Travel to Latin America, to the laid back and naturally rich country of Costa Rica. Living in the community of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, this stunning location will be your home as you educate children and adults while gaining practical and invaluable community development, teaching and project management experience.
Your first 12 weeks will be spent working alongside other volunteers on our project in Costa Rica whilst also undertaking TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) training for your full certification. Interns will also receive ongoing training that encompasses leadership course work, one-on-one mentorship, group study, lesson planning, team management and teaching practises.
GVI's TEFL Certification is an accredited course through the International TEFL Academy and includes 150 hours of online coursework and 20 hours of practical training in the classroom.
On completion of a successful 12 weeks, interns will have the necessary skills to undertake our 12-week work placement. During this phase, interns will assist the GVI team in the operations and management of our programme, as well as developing our work in the local communities by implementing their own project ideas.
Throughout the course of your internship training and work placement phase, you will receive hands-on professional experience, weekly reviews, a final evaluation from a dedicated staff mentor and a confidential professional reference.
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. The internship serves as a fabulous stepping stone to developing your personal career, whether it be through the valuable work experience you can gain or the purely unique teaching environment that surrounds you each day.
In the communities where we work, you will be expected to make an effort to speak Spanish. This programme provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn a new language and work with children at the same time. Speak to your coordinator about arranging group/1-on-1 Spanish lessons (extra to the programme) that will fully prepare you for life on the programme (Interns will have to do a min of 20 hours from the start unless they are fluent). We also recommend that you start practicing early in order to get the most out of your experience.
"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
Your First 12 Weeks
From Monday to Friday you will be working in local schools near Quepos teaching English, tutoring, assisting classroom teachers, participating/leading activities in sports, arts and crafts, and/or extracurricular workshops. Outside of the schools, you will take on increasing responsibilities relevant to your area of focus, assisting the staff with house management and project development in order to develop your leadership skills.
GVI aims to create a safe and fun learning environment that allows you the opportunity to provide a variety of lessons that will contribute to the critical early stages of educational development of the local children. Interns will also be working on educational initiatives aimed at adults in the local communities.
After a successful 12 weeks, you will begin your work placement within the GVI team. Your role will see you take on increased responsibility as you take on a leadership role in planning and preparing for classes while managing the volunteers and assisting with the general running of the programme.
You will also be expected to complete a project you are passionate about that supports the project’s goals. You will be guided through the process of selecting your project, developing your ideas and, finally, implementation by a staff mentor on site.
Throughout your internship, you will be sharing accommodation in a comfortable house with other volunteers in Quepos, next to stunning Manuel Antonio National Park, where you will share amenities and general household duties such as cooking and cleaning on a rotational basis.
What's Not Included
Although the education system in Costa Rica is free, it is understaffed and lacking in resources. With your help, the children can receive more one-on-one attention that will drastically enhance their educational development.
Intern tasks include:
- Planning and delivering lessons
- Organising arts & crafts workshops
- Designing and delivering after-school activities
- Organising after-school sports events and environmental lessons
- Mentoring and coaching the future leaders of the community
- Designing your own project that will continually help the volunteers and the community learn and grow
The ultimate goal of this programme is to establish a more efficient and stimulating learning environment for the local children.
How this project makes a difference:
In partnership with the local community in Quepos, Costa Rica, this programme was established to help reduce teacher to student ratios and help provide additional support to keep students engaged.
You will help provide assistance to the community through after-school programmes, sports, arts, English classes and more.
Throughout the course of your internship training and work placement phase, you will receive; hands-on professional experience; weekly reviews and final evaluation from a dedicated staff mentor; and, a confidential professional reference.
What's Not Included
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate in programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your downtime or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.
Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Quepos field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!
Optional Side Trips
On weekends and downtime, the region around Manuel Antonio is excellent to keep yourself as busy or relaxed as possible! See the pristine beaches and hike the trails of the National Park to discover the diverse wildlife the region has to offer, including four types of monkey; go on a canopy and zip-lining tour through the treetops of the rainforest; visit the souvenir shops at the beachfront or cafes along the way and watch the world go by; take surf lessons or surf some of the neighbouring breaks in this famous surf destination.
Further Travelling Opportunities
Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!
Admire the world famous and active Volcan Arenal at a distance, and relax in the natural hot springs; explore the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park; for the advanced surfer, aim for Pavones, the second longest left break in the world; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages; go deep sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean; canoe or kayak along the waterways in the local area on organised river tours; visit the Caribbean coast, snorkel and go wildlife watching in Cahuita National Park; go white water rafting on the world famous Pacuare river – rapids classed III to IV; climb Volcan Irazu and visit coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.
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.”
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.”
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.”