How long have you been part of the team at ISV? What is your role?
I have been working with ISV for the last 4 years. My role is to be the host in Santos and project leader.
What inspired you to join ISV?
I contacted ISV because of my host organization. I have been working in tourism for the last 10 years, though in conventional tourism, just regular tours. Then the vision of our organization changed and we started to organize groups of students for tourism. After 5 years, we started organizing just volunteer programs in 7 different communities in our area where we live.
This idea to help our communities prompted us to start looking for an organization with the same ideology. And that is how I contacted ISV. We were looking for a organization with the same ideologies. And ISV was on our list and given their experience and similar ideologies we partnered. We have since worked together on successful programs.
What is your favorite aspect of ISV's programs in Costa Rica?
The flexibility to organize different and new projects in the hostcountry, support good ideas and not be close to just one idea. In my own experience I have seen ISV support all our ideas in community development and also sustainable development for our big project.
For example, we work together to move the coffee farmers to organic farming, creating projects that sound impossible like to creating biodiesel, ecostoves , eco bricks and running big community projects like construction of streets, classrooms etc. All this together is why ISV programs in Costa Rica are amazing. If all of this happens in Santos, I can't imagine the variety of opportunities that all the projects together in this small country can offer.
What is the best story you've heard of a volunteer's experience with ISV in Costa Rica?
For me having spent a long time with ISV, I've seen that it's not just a story when ISV says volunteers make a difference. They really do. I remember volunteers being tired yet sacrificing their free day to finish cementing a street and feel this connection with the projects. I've also been impressed to see how many bottles we recycled in 3 years - more than 14,000 - to make eco bricks.
And I love that we show the communities and the volunteers how possible it is to make create positive change in the world. To see a group of volunteers be organized for the last day in the community and sing a song with all the stories of the 15 days and then cry together is not the story. It is the grip of the experience, to be part of it . It is difficult to tell you just one story because in my head are too many beautiful stories with volunteers that move hearts and change the world.
What tips/insights do you have for volunteers considering Costa Rica as their next volunteering destination?
I recommend Costa Rica because here they could have the opportunity to see the highest biodiversity in the world. In this small piece of land you can see everything - from the Pacific to the Caribbean, highland mountains, to volcanoes.
Also you will meet the most amazing "pura vida" people who always want are happy to open their homes to volunteers with a big smile for every single volunteer.
They want to contribute to a real immersion experience for each volunteer. It's the best combination of people and nature. It's a very green country with the best host organizations in the world, offering very big opportunities to choose from many different options for conservation and community development volunteering.
In my case, we offer the opportunity to help these small communities, to create big change, transforming the farms to become more ecological. The volunteers learn the real meaning of sustainability, helping the communities and the environment at the same time that they have fun and know the real Costa Ricans!!!