2/27/12

How Does It Begin?

If you're contemplating becoming a WorldTeach volunteer (how exciting!), I'm sure you often wonder how it all works. How do you get started, how do you know how to teach, how do you know what to expect? Sara, a WorldTeach Colombia volunteer, walks us through her beginnings. From heading to the airport in the US to orientation to making new friends, experience the beginning with Sara, then consider starting your own adventure!

Ok so I left January 8th and yes, I cried all the way to the airport. I flew into Miami where I met up with some of the other volunteers and had a pre-departure meeting with our program advisor in the U.S. From there we took two flights to Costa Rica; the first had a layover in El Salvador and the second was direct. I’m sure you can guess which flight I ended up on.Anyway the flight from Miami to El Salvador was great because I got the lucky seat next to the baby who screamed the whole way. Upon arriving in El Salvador I forgot the golden rule “don’t flush the toilet paper,” so if you hear reports of the airport in El Salvador being flooded it’s probably because of me. Whoops! Fast forward to my arrival in San Jose where I went through immigration and definitely got stopped because I didn’t have my return ticket (we have to change the date so we don’t actually have them yet). Luckily I speak Spanish well enough to actually explain the situation otherwise me and one of the other volunteers may have found ourselves having a completely different adventure. When both groups finally got through the airport we took private buses to San Jose to a hostel called Hostel Bekuo where we stayed the night in camp style bunkers. The place was neat and clean so that was a plus.

There are currently 18 volunteers (one more who will be returning to complete a second year shortly), a field agent and an assistant. We are all together for Orientation this month in Orosi and later go to our respective sites. My site San Ramon is located close to the city of Turrialba in the province or Cartago. We stay with host families at both our orientation site and our year long site. I currently live with a Grandmother a mother and 13 year old daughter. They are all really sweet. Oh yeah they have a dog too. His name is Tommy and he definitely hates me. I have to use my key and enter through the front door instead of the side door aka “his door” because otherwise he just might kill me. Yesterday I tried to pet him and he bit me; and not in that cute playful way that most dogs do. He definitely was trying to draw blood, so needless to say I don’t really mess with him.

The setup of orientation is Spanish classes in the morning and “charlas” (talks) in the afternoon. I am in the highest level in the Spanish classes of course, but I am still learning so much because we are learning words more regional to Costa Rica and are reviewing grammar, which is perfect since it has been a while since I have used a lot of it.

So far things have been great. I have gone hiking and survived; all the people (Gringas and Ticos) are really nice; and the food is great. If anyone decides to send me anything please let it be fat pants because I fear that the rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner is not going to help me lose weight. So far I would say that the majority of my experience has been positive.

I am still in what they call “initial euphoria” phase of the cultural adjustment curve where everything is wonderful and I love being here.

We are looking for summer volunteers in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Namibia, Poland and South Africa. If you'd like to see how it all works for yourself, click here to get more information and apply! Applications are due April 1st or 15th, depending on the program.

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