Being a volunteer in Spanish organisations gave me the chance of getting involved in this exchange with YHA. I spent four weeks at YHA Hartington Hall with the objective of learning how YHA delivers service to its customers. Improve my English, embrace the culture, meet new people and of course to improve my customer skills as well.
This was my first experience of working in a hostel. My welcome at Hartington by Heidi the Manager and the team was amazing. They were very kind, understanding and patient too! I was learning how things ran, and felt part of the team very quickly. I discovered that Heidi had spent four weeks in Barcelona and the Pyrenees during the summer as part of the exchange learning all about summer camps and activities. Heidi wrote an amazing blog which I have read. Heidi was still enthusing about her experience.
My main job was to serve in the bar and housekeeping, but I also helped with the Christmas decoration, maintenance and painting of the building and weddings too! Each day was new and interesting for me.
I lived with three members of staff for a month, so in my free time I spent time with them getting closer to the English way of life. I also had free time and was able to see more of the Peak District and Manchester, courtesy of Heidi on her day off. I visited London, staying in different Youth Hostels. It was definitely a full experience I would repeat.
Before leaving for home Lawrence arranged for me to have a night with other colleagues from Spain, who were staying at Edale to learn more about activities and summer camps. We stayed in a 300 year old barn, courtesy of Val, the owner. People from the village cooked traditional English dinner for us and we had bread and butter pudding which was so tasty. It was a fantastic experience and great to share stories with my colleagues.
Before leaving, the Hartington team had their Christmas party, which again was a new experience. Saying goodbye to my new friends at YHA was hard. Like Heidi, my experience has been unique and life changing. I go back to my studies as an architect but will carry with me every day many happy memories of my time at YHA and meeting very special people. I hope many other people get the opportunity to have the same experience.
I send my best wishes to all at YHA for a successful 2015.
By Marta Fernandez
Have you had a fantastic volunteering experience and want to share it with the YHA community? Do you want to have your own fun volunteering adventure? Get in touch! Email [email protected].