Cross-Cultural Solutions Volunteer Abroad Costa Rica

By Cross-Cultural Solutions   Reviews (21)   92% Rating

Our volunteer abroad programs have a few factors that make them unique:
1. Volunteers stay in a CCS Homebase where they enjoy 24-hour security, delicious and safely prepared meals, and the companionship of other CCS volunteers.

2. Our on-the-ground staff (usually around 5 vs. maybe 1 for other organizations) is always there to immerse you in the community, ensure that your volunteering is productive, and of course keeps you safe.
3. The numbers tell the story: 20 years. 35,000 volunteers. And a 99.7% satisfaction rate!

You will work with local organizations as they effect change by raising the quality of life for Costa Rica's most vulnerable people. You'll have the opportunity to contribute to one of seven CCS projects:

1. Education and Literacy Project
2. Child Development Project
3. Girls and Women's Empowerment Project
4. Aging with Dignity Project
5. Support for People with Disabilities Project
6. HIV/Aids Project
7. Global Healthcare Project

View Program Information
  • Costa Rica
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
1-3 months
$500 - $2,000 (USD)
See site for details.
Age Group: 
Cost Description: 

* Personalized Volunteer Placement: with our Partner Programs based on your skills and interests, including all the coordination, in-person visits and communication necessary with each local organization.
*Planned Cultural Activities with excursions, special events, and discussions with a variety of local cultural, professional, governmental and community agencies and people.
* Cross-Cultural Solutions' Home-Base, providing you with a comfortable, safe place to live, the basic amenities, all of your meals, and transportation to and from all Cross-Cultural Solutions' placements and programs.
* An experienced Program Manager, who will serve as your coordinator, guide, and liaison with our in-country staff.
* In-country basic language assistance.
* Professional, locally-based staff to provide orientation, supervision and guidance throughout your stay.
* In-depth pre-departure packs, orientation information, and all in-country informational materials.
* Country-based airport transportation.
* Local phone calls and In-coming international phone service.
* A toll-free 24-hour emergency hotline in the U.S.

Volunteer House
Participants travel to the program independently (not in a group with other participants).
Age Requirement

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Program Reviews (21)

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  • J
    Age: 31-50
    Chesapeake Beach, MD, USA
    Duke University
    Cross-Cultural Solutions - Adult Volunteer in Costa Rica

    My experience in Costa Rica with CCS more than exceeded my expectations. The staff that run the local program are amazing people. They give fully of themselves on a daily basis in whatever they do. As an adult volunteer, I had to go into this experience with an open mind. I had it in my head that I wanted to volunteer at an orphanage with the children. Luckily, CCS encouraged my to go outside of my comfort zone to also volunteer at a nursing home. My days at the nursing home were packed full. Many of the things that I did were not glamorous tasks - folding sheets, sweeping the floor, making beds, feeding the residents who could not feed themselves, and playing games. But, they were desperately needed by the staff and the residents. I left there every day feeling needed, appreciated, and a huge sense of accomplishment. Who knew I could feel so accomplished for folding loads and loads of sheets; but this task was what was needed at the time and that made it that much more important. Every moment I spent on my volunteer adventure was amazing. Please go into an experience like this with an open mind. It is not about you, it is about giving of yourself to help others with WHATEVER they need. With an open mind, you will truly change your life.

    How could this program be improved?

    I really did not have any complaints. The housing is not a four star hotel, so don't go into the experience expecting that. But, the home base is extremely clean, the food was freshly prepared every day, and the people running the program had hearts of gold.

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  • Mary
    Age: 19-24
    Chicago, Illinois
    Knox College
    Amazing Experience

    This was hands down the best experience, so far, in my life. I decided to take a break from school and my parents suggested to me, going to Costa Rica for 3 months with CCS. I am so happy I did, I have taken away and learned so much from my time spent there. I spent time at a nursing home, special education school and a daycare. At each placement I felt very useful, each place was understaffed so they really needed the extra set of hands to help provide more attention to the kids or residents. A typical day started at about 7, which is when breakfast was served, we left home base at about 7:30 to drop everyone off at placements. At placement it depended what you did on a day to day basis, at the daycare I would prepare about 4 or 5 activities for the kids, usually trying to work on skills like counting, colors, and some English. At the nursing home the day began with feeding the residents who needed help and then helping with laundry or therapy, and at the special education school I was placed with a teacher and would help her manage the classroom and do projects. We usually were picked up from placements between 12-12:30, and once we got home we were welcomed by a wonderful meal. After lunch, depending on the day we would either have free time, dance class, Spanish class, cooking class, a field trip or sometimes a guest speaker. None of these cultural experiences were required, besides the Spanish class, however, I would highly recommend them. All the activities were very fun and I learned a lot from each activity. Dinner was served at 6 every night, and the food was always amazing. Bernardita, the cook, is an amazing cook and if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, or simply do not like something, she will accommodate you. After dinner we usually had free time, we did have Spanish class two nights a week, but only for 30-40 minutes. On the weekends we were free to travel, getting around Costa Rica is very easy, you can take a bus most places for cheap, and the staff was happy to help us figure out where to find bus schedules and any other information we needed. Overall, this program was more than I could have ever imagined it would be, I met the nicest and most amazing people and had so many wonderful experiences. The money you spend is worth every penny, personally it confirmed what career I wanted to pursue and taught me so much about myself and the world I live in.

    How could this program be improved?

    Better preparation for before you enter the country.

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  • Vicki
    Age: 51 or older
    Firth, Idaho
    South Dakota State University
    Cartago, Costa Rica Experience with CCS

    I volunteered with Cross Cultural Solutions in Cartago, Costa Rica. My placement was at an Adult Day Care. It was a very rewarding experience. This placement allowed me to both offer service & immerse myself into the Costa Rican culture. I planned activities for the people as there was minimal staff and materials at the Center.

    The CCS staff was amazing. They were both efficient & helpful. They planned learning opportunities: cooking classes, Spanish classes, field trips, dance classes, etc.

    I would recommend this opportunity to anyone who is looking for a positive, service adventure.

    How could this program be improved?

    More Spanish classes - I had average Spanish language skills & would have liked to be more fluent

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  • Luis
    Age: 51 or older
    Antofagasta. Chile
    Luis Icaza

    It's a great opportunity to contribuye our time and skill to get to achieve a better quality of lifes for Many who need our serviles. This is an invaluable emocional return that help us to be better every day people. This is a great opportunity to meet other volunteers from differents countries who the same desires, dreams and aspirations that i have. No matter the potencial barriers of lenguage, culture or traditions. In the world there are many people willing to give the Best of each to help tose in need. This revitalizes and helps us to keep hope to achieve trough the action one more dignified, more caring, more just world for all. A world getting better.

    How could this program be improved?

    Everythings is prepared for inglish speakers. It is important to do well in spanish. Many volunteers do not speak inglish.

    Lilly team November 2014 in Cartago, Costa Rica with a member of local CCS.
    Lilly team November 2014. Cartago. Costa Rica
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  • Marcela
    Age: 31-50
    Mexico City
    Costa Rica - Manos de Jesús Nursery

    The program was so good that I just want to go back! I helped in the Manos de Jesus Nursery with the elderly. A day to day experience was to help in the kitchen or in the laundry or the theraphists to let people feel better. Just smiling make others smile!!

    How could this program be improved?

    Make the new volunteers know basic Spanish before they go to their assignments.

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  • Aser
    Age: 18 or younger

    I had an great time in Costa Rica with them, truly. I just think that this program could have a bit more you know? I would really love more volunteer hours because in my opinion we just didn't get enough! however the advent was great and i had an amaze time.

    How could this program be improved?

    More volunteer time!!

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  • Leo
    Age: 19-24
    Seattle, Washington
    Pura Vida, Costa Rica!

    Traveling to another country - especially one that speaks a language that you, I, no... we aren't familiar with - feels scary. This is the beauty of a voluntourism organization; voluntourism allowed me to get a sense of what it is like to be in a foreign land, while still remaining in a (semi) familiar community. At the end of the day, my experience in Costa Rica reflects something much different than what an actual Tican goes through day to day. Which is fine; even a small exposure to a new way of doing things profoundly affected me. And that is what the "Cross - Cultural Solutions" is all about: taking people who know one way of existing and baring them to some other people who know another way of existing. Cross - Cultural Solutions facilitated this interaction between different modes of existence as well as a non-profit organization could/would/should. Which is to say they did fine. Even, great! The all inclusive room and board was comfy and authentically delicious. The climate of the house that I lived in felt safe - both physically and socially. Advertised as "cross cultural lessons," the Spanish and dance lessons felt more like after school specials for a middle schooler than life altering cultural exchanges - but whatever, I still knew Spanish a whole hell of a lot better by the time I got back stateside. For around $5,000, it was worth it. Will I ever do a month of voluntourism again? Doubtful; I think a more DIY approach is for me. All of that said, Cross-Cultural Solutions, establishing structure, rules, and presence in the local community, gave me the courage to consider a more DIY travel option in the future; CCS (and other voluntourism entities by extension) is like travel training wheels - so, so helpful.

    How could this program be improved?

    I would provide bicycles to the residents.

    Mt. Arenal
    Average town street in Ciudad Quesada.
    Just a glimpse into the gorgeous and rolling hills that make up the Costa Rican countryside.
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  • Melissa
    Age: 19-24
    I learned the true meaning of "Pura Vida"

    In May of 2014 I had the most amazing and inspirational experience of my life. When I first arrived in Costa Rica, I had never traveled on my own, and all of the nerves and stresses I had before I arrived were totally worth it. The staff at the Cartago location made me feel welcome and I never questioned my safety. Everything was amazing from the food, people, language, activities, and even the bunk beds which became my home for a short two weeks. During my free time I explored the city with fellow volunteers and even had the chance to travel to the Caribbean side of the country which took my breath away. From bike riding to hidden beaches to eating the amazing local food at small cafes, I felt totally immersed in the Costa Rican culture. Now for the most important part of my trip; volunteering. I worked at a small orphanage in Cartago and fell in love with every single child I spent time with. Despite the language barrier, we made crafts together, played games, and sang songs. I bonded with each of them in a different way and I can only hope that I had at least half the impact on their lives as they had on mine. I would recommend this program to anyone interested in travelling while doing something good for those who are less privileged. You will not regret it!

    How could this program be improved?

    I would not change anything about this program accept for the possibility of lowering the cost as it is a bit high compared to some of the other volunteer organizations I had researched. Although it was worth every penny, I struggled to save and fund raise for my program fee.

    Puerto Viejo
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  • Andrea
    Age: 25-30
    New Jersey
    Colgate University
    Great Experience

    I stayed in a house for my month-long stay. I worked in a local elementary school for my internship. While it was very enjoyable, volunteers should be aware of cultural differences. The school was often closed on random days for no reason, making it hard to make a lot of progress through lessons. There wasn't a lot of prep on how to teach a class, so having previous experience, like I did, is helpful. Everyone we worked with was amazing and helpful and friendly. The people that I met during my stay were also great, and we traveled together on weekends to sight-see. There was a little bit of a divide between people that stayed a month or longer and people that were only there a week or two, but overall everyone was very friendly. It was pricey, the only downfall. You pay a lot to volunteer your time, although much of this likely covers the cost of your stay at the house and food (which was delicious!). Overall I loved Costa Rica!

    How could this program be improved?

    Cultural preparation for those not familiar with Costa Rican culture/Price

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  • Alyssa
    Age: 19-24
    Lincoln, NE
    University of Nebraska- Lincoln
    An Experience Worth Reliving

    My day in Costa Rica began very early with a good breakfast and preparations to volunteer that day. We'd make about a 45 minute drive to take everyone to their locations, and I would arrive at the elementary school I was placed at. I typically started the day doing various maintenance work around the school. The teachers were responsible for doing everything for the school on their own time with no pay, so this was very helpful to them. Then I would play with the kids at every recess time (my favorite part) and assist in a few English classes throughout the day. I taught kids from kindergarten through 6th grade. It was very helpful to me that I was able to speak Spanish and communicate with them through both languages. The kids left school in the early afternoon, so that concluded our volunteering for the day. I returned to the home base for lunch with the other volunteers. Typically the rest of the day was usually spent in a cultural class, an expedition of the country, or relaxing in the hammock with a cup of tea. Every moment was perfect.

    How could this program be improved?

    I would have spent more time volunteering. I realize the students had short school days, but I would have liked to have been assigned another job for a few evenings.

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  • Agabinet
    Age: 51 or older
    Providence, Hode Island
    Swarthmore College
    Eye opening trip

    I led a corporate volunteer team that worked at El Pueblito orphanage. I have supported charitable work before with dollars, but never with my time. It was an eye opening experience, we prepared lots in advance, but as the CCS staff advised, as helpful as the preparation was, the thing we needed was the willingness to abandon plans and go with the flow, the children and the institution staff really guided our activities and directed us to what was needed. Despite their difficult circumstances the children were, in some ways, like any children anywhere, adorable, difficult, attentive and rebellious in turns. We were a curiousity at first, and by the end of the week, a part of their routine. Saying goodbye was hard. CCS does a great job advising, guiding, organizing and providing cultural education.

    How could this program be improved?

    More work time.

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  • Keith
    Age: 51 or older
    Ontario California
    The Best Idea Ever

    I found Cross Cultural Solutions while trying to find a meaningful way to be part of the solution. I wasn't entirely sure if I had anything to offer, and I wasn't sure if I would fit in. The staff assured me that everything would be fine and they would find a placement for me. From the moment I stepped out of the airport to meet some of the other volunteers and our ride I felt welcome and comfortable. The home base was filled with great volunteers and great staff. The whole experience was so much better than I anticipated, that I can't rate it high enough to describe my opinion. My placement was perfect for me in spite of the fact that my Spanish wasn't as great as I'd hoped. My language skills had been one of my biggest concerns, but everything worked out ok.I was working in the HIV hospice and the staff found a way to use me effectively. The residents were very accepting and friendly and I made a few friends quickly among them. I had only one weekend to enjoy the surrounding country with fellow volunteers, but due to their expert organizing we made the most of it and had a great time. This was truly the best idea I've ever had and I intend to continue volunteering as a result of this experience.

    How could this program be improved?

    I honestly can't think of anything to change. My experience was outstanding in every way.

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  • mharmon
    Age: 19-24
    United States
    My project exceeded my every expectation!

    -- 2013 Trip --

    My project exceeded my every expectation - this was without a doubt the single greatest experience of my twenty-somethings!

    The Home-Base and staff me feel so at home from the moment I got there. They are such an incredible group of people - and it was remarkable getting to know them. Plus, the food was to die for!

    My volunteer placement was working at a home for children - very similar to what we might associate as an orphanage. It was run by nuns who did a remarkable job keeping things together but it really have the time to really dive into playtime and really work one-on-one with the kids. That were my group stepped in. I was only there for a week (wish I could have stayed longer) but even within that time we painted, made a mosaic, played games, made necklaces, and made a connection. Plus we in the mid-afternoons sowed pillows to leave once we were gone.

    I went to Guatemala during the time of Day of the Dead; they do this huge festival were everyone comes into the cemetery and repaints and fly kites. The concept is that the kites build a colorful border to keep the evil spirits out. The staff took us the night before to a man within the community to see how he makes his kites which opened my eyes to how much this celebration is all connected to their history and cultural identification. I would have never seen this side of the celebration if it wasn't for CCS.

    I have traveled with them before to Costa Rica and I plan to with them again soon. Where are you going to go?

    -- 2012 Trip --

    There are no words that describe the effect my CCS program had on me. I went during college; taking a semester and needed a program that gave me the flexibility to experience the culture on my own but who also helped me to foster a relationship with the community.

    I went to Costa Rica, and worked in a day care center where I was able to help with the day to day activities as well as paint a mural with the children. The day to day work wasn't a job that seemed as if you were making an impact, but the fact is that by having me a volunteer that allowed the one staff member time to concentrate on improvements. With more assistance, such as myself she was able to cook healthier food and clean more, since she wouldn't be chasing them all over the place. (and I won't lie that running helped me keep off all the AMAZING food I was eating).

    My experience totally changed my life, from my experience I fell in love with volunteering! I graduated college and then joined AmeriCorps! Thanks CCS for such an incredible experience.

    How could this program be improved?

    I should have stayed longer.

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  • Tess5254
    Age: 19-24
    Denton, TX
    University of North Texas
    An Amazing Experience

    I had to opportunity to intern abroad in San Carlos, Costa Rica and it was the most amazing experience in my life. As an Intern, you have the chance to earn school credit and travel to a foreign country to gain hands on experience in your profession of choice. What could be better than that!! When I first arrived, the staff promptly and properly greeted me at the airport. A plus!! The staff was very organized and friendly. (They spoke English but would practice Spanish with you if you wanted). A Plus!! Also, food was ready for me to eat!!! A Plus. Being an intern is different then just being a volunteer. As an intern, there are goals that you must meet with your professor as well as goals to meet with CCS. A staff member would meet with me one on one and help me discuss what I wanted to benefit from this experience. We came up with a list of goals that I had to accomplish each week and activities that I had to do each week as well. So not only do you volunteer at your placements but you also have the chance to immerse yourself in the community. This was a daily schedule for me. Wake up and get ready (includes eating)- 7-8 Volunteer placement- 8-11:30 Lunch- 12-1 Tuesday and Thursday cultural activities- visit a dairy farm, visit a cocoa plantation, Volcano etc Monday, Wednesday- 3-4 Spanish Classes *for those that know Spanish they had free time or plan a trip for that day Free time- After 4 (gym, stores, dance classes, etc) Weekends- Surfing in Jaco, La Fortuna etc. I loved the flexibility of this program. They never forced us to do anything and they were open to suggestions and ideas for trips.

    Back to Interning, the staff does not just place you in a volunteer setting and you have to fend for yourself. They stay with you until you are comfortable. They introduce you and help them get to know you (especially if you don't speak Spanish). Being an intern sets you apart from just volunteering, it becomes a second home to you. *If you are not comfortable with your placement, the staff will help you, no biggie. I interned at a nursing home and special education school. I was going to school to be a physical therapist. They allowed me build rapport with the patients so they listened to what I had to say. I loved it. The freedom to help patients hands on that speak a completely different language than me!! It was a thrill. The food is amazing, the staff is friendly and organized, and the placements helped me figure out what I wanted to do in life. This experience has given me a different perspective on life and how I have the ability to help people in the U.S and even in San Carlos one day. I would not trade this experience for the world.

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  • kbejk
    Age: 51 or older
    Family of 5 Volunteers Together

    Imagine a 60+Dad, 50+Mom, 20, 18 and 14 year old kids working and living together for a solid week! It was our family's volunteer experience of a life time. The idea of doing something positive, together made this family vacation a most special memory.

    Our assignment with a group of seven others, was to paint an orphanage for young boys temporarily removed from problematic family situations in a rural area of Costa Rica. Of course, the painting was interspersed with impromptu soccer games, guitar music and lots of hugs from the little ones.

    The CCS base house, with its caring and warm staff helped us feel right at home at the end of each volunteer afternoon of work. We enjoyed many activities with the other volunteers-- exploring the town of San Carlos,evening at the hot springs, a farm and local family visit and of course, Spanish lessons and dancing.

    Our CCS cooks prepared the freshest of food with many colorful local fruits and vegetables from the markets. It was a wonderful week and one that our family will long remember.

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About the provider

The Cross-Cultural Solutions Volunteer Abroad experience allows students and travelers to gain valuable experience overseas while working side by side with local individuals and communities to make an impact.

Since 1995, over 35,000 people have volunteered with Cross-Cultural Solutions, providing meaningful and sustainable volunteer services to international communities, and contributing responsibly to local economies.

Volunteers gain valuable experience working in areas such as education, healthcare, and social services. Visit the Cross-Cultural Solutions website to learn more about how we're changing everything.

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