Where did you serve?
I’m part of the TEFL program called CostaRicaTEFL in Samara, Costa Rica.
Were there any moments of culture shock that really stood out?
I was surprised when students would answer phone calls during class without hesitating or stepping outside. They continued their conversation while class is in session. Also, I was really surprised because the Ticos (what we call the locals) are so friendly. When I walked to class, almost every person greeted me with “Good Morning. How are you?”
Why did you choose this organization and location?
I know I wanted to spend some time in Latin America because I find the people, culture, and language fascinating. I chose Costa Rica in particular because it’s a relatively well-known tourist country which I knew my parents would be comfortable letting me go to. I chose the organization because it had the best reviews, and it sounded like something I would find myself enjoying.
What lessons have you learned from your volunteer experience?
This last month has been a great learning experience for me. The most important for my own personal growth was that I found a passion for teaching English that I never knew I had. Standing in front of the classrooms with so many eager students inspired me to create lesson plans that would most entertain them, to work hard to help them understand the objective, and to find the patience to take things one at a time. Living abroad has really helped me realize the little things I took for granted back at home. Materials for teaching can be bought so easily at Office Depot or Target. Without those conveniences, I had to get more creative and frugal in the resources I used in my lessons. I also had less distractions (no Internet was the biggest for me), and it gave me more time to connect to my peers and students. On top of that, navigating through a country where your first language is not spoken was a challenge as well. But I had a great opportunity to brush up on my Spanish which I had not used since graduating high school.
The More You Know
|Country Served||Costa Rica|
|Average Years of School in Costa Rica||6|
|Service Organization||Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)|