My Favorite Memory: Very hard to pick a favorite. I taught the children at the daycare the colors, body parts, days of the week, etc in English. It wasn’t long before I and they figured out how much they like the song for body parts. I always ended English lessons with that song, but for the first ten minutes of English time, a child would sing a few words of the song. I also enjoyed the Sunday that my family, the other volunteer, and I picked mangos on a piece of land that they owned and then went to the beach for a picnic and to swim.
I was surprised that…. We ate cereal and pancakes a few times for breakfast, I adapted so well to the climate, the children at the daycare (age 3-6 years) wore uniforms.
The most difficult thing I experienced was…. communicating with the children at the daycare. Spanish was my minor in college, and my time in Costa Rica was my first experience speaking Spanish for extended periods of time with native speakers. My host family was great at talking a little slower so that I could understand them. I could understand other adults for the most part as well. Children, however, do not understand the concept of learning a language. They talked louder instead of slower when I asked them to repeat something.
My best received lesson… Don’t be afraid to ask where something is (a store, certain museum, etc) or for someone to repeat a sentence.
Tip for future volunteers… Visit a volcano. Come with an open agenda for the weekends- don’t plan out all your time before you get here, and be okay with changes in schedules. Ask your host family questions about their lives.
How would you rate your experience working with the ABV staff, both in the USA, and in-country? US ABV staff were very helpful and promt in answering my questions. In Costa Rica, I liked the airport pick-up. I also appreciated that ABV helped arrange tours for me during Holy Week when the daycare was closed and that they checked in via email a few times to ensure that I was doing okay with my host family and volunteer project.
How would you describe your accommodation ( ie: host family, on-site, shared housing etc) I love my host family. They knew how to talk slower and to use more simple words, and they were eager to hear stories about my life. They continually asked me if I slept well, liked the food, and if I needed anything. I really felt like their house was my house. Sharing a room with another volunteer was good for the most part. I settled into my routine the first week I was there, so I had to adjust a little bit when Kaila came. I liked that we were at different projects- provided us with time apart from one another and a chance to learn more about the country because we talked to one another about our different projects.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? yes
Greta Fenske Volunteer in Escazú, Costa Rica