Teaching English in Csíkszentmárton (Sânmartin)

My name is Jared Richard and I am working with Care2Travel as an NGO Support Volunteer. I was asked to take on an additional task during the final week of my four week stay, which has proved to be a very fulfilling and worthwhile experience. In the small village of Csíkszentmárton, just 17km southeast of Csíkszereda (Miercurea Ciuc), is a foundation by the name of Serviciului Internaţional de Salvarea Copiilor (The International Child Rescue Service). There, children with disabilities are brought to be cared for by trained professionals who help develop their physical and intellectual capacities. Because this village is rather isolated however, the employees seldom have the opportunity to interact with English speakers, thus diminishing their ability to communicate efficaciously in the language. This is disadvantageous for them, as they intend to expand their foundation so as to broaden their child rehabilitative outreach, but are limited by their insufficient grasp of English.

Screenshot from 2018-11-07 17:53:50.png

Care2Travel has been working with this foundation for eight years now and recognized their need for English improvement. Seeing as how Care2Travel has willing volunteers at their disposal, we offered to send English teachers to Sânmartin to hold English discussion/classes for the employees twice a week. I was fortunate enough to be one of these volunteers.

The employees vary in their level of understanding, but all have a rudimentary comprehension of the language, enough to engage in simple conversation. Volunteers organize basic, one hour long discussion topics so that concepts can be explored while practicing English. The aim is to allow for the employees to use the language in a more practical manner that allows for vocabulary development, sentence structure improvement, grammar supposition, and retention. Volunteers lead the discussion, asking open-ended questions, using a variety of means to prompt participation. In this way, the employees are able to recall words and are given occasion to use them in conversation. Discussion topics should be broad and relevant, but interesting, so that everyone has the opportunity to speak.

This is a wonderful opportunity for Care2Travel volunteers to exercise their teaching skills without having to formally teach. What is more important is fostering an environment in which the foundation’s employees are comfortable enough to speak freely, make mistakes to be corrected, and gain confidence in their ability to converse freely in English. They are very grateful to Care2Travel and are excited for the classes to continue so that they can improve their communicative capabilities beyond Harghita County.

Csíkbáknfalva Summer Camp with 80+ kids

–  From the perspective of an NGO support volunteer –

This week Care2Travel went to the town of Csíkbánkfalva to implement a 4 day English
Summer Camp for over 80(!!) kids ranging in age from 5 to 14. We worked with the local teachers and some local volunteers.

The first day started out with a group exercise lead by our fitness expert Mike.The kids did everything from running to37134785_1727449310686407_2385682869243609088_n.jpg burpees to jumping jacks. The kids were then separated into 4 different groups with an equal range of ages and skills. They then went to their classrooms and worked together to create a team flag. Every single person contributed to their flags and the team work was amazing. The big kids also helped some of the younger kids with their drawings! After the flags were created and laminated it was time for some competition!


The kids did a variety of games to see whose team would come out on top for that day!
After the competition the kids went back to their classrooms with their teams and the wonderful teachers and volunteers (both local and international) to learn some English! Each room was assigned around 20 words to learn and review. The volunteer would write the word on the board in English and the students would then repeat the word, write it down, and then write the Hungarian translation. Every day at camp the students will be learning around the same number of words while reviewing the words from the previous days. At the end of the week the kids will have learned and reviewed around 80 new words!

This camp would not have been a reality without the incredible team work of the Care2Travel team, local volunteers, and our international volunteers who have worked hard all summer to set up camps just like this for many different towns around the area. Thank you to all who have helped out in any way to make such a difference for these children!



My Transylvanian Adventure – NGO Support placement

My name is Byan, a 21-year-old travel enthusiastic. They always say the world is a small place and life is short, I tend to disagree, I find joy in travelling and I believe that even 70 years would not be enough to discover the different places and cultures our world is enriched with. I am not a typical person I prefer doing things in a different way, I like having different stories to tell and IVHQ gave me the opportunity to do so. I chose to volunteer in Romania with Care2Travel association, one of the best decisions I have made. The people I met made me feel at home right away, I connected to them easily as we all share one unique thing, we all want to make a change and are willing to act on it. The accommodation was very clean and organized, Norbi, the responsible for taking care of the place, was very nice and a friend with the volunteers. The accommodation was in the main street, everything was within reach which made it easier to spend time and hang out. The first day we met with Peter, the head of the association, Orsi and Boti who work with him. He introduced us to the culture and history of the place and then we had a welcome launch in the accommodation who fellow volunteers helped put together, the food was clean and tasty. We also went on a town tour with two local girls, they showed us the main sites of the place, in addition, we had a Hungarian language lesson where they taught us basic words. My project was NGO, I worked at the office, some of the main things we were asked to do is help introduce the association to more people on social media, research ways to help with the new Gypsies’ program, look for ethical tours in the area…etc. Peter always appreciated the work we did which made us feel important, a part of something big. Volunteering hours were between 9 and 1 and then we would go have launch in a restaurant, but we used to go earlier and finish even later than 1 because we liked the work we did. At nights we would make dinner together, watch a movie, go to a bar or just sit down and have chat. During the week one can do day trips in the area, with its beautiful mountains and magic there is so much to do. I went hiking one day with a local guide, he was very nice and his love to the place added to the joy of the hike, another time I went climbing with a guide and 2 locals, beside the amazing climb and the adrenaline rush, they also took me on a car ride to beautiful views in the area and invited me to Kürtőskalács, a sweet pastry specific to Hungary and Hungarian-speaking regions, it was so good I had to take the recipe.blog pic.jpg

In the weekends there is enough time to go discover other towns, visit castles or go camping. The adventure I had in Romania and specially in Transylvania is not over yet, the magic of the place is so big I did not finish discovering it yet. For whoever is reading this I encourage you to volunteer in this extraordinary place with these wonderful people, and when you go home I am sure that the best stories you can tell will be about this adventure.


Teaching in Bánkfalva

Telling a group of Hungarian students that one of the traditional ways of cooking food in your country is to bury it in a pit with coals is an excellent way to grab their attention. Getting them to talk, that’s the challenge when you’re new. They’re all curious and lively, sometimes alarmingly so, but a little on the shy side when it comes to speaking English. Telling them about something odd or unusual is a great way to break the ice. I learnt this on my first day of teaching.

Bankfalva is a village school outside of Csíkszereda. I was teaching a wide range of ages, from 6 – 14 years old, which also meant a wide range of English abilities. The young ones are predictably cute, the juniors the liveliest of the lot (I always prepared myself with more caffeine on those days) and the seniors, not surprisingly, more capable of understanding me. The first lesson for each class was an introduction to me and my home country of New Zealand, and all I can say is be prepared for random questions! After that I asked the teachers I worked with what was happening with the next lesson and prepared in the afternoon for the next day. Daily routines, weather, time and the five senses were some of the topics we covered, which gave me a lot of scope for material. The teachers I worked with were really supportive, making sure that I had what I needed and was comfortable in the class. I really enjoyed using games to teach. They are a great way to cement new vocabulary or to revise words already taught. If you can add an element of competition to it even better. One particular relay game involved a lot of running across the classroom, and on reflection probably should have been done outside J The kids got into it so much it’s a miracle they didn’t bash heads or trip over the furniture.

My main aim was to get the kids to speak English, even little bits and pieces. It helped to say a few words in Hungarian. If I made a fool of myself, they’d be more willing to try my language. The results were a mash up of surprise, delight, and hilarity. Accompanied by dubious drawings, a group of students and I spent some time thinking the other person put cockroaches on their pizza before eventually being saved by the sometimes helpful Google translate.

So, lessons learned and things discovered. Learn about the students and their world and they will get involved. Classes are run at a higher volume and with more interruptions than often seen in other countries so be prepared to be active. Check with your support teachers about what they are doing, it will make your prep work a lot easier. Lastly, enjoy the time. If you enjoy it, they’ll enjoy it, and it won’t even feel like work.

And when you’re not working? Walking, touring and trying all the local goodness. There’s a lot see and plenty that I packed in to the three weeks I was here. Road tripping with the other volunteers to see the stunning Peles Castle, Rasnov Citadel, the medieval town of Sighisoara, Fagaras and Prejmer.


A day trip to Brasov was packed with sightseeing, a bit of shopping and taking advantage of the many outdoor dining areas which sprawl all over the pavement. I was also lucky enough to be in Csikszereda when the annual Pentecost pilgrimage happened and hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the neighbouring village of Csiksomlyo. Walking with them, hearing the songs and bells and seeing everyone gather on the hill at Csiksomlyo was definitely a highlight.

People ask, ‘Would you come back?’ Short answer? ‘Yes.’ Long answer? ‘ Hell yes.’

-Robyn Huggins

Canadian sisters volunteer in Bánkfalva


“I volunteered in Romania from February 13th to March 10th 2018. I worked in the teaching program.



My placement was located in a small village called Bankfalva which was a twenty minute drive from the volunteer accommodation. My sister volunteered with me. The organization allowed for us to be able to work together in the same placement which was very important to the two of us. We worked with children in kindergarten to grade seven. The teachers that we worked with were very supportive of us. They were very clear with what they wanted us to do. The children at the school were very enthusiastic. Their attitude towards us made it easy for us to be able to enjoy our time at the school. The organization provided us with an abundance of wonderful food over the course of our stay. The accommodation that the organization provided for us to stay at was very comfortable and it allowed us to be able to meet people from around the world. We were able to create friendships with these people and learn about their culture along with the Hungarian culture that we were immersed in. I loved the time that I spent in Csikszereda and I am positive that three weeks was not enough time to spend there. Though I am grateful for the time I had there and all of the memories that I made.

I could not have asked for a better placement. The school that we were in was wonderful. All of the kids were so sweet to us. The teachers were extremely supportive of us. Everyone at the school welcomed us with warm hearts and we became part of the community. Our attitude toward the situation we were in helped us. We were happy and upbeat which was passed onto the kids we worked with and allowed us to get the most out of our placement. A positive attitude is always a must.

Each volunteer position will vary. Especially if you are working in the education program. Each teacher that you work with will expect something different of you, even if they are at the same school. It is important that you are able to adapt to the needs of each of the teachers. They will tell you exactly what they would like you to do you just need to be able to work on your feet and help them. That is what you are there to do. Do not be afraid to ask questions. The teacher that you are working with and the in country team will be more than happy to help you. You are better of to ask than to struggle.

The accommodation was a comfortable place to live. It was overwhelming when there were so many people living there at once, but once some of them left it was a much better experience. The accommodation staff were wonderful. They were always there to help us when we needed them and to solve any problem that came up.

The food was wonderful. We loved the restaurant where we ate our lunches. The people there were friendly and the food was delicious. The rest of the meals we cooked for ourselves which we enjoyed because we love to cook. And we always had plenty of groceries provided for us to use and a good variety.

It is hard to pick a favorite moment from this experience because there are too many wonderful moments to choose from. The time that we spent with the kids at our school will always hold a special place in my heart. I was able to learn so much about myself from working with these children. Our sightseeing helped further learn about the culture of the region we were in. The other volunteers that we met made this experience one I will never forget. I was able to building life long friendships with people from around the world. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have volunteered in Romania. It is an experience I will never forget.”


“Volunteering in Romania was life changing. I think I learned more about myself in these three weeks than I could have ever imaged. The staff at Care2Travel were extremely helpful and offered myself and my sister (who I was traveling with) a lot of support throughout our trip! I’m under the firm belief that, counter to popular opinion, one does not leave bits of themselves in the places they travel. Rather the countries that you go to become a part of you. The friends you make are absorbed into the very fabric of your soul and you are changed forever because of your interaction. I’m so happy that I get to keep a little bit of Csikszereda in my heart forever. A place that makes me want to dance and stay up with friends all night. A place that I will long for in the years to come. My time in Csikszereda was amazing and I will honestly yearn to be back there for many years to come!”

Volunteering in Bánkfalva with Julie and Kristine

Let’s See the Bear!

An Evening of Bear Watching in Tușnad

As a volunteer for Care2Travel, one also has the unique opportunity to become an ethical tourist, in that the tours and excursions we are able to partake in through Care2Travel benefit the community and the local people within it. After previously discussing our excursion options with Boti, the Care2Travel tourism coordinator, a group of us decided on an afternoon of bear watching at Medveles bear observatory. Due to the set feeding times of the bears, this trip had to take place in the evening, so at 5:30 pm, Boti arrived at our accommodation and we drove off towards Tușnad!

The ride from Csikzereda to Tușnad lasted a mere 30 minutes, and before we knew it, we had arrived at our destination and were meeting Jani, who would be our guide for the remainder of the evening. The volunteers mounted into Jani’s more durable car and were driven up the mountain. We went “off-roading” about 200 meters through the forested mountain. For the last 100 meters, we exited the car, being instructed to be absolutely silent, as we were close enough to the bears where even a seemingly reasonable amount of noise could either scare them off or attract them towards us. Walking single-file through the woods, we were led by our guide, who assured us that in any situation, we are not meant to panic and that he knew what to do. Even the slight risk was an adrenaline boost that only heightened our excitement!


Soon enough, we arrived at a small observatory situated at the edge of the forest, overlooking a beautiful valley. In that valley was a bear! We quietly entered the shelter, which had protective glass windows so we could get a full view of the valley. Jani explained to us that he knew this specific bear from the time he was just a young cub and that the bear was not afraid of him. Jani had extensive knowledge about the bears and shared that information with us while we took pictures.

We were told that there is no ensuring that we would see a bear; it is pretty tough to control nature. If that were the case though, it was explained to us that our money would be refunded, which was a nice insurance. We spent about two hours in the shelter though, and during that time, we were lucky enough to see a total of four bears! The first bear came and went, the second one arrived near after and ate a bit, and then two bears, apparently a couple, stopped by. Aside from putting out food, the process is completely natural and untouched, and the bears come and go as they please, or not at all. It was an incredibly peaceful evening, where us volunteers got to be spectators to nature in its truest form.


NGO Support Volunteer Testimony: April 2018

My name is Andrea Tata, I’m from the United States, and I have volunteered in Romania with Care2Travel in NGO support for one month. During that time, I accomplished a lot and learned even more. Everyone in the office was incredibly helpful in making sure I was doing beneficial, important work. What was expected of me was clear from the beginning, and I never felt lost or like I didn’t have something to work on. I spent the majority of my time working on three different “mini-projects”. These involved writing blog posts, contacting bloggers, and editing documents. The details of what these entailed are explained as follows:

Involved writing blog posts

Care2Travel offers a wide variety of tourism opportunities, but what they are now trying to promote is their ethical tourism excursions. During my time in Csikszereda, I was able to partake in two of their ethical tours: cheese-making and bear watching. Both trips were wonderful, and each were very different in their own ways. Because these tours offered by Care2Travel are still somewhat new, I was able to write blog posts about my experiences for future volunteers and tourists to reference when deciding which tours to take. With this came the task of uploading pictures and writing a short statement about our tours, posting that on the IVHQ Romania page.

milk cheese

Contacting bloggers

Going along with the promotion of Care2Travel’s ethical tours, I was tasked with contacting relevant bloggers in order to get them to either publicly support these Care2Travel tours or to come to Csikszereda themselves and partake in the tours which they could then write about. Composing these emails involved explaining Care2Travel as an organization, the work that they do, and their ethical tours more specifically, while also aiming the email to grab the attention of the specific blogger.

Editing documents

Lastly, and what I spent most of my time doing, was that of editing documents. A woman from Mikó Castle contacted the office about having a volunteer edit recently translated documents for future museum exhibits. I volunteered for the job which entailed me reading over the translations and making sure that the English blurbs were grammatically correct and read smoothly and clearly. While one may think that this is a tedious task, I found this work to be incredibly interesting since the documents told different aspects of the history of Csikszereda, and one was even a personal account of a Jewish man living here during WWII and his subsequent hardships under the reign of the Third Reich.


Working as an NGO support volunteer provided a lot of flexibility and also presented opportunities to do things outside of the office. For example, during the area’s “alternative learning” week, I was able to spend two days, one at a Romanian school in the city and one in a Hungarian school in a village, working with children on their English. It was awesome to be able to do something more immersive and help out outside of the office even for a little bit.


In all, I had a great time volunteering with Care2Travel as NGO support. It was definitely a learning experience and gave great insight as to how an organization like Care2Travel works. It was inspiring even more so to learn of all of the projects Care2Travel already has in place and the upcoming projects that they have in the works. It was a month well spent and I only wish that I could have stayed longer!