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.
|Location of Project||San José|
|Project Length||Min 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks|
|Arrival Airport||Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)|
|Volunteer Work||Teaching or social work (orphanages, centers for disabled children, homes for the elderly)|
|Age||18 - 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)|
|New program||Help educate and empower at-risk women, victims of sex trade (an extra $70 fee for this assignment)|
|Accommodation||Home-stays with half-board in a private room|
|Food||Breakfast & dinner at home-stay|
|Support||Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support|
|Airport Transfers||On 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|
|Travel Insurance||Comprehensive travel & health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage|
What's Not Included
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.
View of San José
About the Program
This program is composed of many social work related projects around San José. Participants can choose from teaching at elementary schools, working with handicapped and disabled children, assisting at homes for abandoned children, and working with the elderly.
The elementary schools provide education to children ages 5 to 12 years old. In these institutions, children are taught the regular school subjects (Math, Geography, and Science). They also offer Physical Education, Arts, Music, and Computer lessons. In addition, they have their foreign language class which is English in most cases.
The schools for disabled children are dedicated to providing the necessary attention and care to the population with physical and/or emotional problems who cannot attend a standard school. These institutions assist autistic children, as well as kids with hearing problems, vision impairments, and Down Syndrome.
The homes for abandoned children give children (usually 0 to 7 years old) a temporary place to live if their parents cannot properly take care of them, many times due to substance abuse problems, family violence, or extreme povery. The idea of these homes is to give these children a family-like setting, instead of placing them directly into a government institution. These temporary homes provide children with necessary counseling, psychological assistance, and health services (doctors, dentists, therapies) in a home-like atmosphere. The homes are privately run by volunteers and operate with government support and donations.
The objective of the nursing homes for the elderly are to provide a family-like atmosphere of acceptance and respect. They try to fully address the needs of the elderly and take into consideration their skills to offer a better quality of life. Health and dental care along with physical and recreational activities are part of the services given to the residents.
Orientation and Spanish Course
The first week of this minimum two-week program consists of cultural enrichments and Spanish courses that facilitate acclimation into the Costa Rican culture. The course includes Spanish grammar rules, emphasis on pronunciation for increased ease of conversation, and allows plenty of practice time for verbal and written Spanish. The goal of this program is to provide the student with basic language skills and functional fluency. Participation in the orientation week is mandatory as it acts as an important stepping stone for the volunteer into Costa Rican culture. (If the participant speaks fluent Spanish before coming on the project, an exception may be made to waive the orientation, though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.)
The first Monday, at 8am, the participant is asked to take a Spanish test in order to gauge their fluency level and correctly place them into appropriate classes.
Here is an example of an orientation week schedule:
9-12pm Spanish classes
12-1pm Lunch break
1-3pm Spanish classes
3-5pm (Monday-Friday) Dance classes
4-5pm (Wednesday) Costa Rican cooking classes
4-5pm (Tuesday & Thursday) Additional Conversation classes
4-5pm (Monday) Orientation
The participant can choose to volunteer during the orientation week, or to delay volunteering until the orientation is complete.
Volunteer Work and Contribution
Volunteer work in San José differs depending on the project chosen by the participant. It can include but is not limited to:
- Teaching arts and crafts
- Teaching languages, especially English
- Teaching computer skills
- Preparing extra materials for the 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 people in charge with different tasks
- Volunteers are also encouraged to be creative and to bring any of their own personal skills; new ideas are always welcome
These institutions are usually flexible with schedules and will allow participants to work full time or part time. However, they require independent, proactive participants with initiative and creativity.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays will be the participants’ free days to spend as they wish and the language school can assist them in making exciting plans to see the rest of the country.
Accommodations: volunteers stay with a host family in San José. This is a great opportunity for participants to continue practicing Spanish while they immerse themselves in the Costa Rican culture.
Food: family hosts provide half-board - breakfast and dinner.
Participants working in San José will have easy access to the language school where orientation takes place and are welcome to continue using the facilities and services while they do their volunteer project.
Volunteers will enjoy of all the services at the language school such as free Internet access, use of telephones, mail service and also the cultural activities: dancing and cooking lessons, and conversation sessions.
At the Volunteer Work Center, participants will receive all the necessary information about their projects and the program. Volunteer work coordinators will answer their questions and provide any assistance throughout the week.
- Minimum age is 18
- Basic knowledge of Spanish (courses offered during orientation)
- Open-minded and flexible attitude
- Creative and highly independent
Here's an excerpt of Bailey's experience:
Here's an excerpt of Kelsey's experience:
Check out our volunteer blog at www.blog.goeco