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Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Walnut Creek...
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Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Hello everyone,

I have been searching this forum for awhile and have not managed to find any helpful information, so if you don't mind, I'd like to inquire the following:

Does anyone know if it's possible to find FREE volunteer opportunities in or around San Jose, Costa Rica?

I've been searching around and it seems as if most opportunities you actually have to PAY for.

I will be teaching english in the San Jose area from mid June to mid December 2011. I am looking for something useful I can do with my free time, as I will only be working about 15 - 20 hours per week.

I would be interested in something I could simply show up to and help with...I'm not interested in anything I actually have to pay for, as I am already spending money to become TEFL certified so that I can teach. (Does anything like this even exist? Surely, someone could make use of my time!)

Does anyone have any experience with this? I'd really like to know. Thank you...I appreciate your time! :)

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

I think you could find any number of opportunities. Schools are always looking for volunteers to help out - especially with teaching English. There are always volunteer jobs working on "eco" or conservation projects that may be close to San Jose.

If I were you, I would wait until you get here and get settled and then look around and ask around. I think you will find a lot of things you can do.

Walnut Creek...
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2. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Thanks for your input. That is kind of what I'm hoping for - that I'll be able to find something just by asking around and showing up.

I was getting discouraged trying to search around online in advance, because mostly what is advertised are structured volunteer programs that have a cost because they house and feed you and everything...I don't need all that.

Just one of those things you can't really plan for, I suppose. :)

I'm hoping to find something to volunteer alongside locals so that I can practice my spanish at the same time.

Atlanta
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for Jaco, Bocas Town
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3. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Hattie is right, wait till you get there and check out the schools. We always volunteer at a school in Jaco and they love the help. They like us to bring kids books and help the kids with english. Our teens love helping at the school. You shouldn't have a problem finding a place to volunteer.

Edited: 24 March 2011, 23:20
Grecia, Costa Rica
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for Province of Alajuela
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4. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Hattie & Mrolfes have the right idea. When you look online for that sort of thing it is difficult to find something that doesn't cost you money to volunteer, but on the ground here yo can find many things to do.

I know a girl from Germany here right now volunteering at an orphanage in San Carlos, several wildlife refugees, schools, turtle conservation, many of these organizations would welcome a hand, and they all need it.

Double cheers for caring

Inca

Punta Uva, Costa...
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5. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

I wouid not want to stay anywhere near San Jose, try this organization in nearby Sarapiqui, my daughter spent a few months with them and had great things to say about them, http://www.learningcentercostarica.org/

Walnut Creek...
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6. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

This all sounds great! Thanks everyone for your ideas.

I'm not exactly sure what area I'll end up staying and teaching in. My certificate program is in San Jose, but after that, I'll most likely be moving anywhere I can find a teaching job in.

I've heard San Jose is pretty noisy and polluted. I think ideally, I might like to find a job and stay in one of the neighboring towns/areas like San Ramon or Alajuela. Since I have a goal of working on my Spanish, I would prefer to be in an area where I won't run into quite so many turists/english speakers.

I'm hoping that where ever I go, I'll be able to find some places that need my help! Seems like it is possible. :)

Tampa, FL
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7. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

The Sarapiqui area might be great for AFTER you have your certificate HOWEVER if you need to be "in the San Jose area" "15 - 20 hours per week" while you're teaching and working on your certificate, I would hardly describe that area as "nearby" as it is 2 hours by bus EACH way between San Jose and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Between your 3-4 hours per weekday of teaching and the 4hr r/t commute it would hardly allow much time for any volunteer work once you got there. OTOH, it MIGHT be an area you could volunteer at while working and studying in the SJ area IF you could just do it on weekends when you're not so tied down at school and it certainly could be a place to consider AFTER you're done in SJ (although they seem to charge $400/mo for room and board, though that is still not too bad as you will have those costs any way even if you did it on your own).

In fact, most of what you're paying for with these volunteer programs that you find on-line is your room and board (though many if not most also have an administrative fee component). So even though they SAY they charge volunteers so much per day, week or month, IF you want to try and nail something down before you go, you might want to try and contact them directly, explain that you already have room and board covered through your TEFL program and see if they will waive all or most of the fee if you don't utilize their housing services. You might be surprised what they'd be willing to do. In any event, it never hurts to ask.

As for San Jose, it is about as noisy and polluted as any small city, or at least any in an emerging country like CR and it wouldn't be the first choice of anybody who comes to CR for its natural beauty. OTOH, IMHO it is not nearly as horrible as most people make it out to be and, IF you have to stay in the area any way because of your teaching and studying requirements, it is not the necessarily the worst place you could be. You didn't say exactly WHERE in the SJ area you would be doing your work. If it is actually someplace OUTSIDE of SJ but nearby, then you should certainly stay someplace closest to wherever that happens to be. OTOH, if it is actually in SJ itself, the trade-off for living someplace else that is more desirable would be a more lengthy (and stressful commute). For example, Alajuela that you mentioned is over 30 minutes from central SJ by bus. San Ramon is nearly 1.5 hours away. If your school is on the west side of SJ, you could certainly live in an area that is a bit nicer than SJ itself, such as the neighborhoods of Sabana and Rohrmoser or even the suburb of Escazu (but will be surrounded by a lot of English speakers). If your studies are out by UCR in San Pedro (on the west side of town), you could stay in San Pedro or even Curridabat or Tres Rios, where you'll see much fewer gringos. You'll start to get away from the worst of SJ smog and congestion in these areas, but to be in truly bucolic areas you'll need to go much further out which will necessarily add to your commute. So maybe your best bet is to accept a certain degree of urbanism while you're there (and pretty much stuck with it) and make the best of it (it really won't be so bad). And THEN move to your more desirable area still nearby to SJ but a bit further out once you're done with your school and don't need to go into SJ every day.

Personally, I really like San Ramon too (and to a lesser degree Alajuela though it is much closer to SJ). For some good on-line info on the San Ramon area you might want to check out http://www.costaricapm.com. It is an english language real estate site but the info they provide is very honest and straightforward (sorry, not much there on volunteer ops in that area). Nearby Atenas is another very popular town in that same general area, as is Grecia. But don't rule out places east of SJ such as Cartago, Turrialba and the Orosi valley area.

Walnut Creek...
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8. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Thank you so much for all the info! That is VERY helpful!

As it turns out, my schooling will actually take place in San Pedro. You mentioned this as somewhere I won't be as likely to run into quite so many English speakers - this excites me! While I'm going to to school, I imagine my TEFL program will place me in or very near the training facility in San Pedro (they assist with your housing for the 4-week duration of the course). After I finish the class, I'll pretty much be responsible for my own housing accommodations, which I prefer to be within close proximity to where ever I can land a job (for communicating purposes). Since I can't quite be sure where I'll be able to find a job, it's just one of those things I'm going to have to wait for to find out.

BUT...after what you said, it seems as if, in the event I can land a job in San Jose, I might be able to continue living in the San Pedro area since it is only a 10-minute or so commute (am I correct on this?) That might be ideal, as I'd be able to stay in a less touristy area but still have the opportunities of the city at my fingertips.

Walnut Creek...
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9. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Also...I forgot to mention - that is a really good idea about contacting those volunteer programs beforehand and inquiring about whether it is possible to waive the housing expenses. Thanks! :)

Montezuma, Costa...
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10. Re: Volunteer for FREE in San Jose, Costa Rica?

Hello,

I hope it is not too late, but my husband & I are looking for a volunteer to help with horsecare in exchange for riding time, accomodation & food. We can also arrange for volunteer English lessons if you want to do that.

Please PM me if you are interested

Cheers