- Group:Jewish Free School
Costa Rica 2015
- Age: 16-17 years old
- Group size: 9 students
- Project: Care & Conservation
- Destination: Barra Honda National Park and Heredia, Costa Rica
Before we left
It was just another panic-filled day in the JFS library, with 9 of us trying and failing to concentrate on revision for our GCSE’s. A few minutes earlier, a suggestion was casually thrown into the room: that we could perhaps volunteer after the daunting exams, as a change of pace and a reward. As the minutes passed, each of us formed their own fantasies, and it was only a matter of time until these were shared in excited, but hushed voices- for fear that speaking of it loudly will shatter our delusions.
Amazingly, all it took was a short internet search and a phone call, and suddenly these fantasies became a reality. We held meetings as a group numerous times, with a representative from Projects Abroad joining us for one, and built our trip from the ground up, learning about all our volunteering options, the potential locations, and numerous other important things we needed to know before finalizing the trip.
We finally chose to go on a combined Care and Conservation project in Costa Rica, and Projects Abroad took care of the rest.
What we did
The time finally arrived, and, after a long flight, we landed in San Jose. We were immediately greeted by one of our Projects Abroad coordinators in Costa Rica, who helped us with our luggage and over the course of that evening told us about some of the customs of the country, as well as what we will be doing in our first Conservation placement the following morning.
The next day we drove all the way to Barra Honda National Park, where we met the Projects Abroad team and the other volunteers. Moments later we were kitted up and ready to go planting trees in the rainforest… The work wasn’t easy, but it was satisfying, stimulating, and really quite rewarding. This combined with the fascinating discussions the guides had with us about the local area, made the Jungle Conservation Project extremely enjoyable and rewarding (despite the friendly spiders, scorpions and snakes).
Our week and a half passed in a flash, and before we knew it we were back in San Jose for our Care project. We stayed with lovely host families who fed us the local cuisine, and welcomed us with the iconic phrase “Mi casa es su casa”, truly bringing the words to life with their hospitality.
The children at the school we worked at were sweet, and our help was appreciated by them. Despite the language barriers we found ourselves making real connections with the classes we were helping, with age groups ranging from 2 to 10 year-olds. After another week and a half working with them, our stay in Costa Rica was almost over, but first we had a final Hurrah planned by the Projects Abroad team.
We drove out to the Pacific Coast and spent a weekend on the beach, having so much fun that we almost forgot to be sad that we were about to leave.
Our trip to Costa Rica was amazing. I for one learnt about the importance of helping others, allowing me to gain perspective about so many aspects of my daily life. I learnt about other peoples’ lives, about the importance of conservation of the environment, and about a whole different way of life, known in Costa Rica as ‘Pura Vida’- Pure life. I know that all other members of my group felt much the same, driving many of us to already start planning our next volunteering trip.