Alumni Spotlight: Jenna Menn

Jenna Menn volunteered in Costa Rica from March 9th – April 5th, 2013. Jenna is 19 and lives on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. She works on the farm as well as in a Christian book store and as a photographer. When she is not working to save money for her next traveling adventure, you can find her riding on an equestrian drill team or leading 4-H youth activites. In the near future she plans to get her TEFL certification and return to Costa Rica to teach English.

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica?

Turtle in Costa Rica

Jenna: I love to travel, but always have a hard time making the plans and taking time off work for more than a week or two. After plans fell through for a semester of school, I realized that it would be a perfect opportunity to take a longer trip. I didn’t want to simply travel as a tourist, and volunteering sounded like a great way to gain experience, see the country, and meet new people. After comparing options and prices, I signed up through IVHQ, who connected me with Maximo Nivel.

What advice do you have for future volunteers?

Jenna: The best piece of advice I have to offer is to jump right in and give it everything you have! Volunteering is such a great experience, but if you don’t put anything into it, you won’t get anything out of it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people and try new things!

What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?

Jenna: One of my favorite parts of my experience in Costa Rica was getting to know the native people. I stayed with a wonderful host family and their home quickly became my home. Part of my time in Costa Rica was spent on a quiet beach doing turtle conservation, so we were far from other tourists. Because of this, I was able to meet local teens who became friends and helped me to get an inside look at the country and really experience what they experience.

Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

Jenna: Volunteering in Costa Rica opened my eyes to a lot of things that I was not aware of. Not only did I learn from the projects I participated in, but also from meeting volunteers who came from countries all over the world. People from all races, religions, and occupations with different views and different ideas on how to make the world a better place. Each person and experience in Costa Rica helped open my eyes to see the world in a different way.

Costa Rican scenery