My initial speculations proved to be right and wrong. These volunteers certainly came from different backgrounds, and many were still search for their life callings, but at the same time it was a really social group that was easy to get along with and open-minded.
As someone engaging in the English teaching project as more of a hobby for 3 months than a future career, my focus in my search for a volunteer program was the social aspect.
I chose uVolunteer largely because of the living arrangements, outgoing attitude of the staff, and Monday – Thursday work week, (in addition to an established English teaching program in Costa Rica, which were kind of prerequisites). Over the past 11 weeks, I’ve made great friendships that I hope I can keep in the future. uVolunteer’s ability to attract a diverse group of personalities has forced me to interact with, and become friends, with people that are normally outside my social circle at home. This has been really refreshing, and I believe a really unique opportunity (think about where else you can meet so many different people who want to all become friends – I can’t think of anywhere).
The volunteer aspect of time here has been equally perfect. I volunteered at Jardin de Ninos as an English teacher (helper) just down the block during the day, and at the English adult classes (leading classes) in the evenings.
Playing with the kinders during the day has been so much fun: they are all really sweet, innocent, cute kids that always have a smile on their faces.
In addition to the English classes that take about 3 hours each day, I play with the kids every recess. Because I see every kinder every day (there are four classes), I’ve also got to know each of them very well and come to appreciate their unique personalities, even at such a young age. Saying goodbye to them (and their classroom teachers and the amazing English teacher I work with, Magda) yesterday was much tougher that I thought it would be. The evening classes provide an important balance as well: as much fun as I have with the kinders, it’s great to have that additional responsibility entrusted to me by leading a group of 20 adults for two hours. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the adults as well, though I’ve probably kept our relationship more professional that some of the other volunteer teachers, who use the classes as a great avenue to make friends here in San Ramon.
I’ll leave especially appreciative of the job that Isabel, Nella, and Andres do on a daily basis. Those three have shaped my experience, making it as fun and painless as possible. Eleven weeks here proved to be the perfect amount of time: long enough to get to know San Ramon and Costa Rica and develop especially strong friendships (arriving in my same group of eight in February were two volunteers that stayed at least 8 weeks), yet short enough where I never got tired or bored of my experience here.