Mary is a teacher from Dublin with a mortgage and little disposable income, so two years ago she decided to research options for a cheap holiday. After typing "volunteering + Europe" into Google she discovered an American company called Vaughantown, which offers a unique opportunity for native English speakers (Anglos).
In return for volunteering to speak English to Spanish participants for six days, Anglos get an all-inclusive free holiday in a luxury Spanish hotel, paying only for their return flights.
While she was nervous at first because her friends thought it sounded like a glorified escort service, Mary explains that it is as straightforward as it sounds.
"Basically you stay in an amazing four-star hotel. My room had a Jacuzzi and the biggest bed you've ever seen. You get all your food; a massive buffet and a three-course lunch and dinner with wine. All of this is provided because you're giving up your time."
Every day is structured around one-on-one conversations and group activities designed to help the Spanish participants improve their English. Conversations are about anything and everything. "One person talked about killer fish in the tropics while another told me about her family," Mary explains.
After a siesta in the afternoon, during which some sleep and others sunbathe, there are afternoon games, quizzes and some more conversation. Evenings are spent with participants chatting over dinner, with free time afterward. In addition to a free holiday in a top hotel, Mary explains that she also made good friends who she visited afterward
"You'll meet people from all over the world and never be stuck for somewhere to stay. They're all really interesting – one Anglo was a NASA astronaut."
Applications can be made online on the Vaughantown website. If successful, applicants can choose from various venues and dates.
com/towns There is also a blog about it written by Anna, a past Anglo participant