I chose to go to Costa Rica because of both the country's beauty and the opportunity to work with children. Arriving alone at San Jose was a bit nerve wracking, but I soon met my AVIC coordinator who took me by bus and taxi to my home stay.

Testimonial Image
Name: Lindsey Lawless Project: : Special Needs
From: USA Age: 23

Within a few days however, I began speaking it little by little. I went to work at the special education school in San Ramon. All children with special needs go to that one school, so there were a variety of ages and disabilities. I settled into a classroom of 6 and 7 year olds and enjoyed helping them play and draw. As a teacher myself I know that it is a huge help just to have another person to hold the hands of children who tend to wander when going outside or down the hall. The center was clearly underfunded but the teachers loved the children and worked very well with them. They used pictures and labels to communicate with the children, who also helped me, learn some new Spanish words! The children loved seeing my post cards from home. One little boy spoke a little English, which he showed off in a rousing rendition of 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes'. I bought supplies from home, which the director was very grateful for. I also bought some supplies in town to help the specific children in the class I was in, which was very rewarding.

A surprise came to me on my second day, I was asked to teach English to adults at the community center in the evenings. I teach kindergarten in the states, so I never thought I would enjoy teaching adults but it soon came to be the highlight of my trip. The adults were so grateful and full of questions. English is tricky with all of its irregular verbs and pronunciations, but everyone was eager to learn and practice. One class was an entire family, who taught me as much Spanish as I taught them English. They even drove me back to my home stay late at night after class and bought me a present when I left, even though I had only been there two weeks.

After all I´d read about and been warned, I was very nervous about what foods to eat. I've gotten sick abroad before and it's surely no fun. But my host mother made awesome meals three times a day and I tried so many new things I would have never tried at home. I'll be at quite a loss back in the states if I can't find some plantains to fry! But overall, the people in Costa Rica were very kind and giving. When asking for directions, it wasn't uncommon for people to walk me to the place instead of just pointing. I could only go for two weeks, but it was just enough to experience the culture and different geography.