|Name: Kim Skodack||Project: : Environment Conservation|
|From: Germany||Age: 28|
I always wanted to do volunteering before I have a family so I thought now that I am done studying it is the right time to do it.
I found AVIC after searching online for a few weeks. I could only find good rewiews about the organisation and because I wanted to learn Spanish as well, it was perfect that they offered a program in central America, in Costa Rica.
The application process was easy and quick, I received all of my papers and started planning and packing for my big trip. I decided to do 10 weeks with the program and can only say, if you really want to get to know the culture and the people you should at least do 4 weeks . I was quite nervous because I haven't done something like this before, first time flying alone, first time far away from home. But Alicia and Ligia did a great job on answering all of my questions, no matter how strange , no matter how many times I asked. They made me feel very safe and assured me everything is going to be alright and that I should worry.
April 2012 - everything is packed and I am ready to go.
My travel to Costa Rica was long but easy. I waited outside San Jose airport, as described from the organization, for 5 minutes when Ligia showed up and loaded me and my luggage in her car. I liked her right away. We had a great chat on the one hour ride to San Ramon and I knew I would like it here. I got introduced to my homestay Mom and had a beautiful first night in Costa Rica. The Next day Ligia took me and the other volunteers for an orientation through town and a little introduction to history and life in Costa Rica.
I lived in a homestay for the first three weeks of my stay. Dona Nidia, who I call my Costa Rican Mom, is a lady with a big heart, a lot of patience and a real chef. She pampered me and took care of me as if I was her daughter. Always an ear for my problems and always a hug if I missed home.
For people who want to learn the language and experience the culture I really suggest being in a homestay. The Costa Ricans are so happy and loving and all about family, they love to help you to learn their language, even if you just mime and point.
My ten weeks in construction where very hard but rewarding. I got to see one house being finished, one half way and one in its beginning, where we started with digging holes for the foundation. Everything here is manual labor so it can be really challenging ,but I never had to do more than what I physically can. The construction workers where really thankful for the Volunteers and happy for any help. The transportation to the sites was really easy for me. Depending on the site, I had a little walk in the morning and a 20 min bus ride. The bus system in Costa Rica is really advanced and a cheap way to get around.
After 3 weeks of being in a homestay, I was a little nervous to move to the dorm. It took me about a week to get used to having people around all the time and to share a room, but as I got used to it I realized how great it is. You get to meet people from all over the world. Everybody has a different story to tell, but what connects us all is the need to help people. And no worries coming here alone, you will meet people and make friends. There were always volunteers who wanted to travel on the weekends so I never had to travel alone. And in regards to planning trips, Ligia and Alicia where always there to help find out schedules, prices and the answers to any questions we had.
I don't want to say that there weren't any problems in my time here. But I always felt safe, I could always address my needs and worry's to AVIC and they always tried their best to make me happy.
I had an amazing time here in Costa Rica and it broke my heart to say goodbye to all of these beautiful people. Dona Nidia, Ligia, Alicia, Dona Isabel, Nat - you'll always be in my heart and I want to thank you for everything you've done for me.
I will for sure come back, because I found my second home in San Ramon.
Hasta Luego mis amigos,
Your very tranquilo,