This article appeared in The Olive Press, Spain’s leading English language newspaper. A heavily edited version also appeared in The Local (Spain’s leading digital publication) at the same time…

When was the last time you were truly inspired? When did you last do something different, go on an adventure, step out of your comfort zone a little? This article introduces you to a unique, rewarding and fun cultural exchange which has had a profound affect on thousands of people. A fascinating concept, amazing stories…

My first introduction to the entity that is Diverbo – More Than Pueblo Inglés was through my sister around 3 years ago. As with most people’s involvement, I heard through word of mouth and decided to give it a try. She had participated and thought it may be of interest to me.

An application and a couple of coincidences later found me landing in Spain for my first PI program in the charming village of La Alberca.

I was struck by the efficiency, organisation and the positive ethos it promoted. What struck me even more as the week went on was the fun we had, the laughter enjoyed, the rich conversations and a certain intangible magic that gives this program its edge over anything of its kind.

Although a very busy and intense week, I left with an overwhelming sense of awe and a ‘what just happened’ feeling. It was like nothing I have experienced previously and judging by the reaction of some of the others, very far removed from anything they have been involved with too.

I was intrigued enough to return for another program at a different venue. One thing led to another and not only have I done several more as a volunteer, I have worked for over a year in the Volunteer Department helping to coordinate those very volunteers for precisely that experience.

These programs have quite literally changed people’s lives. Mine has certainly taken a huge change in direction and each person may take something different from the experience. A very social encounter giving rise to very personal takeaways and insights.

Each week we receive emails from happy participants and the effect the program has had on them. A recent one was somebody changing career course completely, going from Asset Management to teaching in Italy!

Why volunteer?

A lot of the Spaniards ask this question on the program. Why would you give up your time to help them for free? Some potential volunteers may have that question too…

Other than the overall experience,  there are practicalities too.

You get a week at a 4* resort. All accommodation and 3 big meals a day in exchange for your conversation. In addition to that, you see a part of Spain you would probably miss if going the traditional tourist route and you get to trade stories with real people.

You will have a whole bunch of new friends in Spain and around the world. You may have desires to teach English, and although this isn’t teaching per sé…it is a good intro or refresher if you would like to go that route.

You get to be your raw, authentic self and no need to be embarrassed by your lack of Spanish (in fact it’s forbidden on the program!).

I was recently thinking about how to sum up the Pueblo Inglés/Diverbo experience in a sentence, and this is what I came up with:

A great opportunity to inspire and to be inspired!

Yes, it’s about English. One side improving their knowledge and fluency, the other side helping them do that. But as the old tagline said it really is far ‘More Than English!’.

English language is the vehicle, the nucleus which this social event revolves around…it’s the reason 40 strangers gather together in one place for 8 days. You will see noticeable improvements from the Spaniards over the course of the week, that in itself is hugely rewarding.  

However, what transpires is that those set of ingredients (people and course structure) blend together to form a dish far more sublime than you could have ever anticipated. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  

We’ve seen it time and time again…in fact around 830 times!

Each conversation and interaction you have is a huge opportunity to learn and grow. You will gain knowledge and receive inspiration in a supportive environment. In return, you will be able to contribute your own inspiration, not just with your English ‘skills’ but in the many ways you contribute to the experience and the talents and wisdom you bring to the table.

Exciting new programs – a must!

Very recently some extra programs have been added to this year’s calendar. They are run in relation with the Spanish Ministry of Education and the Spanish participants will all be teachers from the Valencia region.

These are even more special as aside from all the aforementioned reasons to get involved you have a real opportunity to help shape the future of Spain. These teachers need to teach more of their classes in English so you won’t just be helping that one individual, you will be helping the 100s of learners under their care. And the ripple effect could be immeasurable.

By the way, there is no need to be a teacher yourself. All that’s required from you is a positive, ‘go with the flow’ attitude and a willingness to talk all day! Everything else is taken care of.

The success of the program has been phenomenal and is going from strength to strength.

As well as 830 (at the time of writing) successful programs, many people – volunteers and students – return over and over. There are people who have done over 60 programs! There are many others who have done more than one and each week a whole new set of lucky people about to embark on this quirky adventure for the first time.

If you do decide to come along for the ride, we may well meet the day before your program as you will be invited for lunch with us and the other volunteers…so we hope to see you then!

I’ll leave you with a quote that I think may be apt –

“The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires”~ William Arthur Ward

For more info and to see where it all started, see this post – Welcome To The Hotel La Alberca

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