This program is no longer offered. View more programs from WorldTeach.
WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Costa Rica - Past Programs
95% Rating
(31 Reviews)

WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Costa Rica - Past Programs

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from WorldTeach.

WorldTeach's volunteer program in Costa Rica, established in 1989, is their oldest continuously running program. Volunteers work with WorldTeach and the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) to provide Costa Rican students the opportunity to learn English. Volunteers teach in rural elementary schools as well as in the only two public bilingual elementary schools in the country. In rural areas, the students wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to learn English in school even though it is an official school subject. At the bilingual elementary schools, volunteers make an impact by working with local English teachers to provide integrated instruction to students who live in areas economically fueled by tourism, and thus where there is a high demand for English language skills. Volunteers have the option of serving for an entire academic year or for a summer.

Yearlong program: January through mid-December
Summer program: late May / early June through mid-August

Locations
North America » Costa Rica
Teaching Practicum
No
Job Placement
No
Starting Price
$3,000.00
Currency
USD
Other Locations
Rural Areas

Questions & Answers

Hi Candace, You can start applying here--- http://www.worldteach.org/site/c.buLRIbNOIbJ2G/b.6150583/k.1365/Apply_to_WorldTeach_Volunteer_Programs.htm

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    96%
  • Support
    96%
  • Fun
    93%
  • Facilities
    95%
  • Safety
    96%

Program Reviews (31)

Default avatar
Caitlin
Female
30 years old
Cambridge, MA
University of Notre Dame

A transformative summer with my Tico school

10/10

Looking back I don't think I knew just how important this summer would be to my personal and professional development. My summer with WorldTeach in Costa Rica was certainly a life-changing experience and placed me on the path I'm on today in international education. I was welcomed into my community with open arms by both my family and my school, and I got to experience a totally different way of life in a rural setting. All of the challenges (being thrown into a foreign language, adjusting to the isolation of a mountainous Costa Rica town, terrifying bugs big and small, first-time teaching, and so on) were very important to my development as I thought about how I wanted to live my life and what field I wanted to get into.

I thought about my family, my students, my town, and the experience for years and years after and longed to do it again - so I moved to South America to teach for two and a half years! I don't think I ever would have had the courage and ganas to do that without that first experience with WorldTeach. WT really expanded my world - not only internationally but also domestically, as I have connected with local immigrant communities in the States through ESL too. It was the perfect program for that time in my life, and an incredibly positive experience, with tons of support and cultural sensitivity. Not only that, when you're teaching you're making a direct impact on the community and you have a structured role, which is something that I really appreciated for the direction that it provided. WT is amazing!

How can this program be improved?

At the time I think in-country support when you're at your placement could have been improved (for example, while I liked and respected my Field Director I didn't feel particularly close to her), however, that was back in 2008 and things have come a long way since then. Of course it always depends on how you jibe with the FD too.

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Casie
Female
30 years old
Austin, TX

Awesome experience, exploring the real culture of Costa Rica

10/10

It isn't everyday that you wake up and find a new farm animal outside your window. Sometimes it was a horse, most often a cow, and on the rare occasion we watched my host abuela's goat and got to wake up to that lovely white, hairy face in the mornings. The best (or maybe worst) part of watching that goat was getting to try fresh goat milk for the first time - and I mean fresh! I milked it straight from the utter into and coffee mug, something that's not totally abnormal in Costa Rica. The experience I got living in Costa Rica for a year with a great family (wonderfully pre-approved by WorldTeach) is one of the best, and definitely something I would never change. WorldTeach offers great support to you while you're in country, so your focus gets to be on your service teaching and being with your family and community learning about the amazing culture. A must do if you have means and time to participate in a WorldTeach program!

How can this program be improved?

I would prefer more information sooner prior to the trip, but I also understand that information is highly dependent on how the country operates. I remember feeling like we were getting some information a little late right before our departure, but came to learn after living in Costa Rica that that is really just the nature of how the country operate's - very slow (in comparison to US norms)!

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MJ
Female
32 years old
New York, NY
Boston University

Living La Pura Vida!

10/10

WorldTeach Costa Rica was an amazing and enlightening experience, from the orientation to the ongoing in-country support the program was very organized and created a really great program. The people of Costa Rica are wonderful, the geography is naturally spectacular, rich in culture and experiences for everyone. I would highly recommend this program for anyone!

How can this program be improved?

I would have loved a little more guidance on curriculum and teaching methods/structure for planning out the year of teaching.

Default avatar
EJ
Female
32 years old
Philadelphia, PA
Temple University

Teaching in Costa Rica

9/10

Volunteering with WorldTeach was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did I have a fantastic, life changing experience, but this program also set me in the direction of my career path. Through WorldTeach I was able to have an incredible volunteer experience, learn a new language and culture, travel, and work on my teaching skills.
While I was away in Costa Rica I completed a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) program. When I returned to the US I got a job as an ESL teacher in a charter school and I have been teaching ever since. I now have an English teaching certification as well as an ESL teaching certification and I am a few months away from receiving my Masters in Multicultural Education. I never would have realized my teaching dreams if it hadn't been for my experiences teaching with WorldTeach.
As much as I loved my program, it is hard for me to reflect back on that year. I miss my town and the people who live there so much. If I could go back in time I wouldn't do anything different except for appreciate the time more! Volunteering and teaching are things I am so passionate about and WorldTeach made my experience so simply and so meaningful.

Default avatar
jim
Male
42 years old
denver, co
University of Colorado- Boulder

here are my thoughts on World Teach in Costa Rica

9/10

in country support is fantastic throughout the year, building on the solid support of the first month in country with other volunteers doing basic language and teaching classes.

I had a lot of success because I knew my parameters for the kind of teaching and living experience I wanted. this made the adjustment periods short.

host family is important for feeling connected to the community and reducing the isolation of cultural adaptation. Though World Teach does a great job vetting families, there are inevitably mismatches that can create challenges. this is true also of school populations, support of directors,etc. I think all this goes to thinking about and feeling out what other strengths and outlets you can rely on in yourself and your surroundings (e.g. writing and reading, surfing, hiking) to absorb tough moments

How can this program be improved?

developing more continuity year to year with the individual programs and teaching materials. This is a high bar I think and doesn't necessarily affect the experience of the volunteer because part of the journey is really developing teaching material on one's own and getting into a rhythm with individual styles and approaches.

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Kyle
Male
32 years old
Washington, DC
Harvard University

Great teaching and community experience

10/10

My placement was excellent, a rural community with a very welcoming family where I could see the impact of my teaching and presence. I felt connected to other teachers during training, even on a shorter summer program.

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Steve
Male
42 years old
San Ramon
San Jose State University

Costa Rica Summer Program

10/10

This program and experience was a "10". The program was run very professional, Cara Abel and Paul George ran a perfect program from my viewpoint.

The program itself had a lot of challenges and rewards. Challenges included: heat and humidity, myself not understanding what was going on in certain circumstances, and initially, bug bites.

The rewards far surpassed the challenges. These included seeing a new country and its people, making friends and relationships (I mailed a package of supplies, cards and pictures to a subsequent volunteer), and learning more about myself.

I could what formally could have been called hardships, are "nothing". The simple food I ate was excellent; I lost over 10 lbs of fat and felt great. The roosters crowing at 3 or 4 am did not detract from my energy. Any loss of sleep was not noticed nor considered an irritant; it was amazing! Cold showers in a hot climate aren't that bad.

The people you meet are wonderful. They will teach you as much as you teach them. You will be introduced to new animals, you will see how people make a living in a different country. On some weekends you can go into town and explore.

Bottom line: you will most likely be challenged (but not too much, just go with the flow), you will bring back memories and have learned so much you most likely will consider it an adventure of a lifetime.

How can this program be improved?

I'm not sure; Our staff was excellent. Perhaps equip teachers with (simple) laptops and a projector with some canned lessons to build off of? The challenges I had probably had no solution or is there a way to spare the person bug bites?

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Kaila
Female
32 years old
Denver, CO
Lake Forest College

Amazing Experience in an amazing county

10/10

Completing the summer teaching program through WorldTeach was one of the best decisions I have made. All of the processes were easily understood and the field support was great. Especially in my case, I arrived earlier than the group and left two days after. My field directors were very helpful in getting me where I needed to be and then making sure I was integrated into the group once everyone else arrived.
Once on our own, our Field Directors (even some year long volunteers) provided us with insight on places to visit and stay making our vacations safe and fun.
I was fortunate and had an amazing bond with my family in Changuena. The volunteers in my area were actually the closest, yet I had such a great time with my family that I didn't rely on visits from the other vols as much as I thought I would. My town was so welcoming, I never felt unsafe, and my school was wonderful. I had a very easy going Director and made relationship with our Kinder teacher outside of school. She invited us (me and the other close vols) to her home and we all went on a trip to the hot springs.

All in all, my experience with WT was great. I felt supported, heard, and made lasting relationships with the volunteers and locals alike.

How can this program be improved?

The only issue I had was the clarity of the Quince Dias project. I think I would have benefited if the expectations were more clear.

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Melissa
Female
32 years old
Austin, Texas
Texas A&M University

Best Abroad Experience!

10/10

The Costa Rica World Teach program is an amazing program in an amazing country. Everyone is so friendly and World Teach is so supportive all year long. It is definitely an experience to remember and I recommend it!

How can this program be improved?

I actually wouldn't change anything with the program. The school system in Costa Rica was a little difficult to deal with with the support of World Teach, I was able to continue on without any problems.

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Tracy
Female
42 years old
United States
University of Georgia

Valued Experience

9/10

Although it has been a long time, my year in Costa Rica teaching children, living with a family & bonding with fellow volunteers is an experience I will always be grateful for. Thank you, WorldTeach!

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CZ
Female
42 years old
Colorado
Vanderbilt University

Great program with excellent in-country support

10/10

I had a terrific experience with World Teach in Costa Rica. The process that began with the application and ended with my completion of the program was relatively smooth. The World Teach staff did an excellent job with orientation so I felt prepared when I arrived at my site. They also did a good job of matching me with a site that I really enjoyed. I cannot say enough good things about the Field Director. She was organized, helpful, compassionate, and did her best to give us the support that we needed. World Teach provided us with top notch health insurance that made all in-country health care cheap to free. I highly recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?

My only area for improvement would be a lower cost to participate. Many people would love to volunteer as a teacher in a developing country, but it is very difficult for most people - particularly those a year or two out of college - to afford (by self-funding or fundraising) several thousand dollars to work as a volunteer.

Default avatar
Sara
Female
32 years old
Dallas, Texas
Centenary College

It's okay

7/10

If you are looking for something different, want teaching experience, and to learn Spanish, then you should definitely go to Costa Rica. It is safe and the people are very friendly. You won't have time to travel a lot, so expect to stay in your community. You have to put yourself out there and not be afraid to speak Spanish and do things, otherwise, you will be bored. As long as you are going because you want to teach and see what it is like to live in a different culture, than the Costa Rica program is great! If you do the summer program than it goes by fast!

How can this program be improved?

I would have liked more time off to see the country.

Default avatar
Isobel
Female
57 years old
Oregon
Southern Oregon University

World Teach Costa Rica changed my life direction.

9/10

My WorldTeach experience was unexpectedly rewarding. I had a wonderful, supportive director at the school where I was assigned, and we remain in communication. The training and experience I received prior to and during my teaching year proved immensely helpful, enabling me to participant in Costa Rican education in a meaningful way for many years. The challenges of the Costa Rican educational system were well met by the WorldTeach support system, and the teamwork on all levels across cultures was always based in good will. My world was opened and expanded, my life enriched, and I love knowing that I am doing the same for my students.

How can this program be improved?

Many of the things that I felt needed addressing at the time have been done. World Teach responds and grows as necessary, most admirably.

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Ab
Female
24 years old
Kearney, Nebraska
University of South Dakota

WONDERFUL Teaching Abroad Experience

9/10

I taught 1st - 6th grade, Monday through Friday, in a Costa Rican village of about 100 people. I lived with a host family. It was absolutely amazing in every way! WorldTeach did a great job of helping things along the way so it was smooth sailing for the volunteers. You won't have to worry about hardly anything but your teaching, which is how it should be!
The most difficult part of this experience, for me, was my personal lack of Spanish knowledge. I knew just enough to eek by, but when you are COMPLETELY immersed (living with a Spanish-speaking family, working in a Spanish-speaking school, navigating a Spanish-speaking community), it can get frustrating when you're not able to communicate like you'd like to (or worse if people either underestimate or overestimate your Spanish ability...equally frustrating!)
However, this was also the most rewarding part! I absolutely love my family, my school, my students, my community...all of it. They have wrapped their arms around me and considered me a part of the community not a visitor, even though I am only here for 3 months!
It seems like a short time, and sometimes it will be short, but you have no clue what an impact you can have on their lives and they on yours!
I am an ELL teacher back in the States (though much different), but if I accomplished nothing more than giving the student's a positive view of the English language and the community a positive outlook on "gringas", I will have considered my experience a success. Luckily, my students have learned more than that! :)

How can this program be improved?

Everything was, seriously, almost perfect, but the current field director is less than desirable. However, the past field directors have been incredible, the summer coordinator is amazing, and it is the current field director's last year with the program!

Default avatar
Tyler
Male
42 years old
Denver, CO
University of Colorado- Boulder

SOLO BUENO

10/10

This was the most impactful experience of my life and has shaped how I view the world, its people, and my role on it. Keep an open mind, practice cross-cultural competency and get ready to leave your heart with the Ticos.

How can this program be improved?

Offer more extentions.

Default avatar
Wilson
Male
42 years old
Washington, DC
Cornell University

Fantastic Program

10/10

Wonderful program. I was a teaching volunteer in Costa Rica for 1 year and it was exactly what I was looking for--a peace corps-like teaching program but without the bureaucracy. The application process was efficient and I was able to ship out very quickly. After a few weeks of training, I was placed in a village school where the need for a teacher was clear. It was a challenging and rewarding experience. Note - Most volunteers on this program are placed to live with host families, but some (including me) were in private housing. My village had a small house where all of the teachers lived (5 of us), because the Costan Rican teachers were not from the village either. Only downside is that there was an out-of-pocket cost.

How can this program be improved?

See above.

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Lauren
Female
42 years old
Boston, MA
Syracuse University

WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Costa Rica

10/10

I had a fantastic experience. I felt supported prior to departure as well as once I was in country. The host family and school were vetted and prior volunteers led orientation. I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a meaningful oversees experience that does not require imposing political/religious views on the host community.

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Sara
Female
42 years old
Portland, OR
Santa Clara University

Teaching (and Learning)

9/10

As a World Teach volunteer in Costa Rica, I learned so much. I felt incredibly supported by World Teach and learned so much from the other volunteers throughout the year. I miss the challenges and excitement of living and teaching in a different country.

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Sherry
Female
42 years old
philadelphia, pa
College of the Holy Cross

Wonderful Program!!!

10/10

My time in Costa Rica was wonderful, I cannot say enough good things about the program. Prior to leaving, WorldTeach has a comprehensive survey that helps with placement so you get an experience that meets your expectations. For example, in my case I knew that although I wanted an adventure, I didn't quite want to live the whole year without running water. My mother also had me request a telephone in the house, she couldn't go a year without being able to contact me haha. Both requests were accommodated. I had worked with children in the past but had no official training experience so the first month of training was extremely helpful as far as coming up with a curriculum for the year. I was placed with a wonderful host family who was picked by the volunteer the year previous. I still keep in touch with them! I also want to add a comment about the in country support. Our field director was always available and went above and beyond. She was able to help with big things like doctors and bank accounts as well as small things like, the best way to send and receive care packages. Overall, I felt that WorldTeach was organized and supportive. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and the people are excited and eager to learn English. Besides teaching in a small rural elementary school (my official assignment) I was also asked to tutor high school students and start an adult class. I participated in the town's all girls soccer team and was welcomed by the community. As a last note, as a young woman traveling on my own I also felt safe in Costa Rica. I often traveled to visit other volunteers or to go to the beach since I lived in the mountains. I was able to navigate the public transportation and quickly learned the dos and don'ts. I highly recommend the program and especially Costa Rica!

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Cassandra
Female
42 years old
Portland, OR
University of Oregon

Pura Vida

7/10

I spent a year living in rural Costa Rica, teaching English, learning Spanish and enjoying what I could of the famously relaxed and friendly culture. Day to day I would teach English in the morning, plan classes and relax in the afternoon and have a hearty dinner with my host family before turning in at 8 PM - yes you read that right! Did I mention we woke up almost every day at 5 AM? Yes, it was early to bed and early to rise, but I was never better rested than when I lived in Costa Rica - that's still 9 hours of sleep an evening.

Highlights of my year were tasting Costa Rican food, journeying into San Jose for breaks from the slow country life, visiting other teachers at their sites for mini-breaks, learning Spanish, having fun with my students and pushing them to make breakthroughs with their English.

I absolutely loved the laid-back atmosphere of Costa Rica. It was a great change of pace to have so much free time and to be able to revel in that by relaxing and watching the grass grow. There wasn't so much pressure to fill my every waking moment with activity and it was a great change of pace. I also really loved the food! Now some people may tell you that Costa Rican cuisine isn't that distinctive, but I really loved the millions of ways I ate rice and beans, fresh fruits and veggies and farm fresh eggs. It was delicious. And, my students were amazing. They were fun, funny, warm and genuine. Maybe we weren't setting the world on fire with our English classes but we had fun and I feel like it was a great growth experience for everyone involved.

I will say it was really challenging to live with some of my students. To be honest I should have been more cognizant of the fact that I am an introvert and need some alone time everyday to unwind and recharge, but I didn't factor that in when I was in the process of placement. It was hard for me to spend all day in class with the kids and then have to go home with them when all I wanted was some alone time to digest what had happened that day. There was also the added pressure of living with parents of my students. Costa Rican parents may have a reputation of being very laissez faire, but my host mom was super involved and I felt a lot of pressure to live up to previous teachers and a lot of self-doubt that I wasn't quite meeting her expectations. I think it's really important to think about these matters when you are getting placed. In hindsight, I realized that part of what I loved about my work before and after Costa Rica was being able to leave work at work and keep good boundaries about not bringing it home - that was something I should have considered and perhaps requested living with a family without such close ties to the school.

All in all though I would highly recommend WorldTeach Costa Rica to any and all - it's a great experience that will change you forever!

How can this program be improved?

I don't think that my Spanish skills improved as much as I was hoping while I was there and I would have benefited from more language training during orientation and ongoing classes as well.

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Doug
Male
57 years old
Warrenton, Virginia
Loyola University New Orleans

Costa Rica Summer Program

9/10

The journey to Costa Rica was adventuresome and rewarding. I had the luxury of having been previously acclimated to the Country as I am married to a Costa Rican and had spent much time there already. The training in Orosi was wonderful. Again, I was already a teacher, so the teacher prep part of training wasn't necessary for me, but the language training was fantastic. They also did a fantastic job with cultural responsiveness training.
The placement was wonderful, I couldn't have asked for a better pueblo than Cerros Arriba. All in all, a great experience!

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Mike
Male
42 years old
Minneapolis, MN
The Catholic University of America

Incredibly Beneficial Experience

10/10

I participated in the Costa Rica program in 1991. It was a very challenging but rewarding experience for me. Today I practice corporate law in one of the Twin Cities' largest law firms, where I'm also a partner and a member of the firm's Board of Directors. I can say without a doubt that my experience as a WorldTeach volunteer has been instrumental in giving me the skills (primarily patience, passion and persistence) to succeed in the workplace. To this day, I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by WorldTeach. Assuming the program has only improved since 1991 and you're a person that is self-motivated, tenacious and positive, WorldTeach is worth looking into, as it will pay lifelong dividends.

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Katie
Female
32 years old
Tampa, Florida
University of Florida

Pura Vida

8/10

I wouldn't trade my world teach experience for anything. They supported me in my scary wildlife encounters and encouraged me to get out and explore the country! I got to experience teaching Spanish speaking students and learned to communicate in ways I never imagined.

How can this program be improved?

I think the high cost is a deterrent.

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Aeriel
Female
32 years old
Boston, MA
Cornell University

Costa Rica will now forever be "home"

10/10

I spent a full school year in Costa Rica, working in a 300 person rural community in the mountains. It was absolutely everything I was looking for! I requested to be as rural as possible, with a host family, where no one speaks English, and this is exactly what I got. I taught grades K-6 every day to 40 students, and spent my weekends going on local hikes, playing in the river with my host family, or helping my host mother cook. I was immediately accepted into the community and have already been back to visit! WorldTeach offered me support but it was definitely a time to teach myself how to tackle daily obstacles and problem solve on my own. I still look back on my year in Costa Rica as one of the best of my life.

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S
Male
42 years old
United States
Washington University in Saint Louis

world teach Costa Rica fantastic experience!

9/10

World Teach Costa Rica was an amazing experience. The program had a very thorough orientation. I always felt I was in good hands with the in country support. I highly recommend the program to friends.

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Hannah
Female
42 years old
Des Moines, Iowa
Brandeis University

WT Costa Rica Was Amazing

10/10

At the recommendation of a professor, I participated in World Teach Costa Rica after graduating from college. From the initial interview process to the pre-trip materials to the month-long orientation to the support I received in-country to the friendships I've made with both fellow volunteers and Costa Ricans I met, it was an outstanding and life-changing experience. Because WTCR is in mostly rural communities, you get a richer cultural and linguistic immersion than other programs. (We all spoke fluent Spanish by the end, even those who started with no Spanish at all.) The fees seem steep but are well worth-it. My host family was wonderful; I was comfortable and well-fed. When ill, I had access to excellent medical care and insurance. An in-country supervisor was always a phone call away. Although I can proudly say that WT volunteers are there to teach and make a difference and become part of their communities, not be on an extended vacation, the program afforded ample time to travel and explore CR's legendary parks and beaches. I came back from CR a more confident, world-conscious person, and like many of my fellow volunteers, I've repeatedly traveled back to visit the place I consider my second home. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!

How can this program be improved?

Truthfully, nothing comes to mind! I was there nearly 10 years ago, and if there were complaints back then, they've long faded from my memory. However, there is a strong network of communication between all the various years' volunteers in my village, and through recent volunteers, I've heard that the numbers of WTCR participants have dwindled from 30 per year in my time to fewer than 10 this past year. From what I understand, this is not due to problems with the CR program, but rather with the fact that the fee is high compared to other WT programs in Spanish-speaking countries. The high number of volunteers scattered around the country was something I loved, so I simply hope that WT continues to explore ways to reduce the fees or recruit people to this marvelous program in a wonderful country. The only way to fix this "problem" is for people to heed the advice of reviews like mine and take the plunge and sign up!

Response from WorldTeach

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this helpful review. You are correct that our program in Costa Rica is one of the more expensive programs we host. This is because the funding that we receive from our in-country partner, the Costa Rica Ministry of Public Education, is limited. The countries that need WorldTeach volunteers the most often cannot afford to fund the entire program, and for that reason the volunteer pays the remainder after the partner has contributed their funds. WorldTeach has served in Costa Rica since 1989, and despite the financial constraints, continues to provide life-changing experiences for our volunteers and their students.

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Torie
Female
42 years old
Washington, DC
Williams College

Still useful after 10 years!

9/10

I participated in WorldTeach's yearlong Costa Rica program over 10 years ago, yet I find that the experiences I had are still relevant to me now. Not only did I learn Spanish and gain great teaching experience, I also gained crosscultural understanding that has served me well in a variety of jobs. I also gained friends--fellow volunteers as well as my host family--with whom I'm still in touch.

During my year in Costa Rica, I taught in two small elementary schools in a rural Costa Rican village. Each day I prepared lessons and taught 3-6 English classes for 1st through 6th graders. Though teaching is a lot of work, I had plenty of time for reading, getting to know the little town and my neighbors, and exploring Costa Rica on weekends and during school vacations. I'd happily recommend the program to anyone who loves working with kids and is open to new experiences. My year of teaching in Costa Rica was not always easy, but it was incredibly valuable to me.

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Gina
Female
24 years old
Los Angeles, CA
University of Notre Dame

Unforgettable Tico Times

10/10

WorldTeach provided me with a lot of firsts: my first extended trip abroad (beyond a third grade family vacation), my first time in a developing country, my first stay with a host family, my first time teaching in a classroom, my first time entirely immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture. Even one of these, let alone the combination, could have been overwhelming or terrifying. Instead, through the efforts of the U.S. office and especially the field staff in Costa Rica, the elements of my volunteer experience formed a cohesive, unforgettable summer.

With a positive and "ready for anything" (yet prepared) state of mind, it became possible to appreciate and love so much more, while materially possessing so much less. During orientation, my co-volunteers, field staff and I realized some previously undiscovered teaching skills, attempted to memorize games and songs, and above all gained a loving, strong and supportive group of friends. A week later, alone in a rural village seemingly accessible only by motorcycles and ATVs, my own abilities and new-found state of mind were tested.

In the community, at home, and in school, I was forced to choose whether I or not I would say "yes." I had already said "yes" to teaching from 8 am until 1 pm, five days a week, but the greatest impact occurred when I was able to say "yes" outside the classroom. With this word, I discovered a love of delicious Costa Rican food (arroz con pollo! gallo pinto! fruit picked from the trees on the walk home with my students!), and made great memories in $10/night hostels and on five hour bus adventures. I swept the floor and hung the laundry out to dry with my host mom, running outside to collect clothes when the afternoon rain started to fall. I watched my students fawn over the camera I had brought into the community, and let them improve my soccer skills and laugh when I slipped on the moss-covered rocks at the river.

Right now, I may not physically be a part of the "pura vida," or even be able to recollect precisely what I did to fill each day in that tiny village outside of San Isidro del General. I do, however, have a group of friends who are always willing to nostalgically reminisce, and the knowledge that each of my small daily journeys in Costa Rica has undoubtedly shaped who I am today. I can credit WorldTeach with confirming my love of travel and exploration. This journey began with the simple realization that if you want to try something new, you can (no matter how crazy it sounds to your "grounded" friends and family). I would encourage anyone who is even minimally drawn to this program, to make the jump and say "yes."

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CA
Female
32 years old
Wall, NJ
Adams State College

A Year of Rice and Beans - and so much more!

10/10

I volunteered with WorldTeach in 2008 and couldn't be happier with my choice to do so. I was placed in a tiny town of about 200 people on the Pacific coast. I had 30 students in my school, spread across 1st - 6th grades. I met with each grade for 40 minutes each day that there was school (supposed to be 5 days a week, but canceled often because of meetings and rain). I lived with a host family of a mom, dad, 13 year old host brother, and 2 year old host nephew. I ate my meals at home and had my own bedroom with a bed, dresser, fan, and small table.

Although I was teaching, I learned many things. I learned to eat rice and beans for three meals a day for an entire year, to laugh at my blunders in Spanish, to keep small children's attention in a foreign language, to make delicious breads at the local bakery with a family who has been baking for over 50 years, to make beautiful jewelry made out of locally found seeds and shells, and to live a little bit slower.

Don't get me wrong - there were definitely challenging moments. Moments where I couldn't handle being bitten by another bug, moments where I wanted the weather to be cool enough to snuggle under a warm blanket and drink hot chocolate (instead of instantly sweating from the moment after I finished my cold shower), moments that I had no idea what to do in the classroom to reign in the sugared and caffeinated energy of my students, and moments when I could no longer smile and swallow all the town gossip.

However, the things that I learned, and the connections that I made, far outweigh those (now insignificant) challenging moments. Four years later I still keep in touch with my host family, friends, and students. I am bilingual and use my cross-cultural skills in my work everyday. In addition to the connections I made in my community, I made friendships with my fellow volunteers as we battled many of the same challenges in distinct small towns throughout Costa Rica. Each of our experiences was unique - different families, different sized classes, different climates, etc - but we were all thread together just the same.

I found the staff support, in-country as well as in the US, to be friendly, very knowledgeable, and flexible. The training was excellent and I always felt safe. I couldn't have asked for more out of my year teaching and learned far more than I taught.

I rated two things slightly lower, "Fun" and "Facilities" but I'd like to explain why below.

Fun - I think "Fun" depends on your interpretation. My weekends were filled with Bingo games, soccer matches, and long quiet walks. There were no movie theaters, malls, or shopping of any kind. Some people may not find small town life fun, but I loved it.

Facilities - Also depends on your interpretation. They ended up working out just fine, but were definitely not your average American classroom. I taught in the cafeteria with one long table, one tiny whiteboard, and with only the materials I could invent from construction paper, index cards, contact paper, scissors, and a sometimes-working-copy-machine. Another challenge indeed, but it gave me the opportunity to really learn how to be resourceful.

In short, really great experience, where I saw the impact my work was doing (my students use English in the developed tourism industry north of their community), and which has brought me to where I am today.

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Morgan
Female
24 years old
State College, PA
Other

Best Summer of My Life! Pura Vida

10/10

I can't say enough good things about this program. The staff were so helpful and caring. They picked out the best (and safest) home-stays with equally caring parents and siblings. I loved my placement, my kids, and my family. All helped me to have a great experience in not only teaching but in improving my Spanish as well. I really felt like a part of the El Paraiso community, and I still keep in touch with them today.

I would recommend this program to everyone!

About The Provider

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WorldTeach was founded in 1986 by a group of Harvard students who were motivated by the desire to promote local education initiatives in places where teachers and resources were lacking. Today, we continue to provide opportunities for individuals to serve as volunteer teachers around the

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