Volunteering around the world: Unique experiences and connections in Costa Rica

What kind of organisations welcome volunteers on different sides of the world? Get to know ICYE Costa Rica which conducts multiple social and ecological volunteering projects and promotes meaningful connections and partnerships.

Hello there! What is your name, and what do you do for work?

My name is Mariel Pinel Ramírez. I work as the Executive Director in ACI (ICYE Costa Rica).

How did you get involved with international volunteering?

I am a former ICYE Volunteer in France (2005-2006). I was always passionate about intercultural learning and with international volunteering I found an opportunity to dive in a global community.

Can you shortly introduce your organisation and projects there?

ACI (ICYE Costa Rica) is a non-profit organization with more than fifty years experience on working for a more united world. We facilitate exchanges, youth projects and non-formal education for global citizenship. We receive young people from all over the world in Costa Rica and send nationals abroad to participate in social or environmental projects. In our placements in Costa Rica international volunteers are working with different themes from child development to environmental protection and conservation.

What kind of network do you think best supports a volunteer? What connections and relationships does a volunteer need to have a successful experience?

The network should include professional organizations and teams to prepare and guide international volunteers, as well as host families and/or host projects, contact person in projects, a mentor from the hosting organization, former international volunteers, and other potential friendships in the communities.

International volunteering also builds connections at the local level. What kind of connections do your projects in Costa Rica create with the local community?

It varies depending on the projects. We work with a wide variety of social and ecological projects. In general, I would say that the projects connect groups in need with allies or support platforms. In other words, the connections are created between challenges, solutions, and actions. The projects are part of a larger chain in support of well-being and sustainable development in communities.

What would you say to a young person thinking about engaging in international volunteering, and possibly considering Costa Rica as their destination?

International volunteering can be a unique experience to broaden your mind and horizons. It’s a wonderful way to develop yourself both individually and globally. For me, it remains one of the best life experiences I’ve ever had – a blend of adventure, learning, and personal growth. If you are someone eager to connect with different cultures, explore other realities and engage in social actions, international volunteering is a fantastic opportunity. In Costa Rica we warmly welcome young people from all over the world to experience our “pura vida” life style, enjoy our rich nature, warm culture, and interesting history, all while being part of a positive impact and change.

Interview: Susanna Halme
Photo: Jonah Byars

Juttu on ilmestynyt MaailmanVaihtoa 1/2024 -lehdessä.

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