Costa Rica Summer Service Adventures

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About

Are you a high school student looking for volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica? Global Works has a variety of options for you. Take a look at our programs and visit our site for full details.

Language and Leadership: Spanish Immersion, welcoming homestay families, community-driven service projects, and adrenaline pumping adventure...this trip has it all! Over the course of three weeks, practice Spanish and learn cultural norms and customs through immersive homestays and community service projects

La Pura Vida: On these 2 week adventures, practice your Spanish with local families and community members, roll up your sleeves for some meaningful service projects and pump up the adrenaline on a zip-line canopy tour through the rainforest.

Sea Turtle Adventure: On this week-long trip, we engage in projects and tours to support native leatherback sea turtles and the local community. Activities include a tour of the hatchery, environmental projects, a night beach patrol, a kayak tour through the canals of Tortuguero National Park, and even an overnight rafting trip!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 22 reviews
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 22 of 22
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CedralianGirl
9/10

My "Cedralian" Exchange

During the reliable afternoon thunderstorms of Costa Rica, the newly built beneficios, an elevated wooden room that oversees the town’s coffee processing plants, was our official work station. But outside the beneficios was an even more intensive study of the culture shock. As we adapted to the masculine-dominated, agricultural society, we also had to adjust to the fact that the entire village was literally one family! In return for our dedication, the locals shared their long-standing traditions with me, a complete stranger who barely spoke any Spanish, save for a few phrases from a tourist guidebook. The exchange was not always tangible; it still baffles me that they were so willing to do so much for others without expecting anything in return. My inclination to attempt to help was largely because I felt a new connection to these people who have made me feel as if I was a part of their culture. This trip has introduced me to the boundless opportunities that await me in the field of business, and I am surprised by what I did accomplish in these short weeks. My experience in Cedral has passed, but Cedral and the memory of it live on.

How can this program be improved?
My main difficulty was communicating with my only-Spanish-speaking host family. I wish my leaders had taught us more essential Spanish phrases before the homestay.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Molly
10/10

My College Essay

Here is an essay I had to write for college, it's a great review of how the trip made me feel and the impact it had on me...

This past summer, I spent a month traveling in Costa Rica with Global Works, a community service-based adventure program for high school students. I wanted to indulge myself, experience new things, improve my Spanish, and maybe do a little volunteer work. Luckily, I found much more than that. I have participated in other teen tours, but I never came away from a trip feeling like I did after this one.

While in Cuipilapa, a small village in the Guanacaste region, we worked every single day, from early light until dark, on the community center building. We cleaned and swept the floors, scraped rust from the fencing along the outside of the building, and sanded 40 tables and 65 chairs. We painted the entire inside and outside of the center. As we worked, the village children would gather around us, giggling while trying to communicate to us in the little English they knew, while we responded back in what we thought was our impeccable, surely unaccented Spanish. After a while, the children didn’t just watch. Seeing us hard at work influenced them to help, too, taking pride and ownership in fixing up their community. I had similar experiences during the other projects our group worked on, such as when we dug up wet mud in the rainforest to clear a 1.5-mile path to a breathtaking waterfall.

Although I spent hours working to improve the 3 different areas we visited in Costa Rica, I had the most transforming experience during my homestay with the Fonseca Family. The Fonseca Family has lived in their small village of 100 inhabitants for their entire lives. The Fonsecas felt themselves very fortunate because they were the only family with a TV, despite the fact that it only offered one channel! To me, their house felt like a mansion because of the things it was filled with: laughter, love for one another, and happiness. But what really floored me was how they welcomed me into their home and into their lives. They had no knowledge of my life at home, how much money or status my family may or may not have, what my reputation might be, what my school and town are like, or how good or bad my grades are. No idea, and they didn’t care. All they knew about me was what I brought from home – myself. I had my smile, my valiant efforts to speak their language, and my willingness to throw myself into their lives. At dinner, they constantly offered me food, wanting to be sure I had enough; at bedtime, they brought blanket upon blanket, to make sure I was comfortable. This sense of acceptance, purely for who I was on my own, without my friends, my family, and the trappings of my life at home, taught me that I didn’t need a warm shower, fancy clothes, or a flat screen TV. I only need myself, and people whom I care about and who care about me.

I have noticed that people in other countries seem to be happier than people in the US. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but while I was in Costa Rica, it was one of the happiest times of my life. Perhaps it was because I chose to engage rather than just pass through, connecting with people and having an impact on the community, rather than being a tourist or visitor. Perhaps it was the simple lifestyle, the ability to feel rich without having a lot of material things. Life occurs at a slower pace, friends and family spend time together rather than on their cell phones, and people choose to see the positive, rather than the negative, in others. Most likely, however, it was the experience of connecting with my own self, seeing what makes me happy, what I am capable of, and the kind of person I want to be.

On my last night with the Fonseca Family, we trudged through the rainforest, collecting our ingredients for that night’s dinner. We found vegetables of all kinds, sugar cane, and even medicines from fresh plants. As we prepared the meal, I found myself standing together with mother Rosa, rather than sitting outside with my friends. We shared just the occasional word or two, communicating in other ways, as we fried fresh banana chips and created a lasting masterpiece in my memory.
...to include all the amazing detail I had to combine a few things like the homestay and one of the rainforest trips, but it doesn't take away from the truly amazing experience I had, which I at least think is very apparent in this essay.

How can this program be improved?
Although no program is perfect, GlobalWorks swings as close to that perfection as any other group. Although at one point I felt weird about you guys taking my phone, don't let any kid tell you that policy is the wrong way to do it because I couldn't have been any happier to not have my phone. The overall message of GlobalWorks is what really brings you close to perfection. It couldn't be more clear of the true morality and warm-hearted purpose of the company. I can see that all the company wants is to give kids the experience of a lifetime, while helping out around the world at the same time. Also, the leaders couldn't have been any better. They all brought different things to the table, while all sharing the common goal to make this experience the best it possibly can be for us kids. Not to mention it was really cool and encouraging to see how into the trip and all the experiences the leaders were because it made me want to engage even more.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Mary
10/10

Experiencing "La Pura Vida"

When I signed up for this trip, I was not exactly sure what to expect. Traveling so far away from home with a group of strangers seemed exciting yet a bit scary. As it turned out, signing up for this trip was, in my opinion, the best decision I have ever made. Even during the first hour of our trip, our group was already having a great time getting to know each other while playing card games in the airport. When we arrived in Costa Rica, we immediately established group and personal goals for the trip, focusing on developing our language skills and dedicating a lot of time and effort to community projects in Santa Cruz. During these days of orientation, our three group leaders were very instrumental in helping us all bond as a group. Right after we arrived, we started eating the typical Costa Rican cuisine of rice and beans, which took a few days to get used to, but was a very important part of being immersed into the culture (and it is delicious too!). Rafting was quite an adventure and helped develop our friendships with each other and instill a sense of appreciation for nature in us. When we arrived at the home stay, we were all very anxious, some of more scared or excited than others. Being able to communicate only in Spanish wasn't very easy the first day, but by the end of the week, I would sometimes be speaking in Spanish without realizing it! The home stay in Santa Cruz was truly amazing because I felt like part of another family for a week. My home stay mother did everything she could to make sure we were enjoying our stay, and she did a wonderful job. The service project building the sidewalk during the day was so meaningful because we knew that it would benefit our wonderful Costa Rican families and it also provided some hilarious times for our group (my personal favorite being our singing and dancing while working!). Overall, I had an incredible experience. Our guides were responsible and also fun so we could relate to them but also rely on them for help if needed. The main lesson I learned would be that developing personal relationships by talking to people rather than relying on technology all the time is very important and it is the mindset I have taken coming back to the U.S. I LOVED this trip and I still talk to my friends that went with me every single day. I consider them a second family to me, and I have formed friendships that will last for years to come. I would do anything in my power to go on this trip again, it is well worth it!!

How can this program be improved?
If I could change this program at all, I would make sure that every student is close to the central meeting place in the home stay. I was lucky to live 2 minutes down the road but some of my friends had a rough 35 minute walk to the meeting place and back to their home each day which I know was exhausting, especially after many hours of hard work.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Marcelle
10/10

Costa Rica: unforgettable experience

This trip was one of the best experiences of my life and I wish I could relive it. I made life long friends and had unforgettable experiences that I wouldn't give up for anything. I improved my surfing tremendously and had so much fun doing it with great people. The trip is designed to be such a wonderful experience; unique and priceless.

How can this program be improved?
I felt like there was more service we could have done. I felt like the things we did didnt make as much of a difference in the community as they could have.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Krizhalyn
10/10

An Amazing Experience~

Costa Rica, its waterfalls, food, coffee, and its people were lovely. Every little thing was lovely. I can say that this was and will stay one of the best experiences in my life. In so little time, we did so much! Adventures were rafting in Rio Pacuare, Ziplining in Rinconcito, and Surfing in Playa Grande. It was my first time to try all of those things and I loved every single one. Aside from the adventures, we were able to serve the community. We helped the locals clean and level trails as well as build a bridge in the Monteverde cloudforest. We also did a lot of digging and mixing cement for the communal kitchen in Pueblo Nuevo during our homestay as part of our service. The homestay was amazing. It enabled us to help the people out as well as learn more about their culture and practice our spanish in a different but wonderful way! Our Costa Rican families were very hospitable and took good care of us. The trip helped me gain new views and aspects of life and struggle; made me understand and appreciate more of life.

How can this program be improved?
I can't really think of anything because for me, every minute of the trip was worth it!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Pura
10/10

Global Works: Costa Rica Trip

My Global Works Costa Rica experience was the best trip of my life. During this experience, I was able to try so many new things, like surfing, zip lining, rafting, living with a family and communicating in Spanish! At first I was a little anxious, but the group and leaders were so welcoming. For most, the thought of a home stay is scary. I was nervous at first, but my roommate and I became so close and our family was also so gracious and welcoming. They were so generous in opening their home to us, and we enjoyed each other's company and interacting with the kids. Upon arrival to the airport, we were immediately welcomed and introduced to our new acquaintances. They soon become great friends. The Global Works leaders already knew all of our names and we had talked already multiple times via Facebook and phone calls. I could easily identify the group members and leaders by our matching shirts. I could already tell the trip was well organized and planned, and I felt very safe traveling with Global Works. Prior to our arrival in the community of Santa Cruz, our leaders informed us on what to expect, and gave us tips for conquering the language barrier. We also received letters from our family prior to arriving in the community. After arriving, we were introduced to our family and then went home with them. While interacting with our families, we all shared so many laughs, smiles and memories. I felt very comfortable and never felt unsafe. Each day we had "weather checks" one on one with the guides, to check on us physically, mentally and emotionally and see how were adjusting. The leaders were very approachable with questions or problems. The community was well selected, and the "ticos" were very friendly and welcoming. It was a pleasure to work in the schools with local kids, who were very gracious and enthusiastic. Overall, this trip was an eye opener. It allowed me to experience an entirely different culture and language. I was able to meet life-long friends, as well as my "second family" who I still keep in contact with. I would highly recommend Global Works and this particular trip to a friend, or anyone interested in broadening their horizons and trying something new. This trip creates memories to last a lifetime.

Yes, I recommend this program
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aks12
8/10

Overall Great Experience

I had a wonderful time on the trip. I loved the activities we did, my host family, and it was overall a really great balance of learning, having fun, and meeting new people. I did get more comfortable speaking Spanish, though the levels of everyone's Spanish were very spread out, which meant not everyone improved quite as much as they could have had they all been equal. Overall, I had a ton of fun, met some really wonderful people, and learned about a new culture and worked on the language.

How can this program be improved?
I just wish that my partner in the partner homestay spoke the same amount of Spanish as me. She didn't speak it as well, and I found myself translating for her a lot.
Yes, I recommend this program

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For more than 28 years, Global Works has been an industry leader in community service-based adventure travel programs for high school students and custom group trips. Much more than a vacation, Global Works international trips are the bridge for...