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Volunteering at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago - October 2021 Update

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
NOTE - This post supersedes all previous posts by me about volunteering at the pilgrim office. Things changed over the nearly four years since I wrote the original post in February 2018. Many of you found that post informative and useful. Just the passage of time has affected some of the processes and procedures in place. Personnel have come and gone. The COVID pandemic caused radical changes in several areas.

Here is the updated original post. The moderators may choose to redact or delete the separate earlier threads. I do not have edit capability over these old messages because they are so old. Forum policy is to lock the threads against editing at some point in time. Hence, I am compelled to start new thread.

Over the past several months and years, Many, fellow forum members have asked individually about how to go about offering their services as volunteers (voluntarios) at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago. Each time, I have replied. In addition, I provided much of this information in direct replies within varied postings.

However, the number of individual inquiries rose to the point where a good, general posting that is easily searchable would be appropriate. So, here it is. I took the original February 2018 post about this subject and updated it through my recent experiences at the pilgrim office In September 2021.

I have had the privilege of working at the pilgrim office since 2014 and plan to serve again for a month each summer for as long as they permit me to come to help and I am physically able to contribute. In this regard, if you are so motivated, I can certainly point you in the right direction.

First, and as others have asked me, religion is not a prerequisite. Although I am a Cradle Catholic myself, I am not aware that this has ever been a requirement. Having done at least one Camino IS a baseline requirement. They prefer volunteers who can both talk the talk and have walked the walk.

Second, as regards language skills, more is better, and Spanish is most preferred. But they will consider anyone with some skills in that area.

The language need also depends on the time of year you seek to volunteer. For example, if you work in the latter half of July and during August, Spanish is more highly valued as the percentage of arriving volunteers who speak Spanish as a first language is huge.

From May until mid-July, the demographic mix is more varied and other European languages are relatively more helpful. However, if you happen to speak Korean, you are worth gold to the office. We get a lot of Korean visitors who generally have little alternative language skills. Do let them know this fact when you write.

To improve my survival level pilgrim Spanish I use Duolingo.com every day to reinforce the spoken lessons. Each time I volunteer, my Spanish comprehension improves. I am very much a work in progress.

Third, as regards the actual process of becoming a volunteer / voluntario at the Pilgrim Office, I am repeating the content of previous posts as a general post to all the forum readers who might be similarly interested.

Here it is:

"To answer those who are interested in becoming Pilgrim Office volunteers / voluntarios, here is the procedure:

1. Write an e-mail to Sr. Santiago Reyes (also called Santi) at:

info@acogidacristianaenelcamino.es

The message must be in Spanish. Introduce yourself. Indicate how many and which Caminos you have done, and when. I use the Microsoft Bing translator for best results.

2. Explain your level of Spanish spoken. Mine is basic, but I can communicate adequately.

3. Offer your services as a voluntario for a period of not less than two weeks. The work cycle is weekly and starts on Tuesday.

Other Information of interest:

Volunteers generally work seven days per week. But the daily work period is usually four hours. There is more than adequate time to enjoy all that Santiago has to offer.

The standard daily work shifts for volunteers in September 2021 were: 10:00 - 14:00. This is subject to change as conditions warrant. Also, this fits into the longer work shifts for the full-time staff. They start earlier and end later.

The 'season' starts at Easter (Semana Santa) and runs through the end of September. The "peak season" is about 15 June - 15 September. That is when voluntarios are most needed.

The weather in Santiago during June - September is equivalent to the winter months in South Florida where I live. That is to say DELIGHTFUL! That is one big reason I come to help when I do, in July and August. The sun is warm, but the humidity is low. Nights can be chilly. Rain is sparse. But, I would come anyway, and will as often as they invite me back and I am physically able to contribute.

You pay to travel to Santiago and back and to feed yourself. The volunteer coordinating group ACC (Acogida Cristiana en el Camino) provides free lodging.

Before 2020, the ACC housed volunteers in the Convento de Santa Clara de Asis (Convent of Saint Clare of Assisi), on Rua de San Roque. But they are no longer doing so. It was great while it lasted. I am not certain of the planned housing arrangements for future volunteers. This situation is dynamic.

Fluency in Spanish is not necessary, but some knowledge is. Volunteers who can converse in Spanish, or other needed languages, find themselves working behind the counter interviewing arriving pilgrims from all over the world and issuing Compostelas.

Folks like me, with a more rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, end up doing other supporting work that helps the rest of the staff, paid and volunteer, remain effective. The word around the office is that: "Tomas will do ANYTHING that is legal if you ask. If it is 'sketchy,' you need to ask real nice..."

That said, since I last returned from Santiago, I have been doing and repeating my www.duolingo.com online, and listening to a series of university lectures about Spain. When I complete the courses, I repeat them...again and again...

The best time to toss your hat in the ring is at the end of the current calendar year or early in the new year. Once we reach March, the ACC have all their plans and volunteer selections made. Remember, the early bird...

Feel free to ask further questions. Oh, and tell Santi in your e-mail that: "Don Tomas, el Norteamericano con la barba" sent you... That is; 'Don Tomas the American with the beard... ' FYI - I grew it on a Camino several years ago and the family directed me to keep it.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
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gittiharre

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
NOTE - This post supersedes all previous posts by me about volunteering at the pilgrim office. Things changed over the nearly four years since I wrote the original post in February 2018. Many of you found that post informative and useful. Just the passage of time has affected some of the processes and procedures in place. Personnel have come and gone. The COVID pandemic caused radical changes in several areas.

Here is the updated original post. The moderators may choose to redact or delete the separate earlier threads. I do not have edit capability over these old messages because they are so old. Forum policy is to lock the threads against editing at some point in time. Hence, I am compelled to start new thread.

Over the past several months and years, Many, fellow forum members have asked individually about how to go about offering their services as volunteers (voluntarios) at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago. Each time, I have replied. In addition, I provided much of this information in direct replies within varied postings.

However, the number of individual inquiries rose to the point where a good, general posting that is easily searchable would be appropriate. So, here it is. I took the original February 2018 post about this subject and updated it through my recent experiences at the pilgrim office In September 2021.

I have had the privilege of working at the pilgrim office since 2014 and plan to serve again for a month each summer for as long as they permit me to cone to help and I am physically able to contribute. In this regard, if you are so motivated, I can certainly point you in the right direction.

First, and as others have asked me, religion is not a prerequisite. Although I am a Cradle Catholic myself, I am not aware that this has ever been a requirement. Having done at least one Camino IS a baseline requirement. They prefer volunteers who can both talk the talk and have walked the walk.

Second, as regards language skills, more is better, and Spanish is most preferred. But they will consider anyone with some skills in that area.

The language need also depends on the time of year you seek to volunteer. For example, if you work in the latter half of July and during August, Spanish is more highly valued as the percentage of arriving volunteers who speak Spanish as a first language is huge.

From May until mid-July, the demographic mix is more varied and other European languages are relatively more helpful. However, if you happen to speak Korean, you are worth gold to the office. We get a lot of Korean visitors who generally have little alternative language skills. Do let them know this fact when you write.

To improve my survival level pilgrim Spanish I use Duolingo.com every day to reinforce the spoken lessons. Each time I volunteer, my Spanish comprehension improves. I am very much a work in progress.

Third, as regards the actual process of becoming a volunteer / voluntario at the Pilgrim Office, I am repeating the content of previous posts as a general post to all the forum readers who might be similarly interested.

Here it is:

"To answer those who are interested in becoming Pilgrim Office volunteers / voluntarios, here is the procedure:

1. Write an e-mail to Sr. Santiago Reyes (also called Santi) at:

info@acogidacristianaenelcamino.es

The message must be in Spanish. Introduce yourself. Indicate how many and which Caminos you have done, and when. I use the Microsoft Bing translator for best results.

2. Explain your level of Spanish spoken. Mine is basic, but I can communicate adequately.

3. Offer your services as a voluntario for a period of not less than two weeks. The work cycle is weekly and starts on Tuesday.

Other Information of interest:

Volunteers generally work seven days per week. But the daily work period is usually four hours. There is more than adequate time to enjoy all that Santiago has to offer.

The standard daily work shifts for volunteers in September 2021 were: 10:00 - 14:00. This is subject to change as conditions warrant. Also, this fits into the longer work shifts for the full-time staff. They start earlier and end later.

The 'season' starts at Easter (Semana Santa) and runs through the end of September. The "peak season" is about 15 June - 15 September. That is when voluntarios are most needed.

The weather in Santiago during June - September is equivalent to the winter months in South Florida where I live. That is to say DELIGHTFUL! That is one big reason I come to help when I do, in July and August. The sun is warm, but the humidity is low. Nights can be chilly. Rain is sparse. But, I would come anyway, and will as often as they invite me back and I am physically able to contribute.

You pay to travel to Santiago and back and to feed yourself. The volunteer coordinating group ACC (Acogida Cristiana en el Camino) provides free lodging.

Before 2020, the ACC housed volunteers in the Convento de Santa Clara de Asis (Convent of Saint Clare of Assisi), on Rua de San Roque. But they are no longer doing so. It was great while it lasted. I am not certain of the planned housing arrangements for future volunteers. This situation is dynamic.

Fluency in Spanish is not necessary, but some knowledge is. Volunteers who can converse in Spanish, or other needed languages, find themselves working behind the counter interviewing arriving pilgrims from all over the world and issuing Compostelas.

Folks like me, with a more rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, end up doing other supporting work that helps the rest of the staff, paid and volunteer, remain effective. The word around the office is that: "Tomas will do ANYTHING that is legal if you ask. If it is 'sketchy,' you need to ask real nice..."

That said, since I returned last August, I have been doing and repeating my www.duolingo.com online, and listening to a series of university lectures about Spain. When I complete the courses, I repeat them...again and again...

The best time to toss your hat in the ring is at the end of the current calendar year or early in the new year. Once we reach March, the ACC have all their plans and volunteer selections made. Remember, the early bird...

Feel free to ask further questions. Oh, and tell Santi in your e-mail that: "Don Tomas, el Norteamericano con la barba" sent you... That is; 'Don Tomas the American with the beard... ' FYI - I grew it on a Camino several years ago and the family directed me to keep it.

Hope this helps.

Tom
Thank you Tom! What superb info.
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Thanks Tom - I really appreciate your update. I’ll pass on the information at our next Pilgrims in Sydney meeting as there were at least four of us who were rostered to volunteer last year but who missed out due to Covid. It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to apply again - and hopefully volunteer - in the future.
Cheers from Oz -
Jenny
 

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