Guidelines for Volunteers Living in a Host Family

  • The volunteer’s room is for their exclusive use (unless they have asked to share). It should be well lit (by natural or artificial lighting) and furnished with a bed, a wardrobe, a bedside table with a lamp and a table or desk. If it is not possible to have a table or desk inside the bedroom the host family must offer a suitable part of the house as the volunteer’s place of study.
  • Volunteers have a right to intimacy and their rooms are private. The family must knock at all times before entering.
  • The bed sheets and the towels will be changed each week. Some families may change the towels more frequently.
  • The family does not supply beach towels and volunteers should not use the house towels to go to the beach.
  • Volunteers should keep their room tidy to make the daily cleaning easier. Once a week the room will be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Not many families have air-conditioning. If volunteers feel hot, the family may be able to provide them with a fan.
  • Volunteers may also be allowed to use the washing facilities themselves.
  • Volunteers are allowed a daily shower and should inform the family at what time they prefer to take it.
  • Volunteers booked in host family accommodation will normally have to share the bathroom with the other members of the family. They should therefore be considerate about the time they take. Fifteen minutes should be enough to wash and shave.
  • Breakfast is Mexican style: coffee or tea, fruit juice, milk, toast with butter and marmalade or jam or cheese, yogurt, cereal or fruit. If you have special dietary needs please inform the school and the family as soon as possible.
  • Volunteers can expect a substantial dinner in the evening. This will normally consist of a starter, (vegetables, soup, salad, or rice), a main dish (chicken, meat, fish or eggs) and a dessert (yogurt, fruit etc.) Most meals will include tortillas or bread. Volunteers who choose not to be at home for dinner or who plan to arrive later than usual, should tell their family beforehand. If they decide to miss a meal they will not be compensated or reimbursed.
  • Lunch is not included in homestays, but will be provided on the project through VolunQuest
  • Part of the idea of staying with a host family is to eat in their company. Volunteers should therefore try to adapt to the family’s normal eating timetables. Dinner is normally served at about 20.00 – 21.00.
  • At the weekends volunteers may sleep until as late as they wish, but the family has no obligation to serve breakfast at 12.00!
  • Volunteers who have asked for a special diet (vegetarian, kosher, etc.) and who are not receiving it, should notify the school so they can check the booking and then speak to the family.
  • If volunteers buy food and wish to leave it in the fridge, the family will leave some space for them. They should however always check with the family before putting the food in the fridge. Volunteers are not usually allowed to cook in host family houses.
  • Volunteers will be given a set of keys on arrival so they can come and go as they like. Volunteers should look after the keys and never leave the address on the key tab or near to avoid “unwelcome visitors” in case of loss or theft. If the keys are lost or stolen, the family is entitled to charge the volunteer for a new set of keys.
  • Volunteers should be treated as part of the family and be able to talk, ask questions and be helped with any queries about Spanish or living in Isla Mujeres. Living in a family will expose volunteers to the local social and cultural customs and habits. Some may seem strange. Volunteers should ask about them and try to adapt.
  • Making a phone call in Mexico is very expensive! Volunteers should never use the host family’s phone. If they wish to make a reverse charge call, they should ask permission and the family will dial the number. Incoming calls should be brief. Each family has the right to make their own rules about the use of the phone.
  • If the volunteers’ arrival is significantly delayed or brought forward, they should try to phone the school or the family to let them know of the change. If they can’t get through to the school or the family, they should then phone the school’s emergency phone number. This will avoid the family having to wait at home unnecessarily, or avoid the volunteer having to wait on the street.
  • The host family will provide the volunteers with a map of Isla and explain the best way to get to the project from their house.
  • Volunteers should try to take care of the decoration, furniture and utilities in the house.
  • Volunteers should turn off lights and other electrical appliances when not in use. Electricity in Mexico is expensive.
  • Volunteers should consult with their family before inviting friends home. Friends cannot stay for meals or sleep over.

Please note: If a volunteer should have any problems with their host family, please contact the school staff and we will try to solve them as quickly as possible.