Located on the Pacific coast the community of Quepos, located three hours from the capital of San Jose, is a traditional laid-back Costa Rican town. Known as the entrance to world famous Manuel Antonio National Park the town has maintained it’s traditional ‘Tico’ flair.
Volunteers will be helping to develop both the infrastructure and the quality of educational offerings in order to bring a better quality of life to local disadvantaged youth.
In order to gain a better appreciation for Costa Rican culture and to further connect with the projects themselves you will take daily Spanish lessons. These will be in addition to the volunteer program and will take place around your working schedule.
All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. GVI have been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1997 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects.
"There is something so special about having that teacher/student bond where the students know and trust you. The way their faces light up when they understand something or how proud they are when you tell them they got the answer correct."
What's Not Included
Life on the Internship
As a short-term intern, you will spend the week working within the community of Quepos as well as some smaller nearby towns. Daily activities will be dependent on the needs of the community at the time and may include; sprucing up the paint in a grade school classroom, renovating the resources available for English lessons, or constructing new community centres. There will also be the chance to assist with teaching various classes, organising afterschool recreational events, and helping to set up for community functions. In the evenings and on weekends you will have the chance to further explore Costa Rican culture. From cooking a traditional meal of Gallo Pinto to participating in a local dance class.
As a short-term intern time will be set aside for leadership development that further assist the projects and contribute to your personal and professional development. At the end of your internship, you will plan and implement your own project that contributes to the long-term development goals of the project and the community as a whole.
Weekdays will be busy which means that weekends are for exploring the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Trips to nearby Manual Antonio National Park, surfing the Pacific coast beaches, or travelling inwards to the numerous coffee plantations nearby are all options!
Throughout your internship, you will be sharing accommodation in a comfortable house with other volunteers in Quepos. The house is a traditional Costa Rican style home with small shared dormitories and communal areas to enjoy.
What's Not Included
Your work as a short term intern contributes to the overall long term aims of our work with the communities of Quepos. Working with multiple educational settings helps to assist improve the learning environment and quality of education that students are receiving.
As an intern you will be expected to take a leadership role on project, providing an example for both the students and other volunteers.
Long term goals for our community development internship are to contribute towards ending the cycle of poverty by providing youth with better resources and access to a richer future, providing safe spaces within the community for children affected by abuse and neglect, and by encouraging a general attitude towards education that is positive and inspires youth to stay in school.
What's Not Included
A small town located on the Pacific coast, Quepos provides a quintessential glimpse into typical Costa Rican life. Located in Puntarenas Province the district is known for sports fishing, surfing, and as an entrance to the stunning Manuel Antonio National Park. Help contribute to vital community development projects while exploring this laid back town.
Most volunteers spend their weekend exploring nearby Manuel Antonio National Park where lush tropical rainforests coincide with stunning beaches of the Pacific coast, this park is acclaimed as one of the most biodiverse on the planet. Spend your time enjoying the beaches, hiking the forest, or spotting local animals such as mantled howler monkeys (there are four species total in the park) and two-toed sloths.
A popular adrenaline filled day trip is to go on a canopy and zip-lining tour through the treetops of the rainforest.
The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is known for surfing. Nearby beaches include Jaco, Dominical, and Punta Arenas where surf lessons can be found for cheap and breaks will satisfy both experts and novice surfers. Advanced surfers might want to head for Pavones for expert only breaks.
Travel inland near to Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose and spend the day admiring still active volcanos such as Arenal and Poas, after sightseeing you can also take a dip in the many natural hot springs that the area is known for.
Across the country, you can take in the Caribbean Coast where snorkeling and wildlife spotting are plentiful. Expect a landscape that has escaped much development and remains rough and rugged.
For a cultural glimpse into the country head to San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, and stroll through either the Gold or Jade Museums during the day. Come nighttime, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.
The countries national dish in Gallo Pinto and is a rice and bean mix that has been stir-fried together. Typically smothered in the ever famous Lizano sauce, a vegetable based sauce that most would say is an acquired taste.
Beyond rice and beans, in a variety of combinations, another must try in fried plantains. Starchier than bananas, plantains become sweet and incredibly tasty when cooked in oil and served as a side dish or for dessert.
Senior Country Expert
Meet Cormac, our lovely Country Expert for Thailand and Costa Rica. This Scotsman is a rather eccentric guy and his fantastic sense of humour is one of his most appreciated characteristics. He achieved a Master's degree in History and Politics, and quite evidently can keep his own in any conversation on any topic.
His love for travelling started in his younger years already and since then he has explored New Zealand, Canada, the states, and South Africa! What is his one travel must-have? "A towel of course (for further information please read a Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy)."
Mac particularly enjoys getting the chance to have a bit of banter on the phone with people who are really passionate about volunteering. He thinks of himself as Carl Frederickson from the movie Up. "Just a bloke who enjoys sitting in a comfy chair; I think we can all relate to that." Mac, we absolutely agree!
Meet Esther, our dynamic base manger at our hub here in Quepos. With a degree in Education of Music from the conservatory of Utrecht, she is the perfect person to oversee our community development programmes. Esther specialised in songwriting in sign language with deaf kids in Bolivia and later she got also specialised in teaching Dutch as a second language and recently she started an online master of Education in Spain.
She loves to travel and going on adventures, from skydiving in France to eating ceviche in Chile, from mount Kenya to a ger (white nomad tent) in the middle of the big nothing of Mongolia. She really likes GVI's view on development programmes and our passion to make this world a better place.
Meet Hector, our Community Field Staff Member in Quepos. He was a GVI marine conservation volunteer before becoming a staff member in Costa Rica, and the fact that GVI works together with local communities, protecting the natural environment and working towards making our world a better place first attracted him to GVI.
Hector studied Sustainable Tourism Development and has experience working with a company doing camps with children with special needs. His role as a community development staff member proves to be rewarding and he is enjoying it thoroughly; “when children smile it makes me feel so happy knowing that I am making a difference.”
Jaguar Project Leader
Meet Grant, our Jaguar project leader in Jalova. Having had previous experience with big cats at the South African GVI wildlife program, he enjoys getting his hands dirty with the awesome jaguar project here in Jalova.
This is his third location working with GVI, having also worked with GVI in Greece for the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles. His goals while he’s here in Jalova are catching site of the ever-elusive jaguar, seeing a manatee, and contributing to wildlife conservation.
Bird Project Leader
Meet Edwin, our Bird project leader in Jalova. The Amazon rainforest sparked his love for the tropics and its incredible wildlife. From glass frogs to the prehistoric Hoatzin, he had the amazing opportunity to learn and work with some unbelievable animals and even add a few new ones to the species list during his time with GVI Yachana (Ecuador).
He enjoys cruising down the canals in the Tortuguero National Park, spotting the illusive Agami Heron, and seeing the huge waves of herons migrating down from the north. My other passions of music and football have also followed him to Jalova and he’s always up for listening to something new from around the world or a good kick about.
Incidentals Project Leader
Meet Megan, our Incidentals Project Leader in Jalova. She loves anoles, frogs, and all the other animals she can find in the jungle, which seems to be a good fit with what she is doing here with us at GVI. Megan has previous experience working on a dairy farm and with local conservation groups in New Zealand.
While working with GVI she gets plenty of chance to see and identify interesting animals. Costa Rica is quite a change from what she is used to but she loves the chance to use her training in zoology and ecology with a very different ecosystem than any she would find in New Zealand, her home country.
Meet Alejandra our Base Manager! Originally hailing from Mexico, with a Bachelors in Biology from the University of Guadalajara. Alejandra has travelled and lived in many different countries such as the USA and Holland throughout her conservation career.
Besides working with turtles in conservation and rehab, she also has experience in marine mammal rehabilitation, research and training from different facilities. Her favourite experience so far has been a turtle night patrol were she encountered three leatherbacks and one hawksbill turtle nesting! Ale loves outdoor activities and to learn about different cultures.
Director of Programs
Meet Danny, our Director of Programs. Although he’s based in Playa del Carmen, Danny oversees the development and running of all of our field operations. He started out with GVI as our Country Director in Mexico and quickly became an invaluable part of the team.
Although being Director of Programs is a pretty demanding job, Danny manages to find time to do the other things he loves in-between. He’s an avid photographer and is always training for a triathlon or ironman.
What’s Danny’s favourite aspect of his job? “Starting new projects – we get lots of request for assistance and it’s difficult to decide when funds are limited. The evaluation process and those initial talks with local partners are very interesting. Seeing projects grow from an idea to full programs is very exciting. I also love the relationships you create with local organisations, they become friends and we jointly work to achieve the project aims.”
Director of Program Enrolment
Meet Laura. In addition to once being a promising figure skater, Laura is also a trained animal handler, and used to volunteer at a zoo in NYC. She likens herself to Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls, “She’s the brains of the operation”. We can’t argue there, HQ would fall apart without her!
She joined the Costa Rica Wildlife Expedition as a volunteer and immediately knew there was no going back to working for The Man. She became an ambassador and started planning her next trip when we sent her the Regional Coordinator vacancy. 5 weeks later she was in Cape Town!
Laura’s one travel must-have she recommends to volunteers? Coconut Desert Essence shampoo… “It smells amazing and it’s environmentally friendly. No-one should have to sacrifice their hair while travelling, even in remote environments.”
Cynthia Arochi Zendejas
Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!
Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.
The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.
What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”