Analysing the group’s dynamics, I feel that I can safely say every team member has adapted as a member of the Nuevo Gualcho community. To reach this conclusive state of mind, the journey has included a mixture of both similarities and differences with ways of living back at ‘home’.

The similarities I have personally expereinced start as soon as I push the hanging curtain aside to exit my bedroom. My 5 year-old host-brother Joshua, enjoying his morning ritual of either ‘The Flintstones’ or ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ showing on the crackling television. This instantly reminded me of my little brother back in the UK enjoying comparable shows. Depending on whether it is a Wednesday or Friday morning, 17 year-old Kristian, my other host brother, will then always greet me with “Buenos Días Phil! Está jugando al fútbol hoy?” To which I would reply “Buenos Días Kristian, Si Claro!” meaning of course I would be joining him in playing football after work that day. The love of football here is a huge similarity to life back in the UK. So much so, that I felt it was necessary to give Kristian the West Bromwich Albion football top I had brought with me. Football has definitely played a part in accelerating the integration process as it has provided a huge amount of common ground.

The differences in how we play the game however, was instantly highlighted a difference in a comical fashion when I saw Kristian take a dive in an attempt to con the referee… all of this taking place whilst wearing my beloved West Bromwich Albion shirt (!) alongside a dog roaming the field of play. 

Differences in daily life are also in abundance. Morning showers consist of pouring buckets of cold water over yourself, often accompanied by the sight of cows patrolling the roads. The use of the different work tools has also provided us all with the amazing opportunity of handling machetes, although I still need to figure out the best way to approach the ant-infested trees. My hit-and-run method didn’t quite go to plan, as it left me covered in ants and only a small cut in the tree. Ants 1, Phil 0. 

Despite these differences, the community as well as the working environment, has provided us all with numerous similarities that have helped us settle in comfortably in such a short space of time. Walking through Nuevo Gualcho always consists of a friendly greeting by a member of the community with a smile. Our safety and well-being is always in their mind in terms of the work-load and they are always there to offer a helping hand. This is all happening whilst the national volunteers blast out several English songs through their speakers, instantly making us feel more at home. The team have agreed the playlist favourite is ‘Happy- Pharrel Williams’ scoring up an average of being played at least 6 times a day! But in my opinion, the song couldn’t fit the scene any more perfectly at the minute. 

Written by ICS volunteer Phil Taylor