Why did you pick this program?
Rita: I initially was looking to head to Asia and explore working opportunities in that area but I fell upon this program and was curious to learn a little more about it. I had visited Costa Rica a couple of years ago and was left with a feeling that I needed to return and explore the country a little more. Something about the raw beauty of the country along with the kindness of the people just tugged at my heart to return.
After I spoke to the EVOLC coordinator about working with a local technical college in a rural area, I was 100% on-board! The college exists for young adults who want to and need to learn so they can get better jobs and be able to better provide for their families. There was no doubt I wanted to be a part of this program. I was also very impressed with the different programs and organizations that EVOLC partnered with in Costa Rica...assuring that any volunteer can be matched with the right program.
What is the most important thing you learned abroad?
Rita: Leaving friends and family is not as difficult as people will tell you it is. Keep an open mind and heart so you can discover a new place and welcome new friends into your life. Thanks to the Internet, staying in contact with friends and family is made easier. You can also take some epic long distance selfies to remember that although your friends are far away from you...they are never gone.
I realized that I didn't really want to be back home with my family and friends but sometimes wished they were around to share the experience with me. However, I was very lucky to have met great people and my host welcomed me into her family without any hesitation. I'm glad I accepted my adopted family and friends invitations to celebrate holidays, parties, and other outings. The best way to enjoy a new country or city is to follow the locals and do as they do, eat as they eat, play as they play!
What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?
Rita: I loved how this experience allowed me to learn how it is to work in a different country / culture. I enjoyed comparing the similarities and differences.
I know that my experience in Costa Rica has made me richer and a more valuable person due to the people I got to work with, the students I built a rapport with, and the individuals I randomly met and shared stories with. As a result, I'm now completing an Adult Education degree to pursue a career in Academic Advising. I'm also strongly interested in working for NGO's here in Canada and abroad. No other experience in my life, personal or professional, has been as rewarding as my time with EVOLC has been.
Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.
Rita: I worked in a small rural town called Santa Cruz. Charming town with lots of history and cultural festivals. I enjoyed getting to know the town and its citizens. The greatest thing about the location of Santa Cruz, however, is its proximity to some of the most breathtaking, stunning, beautiful, and serene beaches on the Pacific coast.
On weekends, I'd get on a bus for no more than 1-2 hours and then be at one of these many beautiful beaches. On occasion, my colleagues and I would rush to a beach after work and enjoy the breathtaking sunset. Our year end Holiday party was at a beach resort... You can't do that in Montreal...