Volunteer Review: Teaching in Costa Rica - Jaclyn Beshlian
There were so many different ideas flying through my head the night before I departed for Heredia. Just to put you at ease the second I got off the plane and felt the warm air, saw the sun shining and the beautiful mountains all my worries went out the window.
I am not going to lie to you, the first few days were a bit awkward trying to adjust and get to know the people I was staying with but those are the times that help build valuable life skills that are necessary for our future. The house I stayed in with three other girls was small but very homey. Ivette, my host mother, was the sweetest women, who wound up not speaking any English at all. I shared my room with two of the girls, and I hate to say it but my bed was uncomfortable. These little things that I was so worried about prior to leaving all went out the window as my time in Costa Rica progressed.
Volunteering in Costa Rica
While there I spent a total of ten days volunteering in a day care facility. While in the day care facility our sole purpose was to teach English to the children we were assigned to work with. My age group was 3 months to 1-year-old. As you could guess these kids could barely speak Spanish, and as you could guess I didn’t do much teaching, but more helping the main teacher with caring for them. I played with them both inside and outside for most of the day, I fed them lunch, snack and their bottle before their nap, and I helped put them to sleep and a lot more.
Although I didn’t do much teaching which was what I was looking forward to it was still very rewarding to be able to help these kids and the teachers in any way that I could. One day I was able to help a teacher with her English through a bilingual children’s book that we gave to her. As a part my assignment I had to purchase bilingual books and make sensory bottles for the children. The most rewarding part of my experience was seeing how happy these kids were while playing with the new toys that I had made for them. It was humbling to see how these kids could be so happy with water bottles filled with different types of beads or some glitter and water.
Besides from all the hard work at the day care we were rewarded with a few days of fun and play. One day after finishing up at the day care the group left for an adventure up the mountains to a restaurant called Ram Luna. This restaurant sat on the top of a mountain overlooking the whole city, it was amazing. The view was like nothing I have ever seen, you saw all the lights from the city and the houses, it was just breath taking.
The food served was a traditional buffet, and it was all delicious! And to top it all off the show they performed during dinner was incredible. It was a mix of different dances and cultural aspects, such as these large masks people wore, all choreographed together. Another day off was spent at the San Antonio National Park. This park contains one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and to get to this beach you take a mile hike through the rain forest. In the rain forest we saw monkeys, sloths, birds, bugs, and even raccoons! Our last full day of play was our trip to the Poas Volcano and Zip lining. We unfortunately couldn’t see the volcano because it was so cloudy but zip lining was a great experience. It was actually a workout walking from line to line.
Lastly, my favorite outside experience was the trip to the coffee plantation. Yes I am a coffee fanatic, and this was heaven on earth. The people working at the coffee plantation greeted us off the bus with free coffee and stickers, and I knew it was going to be a great time. After waiting a little while the tour through the planation included a step by step presentation of how to grow coffee. It was very educational; I left the plantation thinking that I could grow my own coffee. After the tour we ended up in the gift shop where I spent way too much money, but very worth it because I am still drinking the coffee today!
Besides all the fun on my different trips and working at the day care we had some downtime to relax, get to know my host mother and even learn a lot from her as well, take dance lessons, take a night out and see what the night life is like in Costa Rica and even go shopping at the markets. Costa Rica is a place much different from where I live. This trip taught me a great deal of new things and how to recognize and to appreciate all the luxuries that I have.
This trip has opened my mind to a great deal of new things and has made me want to continue traveling for the rest of my life. I recommend a trip to Costa Rica to everyone, I know you will enjoy it and not regret it!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.