My name is Marek, and I am 32 years old. Two years ago, I decided to completely change my job profile, transitioning from the private sector to an NGO. After a year of working for the largest Polish humanitarian organization as a marketing specialist, I felt the need to get involved more directly with projects. However, I lacked the necessary experience. Fortunately, I learned about the European Solidarity Corps Humanitarian Aid program, which allows individuals to work for organizations around the world. Having never participated in any Erasmus exchange, I realized that it might be my last opportunity to seize such an experience.
In addition to gaining necessary experience, my other priority was to develop my linguistic skills in a non-English foreign language. Since I had some basics of Spanish, I started searching for deployment in Latin America – a continent I had never visited before, where humanitarian needs are significant. I came across an offer from TECHO, a 26-year-old Chilean organization. After a few calls and interviews, I decided to go to Chile (the farthest away I’ve ever been!) for 6 months (the longest time away from home in my life!) to work as a MEAL Officer.
The first weeks were really challenging for me. I realized how much I needed to improve my Spanish to feel comfortable and confident here. The support of my tutor, as well as my flatmates, was crucial, and today Iappreciate it a lot. What also motivated me was working on the largest international project in the history of TECHO: building 2000 sanitary solutions in 8 countries of Latin America in 5 years. It made me feel like I am a part of a good and needed change in the region. What I really appreciate is the comprehensive nature of my job. It involved typical office work, analyzing results of questionnaires filled in by beneficiaries, but I also had the opportunity to participate in constructions for a few days.
My time in Chile was not solely dominated by my job, of course. I also had the opportunity to get to know this amazing country better. I went to the driest desert in the world, Atacama, then to the amazing and world-famous Patagonia, and finally, I visited a Chilean island on another continent, Rapa Nui.
The decision to come to Chile was not easy. I had some doubts: if I am not too old or if my Spanish is good enough. After a few months in Chile, I can honestly say that it was one of the most challenging but also one of the best decisions of my life. I am very happy that I made it and also believe it will have a positive impact on the rest of my life!