Alternative Spring Break Costa Rica Community Development

Take your spring break opportunity to a new level, instead of simply travelling spend your time giving back to a local community in Costa Rica.


Program Information

Experience a closer look at sustainable development projects, looking at what contributes to viable long term progress. Get involved in helping to develop the infrastructure and educational environments of Quepos, Costa Rica. In addition to volunteering spend time exploring the fascinating and diverse Pacific coast of the country.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Embark on an alternative spring break volunteer experience focused on learning about sustainable development and contributing towards vital development projects.

In the town of Quepos, a coastal community based at the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, partake in a variety of development programs dependent on the needs of the community at the time. Most programs will revolve around construction and restoration projects focused on community and educational centres.



In addition to contributing to a diverse range of projects you will also have time to explore the stunning area surrounding Quepos. The Pacific coast provides fantastic surf opportunities, the nearby jungles are full of incredible wildlife, and the surrounding towns provide a taste of typical Costa Rican culture.

In addition to educational opportunities to learn more about sustainable development there will also be organised reflection sessions where individuals will engage in critical conversations surrounding their involvement on the project, their perceived successes, and perceived areas for personal development.

Highlights

Live in and explore a typical Costa Rican town; one that is close to exciting adventure activities but not located right on the typical backpackers route.

Create connections with the local community that are typically hard to develop in only a week, getting the chance to better know individuals providing a unique glimpse into ‘Tico’ culture.

View a range of diverse wildlife; howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths in nearby Manuel Antonio National Park.

Program Details

Program Type:

GVI Live

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Project Life

Your experience in Costa Rica will begin in the cultural capital of San Jose. This is where you will initially meet up with the rest of the group and begin with a comprehensive orientation covering essential elements for the upcoming week. You will review the projects that GVI is running in Costa Rica, a general cultural introduction to the country, as well as a beginning conversation surrounding what creates a successful development project.

Once in the town of Quepos you will jump into contributing to various development projects. You might find yourself building new shelves for the local library, jazzing up the local community centre with a fresh coat of paint, or working alongside locals to add to the expansion of the town’s communal garden. Additional activities might include partaking in teaching English classes to both children and adults and organising after school activities revolving around either athletics or the arts.

During the week’s hands on elements there will also be time to learn more about Costa Rican culture, successful sustainable development projects, and your individual reflections surrounding the spring break experience.

The weekend and evenings are for explorations and many activities will be on offer dependent on the interests of the group. Cultural classes might include local cooking or dance classes, side trips might include ventures into the jungle, to nearby towns, or even a mangrove tour!

Project Details

As with all GVI volunteer programs, our work is determined in collaboration with community members and will focus on current local needs. Your primary focus will be on assisting on a building or maintenance project.

Quepos' short, mid, and long-term objectives:

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Quepos:

1. Improve access to education and wellness to El Cocal community
2. Increase environmental awareness in the local community
3. Improve English literacy levels in Quepos community and surrounded areas
4. Ensure that GVI Quepos base provides volunteers and interns unique, safe, responsible travel experiences, exceptional training and career development opportunities, and facilitate the ability to make a real difference

How this project makes a difference

Your presence as a volunteer will aid in ensuring that the community of Quepos is progressing towards their personal goals while simultaneously contributing to overall worldwide sustainable development goals. All construction projects will contribute towards creating safer and more suitable community centres to ensure better opportunities for the future of Costa Rica’s youth.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Exploration

Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate in programs 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 during 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 Manuel Antonio 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.

The Team

Hannah Watson

Education Officer
Meet Hannah, our happy education officer. Hannah joined the GVI staff after she decided to work abroad in the field, in a more face to face role. She has a degree in Spanish and English Literature, evidently making her a perfect fit for this role!

Hannah also has other impressive experience working abroad. "I worked in Spain for a year as a language assistant in a primary school. I then went to Colombia and I ran a conversation club in a University. When I returned from Colombia I got a job with World Challeng. In between all this I have nnterrailed around Europe, spent a summer volunteering in a hostel in Barcelona, helped to lead an expedition to Morocco, cycled around Cuba, hiked in Peru, rocked around the Galapagos and Ecuador, spied on Orangutans in Borneo and chased Penguins in the Falkland Islands!"

Luis Jimenez

Logistics Manager
Meet Luis, our well-travelled logistics manager! Luis studied Arts History and also has degree in Human Resources. His first contact with volunteer work was when he was studying at the University of Costa Rica and worked on a project to protect the sea turtles at Ostional beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Luis has a culturally diverse background as his stepfather was German and he had the opportunity to get to travel to some European, American and Latin American countries.

The chance to contribute to community development and help shape the children’s futures is what first attracted Luis to GVI. He loves getting to know and work with all the volunteers from around the world!

Eunice Jimenez

Base Manager
Meet Eunice, our experience base manager here in Quepos. Eunice is a Biologist with a Masters in high school education and has volunteer experience doing construction work in the middle of a forest in Germany, rebuilding some public areas in a small village in the north of Spain, and working with marine turtles in Costa Rica. She has also been lucky enough to have travelled around Europe, China, Canada and the USA.

Her internship as a Environmental Educator was what set her career into motion and now, years later, she is still pursuing her passion for the environment and teaching. She loves working for GVI as it gives her the opportunity to make a difference and to work with people from all around the world!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

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.”

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  • 2019

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Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Manuel-Antonio's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
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