Volunteer as a teacher living and working as part of a remote indigenous community
A community of 800 indigenous people live in distributed settlements in 1,500 hectares of communal forest. Work and community life is traditionally managed through a cooperatives spirit. 11 community leaders have now come together to form an innovative cooperative to develop eco and cultural tourism.
The habitat in which they live is often taken by foreign investors for agriculture and tourism. They are at a disadvantage fighting for the protection of their forest and their way of life because they do not speak English and because people do not recognise them. Only 4 of the 11 community leaders have the English language skills necessary to explain their way of life to others.
A priority is to teach English to this adult group. You will also support them in their daily work to conserve the delicate forest environment and the cultural way of life. If you can advise on marketing and business development all the better.
By sharing their passion and understanding of the natural environment they hope to preserve their eco-system from destruction that has affected the majority of mainland Costa Rica. You do not have to be a trained teacher nor an expert in ecology, although we are sure this project would attract both. A passion to be involved, to be curious and to experience community life is paramount. In return this community will extend a warm welcome.
This volunteering opportunity in rural Costa Rica is suited to mature, well-travelled volunteers who will be confident teaching English to adults, as well as being a little further off the beaten track and support.
Living as part of the community you have the chance to adopt a number of roles. Specifically you can help with teaching English to the elders and others, but also get involved in patrolling the conservation area, keeping paths accessible, checking wildlife signs, and helping with the administration and development of this embryonic cooperative. There is also a possibility to help on a women’s skills share programme, sharing skills with them at occasional afternoon/evening meetings.
If you are interested in teaching, you would spend your mornings teaching in small community schools and your afternoons with small adult groups of up to 10 in number.
If you are interested in conservation, then in addition to teaching adults you’ll be partnered with one or more community leaders to help develop the eco-tourism business, being prepared to help in a variety of ways, from updating the website to organising administration and clearing trails.
This is broadly an unstructured cultural exchange experience with volunteer responsibilities thrown in. You’ll live with a family in the community so you must be prepared to participate with family life as part of the ‘project’.
By volunteering in this project you will be helping a community that has no other access to English teaching or business skills. The community is desperate to secure a future in sustainable tourism and retain their cultural identity, but needs the support of external volunteers to provide a step up in skills and resources.
I just wanted to let you know that I finished my last day of volunteering here in Costa Rica today. It's been a fantastic experience and I cannot fault anything!, Student, Costa Rica