Playa del Carmen is a vacation destination people return to year after year. Its Caribbean location, world-class restaurants and cosmopolitan, laid back vibe draws visitors from all over the globe. For those of us who now consider Playa a ‘home away from home’, sometimes it’s nice to connect with the community in a more meaningful way, to give something back to the local people who have shared their home so graciously with us.
There is a special relationship between locals and visitors in Playa del Carmen. The town is primarily a tourist destination, and therefore visitors are welcomed with open arms from every corner of the globe. It’s a relatively new town and has seen exponential growth over the last 15 years, thriving on the tourism industry it created.
Children growing up in Playa del Carmen today will most likely find employment in the tourism industry, so learning English has become increasingly important for them.
That’s where the KKIS Project Comes in. The small, local charity organization run by a group of dedicated Playa del Carmen expats runs a volunteer English teaching program at a local primary school north of town and also provides much needed school supplies to underprivileged students, ensuring they have the best chance at a bright future.
I have recently become involved in the volunteer program, and have found it to be a fulfilling and rewarding experience that has enriched my experience of Playa del Carmen.
Every Wednesday afternoon, a group of about ten volunteers give an hour of their time to a group of very enthusiastic grade two and three kids at a local school, helping them to improve their English skills.
Games, reading, comprehension, drawing and story telling are just some of the activities program coordinator Janet employs to keep the kids entertained and engaged while they learn valuable language skills.
On my first day volunteering with the program, I was touched by the warm welcome we received by both the kids and teachers. We were assigned to a table of about six students to carry out the activities and they participated enthusiastically with lots of smiles all round.
An hour flew by and I was amazed by the politeness and eagerness of my group. I have since returned week after week, enjoying the interaction with the other volunteers as well as the students. It has become one of the highlights of my week here in Playa and has given me a greater feeling of connection with this town I love so much.
It feels good to be able to give something back to the community whilst seeing a different side of Playa del Carmen that many tourists don’t get to experience.
*For more information, to sign up for the volunteer program, or to make a donation to the school supplies fund, email firstname.lastname@example.org.