Teaching deaf children

Mexico (M5) | View map
PRICE FROM
£211

Price is based on 3 months
MINIMUM DURATION
1 month

Teaching deaf children & adults, plus supporting staff and parents

  • Support children and adults in a rare project teaching deaf children in Mexico
  • Combine this project with supporting a specials needs school or orphanage
  • Based in Puerto Vallarta, next to the Pacific Ocean and wonderful Mexican culture
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Project summary

teaching deaf children in a small but well-organised school in Puerto Vallarta. Currently it has around 20 children and 10 adults that attend classes for a few hours each day. The children attend normal school in the afternoons. The school is small but purpose built, with three rooms set in a spacious plot. There are excellent, all-Mexican staff who communicate in sign language. The form of sign language used is Mexican Sign Language “lengua de señas mexicana” or LSM. It is not related to Spanish, British or American sign language but it seems that a knowledge of other sign language is immensely helpful in learning LSM.

The school provides an education and support for people with hearing difficulties. They are taught sign language and a range of school subjects as the children will often lag behind where they are expected to be due to the difficulties of learning with a hearing impairment. The older ones are assisted with job applications. The school is a place where camaraderie and mutual support are provided and volunteers can provide the added support and interest that helps the children and adults push themselves that little further.

Although the hours are relatively short, the work is demanding and volunteers usually arrive home in the early afternoon exhausted. For those with more stamina this project combines with our other projects working with children in Puerto Vallarta.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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The students benefit from one on one support but this can’t be provided without volunteers. The students attend other schools or are in employment so only attend for a few hours each day and numbers can vary greatly. Volunteers assist with a wide range of educational activities including playing, supervising activities, teaching English, basic arts and crafts and helping with games. Students are also prepared for studying in mainstream schools and in life skills to facilitate access to the job market. These activities are sometimes undertaken as whole class activities but volunteers are often given groups of just two or three children or young adults to supervise.

This is an important project and has proved to be particularly rewarding to patient, dedicated volunteers. As with many volunteer projects the enthusiasm and interests of the volunteers themselves will be the deciding factor of how much they become involved in the multiple activities of the school.

How you can make a difference

There are ‘cultural’ challenges and a lack of desire to help and support people with disabilities in Mexico. The indifference that local authorities show towards supporting this type of project make it difficult to progress. Volunteers can help cut through all of this and their energy and enthusiasm bring much needed life and additional capacity to the project, which in turn provides a higher level of support to students and an increased self-esteem.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is the only project we know of supporting the deaf of Puerto Vallarta. It provides volunteers with a rare opportunity to gain experience of working with the deaf and support a segment of Mexican society who continue to suffer from an unconscious prejudice.

Blue Tiger Features:

This project works limited hours and will always have varying numbers of students attending it. This means volunteers need to approach it with a flexible attitude, ready to adapt their own activities and plans to the circumstances of their placement. Volunteers need to think positively about how they maximise their time and impact, working hard to focus on the opportunity in the school, and being prepared to work with one of the other projects when required to augment their experience.

Season:

The project is largely open all year round, with fluctuating numbers dependent on school holidays, to be confirmed upon application

Languages:

The staff all speak Mexican, as will your host family, so an intermediate level of Spanish is ideally required.

Experience required:

Experience working with deaf people and knowledge of any sign language system will prove invaluable in helping you make a difference.

Good to know:

Puerto Vallarta enjoys more than 300 days a year of sunshine with an average temperature of 25 degrees C, which can make for warm working conditions but explains why Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination for those attracted by the beach, water sports and Mexican culture.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months
£1,695£2,125£2,525£2,920£3,345£3,745

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support. 20 hours of 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Whale watching
  • Beaches
  • The Old Town
Greta Ruiz

Country co-ordinator

Greta Ruiz

Greta lives close to our project base in Puerto Vallarta and has been working with us since 2006. She lived in London for three years where she completed her MSc in veterinary science. In addition to supporting our volunteers she now works as a Pilates instructor. She is brilliantly organised and works relentlessly to improve our programmes and offer support to the Mexico volunteers.

About Mexico