La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

Volunteer opportunities at  La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel

What is so unique about the Mariposa volunteer opportunity?

  • You combine volunteer work with Spanish classes - we offer 20 hours formal classes (2 hours of grammar and 2 hours of conversation) within the delightful garden surroundings of the Mariposa. For newcomers to Nicaragua we also recommend starting your time here with a week or two joining in with the Mariposa programme of afternoon and weekend activities in order to familiarise yourself with Nicaragua, its history and culture and with the immediate surroundings of La Concha.

  • If you wish to come with a group to do service/volunteer work as part of an educational trip, then please see the sections called "Accommodations/Group Study Centre" and "Prices/Group Study Centre". If, however, you are travelling as an individual, then we can find you a volunteer placement as an individual.

    This ensures flexibility to meet your learning needs and that you do not spend your time here mainly interacting with groups of other Westerners - on the contrary, we maximise the opportunities for you to work alongside and so get to know individual workers in La Concha. This also allows us to offer you a placement suitable to your particular interests (subject to availability).

  • In keeping with the Mariposa principle of maximising local employment opportunities, we do not use volunteers to replace local workers. Instead, we place each individual volunteer alongside a Nicaraguan worker (this of course has the additional benefit of improving your Spanish)

  • We offer opportunities for volunteers to become immersed in the community of La Concha by working within the community alongside workers from local organisations - such as working alongside a pre-school teacher in a school, observing in the health centre, or even with a bee project - so you can really get out there to see for yourself, experience and understand how the community functions. We also have a range of volunteer opportunities within the more protected setting of the Mariposa - you similarly work alongside one of the Mariposa workers.

  • Volunteers live in homestays with local families (all known to the Mariposa). This of course enhances the opportunities to get to know a Nicaraguan family and practice that Spanish!

  • Weekly de-briefing sessions are held within the Mariposa, in English, so you can share the upside of your placement, reflecting on learning aspects. Also to help you make sense of some of those more demanding and difficult experiences (led by Dr. Paulette Goudge who has a PhD in Development issues). You can browse the excellent selection of books on both Nicaragua and development and aid issues which are available in the Mariposa library.

  • We can offer you placements doing practical work or manual labor for as little as one week, but we ask for a longer time commitment if you prefer to work with people, suggested minimum one month.

Outdoor Spanish Lessons
Spanish lessons in a classroom
Learn spanish in the stunning gardens of the Mariposa

    Panama School books
  • Wildlife promotion:   We have a very small piece of land at the Mariposa (about 2 acres) and we have worked hard to maximize its attractiveness to as varied a group of wild animals and birds as possible. We plant fruit trees to help feed birds and squirrels, built a house for iguana to live in (now fully occupied!), built a very successful frog pond. We would be looking for a volunteer to help us progress this work, together with Oscar and Manuel, two of the Mariposa staff who have great local knowledge and love for wildlife. An example would be building bat boxes and bird nesting boxes.

  • Reforestation:  La Mariposa maintains a small plant nursery with local flora and fauna sprouts as well as tree saplings. We plant these, as well as the flower seed donations we receive from guests, in public space around San Juan and la Concha. Volunteers are placed alongside a local gardener and/or members of the Ecological Brigade from San Juan's secondary school to work on reforestation projects.

What we ask from you:

  • Working hours vary a bit but we ask you to work approximately 4 hours a day at your volunteer placement

  • An ability to reflect on how things work - or don't work - here in Nicaragua (the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere) and why that might be the case. At times this demands a degree of self reflection as well as the easier task of observing and judging Nicaraguans!

  • Good health is essential and an attitude that goes with the flow is invaluable

  • An understanding that although we work closely with Nicaraguans and other organizations to ensure that your placement runs as smoothly as possible - from both your point of view and the organizations - we cannot offer guarantees. Plans often have to be changed in Nicaragua due to unforseen weather, school schedules or other unforseen contingencies. Please note we reserve the right to terminate a placement.

  • Depending on the placement, at least a basic understanding of Spanish is advisable. The Mariposa is an excellent Spanish school and we can orient your classes to the needs of your placement.

  • All placements require that you have your own internationally valid insurance covering illness, accident, theft, etc and have a liability disclaimer.

  • Please send us one character reference if you want to work with small children.

  • The majority of placements are walking distance or a short bus ride (fares are around 20 cents, you are responsible) away from the Mariposa. We can also provide bicycles or even a horse for placements further out!

  • We can offer placements doing practical work within the Mariposa for as little as a week but we ask for a longer time commitment if you prefer to work with people, suggested minimum one month.

  • For more detailed information, write to Paulette at

Please note that students who elect the homestay/Spanish classes/volunteer work package receive a significant discount for doing volunteer work and therefore forgo the afternoon activities program. Students wishing to participate in both volunteer work and afternoon activities will be charged the price for homestay/Spanish classes/activities and can help out during their stay (for example gardening, construction, English classes, animals), but we can not guarantee a volunteer placement. Volunteer placements are reserved first and foremost for students participating full-time in volunteer work.

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