We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Just choose a project and apply:
Experience volunteering in beautiful Costa Rica and find out for yourself about living the Pura Vida! Most projects (except Turtle and Coffee Projects) are based in and around the capital, San Jose. You'll join volunteers from around the world in helping local Costa Rican communities reach their full potential.
Are you able to give hugs, wipe away tears and smile and laugh until it hurts? Do you want to help some amazing, but underprivileged children? Join up with one of our childcare placements and provide children with love and attention, where volunteers assist the children with their homework, organise educational activities and help take care of their basic needs.Volunteers are encouraged to use their skills and interests to develop music and dance, jewellery making, aerobics and arts & crafts work shops. Alongside the orphanage work, volunteers may also work in shelters, community centres or childcare facilities in impoverished housing areas, always working alongside severely underprivileged children.
Hablas Inglés? (Do you speak English?) There are few more valuable skills in this increasingly globalised world than to be able to connect and communicate with visitors to your region. At our teaching English placements volunteers will teach children of all ages, and will also participate in cultural activities and recreational games. Our teaching placements are all situated in impoverished housing areas, and teaching normally takes place in a small community centre or Church.
Are you passionate about preserving the planet's vulnerable species? Do you like long walks on the beach? Volunteers in our Turtle Project will work with the endangered Olive Ridley, Leatherback Black and/or Green turtles along the gorgeous coastlines of Costa Rica. The programs give you the chance to make an important contribution to the preservation of these species, assisting local communities who carry out conservation work and gaining first-hand knowledge into Costa Rica's biodiversity and culture. Join our partner and play your part in ensuring these beautiful creatures survive and thrive for generations to come.
Are you handy with a hammer? Skilled with a screwdriver? A dab hand at painting? Then sign up to help build a better future for our Costa Rican friends. Volunteers in our construction program will assist in projects based in and around San Jose. You will be helping local tradesmen and other volunteers create a tangible legacy of your time spent volunteering. It may be a renovation or a completely new build but whatever project you work on, your time and efforts will be greatly appreciated. So get ready to roll up your sleeves, get dirty and help the locals build for their future!
Are you a coffee connoisseur? A java junkie? Then join our Coffee cooperative program, where volunteers will assist with the sustainable production of coffee in a rural farming community, in the mountainous region of Costa Rica. Volunteers will assist with coffee-picking in the fields, roasting the beans and packaging the final product, alongside wider agricultural activities. As well as the agricultural side of things, volunteers can also get involved in marketing the coffee product to the market and get involved with the wider community. So sign up now and go get caffeinated!
Are you strong and compassionate? Can you smile through adversity? Then you are needed to assist with our Healthcare program. Volunteers will work in either a residence for HIV positive people, or in an assisted living facility for very low income elderly residents. While this is a very rewarding position, volunteers should prepare themselves mentally and emotionally to work with terminally ill patients. This is a position for volunteers with big hearts, big smiles and the temperament to cope with the demands involved. You'll be warmly welcomed and richly rewarded for your kindness and attention.
Are you a people person? Do you have patience and an understanding of intellectual diversity? Volunteers in this program will work at a non-residential centre for autistic adults to improve their life skills and help them function better in society. Individuals attending the centre have physical and mental disabilities of varying severity and need individual attention and care. Most of these individuals are independent and volunteers will mainly help around the centre by offering workshops, helping with daily physical therapy and simply spending time and chatting with the individuals at the centre.
Are you medically trained or currently in training? Prepared to share your skills and knowledge? Do you feel inspired to help the most vulnerable Costa Ricans stay healthy? Volunteers work in a medical setting, such as an ambulance service or a hospital. This project is for med students, pre-med students and qualified nurses or doctors. Volunteers for these projects require at least intermediate Spanish as the staff they will work with have limited English. Notarized documentation of your medical school, nursing school, or other medical credentials will be required.
Facilitators, including Colin Salisbury, live in accommodation with all the Be The Change participants during the course and spend the entire week with the group.
The week starts with a discussion about how each participant wants to contribute to social change. From there, facilitators will take the group through a series of workshops designed to address the skills needed to start a nonprofit organization, development project and /or social enterprise.
The workshops are flexible and the facilitators will focus each workshop on those skills that will most benefit the group as a whole.
Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, and by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the North Pacific Ocean to the West.
It features a diverse geography of mountains, craters, sandy beaches and great flowing rivers.
Costa Rica is considered one of the most stable and historic of democracies, with one of the highest life expectancies and living standards in the region.
Amidst the political instability of many nations in Latin America, Costa Rica has a thriving democracy and Costa Ricans promote peace and freedom of speech. Costa Rica, as a nation has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. The honour of that sought-after accolade was given to Costa Rican former president Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez in 1987, for his tireless efforts to bring peace to the Central American region during the 80s, when those nations were politically shattered by civil wars.
In the mid 1800's Costa Rican farmers began to plant coffee. The high altitude lands were blessed with excellent volcanic sediment which made coffee plantations thrive throughout the Central Valley. Coffee soon became the most important product in the country's economy. The export of "the bean of gold" as it soon became known, to Europe and the United States, earned Costa Rica a solid reputation as an excellent coffee exporter.
Coffee still remains core to the country’s economic stability, alongside other agricultural exports such as bananas, sugar and beef. However, there has been an increased focus on high value added goods and services, such as microchips and tourism in recent years.
Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Costa Rican communities, focusing primarily on orphaned children, rural communities and school children.
Volunteers on the turtle programs are able to work with the endangered Leatherback (Baula) and Olive Ridley turtles along the unrivalled stretch of gorgeous Pacific and Caribbean beaches Costa Rica has to offer.
As a volunteer in Costa Rica you can provide love, affection, education and support to orphaned children. You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish. As a volunteer you can practice and teach preventative healthcare, and HIV care. Depending on your interests you can also contribute to building projects in impoverished communities, or in a coffee plantation project. You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Costa Rican communities.
Volunteers will also enjoy the cosmopolitan feel of the modern San Jose, the gateway to the natural rainforests and beaches of Costa Rica.
Volunteers can explore the city of San Jose, visit the Central Market or Artisanal Market, take a canopy tour, explore the region by taking part in a tour to a waterfall or visit a coffee plantation. And if all that’s not enough for you there’s always bungee jumping!
For your first week you will take Spanish lessons provided by our partner. These are taught by professional teachers, either certified in teaching Spanish as a foreign language or with their Masters in Education, and you will have two hours of lessons per day, either in the mornings, so that you spend the afternoons at your volunteer placement, or vice versa. Volunteers will also be provided with a Native Spanish Program book.
For the remainder of your stay you will take part in our partner's Tandem Exchange Program. This program pairs volunteers learning Spanish with a Costa Rican student who is learning English at their headquarters in San Jose. This way you practise Spanish with your partner for one hour a day, as well as provide invaluable practice for the Costa Rican student learning English. It's also a great way to get to know local students in San Jose. If you wish to extend your formal Spanish lessons beyond your first week, this can be arranged for an extra fee.
Please note that for the turtle and coffee programs the Tandem Exchange Program is not available as volunteers in these programs won’t be placed in San Jose. Intensive Spanish sessions before/after the program can be arranged.
Global Volunteer Network has established a partnership with the Spanish school Instituto Exclusivo, which offers GVN volunteers a 5% discount off their online Spanish lessons. This is not like other courses which give you pages of web material or recordings of various phrases to repeat. You will speak to, and see your instructor as he/she is giving you a private lesson, tailored to your level of Spanish. Learn spanish before you go
If your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
You will receive a Program Guide which contains a wealth of information. You'll find everything from a broad overview of the country you are going to; project details; life on the project (accommodation, meals, what to wear etc); along with extremely helpful information and advice for preparing for your trip.
GVN provides four different options to pay your program package and secure your placement. These include:
* Christmas and New Year programs are one week each US$1397 or two weeks US$1747 for both.
* Placements longer than 8 weeks are available, please contact us or apply online for details.
* Based on an 8 week placement
Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, project transportation, departure from the program.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $25 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation, and entertainment.
Apply now for the Costa Rica Program:
Start Date: Every Monday of each month.
Volunteers need to arrive into San Jose the Sunday before this date, in order to attend orientation the following morning.
Length: 1 week - 6 months.
Hours: volunteers will be helping for 3-4 hours at their projects each day (Monday- Friday); except Turtle project.
Volunteers on the Turtle program can volunteer anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. If you would like to take Spanish lessons and you are volunteering on the Turtle program, you need to arrive a week early.
Easter 2014: Please note that from April 18-23 there will be disruptions to regular programs due to public transportation issues and local festivities. Volunteers scheduled to be in-country during this period should expect down time from their projects.
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions which we receive at the GVN inbox. This is a great place to start if you have questions about Global Volunteer Network and our placement process. This information should answer the majority of questions you may have.
Our partner organization was founded in Peru in 2003, with their Costa Rica office opening in 2006. In addition to international volunteer programs they also have TEFL/TESOL Certification programs in Guatemala and Costa Rica, and offer English and Spanish courses. Their aim is for volunteers to experience Costa Rica's beautiful surroundings and build their proficiency in Spanish while at the same time helping an impoverished region of the country.
The country just about closes down during Semana Santa (Easter Week) and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day tends to be an unofficial holiday, especially in San José. Various towns celebrate their own saints’ days, like San José’s Day (Saint Joseph’s Day) is March 19, while Virgin of Los Angeles Day (the patron saint of Costa Rica) is August 2. Juan Santamaría’s Day on April 11 celebrates the national hero who helped see off William Walker in 1856, and Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day) on October 12, as elsewhere in the Americas, is a national holiday.
To be a volunteer on the Costa Rica program with GVN you need to be at least 18 years old, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Volunteers will work in turtle reserves located along Costa Rica's Pacific and Caribbean coasts, working with the endangered Olive Ridley and Leatherback (Baula) turtles. Volunteers will be working on nightly beach patrols, tagging and relocating nests to nurseries amongst other tasks. There are also opportunities to volunteer in one of our childcare, construction, teaching, healthcare and ecological zoo programs.
After you have joined the program, you will be sent the program guide with more details about the program and your Program Specialist will begin making arrangements for your placement. Once you’ve confirmed your placement, you’ll be put in touch with our partner organization.
Volunteers need to be able to converse in English, with basic Spanish also a requirement for the turtle program, as you will be working with local staff who speak very little English. For those volunteering in the healthcare programs, volunteers will need to have a reasonable level of Spanish. We recommend volunteers try and learn at least a little Spanish before traveling to Costa Rica, however lessons will be provided for volunteers in the first week as part of your program fees.
As in many countries, foreigners are perceived as wealthy in Costa Rica. Although the people are generally warm and friendly towards foreigners, as well as appreciative of the work done by volunteers, not every individual is the same. We work extremely hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering and security policies are in place to achieve this. However, as in any situation at home or abroad, there is no way to erase all potential threats. Costa Rica is generally considered a very safe country, and what crime does exist tends to be opportunistic rather than violent. The main thing travelers have to worry about is pick pocketing. In downtown San José you need to be wary at all times. You should not leave anything of value in a parked car - even locked in the trunk - day or night. Volunteers will be given further safety advice in their orientation session.
Volunteers need to fly into San José’s Juan Santamaría international airport (SJO). You will be picked up from the airport by our partners.
Volunteers need to arrive the Sunday before the Monday you start your placement.
Included in your program fee, you will be given 1 week of Spanish lessons upon arrival. These last for 1-2 hours a day, and can be scheduled in around your volunteer schedule. After this, volunteers have the option of using our free Tandem Exchange with a local Costa Rican student. Volunteers will meet up with their exchange students and practise English and Spanish with each other.
Volunteers will be accommodated in a local family-stay. All families selected for this are pre-approved, and the program fees cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner from Sunday through Friday (leaving Saturday). Most family-stays include a shared room and shared bath facilities, and many of the families have been hosting volunteers for years.
For those volunteering in the Turtle conservation program, you will be accommodated in either a local family-stay or on reserve accommodation, and you will be located on either the Pacific or Caribbean coastline, depending on the turtle season.
The turtle placements are located on Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts, according to the season, at different conservation beach areas. Most projects are located close to conveniences like internet cafes and volunteers can visit nearby beach towns during their free days.
For those working on the non-turtle programs, volunteers will be based in and around San Jose.
You will be met at Costa Rica’s international airport and transferred to the capital San Jose, about 20 minutes away. The cost is included. You will then be taken to your accommodation ready to begin your orientation the following day.
For those volunteering on the turtle program, volunteers will spend 2 days of orientation in San Jose before boarding a public bus that takes you to your project site.
Please note: Your daily transportation to and from your project site by taxi or bus is not included in the the fees.
The number of volunteers varies greatly from project to project, and depends on the time of year you choose to travel. Numbers can be anywhere up to 30 volunteers at each site, however, we cannot guarantee that you will be placed with another volunteer.
Volunteers will be given an orientation of tourist places when you arrive. You can travel by local buses to most of the tourist attractions. Any sightseeing will be at your own expense and days off for sightseeing can be negotiated with the partner.
Due to the isolated nature of the turtle reserves and the fact that volunteers work 6 days a week on the turtle program, we recommend that you allow yourself time to see more of Costa Rica either before or after volunteering.
Volunteers will work Monday- Friday for roughly 3-4 hours a day. For those on the turtle program, volunteers will work 6 days a week, with one free day to leave the reserve. Depending on the season, volunteers may work night and day, doing shifts of 2-4 hours and then resting. The hours of work can vary due to the nature of the program. Days off are negotiable with the director of the project.
The welcome pack contains the following information: safety in Costa Rica, travelling around, registration with the Embassy (if required), culture shock, what it means to volunteer in conservation, rules of the National Park, work involved in turtle conservation, revision of the code of conduct or termination of contract, and what to do in case of a natural disaster. On arrival to the turtle reserve you will be given a more detailed orientation about the work required by a park ranger.
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (i.e. secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2013 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2013 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's Legal Terms of Service for full details.
Dress needs to be conservative, and light loose clothing is advisable as it is most comfortable in the heat. For those working on the turtle program, it is best to wear clothes that will cover and protect you from the sun and mosquitoes. Bring very light cotton clothes because it could be very wet. Dark clothing is also required, as you’ll often be working at night.
You need extra money to travel locally if you wish to. You may also need to cater for other expenses like bottled water, personal costs, beverages, and entertainment. Please note: Your daily transportation to and from your project site by taxi or bus is not included in the fees.
Depending on your nationality and length of stay you may not need a visa to travel to Costa Rica. You will need to contact your nearest Costa Rican Embassy to find out the requirements.
No, the program is open all year round.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, and temperature really depends on the altitude. It has distinctive dry and wet seasons.
There are no required vaccines for Costa Rica, but we advise volunteers to get immunized against Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A & B, booster doses for tetanus, polio and measles. Volunteers also need to take anti malarials and protect themselves from mosquito bites - as Malaria and Dengue Fever is present. Some of these can be taken in oral form so please do discuss all options with your doctor to see what is best for you.
It may be appropriate to bring children with you for this project, and this will be considered on a case by case basis. It is fine to volunteer as a couple.
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
No, our volunteers come from all around the world.
We are able to provide vegetarian food - please indicate on your application form if you would like this. You may need to supplement your diet with some snacks.
You do, if you need one. Our program guide has links to Costa Rican Embassies throughout the world.
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
Monday, December 30th, 2013
I just wanted to sum up our experience spending our week at the home stay and volunteering with Maximo Nivel with our 7 year old daughter. If you have a well mannered child(ren) who can maintain several days of adult -oriented activities then I would recommend this idea for you. People were so impressed with [click here to read more]
Saturday, December 28th, 2013
Well, combining our last two days in San Pedro, we went to a rehabilitation center for mothers who have problems with drugs/alcohol. What makes this place special is that if the participants have young children (under 5), the kids can live there with the moms. We planned to have some fun with the participants and their children. We [click here to read more]
Wednesday, December 25th, 2013
We had a free day today, and as promised, most of the residents of San Pedro and San Jose were sleeping off the party from the night before. We took a day trip with a tour company to visit Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls Garden, and a coffee plantation. This was a pretty [click here to read more]
Please visit journals.globalvolunteernetwork.org for more journals and feedback from past volunteers
As a volunteer in Costa Rica you must:
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First off I would like so say THANK YOU so much for everything you did!!! you made moving from project to project simple and easy!! So thank you! you made my trip perfect!
As for the projects themselves! I have heard horrible things about other organizations but I will honestly say that GVN is organized and well prepared! There is always someone to contact and answer questions!
The in water turtles project was unreal! It’s an experience every volunteer should do! It opened up my eyes to a lot! Not just the project but the environment and community offered some amazing experiences too!
It would be wonderful to be able to do it again! I would definitely go through GVN and recommend it to friends! thanks again for everything!!!!!
Everything here is fantastic! I dont want to leave!!! We have caught so many turtles and seen so many babies hatch! The whole place is beautiful and having a really great time!
Everything has been great here in Montezuma! Our main focus these last few weeks has been building a new hatchery here for the turtles on the coast, which we have almost finished! We have also been clearing trails, building bridges, and repairing systems for our new volunteer camp. It really is SO beautiful here and we absolutely love Montezuma as well. We went on a little trip to Arenal/Monteverde/and Tamarindo this last week and that was great, but for now we're back at our refuge volunteering. Thank you for checking in with us, we're having a wonderful time!
So far I have helped about 350 baby turtles and I love Costa Rica. The Ticos are beautiful people the work here is good and so are the people in charge. I am going to have a lot to remember when I go home about the pura vida. Thanks so much for allowing me to share in this experience.
Costa Rica is great! My first day at the hatchery training, about 70 baby turtles hatched and were released later in the early evening. My first night of hatchery watch, we released 23 more baby turtles at night underneath the stars. I’ve been on two night beach patrols to collect eggs that have been laid, but did not come across any.
Aside from these duties, we clean house everyday and tend to the maintenance of our lot, including replacing sandbags around the hatchery and repairing the bamboo fence in front of our common area. We do get a few hours of free time here and there and is perfect for taking a dip in the ocean and relaxing on the beach. I am enjoying my stay thus far.
At GVN we align with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', so we work with local community organisations in each country. What this means for our volunteers is that they receive a unique and genuine cultural experience whilst being immersed in a local community.
Volunteering abroad could be the very thing for YOU!
If you're looking for something worthwhile to do volunteering will give you the opportunity to travel whilst making a difference in the community you are based in.
Did you know taking a Gap Year can improve your college admission chances and success rate during your studies?
"Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrolment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way" – Harvard College Office of Admissions, 2010.
International volunteering is a great way to gain experience living in a developing country, learning about another culture and experiencing a different way of life. It is a fantastic way to grow as a person, to develop life skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, and is a tool for self discovery and identity formation.
Other personal benefits include, developing international friendships and networks, social awareness, and building independence.
Volunteering can increase your employability, help you to gain valuable work experience and enhance your CV/resume.
"Going to a foreign country for a volunteer experience is a huge boost on a resume. Employers love to see a person that can think outside the box and work past their comfort zone. The added benefits of teamwork, foreign language knowledge, and plain old hard work also add polish to the volunteer candidate. Since business now happens on a global scale, the volunteer is armed with useful, and potentially actionable, information." – USA Today, 2010.
The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in Wellington, New Zealand. Our Charitable incorporation number is: CC46460. GVN has been verified and approved by Idealist (the largest volunteer portal on the internet. GVN is also a member of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (WANGO), and our ‘sister’ organization the GVN Foundation has been granted special consultative status on the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Prestigious web sites such as Lonely Planet and Goabroad.com have placed web links to us. Additionally, when you apply, we can provide you with contact information for previous volunteers if you wish. GVN is also an approved member of the Site Trust Network and you can view our verification page.
Bill Gates personally recommended GVN by stating "I'd love to see more young people taking action to help the poor and disadvantaged. Two places to get started are Network for Good and Global Volunteer Network." Newsweek Web
To give you peace of mind, GVN has over eight years experience and has placed 13,500+ volunteers since 2002. Read volunteer's journals and testimonials or speak to a returned volunteer directly about their experience abroad through GVN.
GVN’s specialist staff provide personal support to volunteers, assisting not only with preparation for your placement, but whilst in-country, and follow-up on return home. GVN provides comprehensive Program Guides, project resources (eg teaching resources).
GVN aligns with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', therefore we work with local community organisations in each country. We believe that local communities are in the best position to determine their needs, and we provide volunteers to help them achieve their goals.
CNN listed the Global Volunteer Network as one of 10 organizations that can help you to make a positive impact on the world around you. CNN encourages you to visit our website to get more details on how you too can Be The Change.
GVN offer an insurance package tailored specifically for volunteers. Partner's staff are always available (24hr/7days), along with this GVN also has a 24hr/7day emergency hotline.
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