They involved me in all their family activities and were overwhelmingly kind. In addition, they helped me greatly with my Spanish; while they did not speak any English, they were very patient with me as I struggled to learn their language. The homestay experience was a very positive one for me.
I spent my second two months in San Ramon, which was completely different from Monte Verde, but equally fantastic. There I volunteered at a government-run daycare centre, where I was involved in classroom life in many different ways. I spent many hours simply playing with the children, but also assisted the teacher with various classroom tasks (arts and crafts, document filing etc). However, my main project there was creating an organic vegetable garden, which I did with the help of some of the local mothers, and of course, the kids. The mothers and I did all the digging, and the kids helped me plant the seeds: radish, cilantro, lettuce, beets, and squash.
While some of seeds did not make it (constant battle with the bugs), we did get some good squash, as well as a few good radishes. Hopefully, next growing season will be an improvement!
The other big undertaking during my time there was a re-modeling of the classroom. During the two week summer vacation, we (the teacher and I, as well as another volunteer, Susanna, who offered to help) cleaned and painted the classroom, and then re-decorated it. A lot of work, but worth it in the end, because it looked great, if I must say so myself! The school staff was great, and the kids were absolutely wonderful; I was very sad to have to leave them all.
In San Ramon, I opted to stay in the volunteer dorm, rather than in a home stay, simply for a change. I am very glad that I did; I met many different people my age from all over the world, and made some incredible new friends (which made saying goodbye very hard, but of course it was worth it). We spent numerous evenings simply hanging out and enjoying each other’s company, and we travelled together almost every weekend. As San Ramon is centrally located in Costa Rica, it is a perfect location to travel from, and I was lucky enough to get to see much of Costa Rica, as well as Panama and Nicaragua.
My time in Costa Rica was amazing, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to come here and volunteer. Four months simply flew by, and were filled with many wonderful experiences, both challenging and rewarding.
Throughout my time here uVolunteer supported me, and helped ensure that I had the best experience possible. The staff is wonderful, and the organization is well run. I would recommend volunteering in Costa Rica with uVolunteer to anyone.