I thought about it, and now I think it is because I like the idea of being immersed in another culture and helping out at the same time. Since I knew some Spanish and was interested in brushing up on it, I was interested in the Costa Rica opportunity. Since my mum was the one who suggested Costa Rica, on the one hand I got “pulled in”, but on the other hand I was the one who pushed for an out-of-country volunteer experience.
Yet I didn’t really know what to expect. When we were walking out of the airport I saw a bunch of people advertising the taxis, and I wondered how we would ever find the uVolunteer staff – but then they popped out of the crowd and called us by our names. I think uVolunteer should keep this habit for future airport pick-ups. It made me feel very welcome and safer (those Taxi people who are always at airports scare me sometimes). It also gave me a very good first impression of uVolunteer.
I was ready to start volunteering immediately the next day. Instead we went on a tour through San Ramon. I think, looking back at it, the tour was very useful and eye-opening – but maybe for a 1 -week program it took too much time away from volunteering. As a suggestion, uvolunteer could by default have 5 – day volunteer vacations instead of 1 full week (the downside of this is that you’d have to have all the staff work an extra day just for the volunteers), or you could make an abridged tour, or have everyone arrive on Saturday instead of Sunday and give the orientation and tour on Sunday. You could also simply put on the website that the first day of all volunteer opportunities, not matter what duration would be the day for the tour in San Ramon and the tour of Bajo Tehares (where we saw the horrible housing and living situation of the people).
What else? It was interesting to volunteer. I guess it was challenging not knowing Spanish, but I could understand more than I realized I could. Not much else.
The kids were cute and always excited to see me, but I also felt that the other girls who were my age were just doing the same things I was, and they also knew the kids and had a connection with them – and they could speak Spanish.