About Costa Rica

The Global Volunteer Network gives you the chance to become involved in a variety of community and conservation projects in Costa Rica. With such a variety of projects this program has something to suit everyone.

You have the opportunity to contribute to turtle conservation, orphanage, teaching, construction, healthcare, and agricultural projects.

Costa Rica is one of the most exotic places on earth, offering unrivalled natural beauty, active volcanoes, rainforests and a wide range of national parks and eco-tourism opportunities.

For more information, please visit the Global Volunteer Network Costa Rica program page.

Recent Costa Rica Journals:

Spelling Bee

 Posted by Jacquelyn at 10:42 am  Costa Rica  Comments Off on Spelling Bee
Sep 012015
 

Hello All!

I know I kind of left you all hanging after the spelling bee prep.  Things just got so busy with preparing to come home and wrapping up with the kids and presenting my overview of the agency, but I did not forget about you.  So to fill you in on what happened at the spelling bee, we had both cycle one and cycle two competing in the spelling bee.  If you don’t remember, cycle one is first through third grad and cycle two is fourth through sixth grade.

The English festival had many parts, first we started with a poem in English then we had two dance performances; one by second grade students and the other was an outside vendor.  After those exciting performances we started with the impromptu speeches then the spelling bee.  Our first graders were so nervous for the impromptu speeches that one ran off stage; I thought that was only in the movies (Akeelah and the Bee).  Our second cycle students did very well, still nervous but no running off stage hahaha.  I was so amazed at my students!  They memorized the speeches we practiced AND even remembered the correction as to make the sentences flow.  After about 10 min of intense speeches we finally had one winner from each cycle. Next we finally started with the spelling bee.  Oh man my little nuggets (the students) were so nervous they were shaking in their uniforms.  When we started the competition each on would come up to the podium and whisper “teacher I’m so nervous” in Spanish of course.  At first the audience was a little nervous but as we continued with the numerous rounds it became increasingly silent.  Every time a hard word was spelled correctly the crowd would let out a huge sigh of relief.  Finally, the first cycle students had a winner Andres!  He was so excited and so was I, I wanted to jump up and hug him but we still had to finish with the second cycle students.  The second cycle wasn’t as easy because we had a fluent English speaker and another girl who studied day and night.  We went back and forth for almost 45min only to get stopped in our tracks by the word “piece”.  As many of us know piece and peace are homophones and unfortunately, despite a definition and an example, my bilingual student crumbled.  The winner was a fifth grade girl who accepted her title gracefully.  Upon her win she was invited to compete in the district spelling bee the following week.  At the end of the competition we presented awards to all of the participants and took lots of pictures.  The celebratory song was 50 cent “party like its your birthday” believe it or not hahaha; the kids were super hype and the song definitely gave them reason.

 

Once again sorry for the delay

 

Jacque

The English festival sign

My student and I

The WINNER!!! YAY

Some of the spelling bee participants

The cutest second graders EVER!!

Week 3

 Posted by Jacquelyn at 2:10 pm  Costa Rica  Comments Off on Week 3
Aug 142015
 

Wow! I can’t believe it is already the end of week three in Costa Rica.  Everything has flown by so fast, just last week I was ready to go home because I missed my family so much and now I am ready to stay an extra week.  These pass two weeks have been filled with busy work and great experiences with my project at Dulce Nombre.  To summarize last week, I was able to teach my first lesson as a “Teacher”.   My class learned about the different country flags and their corresponding capitals as well as the 7 continents.  I tried to make the learning fun since the majority of what I was saying they couldn’t understand, but because its an English class I was instructed to teach in English.  The kids seemed to find our games and worksheets quite fun, so that was rewarding for me.  When I was not teaching about the countries and their capitals, I was practicing with my Spelling Bee students for todays event (14-08-15).  Man those kids are so amazing!  They are absolutely dominating these words without even knowing all the rules of English. I applaud their work, and I cannot wait to see them perform today at this Spelling Bee.

Now these pass two weeks have not been all gumdrops and rainbows, I have definitely had some challenging students.  Two in particular I personally wanted to give a little talking to, but the way my Spanish is set up I couldn’t really do that hahaha.  First, there was a  boy who probably would be labeled with ODD or some other emotional disturbances if we were in the US, but since we are not he is just considered difficult.  On my first day teaching he answered one of my questions wrong, and I politely said he was incorrect (with a smile because that’s what they teach us in ESL).  After that some of the kids started to laugh at him and he proceeded to say something rude in Spanish, of course I didn’t understand everything but body language and tone communicates a lot. Once he was done with his outburst, he no longer wanted to participate with the class.  I wanted to make him feel welcomed to reenter the class discussion so I tried to ask him questions that I knew he would know, and even tried to speak a little Spanish in hopes to increase his comfortability.  At the end of the week, he seemed to warm up to me which made me happy.  Next was a young girl, she was just blatantly disrespectful!  We were doing another class activity and she had her phone out, so I politely asked her to put her phone away (I looked that up in Spanish before I started teaching).  She did, but then right when I turned around she brought it back out.  I asked her again but this time she didn’t put it away.  I really don’t like when people are disrespectful because I feel like everyone deserves respect especially people who are older than you, so of course her behavior got under my skin.  Needless to say, I gave her a Claire Huxstable look and she understood that.

Besides those two encounters, everything else was great and I had some pretty funny interactions with my kids!  I am so ready for this spelling bee, and I can’t wait to see how well my kids perform.

 

Until next time,

 

Jacque

 

La Fortuna

 Posted by Jacquelyn at 2:22 pm  Costa Rica  Comments Off on La Fortuna
Aug 052015
 

This past weekend a fellow Maximo volunteer  (Jess) and I rode the bus to La Fortuna which is the home to Arenal volcano.  This bus ride took a total of 4 hours which is very similar to traveling from Baltimore to NY, which isn’t unfamiliar to me.  The bus ride went pretty smoothly, and I occasionally found myself forgetting that I was in Costa Rica because things were so similar to Los Angeles.  For example, the markets that we passed through look just like downtown LA, and the bus driver was even playing American Pop music.  Obviously the main difference is the language.

On our ride over to La Fortuna the bus driver put on Cinderella 2.  Now for those of you who know me know that I love the vast majority of Disney movies.  As a child, and even now, I watch any and all Disney movies for calming and extracurricular purposes.  So you wouldn’t believe my surprise when the entire Cinderella 2 movie was in Spanish.  I know that I should not expect English, especially being in a Latin country, but I was just so taken aback.  But instead of tuning out of the movie, I decided to put my Spanish classes to the test and see if I could understand the movie.  Also, that was the only other entertainment I had on this 4 hour bus ride.  Ultimately I understood the general theme of the movie by using a combination of body language and my new vocabulary list.  Finally we arrived to La Fortuna and all I can say is that I fell in love with it at first sight.  I saw the volcano in the distance and couldn’t wait to climb it but then I was told it was a four hour hike so yeah hahaha.  The view was so beautiful from our hostel it seemed unreal, and we got to experience this for a $3.55 bus ride not including our hostel of course.  Once we settled into our hostel we quickly made plans for Saturday.  We found a tour agency that included 9 zip lining cables, 1 waterfall rappel, a short hike, n introduction to the Maleiku indigenous tribe, and a horse ride all for $45.  I was so excited!  Upon our second return back to the hostel we met some travelers from Mexico, these girls invited us to accompany them to a free hot spring just 15 minutes away.  Even though we recently met the girls we decided to just wing it, and yes I was very nervous because they could easily drop us by the river and leave but I prayed and hoped for the best.  The hot spring turned out to be an awesome experience, after a long day on the bus the hot spring was exactly what my body needed.  At the hot spring we were able to try some exfoliating mud which was suppose to help us connect with nature blah blah blah lol I just wanted to exfoliate ;).  Once we rinsed the mud off, we headed home to get some well needed sleep for our early 730a Arenal tour.  The following morning we ate breakfast and headed down to the tour site, and they drove us up to the mountains where the tour would be held.  There we received our instructions and waivers of course, then began strapping up for our first zip line.  The first one was super exciting, I felt like a real adventurer, then we got to the eighth….Now cable eight was a little scary for me because the instructor wanted me to hang upside down.  I watched my friend go first so I could get up the nerve, but when my turn came I was still scared.  I did not want to be labeled as the chicken in the group so I went ahead a did it, especially because this is apart of me trying to get out of my comfort zone.  The upside down zip was actually very fun, except for the little gnat that was in my mouth afterwards hahahah ewwwwww (definitely brushed when I got home)!  To make the rest of this story short, I had a tremendous time trying these new adventures at Arenal especially the zipping and horseback riding.  The waterfall rappel was torture I was literally shaking all the way down smh and our mini hike lol well it was definitely short because I slipped on some mud in the forest and called it quits.  I hate being dirty and I especially hate bugs, but I was trying something new so hey pura vida!

Until next time,

Jacque

Getting stuck on the zip cable

Zip lining on cable one I think…

Cable 8

El caballo and Arenal volcano behind me

and had to pull myself in

Waterfall Rappelling. Scariest thing ever!

First week at the project

 Posted by Jacquelyn at 12:21 pm  Costa Rica  Comments Off on First week at the project
Aug 042015
 

The first day of my project site at Dulce Nombre (a public elementary school) was on Tuesday July 28.  I arrived an hour early to my project because the bus route usually takes an hour and a half to two hours, and of course I did not want to be late on my first day.  Although time is very fluid here in Costa Rica, my host agency wants us to be an example and keep our punctuality.  Upon my arrival, I went to the secretary’s office to ask for my site coordinator but because only some people in the school knew who I was the administrators looked very confused when I asked for my site coordinator.  When they finally found my site coordinator we went straight to work.  She is on of the English teachers in the school, but she never stays in one class which is why it was hard to find her in the mornings.  Since this is a public school it is easy to assume that it is crowded and understaffed so my presence at the school is greatly appreciated.  For the first part of the day I observed my site coordinators classroom and introduced myself to her 2nd and 3rd graders.  For the second portion of the day I lead a spelling bee practice session, which is my main goal here at Dulce Nombre.  In order to teach the children English like we intend to at the school, the teachers came up with the idea of a school wide spelling bee.  Every day during the week I work with grades 1-6 with memorizing a combination of site words and non-site words.  I found this class very challenging mostly because of our language barrier.  Granted I can speak more than basic Spanish, but in order to teach a class I needed to learn more [click here to read more]

Orientation

 Posted by Jacquelyn at 3:03 pm  Costa Rica  Comments Off on Orientation
Jul 272015
 

Today was my first day of orientation at Maximo Nivel, and it started at 8a.  I took the bus to school for the first time today with some help from a host mom.  The bus cost 270 colones (native money) which I think roughly equates to 50 cents in the US.  There are no signs to tell you where to stand and people just hop on and off the bus because the doors never close.  When I arrived for orientation we went over the basic safety tips for living abroad and also some basic rules for my project site.  After that, we went on a walking tour of the sites surrounding Maximo Nivel.  There I was able to meet some of the people I conversed with via email prior to the trip.  Everyone was very welcoming and almost all of us had something in common i.e. birthplace, undergraduate majors, future interests etc.  As we explored the perimeter of Maximo and some of San Pedro we discovered lots of food places, supermercados and banks.  At the end of the tour our guide gave us free reign to revisit the places he recently showed us.  My fellow California’s and I decided to get some lunch (almuerzo) and exchange our money at the bank of Costa Rica for some colones.  For lunch I went to a place called Tico’s hamburgesas which sells hamburgers and more.  I figured that I didn’t come all the way to CR just to eat a hamburger so I ordered a chicken empanada.  Ordering this meal was an experience within its self, the hostess immediately spouted off in Spanish which I expected.  What I didn’t expect was to have such a hard time ordering a simple empanada.  I thought I would walk in and say “hola, puedo tener un empanada con [click here to read more]

My arrival

 Posted by Jacquelyn at 1:28 pm  Costa Rica  Comments Off on My arrival
Jul 262015
 
My arrival

Oh My Gosh!  I have finally arrived in Costa Rica, and although there was a small bump in the road this morning I am so glad to be here.  Both of my flights went smoothly, no turbulence or lost baggage so I am very happy.  As many of you may know, this is my first international flying experience and because of that I did not know what to expect.  My first flight went as expected seeing as though we were still within the US, but my second flight took me by surprise.  Now it may not be a big deal to others, but when I boarded my second plane I was surprised to hear all of the instructions in Spanish first.  I knew that I was flying to a Spanish speaking country, but it didn’t occur to me that there would be Spanish flight attendants.  So as I waited for the plane to finish boarding I struggled to understand the instructions being given through the intercom.  All four years of Spanish seemed to fly right out the plane door as the flight attendant began informing the passengers about the details of our flight.  Fortunately, a couple minutes later someone repeated the same instructions in English but that situation reminded me of my language privilege.  Thankfully, four hours later I landed in San Jose Costa Rica.  I stood in the immigration line which wasn’t as bad as I expected and then I went straight through to customs (aduanas in Spanish).  I was then greeted by the sweetest man, he was holding a yellow smiley face flag (that’s what they told me to look for) and a yellow Panamanian bag.  He asked for my name and then proceeded to ask me if I spoke Spanish hahaha yeah right!  We spoke until the [click here to read more]

Counting Down

 Posted by Jacquelyn at 6:03 am  Costa Rica  Comments Off on Counting Down
Jul 172015
 

Hello, My name is Jacquelyn but the majority often call me Jacque. I am originally from Fullerton, CA, but I currently live on the east-coast to attend graduate school at the University of Maryland Baltimore.  So this week I have started packing for my quickly approaching departure date, and today I went to my pharmacy to get one of the vaccines that I need for my trip to Costa Rica.  While at the pharmacy I called my grandma to ask her a random question like I usually do, fortunately she was awake when I called.  See she lives on the west-coast so I always have to remember that they are three hours behind me, and sometimes I forget and call her kind of early.  After she answered the phone, she proceeded to ask me how I was doing and if I was excited for my trip.  Honestly at that moment she sounded more excited for the trip than I did.  For so many years I have been waiting to travel and volunteer overseas, and now that it is finally happening everything seems so surreal to me. As I took a second to think about her question, I realized that yes I am excited!  This is a whole new journey for me, and I am so grateful and excited to have a chance to experience this new culture and language first hand.  I have studied Spanish and the Latin culture for some of my adult life, but now I will finally be able to be immersed in it and feel all of its beauty.  Just thinking about the different sounds and smells and sights I will see makes me want to get there as soon as possible.  So as I continue to pack and gather the last few essentials for my [click here to read more]

Monteverde & Birthdays (It Rhymes If You Say It Out Loud)

 Posted by Natalie Gilbert at 4:58 am  Costa Rica  Comments Off on Monteverde & Birthdays (It Rhymes If You Say It Out Loud)
May 122015
 
Monteverde & Birthdays (It Rhymes If You Say It Out Loud)

Monteverde, in english, translates to “Green Mountain”, which is hilarious but also ridiculously accurate because the town is painted with all shades of green. The bus ride from the San Jose bus station to Monteverde was one of those things where no matter how good of a camera you have, no picture you take will fully capture the beauty of what your eyes can see. It was a charter bus filled to the brim, literally. There were people who stood on the bus and sat on the floor of the bus for a 4 and 1/2 hour bus ride. The road all the way there was twisting and turning through the mountains of Costa Rica. Our emotions would range from petrified of falling off the side of a cliff to breathless and at a loss for words because of the scenery. It was definitely something one has to experience to understand-which I would say rings true of this whole country. My friends and I went “Adventure Zipling” in Monteverde, which holds the longest zip line in Latin America. The whole afternoon consisted of 6 lines, 2 of which were “Superman” style, meaning we were locked in with two harnesses on our backs, then we just lay, with nothing below us, and holding onto nothing. Yes, this was absolutely terrifying, laying facedown above the treetops over 200 meters off the ground does that to a person, but was absolutely the most incredible thing I have ever and probably will ever do in my life. Flying above the rainforest, traveling for a mile, watching your tiny little shadow glide atop of the trees, makes one realize how small we truly are. We are so small. And we live in a huge great big beautiful world. I seriously suggest spending time in a [click here to read more]

Wheelchairs

 Posted by Natalie Gilbert at 1:42 pm  Costa Rica  Comments Off on Wheelchairs
May 072015
 

When I got to school this morning, my supervisor sent me to the “other building” on the school grounds. There I was met by Paulo, one of the OT’s that works at the school. (His parents spent 2 years in Wisconsin so he speaks broken English, finally an English-speaking coworker!!!) As soon as I walked into the building, I thought Paulo was lost because we were literally in what seemed to be a workshop. There was wood, rolls of fabric and Velcro, a saw and saw table, metal pieces, and so much more. In my head, I’m thinking… “I know I don’t speak perfect Spanish, but this is definitely NOT what I signed up for.” As soon as Paulo saw how confused I was, he explained that every Thursday, the OT’s at this center take old used wheelchairs and rebuild them, and reconstruct them to accommodate the next kid who needs a custom wheelchair. The amount of children in Costa Rica that require special care, including custom wheelchairs, is astounding! A wheelchair that they need can cost a family anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000, which is a more than a lot in Colones, the Costa Rican currency. When I heard that, I thought he was kidding! $10,000 for a wheelchair! Also, there is a wait list type of thing for kids to receive chairs. Paulo told me about a patient he started tending to when she was only 9 months old. Her family applied for her to have a wheelchair because they were anticipating her needs, and the little girl didn’t end up getting a chair until she was 6 years old. Her family had to carry her everywhere for 6 years. My heart breaks for the children in this school, and for the families of these children that dedicate [click here to read more]

Los Niños

 Posted by Natalie Gilbert at 8:40 am  Costa Rica  Comments Off on Los Niños
May 062015
 

“Los niños” in English, means the children. “Los niños” are the reason why I came to Costa Rica to volunteer in the first place. The Tico children (“Tico” or “Tica” means a person from Costa Rica) are beautiful and silly and they are also everywhere! FUN FACT: Costa Rica is the only Central American country that doesn’t have an army. This is because sometime in the past (I forget the exact year), two provinces in Costa Rica went to war with each other, and after that the country was in shambles. The government then decided to no longer have an army, and to use that money to further fund the education system and the children of Costa Rica. Because of this, Costa Rica is also the only Central American country in which there are no children begging for money in the streets. So when I say the Tico children are everywhere, I mean there are families with children everywhere. I have yet to see children by themselves, unless they are in school or waiting at the bus stop to go to school. I am volunteering in a place called Centro de Educación Especial de Atención Integral Goicoecha, which in English, roughly translates to the Center of Special Education and Integrated Attention in Guadalupe. It is a small school that helps children with physical developmental disabilities from the ages of 0 months to 21 years old. This center is filled with the sounds of the children and is covered with color from floor to ceiling. If you didn’t know that it was a center for Special Education, you would think it was a typical elementary school. But the work that is being done here is the farthest thing from typical, the work here is amazing! The patience of the doctors and [click here to read more]

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