What position do you hold at EVOLC? What has been your career path so far?
Alexandra: I didn’t have the opportunity to study abroad in college and always knew I wanted to gain experience in a different country. After a few years of working in the service industry after graduation, I decided it was time for a change. I chose Costa Rica because my grandmother is from there and I’d always wanted to meet my family there, learn about the culture, and of course practice my Spanish. I have been living and working here for almost three years and can’t complain.
Did YOU teach abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Alexandra: After some research I found out that there were a lot of opportunities to teach English in Costa Rica, but most institutes required a TEFL Certificate. I enrolled in a one-month TEFL course in the Southern Pacific town called Quepos. After that I decided that I wanted to look for a job in the country’s capitol, San José. I had never thought about being an English teacher, but it was very rewarding and it was a great way to connect with the local people. Thanks to my teaching experience in the country along with my Spanish skills I was hired at ALIARSE, the foundation that drives EVOLC.
What does the future hold for EVOLC - any exciting new programs to share?
Alexandra: EVOLC is still a very new program and is constantly growing! Because speaking English is almost a necessity in Costa Rica, EVOLC will continue to bring native-speaking volunteers to teach in tourism communities, public schools, community programs, etc. This year we started a very exciting partnership with the Coast Guard Academy in Quepos. The Coast Guard Academy is where all of the Coast Guards in the country are trained and it’s located next to one of the most popular national parks and beach: Manuel Antonio. We’ve had both community English classes as well as classes specifically for the Coast Guard Instructors. For both groups, it’s very important to obtain English language skills to either find jobs or to communicate more efficiently with the ever-growing tourist population.
What about the future of the teach abroad industry? How do you think international education will change over the next 10 years?
Alexandra: I think that the industry will only continue to grow. Teaching ESL is something that is attractive to people of all ages. This year we’ve had volunteers in their 20’s and others in the 60’s from the US, Canada, Europe and even Australia. It’s a win-win for both sides; teaching abroad is a great way to exchange cultures and languages. I know in Latin America there is a huge shift to online classes and I imagine that international education will continue to diversify with technological advancements. I however am an advocate for in person classes and hope that teachers continue to travel the world, experience new cultures and places, and change people’s lives!
What's one piece of advice you'd offer to teachers in Costa Rica?
Alexandra: My advice for teachers in Costa Rica… Don’t come with any expectations. Be open to the culture, people and trying new things. Between the months of June and December - never leave without an umbrella and never ever slam doors! You have to be patient and flexible, Costa Rica is still a developing country and it’s easy to get frustrated. Lastly brush up on your Spanish and try to use the local slang, Ticos love to hear foreigners use their “tiquisimos”!