Volunteering in Costa Rica
Ticos (Costa Ricans) can claim to live in Paradise. Their relatively small country located in the tropic has ideal weather conditions and is gifted with almost everything lovers of nature may dream of.
Its tropical jungles with magical waterfalls and inhabited by a reach wildlife, white-sand beaches and bewildering gardens, and a prosperous, polite and friendly population that has been blessed for decades with stable political and economic conditions. Costa Rica is the most developed country of Central America and enjoys high quality life conditions and government services. The main economic activities are tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
Volunteers can choose among a variety of programs and internships placed in the towns of San Ramón and Liberia, not too far from the capital city of San José.
Our programs and internships are:
-Child day care.
-After school programs.
To participate in most of this programs and internships,volunteers will need to have intermediate to advanced Spanish language skills and they can either take classes on site during the program they chose or take a one-week full immersion Spanish course on their first week in the country before starting to do the volunteer work. The local staff may instruct you on how to access these Spanish but fees are not included in the programs.
Most of the internships and programs in Costa Rica require a high level of commitment from the volunteers and their minimum duration is usually from three to four weeks.
On a request basis, our partners in Costa Rica can arrange for professional internships in areas such as micro-finances, recycling and physical therapy.
What’s included in our fair-cost policy?
All our programs include a fixed price Registration Fee of US$249 and a Program Fee that varies according to the duration of the program and the services included.
The Registration Fee covers the costs of all that Connecting Worlds has to do in order to organise the experience in an efficient manner and offer each participant a quality program. These costs include marketing, staff salaries, travel costs of staff who visit and inspect each of the programs on offer and Connecting Worlds’ solidarity fund among others. We need this fee just to sustain the organization.
The Program Fee is the total cost of everything related to the services that the volunteer will be able to take advantage of upon arrival to the destination of their choice. For example, accommodation, meals, transfers, the donation made to the volunteer project, welcome orientation and constant 24/7 support. The payment for this fee goes directly to the country in which the volunteer will be stationed, directly benefiting the local community. It’s a fee which helps organisations that work in the country associated with the program at hand to move forwards with their projects and generate work opportunities for the local community.
Thanks to our fair-cost policy, the volunteer benefits from not having to pay high fees and our local partners benefit from being able to invest in their projects and keep things moving forwards. Connecting Worlds also benefits from keeping the costs of its programs as low as possible because we get the opportunity to support local communities and make a difference in our own small but important way.
Although the government provides its citizens aged from six to fifteen with free education, there are no public maternal schools; so this program is essential for working parents with babies or children under the age of six. Volunteers working in this programs help local staff looking after babies and little children and they are expected to entertain them by organizing recreational and educational activities such as storytelling, games and songs. They may also be expected to help with daily tasks such as cooking, changing pumpers, washing the babies and cleaning.
The minimum duration of this program is three weeks and volunteers need to have a basic knowledge of the Spanish language.
Schools in Costa Rica run classes between February and December, so children from six to fifteen have two months of summer break. They also have a couple of weeks vacation in July.
Low-income families may not be able to afford vacation camps or other means of entertainment for their children during these periods out from school and it is important that these children are kept out of the streets and to engage them in productive and educational activities.
This programs are aimed to provide these contention environments as well as to help rural schools which have lower educational opportunities.
As a volunteer in this program you will help local teachers with English classes, help children with their homework, participate in arts and sports workshops and develope some recreational activities for the children.
Although you’ll be working in classrooms some rural schools lack basic learning material such as books, paper and pencils, so your ability to come up with creative ideas to carry out the activities in spite of these lacks will be highly valued.
This program is run in the afternoons so it’s ideal for volunteers who wish to improve their Spanish by taking morning Spanish classes.. Working with children and teens also gives them an excellent opportunity to practice their language skills.
As a volunteer in this program you’ll be helping children and teenagers with their homework, engage them in spots games and artistic and recreational activities.
Volunteers often become a role model to the children and teens they work with, so a good attitude, receptivity and a genuine compromise and interest in their needs and potential gives you the opportunity to make a real difference in their future lives.
To be part of this program volunteers don’t need to have any previous teaching experience but an intermediate level of Spanish is required to be able to interact with the kids.
The minimum duration of this program is two weeks.
CW works in coordination with local government organizations developing and carrying out programs focused on reinforcing women’s and children’s rights They offer women in vulnerable conditions or victims of domestic violence the necessary support, legal advice and professional training to overcome these precarious circumstances and create better life conditions for themselves and their children..
A variety of women’s programs cover issues like self esteem, health, domestic economy and entrepreneurial projects.
Volunteers can help with training workshops on handicrafts, clothing manufacturing, cooking, pottery, etc.
Volunteers with some specific background on therapeutic or business activities may help develop or be part of workshops dealing with business training, enterprising and leadership, and forum debates on domestic violence, women’s and children’s rights, as well as health consultations.
The minimum duration of these programs is two weeks and volunteers need to have intermediate to advanced Spanish language skills.
Almost a third of Costa Rica’s land extension is kept as Natural Parks, preserved landscapes and low impact tourism industry.
Our programs in this area aim to help preserve endangered species, improve corridor restoration and reinforce sustainability.
Volunteers interested in this area can choose among the following projects:
Animal conservation: you’ll help local staff involved in wildlife protection, looking after animals in danger, participating in educational projects and creating promotional material.
Sustainable agriculture and gardening: you’ll help cooperative and other community projects that promote sustainable agriculture and tourism activities, promoting practices that don’t contaminate or endanger the natural environment.
Eco-parks: you’ll be helping local staff with trail building and restoration, interpretation and translation of signs, maps and information notices, cleaning-up and a variety of other ongoing projects that include reforestation and educational and awareness programs for local students and community members.
The minimum duration of these programs is two weeks and volunteers need to have intermediate Spanish language skills.
Medical program: Volunteers with a medical background and medical students are welcome to assist local health professionals in hospitals and clinics. They will be assigned with tasks matching their field of expertise and may also be invited to participate in educational programs in addition to time spent with patients in the clinics.
Volunteers with a background in Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy can help organizations run by the government and aimed to improve the life conditions of physical or mentally disabled children and their families through physiotherapeutic sessions and entertainment and educational activities such as sports, roleplay and dance.
These internship programs offer volunteers an ideal opportunity for health professionals and students to get to know Costa Rica and its people while offering their host country a very valuable service in return.
They require a stay of at least four weeks and an intermediate to advanced level of Spanish language skills.
CW cooperates with local organizations that provide small scale local entrepreneurs with training programs and business advice, and have shown to be very efficient at a community level.
Volunteers to this program can help community organizations, small business and women groups working with them in teaching programs and training.
Those volunteers with some background in business and commercial activities can help local business by setting up essential strategies such as identification of local business opportunities, prioritize programs, evaluate and execute development projects and find markets to work with.
The minimum duration for this program is four weeks and intermediate to advanced level of Spanish language skills is required.
These are alternative break projects ideal for short stays of one or two weeks. To participate on these projects volunteers must arrive and leave on a Saturday. Those volunteers staying for two weeks can use the middle weekend for traveling around.
The projects are located in San Ramón and surrounding villages and are led by the international company Canada-Costa
Project characteristics: This project involves building houses at cost for low income families in the poor neighborhoods of San Ramón and its surrounding villages.
Volunteers don’t need to have previous experience in the construction activity because they’ll be working under the supervision and directions of skilled and experienced carpenters and constructors.
Again, this is a very rewarding project, providing poor families with a home while making new friends and enjoying the Ticos’ hospitality.
All our volunteers must be at least eighteen years old on their starting date of any program, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. They must have full travel insurance and an intermediate level of Spanish language skills.
Volunteers participating in the English Teaching program must have a good level of that language, and those participating in the Medical internships must have an intermediate level of Spanish language skills and some previous medical experience.
Pre-Med students are also welcome to volunteer in the Healthcare and Medical programs.
Yet the main volunteer’s qualities required for every program are a sincere willingness to help, responsibility as well as a positive and proactive attitude.
A volunteer can start working on a program at any chosen date all year round ant stay from one week on, with no maximum duration limit.
Most programs are located in San José and the surrounding areas, but there are placements in many other places around the country.
For volunteers whose projects are placed in San José:
On your arrival at San Jose airport, a member of our local staff will be waiting for you with your name written on a n notice. Once you both meet, he or she will take you to the guesthouse or homestay in Santa Barbara, introduce you to the volunteers that will be your housemates or to your host, show you the facilities and help you settle.
On your first day at your project placement,usually a Monday, you’ll be taken around the town and to your project placement, where you’ll meet the people you’ll be working with. You’ll be instructed on basic rules, local customs, travel options and what to expect from this volunteering experience. You will also have the opportunity to clear any remaining doubts you may still have.
For volunteers whose projects are located in Jaco Beach (Saturday arrivals):
Volunteers will be received at San José airport by a member of our local staff who will drive them to their accommodation place for the night in Santa Barbara, a suburb of San Jose city.
A local volunteer coordinator will pick them up on Sunday morning, provide them with a full orientation and then continue to their final destination using public and private transport. Once on Jaco Beach, volunteers are introduced to their local homemates or hosts and, on the following day, Monday, they’ll be taken to their project’s placement and meet the staff and volunteers the’ll be working with..
The above orientation program also applies to volunteers whose projects are located anywhere else in the country,but depending on the time of arrival at San José airport, they may not need to spend the night in Santa Barbara and continue to their project’s location on the same day of their arrival (Saturday).
Volunteers for the Agroecology program, will catch the local bus from San José to their project’s location, at about a three-hours drive to the south of the capital city. Full instructions are provided.
All volunteers will receive the orientation before leaving San José.
Volunteers tasks and schedules will vary from project to project, but a working week will usually start on Monday and end or Friday; leaving the weekends free for relaxing, socializing, sightseeing and travelling.
We try to be as flexible as possible and allow volunteers to take an additional day off now and then, on special request and with notice given well in advanced. Yet volunteers must be aware that most of our projects depend greatly on their assistance and that they have a responsibility towards the people involved in their program.
A volunteer weekday schedule will vary from day to day according to the project’s requirements of each day, but working usually starts at seven am and finishes at about four pm.Sometimes work ends a couple of hours early, sometimes a couple of hours late; so flexibility is a must.
It is a good idea to start the working day planning the schedule of the day ahead when arriving to your placement each morning.
Weekends are your relaxing days and a good plan may be to go to the sunny beaches or explore the many beautiful landscapes of this paradisiac country. If you are not sure of where to begin, ask the local team for ideas and advice. The choice is endless and there is something for every taste.
• Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica.
• A total of 4,889,826 people live in Costa Rica.
• Costa Rica is home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, even though its land occupies a mere 0.03% of the Earth’s surface.
• Costa Rica’s owns approximately 580,000 kilometres squared of marine mass, which is about 10 times the size of the land area which belongs to the country.
• Costa Ricans are commonly known as “Ticos” (males) and “Ticas” (females).
• Less than 1 percent of Costa Ricans have indigenous roots.
• The Costa Rican coastline stretches along for 1289 kilometres.
• 7 of Costa Rica’s 121 volcanic formations are active.
• There are 750,000 species of insects in Costa Rica and about 20,000 of those are spiders.
• Around 25% of Costa Rica is made up of protected forests and reserves.
• Costa Rica’s capital city is San Jose.
• Average life expectancy is around 77 years, which is one of the highest life expectancy figures in the world.
• Costa Rica doesn’t have an army.
• The national currency is the Colon, but many stores and other establishments trade in US dollars.
• Costa Rica is home to around 52 species of hummingbirds.
For more information, visit the following link: http://www.cwabroad.org/costa-rica-p-9.html
|Volunteer duration||Program Fee USD*|
*Please note: All Volunteer programs in Costa Rica attract a refundable* Registration Fee of USD 249 on top of the program Fee. A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment. You can calculate the value of your currency in US dollar using this currency convertor.
*Please read our refund policy.
What do my fees pay for?
Registration Fee: Discounted program fees, Support and guidance from CW staff, program marketing costs, staff salary, pre-departure assistance, CW Solidarity Fund, administration costs, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteers.
Program Fee: Accommodation and 2 meals per day (homestay), certificate of volunteering, transportation to language school and volunteer project site, airport pick-up, orientation, program supervision, in-country 24/7 volunteer support and in-country administration costs.
What’s no included: Air tickets, Vaccinations, Certificate of Good conduct, Visa, Local travels, transfer back to the airport at conclusion of program, Personal expenses and International Insurance against sickness, accident and 3er party liability. In addition to providing health insurance, the plan must cover medical evacuation and repatriation. Our participants in Costa Rica generally find USD 65 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses.