Alumni Spotlight: Tia Brown

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program as I wanted to spend the holidays in a different way, giving back and helping others. after the year we had in 2020, I wanted to do something different from what I have before and considering projects were closed for so long, now is the time to volunteer. The holiday project allowed for this to happen!

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My original program provider was IVHQ, who helped me organize the dates for my travel and gave me a lot of advice on the project. They also helped organize the local in-country pick-up as I was in the country before my program start date. The program provider we worked with once in-country was Maximo Nivel, who helped with everything once we arrived and gave a very detailed orientation.

As for what I organized myself, I purchased my own flights, also you can do this through IVHQ, likewise with travel insurance.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Make the most out of your programs. Fully engage in the project and take initiative. before you arrive, come up with ideas on ways you can help and even plan activities. there is not much to worry about, you will have the full support from the entire in-country team whether this be general advice or based on your specific project.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

based on the holiday project, where we partake in different projects daily, we would:

- I woke up around 6:30-7 am and got ready, and we were able to request a time for breakfast, which we would usually ask to have 15 mins before we had to leave home.
- we would arrive at Maximo to travel as a group to the daily project. Getting to the projects would take around 15 minutes.
- we would arrive at the projects and get to work. Shorter project times were around 2 hours and our most extended project where we completed two jobs in a day was for around 7 hours
- for longer projects, we would take a break in the middle and go out for lunch, but sometimes we would do the entire project and come back to Maximo together and go out for lunch ourselves
- after eating, we would go out and explore Costa Rica
- we ate dinner at 7pm every day and then would relax at home till we went to bed

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

exploring the country e.g. traveling around far distances alone or in small groups. the only way to overcome it was to go ahead and do it, at the weekends we traveled first to one beach which was a 3,5-hour bus journey away and the second place was 8 hours away. as a foreigner with limited Spanish skills, it can be scary to be far from familiar places alone but everything went smoothly and everyone in the country was very helpful.