I was browsing through the school career website when I came across a link about Youth Challenge International. I explored their website thinking “wow wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to volunteer aboard.” So I decided to apply. I thought nothing would ever come of it, but little did I know that by the following week I would have a phone interview and then would be in Costa Rica within a month.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
I spent my project in a small community called Santa Cruz de Leon Cortes. It is about two hours away from San Jose (capital of Costa Rica) and is situated in the mountains. My group consisted of myself and another girl from Canada. Since there was only the two of us on project, we were able to have a homestay and lived with two great families. We stayed with one family for the first week and the second family for the remaining of the project. My day consisted of doing various workshops in the community that were given to us by our coordinator within the community. We made posters and displayed them around the community to provide information regarding the workshops.
The main workshops we did in the community were computer related that went over basic concepts such as sending emails and how to navigate the internet. Also, we taught English classes for the boy scouts going over the main fundamentals of English. One of our main projects was to re-paint the nutrition center and start a garden. My favorite workshop was the sports day we had every Tuesday and Thursday with the elementary school children. We taught them how to play badminton and California kickball. All of the supplies that we needed for the workshops were all provided for us and if we needed any extra supplies we could easily obtain them. In our free time, we would walk around the community and enjoy the beautiful view. Also, on the weekends we got to travel around the country visiting the beaches and checking out the city.
What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?
This experience abroad was very unique because I was able to travel to Costa Rica and experience the lifestyle of Central America. I have travelled to many different places before but Costa Rica was like none other. From the mountain tops to the beautiful beaches, Costa Rica provided unique ways to enjoy our free time. Volunteering with the locals was hard at first due to the language barrier but by the time we had to leave, I knew I would always have a home in this welcoming community.
How has this experience impacted your future?
This trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I’ve always wanted to travel, but I never thought I would be able to help others while doing it. The trip to Costa Rica animated the many problems faced in our world today. The trip exposed me to a world of culture and lifestyle I had never seen before. Professionally, this has given my CV a great boost and I also gained greater confidence knowing that I am able to adapt to new environments.