esperanto Youth Organization and the Universal Esperanto Association. I am going to do some administrative tasks but also help with interesting projects, including the International Youth Congress of Esperanto.

I cannot wait to work in an international environment, explore the city and hopefully a part of the Netherlands.

I also want to promote my loved Esperanto and maybe even change the world for the better, because TEJO is really active when it comes to human rights and human relations.

» Check Lenka´ s blog from Rotterdam

Štěpán Vranešic

Greece, Thessaloniki, United Societies of Balkans, 2021 – 2022

My name is Štěpán Vranešic, but my friends call me Štěpán. Although I am a Slezan, after graduation I went to study screenwriting at the JAMU in Brno. The whole five years in this distant city was such a culture shock that it never occurred to me to study abroad. But then I turned 25 and said to myself Enough! It’s time to end the hanging out, I’ll explore the world. And karma was in my favor. Because how else to explain that I was given the opportunity to go to Greece to work in a journalistic organization and at the same time work with children with fewer opportunities? And so my destiny was sealed for the next seven months, and I set out consciously to make the world a better place … And to eat a halva 🙂

Michaela Stanková

Portugal, Lisbon, Clube Intercultural Europeu, 2021

» Check Míša´ s blog from Lisbon

Hello everyone, I’m Michaela and I was asked to write a couple of sentences about myself. But the truth is, I’m rewriting it all over again and again and again and then I realized it. I’m just a normal girl with my own dreams that I decided to follow. I’m me. I love traveling and I love staying home. Well, maybe I don’t love staying home the same as before 2020 but still. Some people love me, some like me, and some hate me. I have done good. I have done bad. And now I will find out in which section is my decision to go to Portugal for an ESC project. I can’t wait for the results. So what is the thing that makes me different from the others? Maybe that I don’t find excuses and I find solutions instead. That even if I could find many reasons why not to go to Portugal right now I focused on what was the most important to me. I wanted it with all my heart. So I focus on what is instead of what-ifs and I will enjoy the stay every single second.

Comment from Míša after her return:

„Although this year was full of ups and downs and I wanted to quit multiple times for multiple reasons, I am now very grateful that I made it to the very end. It helped me to grow as a person, enabled me to meet many wonderful, inspiring people and also a lovely country. If I must decide if I would go for it again, I wouldn’t think for long and take it. It is a once-life experience and it is worth it.“

Pavlína Bublová

Spain, Tortosa, Obre’t’ebre, 2021

My name is Pavlina and I am 26 years old. I fell in love with yoga and hiking about 5 years ago. I love to have a nice cup of coffee and chat with my family or friends. I am interested in ecology and protection of animals. I enjoy educating myself about mental and physical health and spirituality. I studied tourism management and I have spent the last couple of years abroad (some time also in my fav city Brno where I am from). New Zealand is my favorite country in the world. It totally got me when I was there for almost a year. But my second home is Spain. I have been to Spain several times already and everytime it was a very enriching experience and I left with beautiful memories and strong friendships. I have desired to be a volunteer abroad for quite a long time. My dream was to help orangutans in Sumatra, whales in Iceland or help refugees in Greece. Nowadays there are not many options to travel because of COVID and I am incredibly grateful that I have found United vision that helped me to get a volunteering job in Spain where I will be helping at high school. I am super excited about this new adventure.

Lucie Turcinkova

Bolivia, La Paz, ICYE, spring 2020

My name is Lucie and I was raised in a small town in Czech Republic. I have some studies of economics, but I realized my call comes from nature, the nature I’ve learnt to love and respect.  I am a sport, animal and adventure lover. I love learning about life, discovering the World and I believe in common sense. I’m a girl with dreams trying to connect all the cultures I’ve had the privilege to learn about by teaching brotherhood among the children of the future. It’s great to realize you are an ambassador of your culture among different cultures, especially if you are humble enough to let them teach you while you teach them. I’m thankful for having met more people like me, ready to leave all their past lives behind and begin new ones with new goals. I let the destiny carry on with this responsibility and I knew I was ready to face any challenge basically keeping 3 rules: respect, love and humbleness. Along this narrow and uncertain path that became a nice road I met some special people, but the most important among all of them is having met myself. One Bolivian friend who thought it was a nice idea to start learning Czech language even if he wouldn’t need it for any other purpose than interacting with me. This fact makes me think we all have the strength and the power to influence someone else’s life. Sometime later I met him again and he decided to become a vegetarian after I explained him why I became vegan couple years ago (it’s a great goal considering the traditional food in Bolivia is basically meat mixed with spicy sauces) But the key point consists in being responsible for who you are. You never know who is behind you following your example and maybe we don’t need a new generation to change the world into a better one, maybe we can begin now with all the people around us. There is always a possibility to do that, to begin now.

Kristýna Cívková

Myanmar, Payar Taung, COM Myanmar, autumn 2019

Jmenuji se Kristýna Cívková a jsem Brňačka :). Do Barmy jsem se rozhodla jet, jelikož jsem studovala země třetího světa. Bakalářské studium jsem začala na Mendlově univerzitě v Brně a pokračovala jsem magisterským studiem v Newcastle ve Velké Británii. Studium mezinárodního rozvoje mi podle mě zformoval i můj vlastní pohled a životní styl. Ale pochopila jsem, že jedna věc je něco studovat a druhá je to přímo zažít a udělat si svůj vlastní názor. Čím víc se můj odjezd blížil, tím více jsem se sama sebe ptala: “Proč to děláš?” A upřímně si myslím, že se na to ptá každý vyjíždějící (nebo se tím alespoň ujišťuji :P). Když si dávám dohromady důvody “proč”. Tak jsem si jistá, že chci pomoct a zároveň poznat jiný svět. Ale v hloubi duše jsme každý trochu sobecky, takže dalším důvodem je i najít sama sebe a naučit se chápat svět z jiné perspektivy a kultury. Jako cíl si kladu na srdce vzájemné obohacení. Tím myslím, že mi tamější lidé předají svoje zkušenosti, znalosti, moudrost a já jim zase ukážu informace, které mám já.

Co se týče mých zájmů, ráda cestuji a poznávám nová místa a kultury. Zajímám se o mezikulturní rozdíly, které mě zároveň fascinují. Mezi moje koníčky patří různé druhy sportu a ráda zkouším něco nového. Závodně jsem lyžovala, hrála volejbal, basketbal, plavání a atletiku. V poslední době však tíhnu k turistice, cvičím jógu a snažím se meditovat. V neposlední řadě, hudba mě vždycky skvěle naladí.

Andrea Szopová

Ekvádor, Otavalo a okolí, Vase, autumn 2019

» Podívejte se na blog Andy z Ekvádoru

Jmenuji se Andrea Szopová. Tento červen jsem dokončila studium oboru Divadlo a výchova na brněnské JAMU. V průběhu studijních let jsem si kromě tvorby a výuky divadla přičichla i ke kávě a její přípravě, komornímu zpívání po kavárnách, cestování, a s tím se pojícího dobrovolnictví. V minulých letech jsem se podílela na krátkodobých dobrovolnických projektech ve Španělsku a Brazílii, a tak jsem se po dokončení školy rozhodla nenastoupit ihned do pracovního koloběhu, ale věnovat trochu větší kousek svého času dobrovolnictví. To pro mě znamená poznávání spousty nových míst, lidí a jejich zvyků a mám pocit, že každá taková cesta mě o trochu více otevírá světu a pomáhá mi lépe chápat mé místo v něm. Příští půlrok budu trávit výukou angličtiny pro komunitu původních obyvatel v okolí ekvádorského Otavala. Nejvíc jsem ale zvědavá, co tento úkol, temperamentní ekvádorské děti a nadmořská výška dokáží naučit mě.

Petra Adamcová

Indonésie, Madiun a Semarang, Dejavato, autumn 2019

» Podívejte se na blog Petry z Indonésie

Ahoj, jmenuji se Petra Adamcová a je mi 22 let. Mezi mé záliby patří cestování, hra na kytaru a zpěv, plavání a geocaching. Před dvěma lety jsem se naplno začala věnovat učení angličtiny a naprosto mě to pohltilo. Největší odměnou je vidět, že studenty hodiny baví a opravdu se něco naučili. Se stejným posláním jedu na půl roku do Indonésie – předat dál své zkušenosti a pozitivní energii a ukázat, že učení je zábava.
Věřím, že potkám spoustu skvělých lidí, poznám novou kulturu a jazyk a zažiju dobrodružství, na které budu celý život vzpomínat.

Viola Dohnalová

Honduras, San Francisco de Yojoa, ICYE, spring 2018

“If you put everything into the project, you’ll enjoy it! You must be ready for the Third World (garbage, broken roads, thieves, cold water), but the rest is ENTERTAINMENT! Be willing to help with anything and enjoy your journey.”

Martina Šrámková

Vietnam, Hanoi, CSDSspring 2018

 “The project was great, it was the best decision I could make 🙂 Thank you very much for this opportunity.”

Veronika Bártlová

Sanahcat, Yucatán, spring 2018

» Check Vera´s blog from Sanahcat 

Hi, call me Vera. I am another volunteer, who came to Mexico help and co-operate with the organization called U Yich Lu’um. This organization, which has just moved to the small village in the heart of Yucatan called Sanahcat, has a focus on many things from agroecology, preservation of Mayan culture, traditions and language to education, which is the field we came to help in.
I am 26 years old and in Czech republic I work as a graphic designer. My job is sitting all day on a chair and stare into a computer. I needed to take a break and run away from the consumer world of today. I have to say that after my arrival to Sanahcat, it has succeeded, perhaps even more than I would have originally wanted.
This is my first week in Sanahcat and things are just getting started. Time is running much slower here, so let’s hope together we can move the things and ideas we came with a bit forward.

Dagmara Ziniewicz

Sanahcat, Yucatán, winter 2018

My name is Dagmara. I am originally from Poland when I graduated from Warsaw University with MA in Education.
Last 12 years of my life I ‘ve been living in US. I  like teaching yoga, dancing Tango, being involved in Autism therapies, traveling, exploring ins and outs of life, taking part in various workshops and projects. My recent interests are mainly related to alternative medicine, herbalism, natural health remedies, etc. and meditation. However only just now life presented me with the unique opportunity of getting in touch with Mexican communities and working for a cause. I would like to be a part of an active change and share my skills to improve the life of others. I have been seeking an organization that works directly with communities, contributes to bringing change and knows the most effective way to do it. I am glad to be a part of the UV venture that dedicates itself to help societies in need and supports human development.

Leisan Galieva

Calakmul, Campeche, autumn and winter 2017

Hello! My name is Leisan. I’m 31 years old. I’ve graduated from Kazan Federal University, economic faculty and have a master degree in Public administration and municipal management. For about 14 years I’ve been working in financial sector for different banks. Two years ago I moved to Moscow. Since my childhood I like to travel very much. When I was 20 I visited United States of America, stayed about half a year in Chicago, Il. It was my first trip abroad and it completely transformed me and my life. I’ve decided to learn Spanish and to implement it in practice in Latin America. I also want to help to make this world better and people happier. Financial support for people suffering cancer is only a small contribution from my side. I feel that is not enough and I can do more to help people by applying my skills and experience I gained in the last years. That’s why I’m very happy to join the UV volunteers program and I’m sure that it will be a great experience for me.

Ramón Trujillo

Calakmul, Campeche, summer 2017

Ramón here, writting from Mexico City, the place where I was born and have lived all my life.

Many things I know about my home country, Mexico, come from the newspapers, books, and occassional trips with my family or friends.I studied Political Science here in the capital city, therefore I have some notions about the history and the current state of Mexico in its wide geography. Nevertheless, I’m also aware about the complexity of a diverse and broad country as Mexico. Therefore I think the best way to actually know and understand it is by actually travelling through it, knowing its dwellers, their issues and their preocupations, their dreams and their aspirations for a better life.

My mission as a volunteer with United Vision is to contribute to the well being of others. English, when properly used, is a tool with the potential to bring people toghether in a broad sense, for personal growth, and to achieve life goals for anybody who wants to reach for a wider part of the world. By teaching a foreign language I expect others may find their own purpose and use to it, so communication is not a barrier but an opportunity, expand the expectations of what they may achieve in life, or just to better understand their own position in this world.

I’m also sure there are many things I can learn about the ways people live in other lattitudes. I think this volunteership is  the right step towards a personal growth, not only to know myself better, but also to be more open to new experiences, to new ways of seeing and living. This is an exchange, where I certainly will learn more than what I can give back, altough I want to deliver my best effort to motivate others into experiencing and embracing the possibilities of a whole new language.

Laura Gilchrist

Calakmul, Campeche, spring 2017

I’m Laura and I’m 24 years old. I studied Spanish and Art History at a small liberal arts college in South Carolina, my home state. Since landing in Buenos Aires, Argentina my junior year of college, Latin America has been an integral part of my life. I find it to be a ubiquitously open and yet mysterious corner of the universe. After graduating school, I ventured to Mexico where I volunteered on organic farms throughout the country. Eventually I made it down to Guatemala where I taught English in a vibrant community near the Mayan ruins of Tikal and not too far from Campeche where my journey picks up with United Vision 🙂 I practice film photography and dream of returning to school to study it at some point.

Kateřina Pavelová

Calakmul, Campeche, autumn, winter 2016/2017

» Check Kateřina´s blog from Calakmul

My roots are in the Czech Republic. That‘s where I was born and where I lived until the age of 18. Then my path continued to southern Spain where I had the chance to study Psychology at Universidad de Granada. During these four years I went to live one year in Vienna as Erasmus student and also a month and half in Ecuador while doing my internship there.

The time in Ecuador was a crucial moment when deciding what to do next after finishing my university studies. Since I didn’t really have a clue concerning the typical “what to do next”, I just knew I would like to go back somewhere in Latinoamérica. A friend of mine recommended this project to me and it seemed as a good way of starting the trip that I had on my mind. Mexico is a place that I wished to visit since long time ago as I am curious about the Mayan culture and the way the people there perceive life. I think that submerging oneself into the local community while also offering something back is a good way of going about it.

Leisan Galieva

Calakmul, Campeche, summer and autumn 2016

Hello! My name is Leisan. I’m 31 years old. I’ve graduated from Kazan Federal University, economic faculty and have a master degree in Public administration and municipal management. For about 14 years I’ve been working in financial sector for different banks. Two years ago I moved to Moscow. Since my childhood I like to travel very much. When I was 20 I visited United States of America, stayed about half a year in Chicago, Il. It was my first trip abroad and it completely transformed me and my life. I’ve decided to learn Spanish and to implement it in practice in Latin America. I also want to help to make this world better and people happier. Financial support for people suffering cancer is only a small contribution from my side. I feel that is not enough and I can do more to help people by applying my skills and experience I gained in the last years. That’s why I’m very happy to join the UV volunteers program and I’m sure that it will be a great experience for me.

Travis Mealand

Calakmul, Campeche, spring 2016

A little bit about myself. I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. When I was eighteen I enrolled at Western Washington University, which is located in Bellingham, Washington, just about a two hour drive north of Seattle. I lived in Bellingham and attended the University for four years. I graduated in the spring of 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and Spanish literature.

Since graduating for the University I have traveled much. Fall after graduation I went touring in Spain for a month. There I saw sights, enjoyed the beaches and walked 400 km along the Camino de Santiago. While in Europe I also visited Portugal, Italy, Greece and Turkey. After Europe, spontaneity carried me further along the globe to Thailand, India and Sri lanka. I returned to Seattle in the spring of 2015, and quickly decided I wanted to travel more, which is when I came into contact with United Vision. In January of this year I flew to Costa Rica to tour. I also visited Nicaragua and Panama, but would soon catch a flight to Mexico from San Jose, to begin my work here in Xpujil teaching English.

Petra Houšková

Temozón Sur, Yucatán, spring 2016

Hi! My name is Petra and I am 21 years old. I am from Prague, where I study at Charles University, my specialization is Area studies. I studied at a Spanish high school so I have strong affinity with language, as well as the culture of Latin America. I love travelling and enjoying life.. Volunteering was a great option to combine this alongside doing something to help others. In the future I would love to help to improve relations between Czech Republic and Latin American countries.

Natalie Huggard

Santa Rosa, Yucatán, spring and summer 2016

My name is Natalie Huggard from New Zealand. I am trained in herbal medicine and nutrition and most recently have been working for a not-for-profit health insurance company. My personal interests include natural health, travel, and learning about other cultures. In New Zealand I worked as a volunteer for the Red Cross as well as supporting the elderly in the community.
I visited Mexico in 2014-15 for three weeks and fell in love with the country. I wanted to find a way to return for a longer period of time and integrate more into a community rather than just passing through as a tourist. I am very passionate about charity work, healthcare and education. So when I discovered the opportunity to volunteer for six months teaching English, I had no hesitation to volunteer.

I was so excited and grateful to discover that I had been successful for this opportunity and can’t wait to start in the new role, helping those in the community who wish to learn English as well as becoming proficient with Spanish, learning more about the Mexican and Mayan culture and being in one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen.

Monika Ševčíková

Calakmul, Campeche, autumn and winter 2015

Eric Platas

Temozón Sur, Yucatán, autumn and winter 2015

» Eric´s blog from Temozón Sur

Hi there! I’m Eric, and though you will get to know me as you go along in this site, here are some things about me I think are interesting: I am a photographer (great with B&W), Mexican, spider lover, artist, traveller, futurist, architecture fan and a great admirer of Mexican culture and its ancient civilizations that continue prevail and remain autochthonous, mainly the Tarahumara and the Mayan. By the way kaambesah means teacher in Mayan dialect.

In the next six months I will be volunteering as a full-time English teacher in the Mayan community of Temozon Sur in Yucatan, Mexico. I will teach in a primary and secondary school, also in the Hacienda of Temozon Sur and with people in the workshops that were developed by the organization I am working for; La Fundacion Haciendas del Mundo Maya (FHMM) and United Vision.

Róza Velková

Santa Rosa, Yucatán, autumn and winter 2015

» Roza´s blog from Santa Rosa

Iva Brabcová

Temozón Sur, Yucatán, summer 2015

» Iva´s blog from Temozón Sur

Mark Asmussen

Calakmul, Campeche, summer 2015

» Mark´s blog from Calakmul

Hello Everybody I am Mark Asmussen and am from Omaha, Nebraska in the USA. I recently finished a 6 month trip through Colombia, Ecuador, and Perú; where I fell in love the local culture, the local people, the wonders of being in a new land, and also the Spanish Language. Before my trip to South America, I worked for Union Pacific Railroad as a Buyer and went to school for a finance degree at Loyola University New Orleans. I am looking forward to teaching English in Calakmul for 2 months, and can’t wait to learn from everyone I meet, and get to share the love of learning another language with others. Looking forward to keeping everyone posted on this journey.

Jarmila Beránková

Santa Rosa, Yucatán, spring and summer 2015

» Jarmilas´s blog from Santa Rosa

Lucie Čechová

Temozón Sur, Yucatán, spring 2015

Romana Marksová

Temozón Sur, Yucatán, autumn 2014

» Romana´s blog from Temozón Sur

Cinthia Jimenez

Calakmul, Campeche, summer 2014

» Cinthia´s blog from Calakmul

Hi, my name is Cinthia Jimenez. I’m from Matamoros, Mexico and have lived part of my life in Texas as a student and recently as an accountant. I love languages and learning about other cultures and people. Since I was little I’ve participated in mission trips and was involved in community service and always knew I wanted to continue growing and helping other people in which ever way I could. I hope that in this trip I would teach and learn as much as is possible.

Kristýna Poláková

Calakmul, Campeche, spring 2014

My name is Kristyna, Tyna for short. Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to do something good and useful. Maybe it is because of all the books I have read or all the things my dad tough me or all those things which I had the privilege to have. I don’t know. But right now, it is my time to pay it forward. And here I am, in my second year of studies in Social work and humanitarian assistance. In three weeks time, I am going on my three months external internship to Mexico. This will be the first time I would be so far from my home, Czech Republic. I am pretty scared (as I am going on my own), but also excited. Finally, I am ready to discover all the adventurous world out there. I have created my blog onetinytraveler.tumblr.com in order to write about all the incredible adventures I will experience as well as about the everyday life of one tiny volunteer girl who finds herself on the other half of the world.

Ruth Marr

Calakmul, Campeche, autumn 2013

» Ruth´s blog from Calakmul

Hi, my name is Ruth and I am from London, England. I like cooking, going to the cinema, and socialising with friends. I also like travelling and learning languages, which is why I decided to spend six months in Mexico. So far I’m very glad I made this decision!

Radka Myšková

Coatepec, Veracruz, autumn 2013

» Radka´s blog from Coatepec

Zuzana and Hedvika

Calakmul, Campeche, summer 2013

» Their blog from Calakmul

We generally assessed our mission in Calakmul as positive and beneficial for both the local community and for us. It probably did not happened a substantial development or major changes in the community Valentín Gómez Farías and its surroundings, where we worked, but we left almost two to three months of work that has had a positive impact. Of course it depended much more on the local people than on us, whether they learned something or not, as motivation played a very important role. Some of them, especially children , did not benefited a lot of English, but on the other hand, we tried to pleased their life in the community, which is otherwise do not vary a lot, and show them that there are other nationalities than Mexicans. We also strongly believe that adults, who had the motivation, now control basic conversation in English. It took them about 5 months, but regarding to the fact, that most of them are working, having a child or educate themselves in other sector and thus do not have so much time for working on homeworks requested by the teacher, makes us excited and we are convinced that the this project is worth to continue. In terms of the development of our personality, this experience has undeniably grown the perception of different cultures and global overview, deepen our independence (for instance language barrier ) or the ability to transmit information and knowledge, and in addition we learned more patience and the proper use of the motto ” no stress ” 🙂

Eva and Jakub

Calakmul, Campeche, summer 2013

» Their blog from Calakmul

Voluntary mission in Mexico in the region of Calakmul1 was my first voluntary experience that far from my country. Now I hope it’s not the last one. As a graduated philosopher and cultural anthropologist I was missing a contact with an “extraneous” culture. The possibility to teach English in small villages of Yucatan was a perfect opportunity how to put together what is helpful and interesting. The stay in the different environment enriched me with a new dimension. It moved me personally as well as professionally.

Before the departure

Before the departure I was looking for the villages, where we had to teach and I didn’t even manage to find them. I was able to read from the map that we will teach in the area of a tropical forest and Mayan ruins. Imagination was working on 200%. I had many infantile projections of wild jungle and solitary. I was scared of the unknown and I was looking forward to live out of civilization at the same time. However, none of it came true. Ejido2 Valentín Gómez Farías3 lies on the edge of Calakmul Biosphere Reserve4, but at the same time lies next to the state highway 186. You were with one leg in the jungle and with the second one on the road where were riding many cars and trucks. I was disenchanted. Anyway I got used to this compromise after few days. To the forest it was just hundreds steps and necessary things were handy. The fear was unreasonable. In the “hotel” was access to the internet; in the village were several stores and two shops with beer. It’s an important commodity for the Czechs in the unbearable heat that is ruling in Calakmul in summer. I felt like a first-hand witness of inevitable human colonization and globalization in wilderness.

We were with Evka the first voluntaries in Calakmul and no one knew how everything will work. Fortunately we had a great co-worker Noé in VGF, who prepared a ground for teaching and who helped us in many aspects. Concerning my readiness for teaching, before we left I had a steady knowledge of English, I had a few experience with teaching a foreign language and I studied Spanish for a year and half. I was afraid, how I’ll manage the lessons of foreign language in foreign language in foreign country. In the beginning we were giving the lessons together with Evka to help each of other, when one of us didn’t know something, and to discover our possibilities. After few days we gained some self-confidence and we started to teach separately. We managed to lead the lessons even with the basics of Spanish. With passing weeks the knowledge of Spanish was improving and I was getting more certain. But it cost a lot of effort and the progress was gradual.


In total we were teaching ten groups two times a week, from children 6-10 years, adolescents 11-14 years to adults 15-†. I was taking care of five groups in four ejidos. In VGF I was teaching adolescents and then the employees from our hosting organization Productores Forestales de Calakmul5. They were the worst students, because they didn’t attend the lessons! Despite their bad studying morale, we made friends with some of them. They had a lot of work, so I understood it, but it was a pity they didn’t attend the classes when they could. After we had to cancel the adolescents6, I was given a group of children. In VGF was funny that we were teaching one month in our hotel. After one month next building was repaired and we moved classes there. To other villages I was going by bike to spare the expenses. In Becan7 I was teaching a group of children, in Xpujil8 and Zoh Laguna9 I had adults. In Becan, Xpujil and Zoh Laguna I ran the classes in so called “casa ejidal” (community building). Funny thing was that in Xpujil I was also giving lessons in the park or in the outside warehouse of tools. On the last mentioned place I was teaching after we had to cancel the group of adults because of the lack of students10. After some time I managed to open a new class for children at the house of one of the former student. It wasn’t important where the lesson is, but that it is.

I really liked teaching so I felt even bigger disappointment when some students gave up the classes. Noé assured me that sometimes there is a big drop-out, one student told me that I’m “the best teacher” :), anyway I doubted. What gave me strength were children. They were attending surprisingly regularly and in a big count. For this I liked them the most. Sometimes I would spank them, because they were fidgety and fretful. In spite of this I experienced with them the most fun.

Life in VGF

Concerning the life in VGF, in the beginning we didn’t familiarize with the “natives” too much. For the locals we were probably gringos11, although we are not from the USA 🙂 The only person whom we could talk to was our co-worker Noé, because he was single person speaking English. Children were sometimes shouting on us some English garbles otherwise all of the people were speaking only Spanish. Even Mayan dialects were more spoken in the village than English. So the only choice, as would do any good researcher, was to study Spanish on our own daily and apply it in the practice of everyday communication. And it worked. Life in the countryside was very “tranquilo” (like on whole Yucatan), so we had enough space to rest and study; not only Spanish but local conditions as well. Nothing was happening in the village neither in the neighbourhood, so first month on our free Sundays we were visiting Mayan ruins lying near VGF. It was big pleasure that after month of social fasting we were invited by some of our students for dinner. We started to meet with local people and it was great. We got to know the locals, what they eat, what they make for a living, how they live…

People live here in tough climate, in seemingly meagre houses, they cultivate a poor soil, anyway they are happy. This I was learning from them. Calakmul is a region quite developed, but still godforsaken. If one looks for adventurous work as well as tranquillity this is the right place.

Jakub Urbanec

1) http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calakmul_(municipio)
2) http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ejido
3) Try to search the village on your own. If you are not successful, type this coordinate „18.513063,-89.444504“ to Google Maps.
4) http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserva_de_la_biosfera_de_Calakmul
5) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Productores-Forestales-de-Calakmul-AC/143431695717587
6) Just one student was attending the lessons regularly so we moved her to adults.
7) It is 1 km far from VGF.
8) It is 5 km far from VGF. Xpujil is capital and administrative centre of Calakmul. With 3000-4000 inhabitants it is the biggest “city” far and wide.
9) From VGF it is 10 km far along the road in the forest or 15 km far along the “road”. There are cars but the road was quite like in the forest. Coordinate is „18.594189,-89.418712“.
10) Just one student was attending the lessons regularly.
11) It is lightly defamatory Mexican name for the foreigners from the USA. In some cases it can be used for all white foreigners. Every time it’s good to disavow from this label. If you do so, you can gain trust from the local people very quickly.

Two months in Calakmul

In the morning I went to the work, in the evening I came from the work, all day long I was working to the computer, surrounded by people focused only on one target, how to buy things cheap and then sell them with profit, without any other concern. That was my life before Mexico. I wasn´t satisfied with the job I had. I was traveling a lot to many countries and I attended many interesting meetings and I was negotiating with poeple, but it was all just a business. It was the business between a developed and a developing world and nothing more, everything just for a few papers, which we give such a high value. After a year and a half, when the work took me time for my close family, friends and myself, I realized that the work I want to dedicate my life should have a different asset than just some amount of money monthly on my pay-bill.

So thanks to UV I went to Mexico. I was full of excitement and a little of fear, but open to everything new and unknown. As a graduated master of international development studies, I came back to branch where I feel comfortable. It´s a job where I can work with people and where I may help to do this world a better place to live.

Not everything was as easy as I imagined, but two months in Calakmul and month traveling around Mexico passed so quickly that it was impossible to believe. And after all, in those three short months I have learned a lot. A lot about myself and about the others. I grappled with Spanish and believe me it was a fight 🙂 I managed the hot weather and hot chili. I learned to cry and laugh at the same time, when those little devils were running on the tables or even rooftop during my class. We all survived. I hope I learned them something. I saw the rain forest and all the animals living in it. I´ve met people full of enthusiasm to protect this forest and the life in it. I realized that the Mayans are not dead. I´ve found a well of inspiration for my next activities and jobs. I´ve realized that Mexico is my heart country where I would like to return once again.


Izabela Sajdok

San Javier, Michoacán, spring 2013

» Izabela´s blog from San Javier

Lucie Lísková

Coatepec, Veracruz, spring 2013

» Lucie´s blog from Coatepec

I have found the opportunity to work as a volunteer in Mexico via Internet. I just entered the key words „volunteer“ and „Latin America“. In fact – at the beginning I wanted to go to the Dominican Republic, where I spent magnificent vacation in 2012 and I felt there like in a paradise. But it would be very tough – back in the year I founded just US NGOs operating there, which charged an application fee plus additional cost for room and board. I didn´t have sufficient money to do that, so I continued to search for something else
After all I succeeded to get to Mexico without paying any fees thanks to the Czech organization United Vision, which is teaching English there. They offered me to become a volunteer in Coatepec in the Mexican state Veracruz for at least three months. I just had to get a flight ticket and travel insurance.

English class in the church

United Vision sends trained volunteers to their communities with eco-touristic potential to teach English in return for Room & Board. With the effective methodology invented by two Czech English teachers (former co-founders) every volunteer can manage it with a decent level of English and basic Spanish knowledge.

In Veracruz was the partner organization Mujeres Productivas (Productive women) led by Imalda H. Sanabria. I met her at the airport in Mexico City, where she waited me and brought me to wonderful Coatepec, when I stayed at her house.
Coatepec is about five hours away from DF by bus. It has a population of about 50 000 inhabitants and is quite civilized, with lots of schools, shops, banks, restaurants and cafes. The main product – coffee, smells on every corner there, so you can enjoy the great street aroma.
There are also many catholic churches in the town and at least five of them are quite large. In one of them, San Jeronimo, I even used to have morning classes. Later in the afternoon I taught in a primary school (collegio) and also in two restaurants. The owners offered me in return full consumption of food and beverages.

Fun increases the cost

I arrived to Coatepec in March and already at that time it was about fifteen degrees. Summer-being, it would seem. But the town is situated in the mountains, at an altitude of about 1200 meters above sea level and there´s enough wind blows. I had to put on a wool cap and a scarf during the day and sometimes at night I slept under three blankets. In the buildings the doors and windows are usually open and there is no heating, so high humidity might drive you chill to the bones. The more I appreciated the fact that Imelda had shower with hot water – which is in Mexico not that common.

When it comes to food, I either ate in the restaurant where I worked or at Imelda´s house. My students also invited me often to their houses for dinner or to make a trip with them. I have also visited Mexican birthday parties with very sweet cakes and coca-cola. So I didn´t spend that much money, my personal expenses were spent just for my pleasure-trips and nightlife. I was pleasantly surprised how cheap the taxis there are. And the street food eather. It´s recommended to use just the registered one, otherwise you risk robbing. The problem is, that the illegal ones may look exactly the same.

Your friend is also my friend

Besides from the criminals, normal Mexicans are absolutely wonderful people. They do not care so much about the work or material security, they do know, how to live and don´t count every minute of a time! If the Czechs freak out when someone get a moment later, in Mexico people come half hour later without any stress. One of us must get used to (f. e. when your lesson starts at 10am and the first geek comes 20 min later), but on the other hand, they have a lot of things to appreciate.
My other remark is that Mexicans begin early with own family (especially in smaller towns, you would probably search for single twenties a long time). A family is a value above all elseThere doesn´t exist a situation, that f. e. my cousin missed a family celebration because there is some festival in his/her schedule. Lot of young people stay together with their parents quite a long time, there is not that big need to become independent and live apart.

Czechs are mostly touched by Mexican kindness and willingness to help. You can recognize it on small things specifically Mexicans as for example when I was leaving a pub lately in the night, my friends always dropped me by to my home, they wouldn´t let me walk alone. Or how the people can open their arms for someone they hardly know. Your friend is also my friend – this phrase is there literally true. For instance, when I said to Imelda, that was going on a weekend trip to Papantla, she called her friend who lives there to take care of me. Seňora Anna shared with me the whole weekend and presented me to her big family. I would say, that the Mexican people are dominated by their emotions.
After coming back from Mexico, I became a member of United Vision to maintain contact with Mexico and to help to coordinate other volunteers. I may say that there is nice adventure waiting for all others as well.

Bára Kostková

San Javier, Morelia, Michoacán, autumn 2012

» Bara´s blog from San Javier

My name is Barbora Kostková. I graduated from the Spanish philology of the Charles University in Prague in 2012. I became a volunteer of United Vision in the autumn in 2012. After my studies I wanted to experience something new, something exciting. I always had a favourable stance on Latin America and when I by coincidence met United Vision, I decided very fast to go to Mexico to teach English there. Quick work of my current colleagues and a bit touch of destiny sent me to San Javier, small poor community near Morelia, the capital of Michoacán. What followed then in next three months can´t be described easily. Now I am back, with a lot of pictures, new friends and unforgettable memories, the same I could get here at home or anywhere else. In fact, I can´t see any big changes on myself. But the incredible thing about that is what I left there. Nobody can´t take them what they learned from English and nobody can´t take them the feeling that somebody cares. And wouldn´t believe how much does it mean to them, to simple people who live in poverty and try to live a better life.

And what do I know, maybe one day, when everything break down here, I will find one more big profit for me … that I can always get back there and they will accept me with open hearts.

Daniela Hrušková

Coatepec, summer 2012

» Daniela´s blog from Coatepec

Linda Neumayerová

Bacalar, Coatepec, Jalcomulco, Papantla, September 2011 – March 2012

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Linda joined United Vision at its beginnings (at the end of 2010) as an expert on the methodology for children. In the last year of her studies at the Technical University in Liberec, where she got a degree in English and Spanish, she decided to leave for Mexico to test the new developed methodology.

In September 2011, after her final exams, she flew to Mexico with Filip Šena to start a pilot project in a Mexican community Bacalar, in Quintana Roo. They spent there two months teaching not only children but also adults. The methodology seemed to work just fine. After that they relocated to a beautiful village Jalcomulco, in Veracruz and after two more months to Papantla, a famous tourist town.

A half year spent in Mexico was an extraordinary experience for her and it definitely changed her view of life. Presently she works in the Czech Republic as a teacher of English and Spanish. Moreover she coaches new volunteers in methodology for the UV.

Filip Šena

Bacalar, Coatepec, Jalcomulco, Papantla, September 2011 – March 2012

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Filip Šena, a co-founder of United Vision, volunteered in Mexico three times (3 missions of 6 months from 2008 to 2012). First missions took place in Hidalgo (Huasca de Ocampo, San Miguel Regla) and Oaxaca (Rio Manso). The pilot project of United Vision (2011 – 2012) took place in Quintana Roo (Bacalar) and Veracruz (Jalcomulco, Coatepec and Papantla). During this life phase Filip gained very useful experience that has influenced both his professional and personal life.

Despite getting a master degree in Economics, Filip devotes his effort and time to developing teaching methods for adults, running a teaching web for English learners (www.anglictinaspepou.cz) and helping United Vision with training its volunteers.

United Vision