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Costa Rica - Teaching and Social Work in San José

Get involved with the local communities of San José in beautiful Costa Rica by joining a social work project helping children or the elderly.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectSan José
Project LengthMin 3 weeks - Max 12 weeks
Arrival AirportJuan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
Volunteer WorkTeaching or social work (orphanages, centers for disabled children, homes for the elderly)
Age18 - 80
Spanish required At least basic knowledge of Spanish (Contact your GoEco advisor to discuss option of additional Spanish classes if you are a complete beginner)

What's Included

AccommodationHome-stays with half-board in a private room
FoodBreakfast & dinner at home-stay
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersOn arrival and departure in San José
Spanish Course 1st week depending on fluency level (participant completes a placement test on first Monday)
Services Access to telephone, free internet, mail service
Orientation 1st week in San José includes cultural enrichment activities like cooking, dancing, etc.
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, visa (required depending on nationality), personal expenses, lunch, local transportation in San Jose (home-stay to project or language school and return, depending on project $1.50-2.20/day)


San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, is ringed by lush green mountains, cloud forests, smoldering volcanoes, and expansive valleys with tropical jungles.  The city itself, bustling with Latin spirit, holds many a sight to see.  From its variety of museums and historical sites to its happening night-life, San José has something for every traveler.


About the Program

This program is composed of several social work related projects in and around the city of San José.  The project aims to assist disadvantaged communities by providing them with much needed services.  From teaching at public schools to helping out at a daycare center or home for abandoned children to supplying warm meals and compassion at a soup kitchen, there are plenty of opportunities for you to impact the community.  This program is very flexible and you can choose where you wish to volunteer when you are already in Costa Rica, based on your skills, experience and goals. 

Orientation and Spanish Course

The first week of this minimum three-week program consists of Spanish lessons which will facilitate communication at your project and cultural enrichment activities to help you acclimate to Costa Rica. During the Spanish course, you will learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and conversation skills.  Participation in the orientation week is mandatory as it acts as an important stepping stone.  During the first day at the Spanish school, you will take oral exam to determine your current language level in order to place you in the most appropriate group.  Please note that a written exam will be sent to you along with your final confirmation documents and needs to be completed and emailed back before you arrive.  During the orientation week and with the information provided, you may select the volunteer project, if you have not yet decided.   

Here is an example of an orientation week schedule:
9-12pm                                                   Spanish classes
12-1pm                                                    Lunch break
1-3pm                                                      Spanish classes
3-5pm (Monday-Thursday)                  Dance classes
3-4pm (Tuesday)                                   Yoga Class
3-4 or 4-5pm (Wednesday)                 Costa Rican cooking lessons
4-5pm (Tuesday & Thursdays)           Additional Conversation sessions

If you speak fluent Spanish before coming to the project, an exception may be made to waive the language course, though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience.  Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.


Volunteer Work and Contribution

Your volunteer work in San José varies depending on the project chosen and can include but is not limited to:

  • Teaching arts and crafts
  • Teaching languages, especially English
  • Teaching computer skills
  • Preparing extra materials for lessons
  • Organizing games and recreational activities
  • Playing sports and outdoor games
  • Helping out with light chores necessary for the day-to-day running of the homes
  • Helping in the improvement and embellishment of the facilities of the projects
  • Providing warm and caring attention to the home’s residents
  • Assisting the teachers and administrative staff with different tasks
  • Volunteers are also encouraged to be creative and to bring any of their own personal skills; new ideas are always welcome

A typical day: You will take a public bus from your home stay to your project location and arrive by 8am.  In the morning, you might be helping the teacher with reading or painting activities before helping to prepare and serve the children a mid-day snack and getting them ready for naptime.  In the afternoon, you could be helping older children with their homework or assisting teachers with material preparation.  

These institutions are usually flexible with schedules and will allow you to work full time or part time. However, they require independent, proactive volunteers with initiative and creativity.

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays will be your free days to spend as you wish.  The language school can assist you with making exciting plans to explore the rest of the country.


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: You will stay with a host family in San José. This is a great opportunity for you to continue practicing your Spanish while immersing yourself in Costa Rican culture.

Food: Your host family will provide you with breakfast and dinner.  


Services Provided

In San José, you will have easy access to the language school where orientation takes place and are welcome to continue using the facilities and services during your volunteer project including free WiFi, use of telephones, mail service, and cultural activities such as dancing and cooking lessons and conversation sessions.


Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age 18, maximum age 80
  • Intermediate knowledge of Spanish (courses offered during orientation week) If you only have a beginner level, you should enroll in at least 4 weeks of Spanish
  • Written Spanish exam must be completed and emailed back prior to arrival at the project (oral skills will be tested on arrival)
  • Open-minded and flexible attitude
  • Creative and highly independent
  • Skills and experience working with children


Here's an excerpt of Bailey's experience:

  "When my plane landed in San José, I was as nervous as I was excited. It was my first time traveling on my own, and I had no idea what to expect fro the. However, after five minutes of talking to the driver from the Teaching and Social Work program in San José, an incredibly friendly man full of stories about his city and himself, I forgot to be nervous.My host family matched his friendliness; my host mother was always willing to work with my level of Spanish..."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Kelsey's experience:


"The Costa Rica volunteer experience was nothing like I expected, and I had an amazing time. I met friends and worked with people from all over the world who were all doing amazing volunteer work across Latin America, and just had the right ideas about life... It was easy work but rewarding at the same time. All I did was art projects or play with the kids outside for 3 hrs a day or so, but I already felt touched by my experience and welcomed into the home"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read experiences written by GoEco volunteers from all over the world!

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