There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Buenos Aires, from food banks to working with kids in villas (shanty towns). Some ask for just your time, or a modest fee – and some charge hundreds of dollars (with likely a low percentage of money going directly to those in need). Before choosing an organization, it’s good to talk to other volunteers about their experiences.
Anda Responsible Travel Travel agency that supports local communities and offers volunteering days.
Club Unión de los Pibes (http://www.uniondelospibes.org) Works with adults and kids living in the south of the city.
Fundación Banco de Alimentos (www.bancodealimentos.org.ar) Short-term, simple work at a food bank.
Habitat for Humanity (www.hpha.org.ar) Building communities.
Volunteer South America (www.volunteersouthamerica.net) List of NGOs.
WWOOF Argentina (www.wwoofargentina.com) Organic farming in Argentina.
Unless you have a special skill, business and/or speak Spanish, it’s hard to find work other than teaching English – or perhaps putting time in at a hostel or bar. And it’s good to realize that you’re not likely to get rich doing these things.
Native English-speakers usually work out of language institutes. Twenty hours a week of actual teaching is about enough for most people (note that you are not paid for travel time and prep time). Frustrations include dealing with unpleasant institutes, classes being spread throughout the day and canceled classes. Institute turnover is high and most people don’t teach for more than a year.
A TEFL certification can certainly help but isn’t mandatory for all jobs. You’ll make more money teaching private students, but it takes time to gain a client base. And you should take into account slow periods like December through February, when many locals leave town on summer vacation.
To find a job, call up the institutes or visit expat bars and websites and start networking. March is when institutes are ramping up their courses, so it’s the best time to find work. Many teachers work on tourist visas (which is not a big deal), heading over to Uruguay every three months for a new visa or visiting the immigration office for a visa extension.
Personal relationships are very important for getting things done in Argentina, so take time to get to know your business contacts. Setting up an appointment beforehand is always better than cold-calling. Always start a conversation with small talk about your family or sporting events, and be wary of political talk.
In social circumstances Argentines always kiss each other on the cheek in greeting, but if you’re meeting a business contact for the first time a handshake is best. Dress conservatively and be prompt (though your Argentine contact may be a bit late).
Most business in Argentina is done in Spanish, and legal papers in a foreign language are generally translated into Spanish by a certified public translator. Think about printing your business cards in Spanish as well as English. If you’re an American, say you’re from ‘los Estados Unidos’ (the United States) rather than ‘America’ (some Argentines consider themselves ‘American’ also – South American).
Most four- or five-star hotels have business centers and meeting rooms. The commercial service department at your embassy in Buenos Aires is a good first resource for general business dealings in Argentina.
The brainchild of one of BA’s many expat entrepreneurs, Areatres is a secure working office where you can rent a desk, cubicle, office or meeting room. There are fax and copy services, complete internet and wi-fi connections, networking social events, a business lounge, a large presentation room and even a Zen-like patio at the back for the stress-prone. Facilities are cutting-edge – it’s like you never left Silicon Valley. It’s even eco-conscious.
If you’d like to spend more time in Buenos Aires than a vacation allows, experiencing what it’s like to live and make a difference to the local community, it’s all possible by Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) with i-to-i TEFL. No previous teaching experience or local language knowledge is necessary. Get your free i-to-i TEFL e-book now to find out more about TEFL, what TEFL jobs are available and how it can get you exploring the globe...