Field report

CARLOTTA'S VOLUNTEER WORK IN COSTA RICA

The children at school were always full of energy, up for any kind of fun and happy and grateful that I played with them. This energy always fascinated me, made me happy and infected me too.

February 2021
Our participant Carlota

Carlotta traveled with us to Costa Rica for 6 weeks and helped with the teaching project there. She set off for Latin America full of anticipation and was warmly welcomed by Lisa and her host family, who quickly made her feel at home. She has recorded her impressions and experiences in this report and shares a few tips that she would like to pass on to future travelers.

CARLOTAS PROGRAM:

My preparation time

During the preparation time, I wrote a lot with Sophia and Lisa. Before the trip, I was quite excited about what to expect and had lots of questions.
I was very excited to meet my host family, who had kindly written to me beforehand, which put my mind at ease because they sounded very nice and relaxed.
I also had no real idea what to expect at the school where I was working, but I was very excited to get to know the children there. I also thought a lot about what working with the children would be like, as I had already worked a lot with children here in Germany. Would it be comparable to Germany? Or would it be completely different? What would my tasks be?
Apart from that, I was busy brushing up on my Spanish before my trip and listening to the playlist of the latest songs in Costa Rica on Spotify.
Of course, I wrote myself a packing list early on and bought everything in good time, full of anticipation for warm Costa Rica, and packed it in my rucksack.

The first days

The first few days after my arrival went very well. After the long flight, I spent two days in San Jose with my fellow traveler. I liked it there and it was perfect to get used to everything a bit before the start of the project, the time change, the different food, the different climate, the different language...
On our first day, Lisa welcomed us there and showed us around the city. We had lunch and visited a museum. It was all very interesting and relaxed.
Two days later, I took the bus to Tamarindo, where I was welcomed by my host family. They were very friendly, explained everything important to me and took me to their farm the next day. I was able to relax there for another day and learn a bit more Spanish before my project started the next day.

A day in the teaching project

On the first day of the project, the principal introduced me to all the groups in the school. The pupils, who were between 2 and 18 years old, were divided into age groups and were supervised by different teachers. There were also projects such as the "girls' club", sports lessons and music lessons.
Together we then worked out a timetable for me, which I was then able to follow. As I got on really well with the PE teacher, enjoy doing sport myself and also give PE lessons for children here in Germany, I was always assigned to help the PE teacher, apart from a few lessons. We took the different groups swimming, playing soccer or running.
The rest of the time I also helped out if another teacher was ill, helped in the office with handicrafts or accompanied the children on excursions to a town or the beach.

My free time in Tamarindo

I spent my free time in Tamarindo doing a lot of sport. Twice a week, my host mother took me to play soccer with her women's team. I also joined a gym in Tamarindo with friends and made the most of it. Not forgetting surfing. You can go surfing almost every day in Tamarindo, especially as a beginner. There are also beautiful beaches in the area that are worth a surf trip at the weekend.
In Tamarindo you make new friends really quickly and there's always something going on. At the weekend, I often met up with friends for dinner and then we went to one of the many beach parties. I never got bored.

My experience with culture

In my project with the children, the cultural difference struck me the most. Most people in Costa Rica live very differently to those in Germany. No one lives in a house as we know it, but most live in a self-built "tica house".
What also shocked me was how low a Costa Rican's salary is and how hard they have to work for it. Nevertheless, they always seem to be friendly and greet each other with "Pura Vida".
The children at school were always full of energy, up for any kind of fun and happy and grateful that I played with them. This energy always fascinated me, made me happy and infected me too.

My most beautiful moments

There were countless wonderful moments on my journey! My last days in the project were very nice (and of course quite sad). I received very sweet cards, we played a lot again and I was incredibly happy to have met all the people there, to have had such a great time and so much fun with the children!
Another very cool experience was going surfing with friends at 4.30 in the morning at sunrise. I felt very free in those moments and of course it was a great start to the day to have breakfast together after surfing.

My favorite place

I really liked Playa Marbella, which is about an hour away from Tamarindo. It's very quiet there, the waves were great for surfing and we had the whole beach to ourselves.

Why I love Latin America

The hospitality and energy of most Latin Americans is unique. They are very sociable and it's great fun to spend time with them! Of course, I'm also fascinated by nature, the rainforests, volcanoes and beaches that Latin America has to offer. My personal incentive to travel there is also the Spanish. The different dialects of the countries are so exciting. I love this language and you learn so much.

How the trip changed me

In my opinion, my trip has broadened me and my horizons.
For one thing, it was my first trip alone. I got to know myself in a completely different way, had to make decisions on my own and deal with the consequences.
On the other hand, I got to know life in another country like never before. This naturally broadens my horizons and my view of things, including myself, my family and my life in Germany.

My tips for future participants

Latin America is great for traveling! There are beautiful places in every single country and the people are very friendly. Life there is very different and it's worth getting to know it. And there are so many different projects that there is something for everyone! A bonus, of course, is that you can improve your Spanish by spending time abroad in Latin America!

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