Bonnie Krupa is from Reno, Nevada. She is 62 years old and has been working in the field of education for 20 years. Currently she teaches 6th grade. In the summers she travels extensively and has visited over 40 countries. In July of 2014 she traveled for a week in Costa Rica, and then completed her first volunteer experience at a school in Turrialba.
Why did you decide to volunteer in Costa Rica with Volunteer Trip?
I was looking for an organization that would allow me to do a short volunteer service (2 weeks) so I could see what the experience was like. I was also looking for a placement in a Spanish-speaking country where I could practice my Spanish and have the opportunity to take intensive Spanish language lessons.
The location of Turrialba, Costa Rica, appealed to me because it was a medium-sized town in a beautiful rural area, far from major cities. They also had volunteer work at a school as one of their choices, which is where I felt I could be the most effective.
What was the best moment of the trip?
The best part of the trip was not so much a moment as it was the satisfaction of feeling like I was living in, and being a part of, a different country for a while.
It was crossing the bridge over the river on my way to work every day; it was figuring out how to explain everything I needed in a different language because no one spoke English; it was arriving at the rural public school each day and being greeted by the children as if I were a part of them; it was lounging in a hammock on the deck of the Spanish language school, soaking in the beauty of the volcano, the jungle, the toucans, and the sloth that often hung out in a nearby tree.
Do you feel like you made a significant impact on the local community? Why or why not?
No. I wish I felt like I made an impact, but I felt like the school didn’t make use of what I had to offer the children. I could have helped with their English so much.
On the other hand, it was my choice to only be there for two weeks, so maybe they felt like I was just passing through. I received much more than I contributed.
What do you the miss the most about Costa Rica or your experience?
I miss the sense of accomplishment that I felt every day, things like finding my way back to town when I didn’t know where I was; carrying on conversations in Spanish with taxi drivers and storekeepers, figuring out how to use the local bus station to get to where I wanted to go, deciphering food labels in grocery stores, helping the children at the school with their schoolwork.
It has been two months since I returned, yet my mind is still full of mountains, volcanoes, jungles, rivers, toucans, Spanish, and all the people I met and interacted with.
How has this experience impacted your future?
It has increased my self-reliance and my confidence that I can solve any problem. It has solidified my determination to continue learning Spanish, and it has also made me hungry to continue working in cross-cultural situations.