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Social Work & Sea Turtles Volunteering in Costa Rica

I had the opportunity to visit the school where GoEco volunteers spend their first week learning Spanish. I sat in on a class which was very small (only 5 other students) and thus very personalized to each student.  The teacher was patient and fun; much of the class was casual conversation to just practice our speaking.

The first project I visited was the Social Work Internships project in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Just as our volunteers do, I stayed in the home of a very sweet local woman. She helped me with my Spanish, cooked for me, and made me feel very comfortable in a new place. I had the opportunity to visit the school where GoEco volunteers spend their first week learning Spanish. I sat in on a class which was very small (only 5 other students) and thus very personalized to each student. The teacher was patient and fun; much of the class was casual conversation to just practice our speaking.

The following day, I visited two of the social work projects where we send volunteers. The first was called Hogar de Maria (Maria’s Home). It is a home for children who are waiting to be adopted. They live at this house usually for about 8 – 10 weeks while their adoptive parents are completing the adoption process. The volunteers there simply play with the kids and help with the day-to-day tasks such as meals, nap time, etc.  When I visited there were 12 kids there and we played all morning on the playground, with sidewalk chalk, doing puzzles, etc. I think I had just as much fun playing as the kids did.

After lunch I went to visit the Anne Frank Daycare/YMCA. This is a multi-functional center which provides many different services such as a preschool, before and after school care and all-day care all for children 0-4 years old. The center is in a very poor area and the kids who attend come from difficult family situations often involving abuse, alcohol or drug addiction and single parents. For this reason, the center also provides social workers who follow up with the families to make sure they’re doing ok. I visited during Costa Rica’s two-week summer vacation so unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the before and after school programs. I did get to interact with some of the younger children who are part of the all day care program. Volunteers play with the kids, and when older kids are there, they help with homework and even do some informal English teaching.