While traveling in Costa Rica, I made the decision that I wanted to participate in a little bit of “voluntourism.” This turned out to be a great decision, and one I would recommend to anyone. After spending a few weeks traveling around the country, and surveying friends and fellow backpackers, I decided to look for volunteer work in the eclectic beach town of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Because I already have a TEFL certification, I was able to volunteer for the program Proyecto Santa Teresa, teaching english.
PST offers affordable english classes and tutoring to groups and individuals of all ages from the local community. They also offer programs to individuals who want to get their TEFL certification. Students and volunteers can also sign up for spanish classes, surfing lessons, and other adventure excursions through PST. Throughout the two weeks that I was there, I took a few spanish classes from Bill, and surf lessons from Sammy. Bill was a great tutor and Sammy had me riding waves on my first day! The rest of the staff was extremely friendly, and helpful.
As far as volunteering went, every day varied, but I worked from 1-3 hours per day on the weekdays. They were very flexible with my schedule, and provided me with plenty of material and lesson plans if I was to be teaching a class on my own. My favorite experience was when we threw a party for the kids which they throw once a month. All children from the local community are welcome to come (it’s free for everyone.) We set up stations all over the lodge in which kids got to be creative, interact with each other, play games, and make arts and crafts that had to deal with a central theme which that day was outer space. Everyone had a blast!
Santa Teresa is a lush, relaxed beach town, with a diverse population of people from all over the world. It’s a renowned for it’s great surf, beautiful beaches, magical sunsets, tasty cuisine, and hordes of good looking beach babes, cruising around on quads, with either a surfboard or beer in tow. “Pura Vida,” is a way of life here, and it’s contagious.
I’m super stoked to have gotten the opportunity to be able to contribute to Proyecto Santa Teresa. I had been traveling around Costa Rica for several weeks prior, and it was a great change of pace to stay put in one place and regroup. I was also travelling by myself at that point and it gave me peace of mind to know that I would be linked up with other fellow travelers and volunteers as soon as I arrived. To anyone who is planning a trip, there are volunteer programs all over the world, with varying costs, durations, and job responsibilities. It’s very gratifying to be able to give back to locals and communities while traveling.
Proyecto Santa Teresa has another school in the nearby town of Montezuma. One weekend I took an excursion there and explored Isla de Tortugas. Here is a recap: