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Volunteer with Children in Costa Rica

Volunteer on childhood development projects, learn Spanish, and explore Costa Rica in your free time.

Program Code: CRCI0911P

Program Information

Contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #4, Quality Education by supporting childhood development initiatives in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. In your free time, take advantage of the myriad of adventure activities that this diverse mountainous l region has to offer, including hiking, volcanoes, botanical gardens and coffee plantations.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

  • Overview
  • Dates & Prices
  • Life On Base
  • Covid-19 Response
  • What's It like?
  • Live Updates
  • Reviews
  • Arrivals
  • Flights
  • Your Impact
  • Our Ethics
  • Program Ethics
  • Training
  • Qualifications
  • Free time
  • Cultural Immersion
  • Parent Info
  • Support & Safety

Overview

Join a team of like-minded volunteers, living and working in the town of Cimarrones in Costa Rica, teaching English to local community members.

Cimarrones is a small farming community, nestled in a valley in the mountainous Cartago province, bordering the Limón Province. Tourism brings in many business opportunities for locals, however, in order to access these opportunities, locals must fulfil the requirements of employers who are looking to cater to English-speaking travellers. Therefore, the request from local schools is often for more English educational support. In supporting English education volunteers not only contribute to UN SDG #4, Quality Education, but also UN SDG #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Volunteers on this program will work with GVI staff, interns, and other volunteers to provide free individual English education classes to members of the local community. We work with ongoing curriculums to introduce English vocabulary and discuss sustainable development topics like environmental awareness. We also offer conversational classes so students can practice real situations and feel more confident in speaking English. Our work is based on the needs of the community, which means that the specifics of the classes, such as the time schedules, ages, and levels of English language competency change over time.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Gain experience teaching younger students.

  • Develop soft skills like teamwork and leadership.

  • Immerse yourself in the pura vida lifestyle of Costa Rica.

  • Explore one of the many national parks, gardens and monuments in the region.  

  • Learn Spanish.

  • Gain access to our online community development course, and have the option of earning a certificate endorsed by the University of Richmond.

Program Details

Further Project details

Our work is based on the needs of the community, which means that the specifics of the classes, such as the time schedules, ages, and levels of English language competency change over time.

Volunteers will spend most of their time conducting lessons, but the rest of the time will be spent on training and planning lessons. You will also have the opportunity to participate in other community development initiatives, like supporting the construction or renovation of community areas and the setting up or maintaining of community gardens - these will vary depending on the needs of the community.

*Costa Rica is a primarily Catholic country which means that events like Easter and Christmas are celebrated with gusto. As is to be expected, school attendance tends to decrease during these times. However, we often run educational summer programs or provide one-to-one tutor during the holidays. Community infrastructure development like renovating community centres and setting up communal gardens also continues during this time. In addition, participants have the opportunity to learn more about Costa Rican customs by participating in the festivities.

*A basic level of Spanish is required to effectively communicate with children, women, and other local community members. Speak to your Enrolment Manager about adding group or one-on-one Spanish lessons to your program cost to support you in your Spanish language learning while on the project. We also strongly recommend that you start learning early in order to get the most out of your volunteering experience.
 
Flexibility
Change your location and dates free of charge.
 
Payment Plans
Flexible payment plans available.
 
Cancellation Waiver
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.

Select a Start Date

  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Life On Base

Covid-19 Response

Health and Hygiene

For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.


The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.


Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

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.


Live Updates

Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Cimarrones'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.
 
GVICostaRicaCimarrones

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.


 
 
 

COVID-19 Safety

Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.

Flights

Please note that if you use this service delivered by Student Universe and / or if you buy your ticket through this portal you are agreeing to the Student Universe Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. Your agreement regarding flights will be between you and Student Universe or as per their terms and conditions.

As GVI is providing this portal as a service we are not responsible for the accuracy of this site.

We are also not responsible for any loss, damage (including loss of profits or consequential damages), injury, illness, harm or death in relation to your flight and travel arrangements.

Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. 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 visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. Then, once on base you’ll 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 fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


Costa Rica was the first country in the world to make primary education both free and obligatory in 1869, funding the education program through the state’s share of the great coffee wealth. In those days only one in ten Costa Ricans could read and write. By 1920, 50% of the population was literate. In 1948, the country abolished its national army and shifted the portion of its national budget allocated to armed forces to the education system. By the 1970s 89% were able to read and write. Costa Rica now boasts a literacy rate of 93% for those ten years or older. In addition, in 1994, a policy to place a computer in each of the nation’s 4,000 schools, plus obligatory English classes, was implemented.


Despite this, education is not readily available to everyone. Elementary and high schools can be found in every community, but many cannot afford the required uniforms, and rural schools often lack books for students. Children often spend as little as three hours in school as the class schedule is divided into two sessions in order to accommodate the number of students.


Cimarrones, home to our volunteer community project, is a central valley town in the mountainous central region of Costa Rica which is home to multiple volcanos, botanical gardens and some of the oldest coffee farms in the country.


GVI has been working in local communities in Costa Rica since 2011 and aims to support those communities in developing themselves and particularly in developing the younger members of the community. GVI works in Cimarrones to support community and economic development, as well as education focused initiatives. Our current partners include the Liceo Rural Nairi Awari High School, Escuela Las Brisas de Pacuarito and a local women’s entrepreneur group.


As such, the main UN Sustainable Development Goals of this project include, #4, Quality Education, and #5, Gender Equality.


Project Objectives

GVI Cimarrones Long-term Objectives:


1. Improve access to education and wellness to Cimarrones and the surrounding areas of Las Brisas and Pacuare.


2. Increase environmental awareness in the local community.


3. Improve English literacy levels in the Cimarrones community and surrounding areas.


4. Assist in building sustainable, women-led businesses in the immediate community and surrounding areas.


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.


 


We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.


 

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 conducted, 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.


Program Ethics

 

NO ORPHANAGE PROGRAMS

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

CHILD AND VULNERABLE ADULT PROTECTION POLICY

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

NO MEDICAL VOLUNTEERING

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

NO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAMS

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.


For All GVI Participants

Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing

 

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

 

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

 

Qualifications

Free time

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.


Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, 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 and high participant ratios.
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.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


 

COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.

Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.