Called to be Volunteers in Costa Rican Rainforests

by 14 lubica
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Not long ago I arrived at the San José airport in Costa Rica. I was open to new experiences plus excited, minus my backpack which didn't make the connecting flight in Madrid.

The first few hours, I spent in San José which I would describe as any other big city; busy, dirty, and loud. Soon enough, I happily left the city behind and set on a journey to the outskirts of Carara National Park. Without civilization, cell phone network or Internet, I was supposed to stay with other volunteers in Arbofilia, the ecological & cultural restoration project in the park's Corridor and learn intensively Spanish for some weeks.

What was I doing there? I joined a group of 16 volunteers chosen to do the weltwärts programme coordinated by the Germany-based NGO called Pro REGENWALD. We all might have had different personal stories, age, life philosophy and opinions but we shared an eager interest to do a volunteer work in Costa Rica.

What does it mean to be a volunteer abroad? Some of us see it as learn & work programme, a multicultural exchange within the development context. We come here to learn in-depth about the environmental protection in Latin America and how local organizations develop their projects. At the same time we would like to contribute to their work, offer our skills and play a humble role in sustaining Costa Rican forests for future generations.

In order to fulfill this mission, each of us should set personal aims and goals at the very beginning. It is important to reflect about our own input and output of the volunteering year abroad. What kind of message do we want to leave here and what do we want to bring back to Europe?

Many of us do not know too many details about our future projects yet and what kind of tasks to expect. It is a big challenge when we are trying to adapt to the new world, Spanish language, Latino culture, and at the same time we are separated from the old life and its securities by an ocean.

Looking at it through a different ankle, uncertainty and change are natural elements of life and we are here to learn how to embrace them. It is also a challenge for the receiving organizations and our future supervisors to include volunteers who are coming only for a limited period of time into their structure of work. Often they need to get to know us personally to best define our role in the projects.

And so at the beginning of my journey as a volunteer in Costa Rica, I have decided to pack lots of discipline, concentration, patience and openness to the unknown. Love to explore new cultures, passion for languages and desire to connect with people across the globe are already seeded in my heart.

With every breath I plunge into the new environment. This is my new home now: sleeping in a simple open cabin in the midst of a forest, awakening to tropical trees, summing of cicadas and the soundscape of Costa Rican forest with all its life. Pura Vida. Pure Life.


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