The Initiative for Children Volunteer Experience

Growth: 10
Support: 9
Fun: 10
Housing: 10
Safety: 10

I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life when I went on the Costa Rica Initiative for Children program through Global Leadership Adventures. Since my sister, who is only a year younger than me, came on the trip with me, my experience was different from most of the students, who came completely alone. Still, traveling to another country with a bunch of strangers seemed scary at first, but our group got in touch before even arriving in Costa Rica (I highly recommend getting in touch before the trip- this helps with packing too) and my nerves eased after meeting our guides and other students. As soon as I sat down with my group at the airport, I was given some local cookies and added into the game of Uno. Our host, Alfredo, provided us with nice housing and fed us very well with traditional Costa Rican food and a variety of local foods, including coffee from Alfredo's own plantations to cheese from a family we met who lived down the street. We also had a lake and dock on the property, which we had plenty of time to swim at. The staff was very flexible and accommodating, such as letting my sister and I get up early and work out (we are intense athletes) before breakfast, and they even offered to take us kayaking on the lake before everyone was up. Our staff I never felt bored on the program and was happily surprised by all the activities we did, since the majority were not in the program booklet. We went zip lining, went horseback riding, rafted down a river, visited a "zoo" with tons of interesting animals I had never seen before anywhere in the States, went to a dog rescue center, went hiking, and much more. However, the friendships I made with both the other kids on the program and the local kids we hosted a summer camp for almost every day are the most valuable part of my trip. We helped clean out and repaint a local abandoned school building and we also held a summer camp for the kids where we taught them English through games and activities. I highly recommend the Initiative for Children program for anyone serious about learning Spanish or anyone who wants to become a teacher or any profession where interaction with kids is involved. I have taken Spanish in school for 13 years and this 14 day trip was the most valuable Spanish lesson ever, since I had to speak Spanish all the time to the local kids. We played soccer, did karate, did arts and crafts, danced, and did leadership activities with the local kids, and spending time with those kids and really immersing myself into another culture in a way I had never done before with my family really opened my eyes to all I can learn from different cultures and helped me realize all the different lifestyles the world has to offer. I also still keep in touch with a majority of the 20+ kids through a group chat, and I know a few members of the group flew from the east coast to California to visit other members. I cried all day in the airport when we left, where we all held hands in a circle and gave each other compliments, our nightly routine back at Alfredo's. I had not anticipated how close our group would become in just 14 days. I highly recommend Global Leadership Adventures for any teen enthusiastic about service (there are so may different programs and there will be at least one for you) and willing to step out of their comfort zone, because the experience is totally worth it.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed