Volunteers Working Holiday
Volunteer working holiday an article written by Dr DJ Rohling,
An American Volunteer at La Giraudière August/September 2012. Dr DJ Rohling aspiring novelist volunteering abroad in France
Imagine helping to renovate a historic stone-built French master’s house (maison d’maitre) in south-west France, where acre after acre of vineyards and sunflower fields dominate the landscape … and intersperse that with free French language lessons, good food, meeting new people from all stations and walks of life and culture. Imagine, too, taking day-long or extended weekend excursions to other picturesque regions near or far. Again, imagine the wonderfully fulfilling sense of accomplishment generated by having contributed to an educational project. If any of this appeals to your sense of adventure, to that unfulfilled longing to challenge yourself, to travel the world without breaking the bank, then quite possibly a volunteer working holiday at La Giraudière is exactly what you are looking for. It is exactly what I was looking for! I am thrilled to have discovered it and experienced it! Getting out of my office was just what the doctor ordered! As well, I saved at least a couple thousand dollars on hotel accommodation over the course of three weeks.
A Volunteers holiday open to all
Sure, it helps if you are an experienced carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, landscaper or writer, teacher, artist or web designer but at La Giraudière it is NOT required – there is something that everyone can do. Maybe you prefer to cook, clean, or assist with other general household management. Whatever the case, if you have the motivation to contribute, you will be welcomed. For me, a clinical psychologist and aspiring novelist, being outdoors, trimming hedges and assisting with a writing project was a delight. I even learned how to do crepi, that is, apply a chaux render to stone walls in the French tradition.
Here’s how the La Giraudière volunteer program works: During your stay, you give 18 hours a week working on the project in exchange for a reduced accommodation fee. Your work commitments are typically fulfilled over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The recommended minimum commitment is for a three week stay but you can extend as long as you like. The rest of the week is yours to do as you please! There are several exciting options. If you prefer, you can venture off alone on the convenient French rail to any of several other locations. You can join other volunteers on excursions to local events, markets and historic sites. You can take in the surf at one of the picture-perfect beaches along the southwest coast of France. Or you can visit nearby Bordeaux, the amazing beautiful riverside city with its busy urban life, many restaurants and Europe’s longest central shopping strip.
I spent a wonderful, whirlwind twenty-four hours in this city, absorbing all the sights, sounds and smells I could. I chose to travel the city on foot, walking mile after mile, taking pictures and practicing my ever-expanding French skills. And of course Paris is only two hours by train away!! Your three or four free days off allow time enough for a sightseeing tour of the most popular city in the world, the city of romance, the famous city of lights!
French lessons free with volunteering holiday
Do you want to refresh your dormant high school French skills? Or maybe begin your study of French – that beautiful, lyrical language of love you’ve always dreamed of speaking? Have no fear; an experienced, patient and wonderful language teacher awaits you, at no added cost! The opportunity of mingling with the Brossacaise and French people everywhere you go gives you an immediate chance to use what you have learned. It surely was the case for me.
If this sounds attractive but you have doubts – you fear you are too young, too wet behind the ears to survive a volunteer holiday or too past the prime of life to be of use – don’t worry. Volunteer holidays are specifically geared toward helping you support the project! Countless others have done it and so can you!
Volunteering could be part of your working holiday
Perhaps you are already in France on a Backpacking holiday and you need a break from being constantly on the move; perhaps you want a place to meet others from across the globe to share your life stories and collaborate on a work project. Volunteering at La Giraudière is just the place to head for.
Working on the La Giraudière Project would look great on your resume, demonstrating your team skills and testifying to your ‘real world’ experience. Also, with proper application being made at their school, many students can earn course credits and even have the nominal costs of the program covered by their university!
Volunteering at La Giraudière provides a great opportunity to take time out, to challenge yourself in areas not before explored, to contemplate and to redefine your relationships, roles and career direction. Many have testified that the experience of being a role model to younger volunteers has reinvigorated their lives by clarifying their values and starting up a new vision for their lives. Also, from here you can make contacts, research French work opportunities and build a network that may enable a total redirection of your vocation.
Whatever your present station in life you will not regret having joined the team at La Giraudiere. You will create memories to cherish for a lifetime. I, for one, will return. I have already spoken to my children about coming to experience a volunteer holiday for themselves. I only had wished I done so myself at their age! And, since my return to the States, I have referred several friends and acquaintances to La Giraudière’s website! So don’t wait any longer – start planning YOUR volunteers working holiday today. You know you want to, because you wouldn’t still be reading this if the spirit of adventure wasn’t calling you!
© 2021 La Giraudiere Volunteer Project in France