First off, tell me about yourself!
Maureen: I am a Returned Volunteer (Honduras, 2007—2009) currently working in a government role in the area of graduate partnerships. I have been passionate about volunteer work since my college years in the DC area, through involvement in alternative spring break projects for , as well as weekly volunteer stints at a bilingual preschool. My love of volunteering later moved overseas, as I participated in a year-long study abroad program in Costa Rica during junior year of college. This experience only increased my love of volunteering, a love that led to a two-year stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
How did you decide on ASVO?
Maureen: ASVO was recommended to me by our study abroad staff. I paid a visit to their office in San José and also checked out the website, which was pretty extensive. They were very reasonably priced and had a wide variety of options. While most of their programs focus on work in the national parks, there was also a chance to live with a family and volunteer on a coffee cooperative in Monteverde. This sounded the most interesting to me, and I chose this option…within a few weeks, I was on my way to Monteverde!
What kind of volunteer work did you do, and how long were you there?
Maureen: I spent three weeks on this cooperative, living with an older woman and getting to know her family members who would visit on a daily basis. I was put to work picking the last of the coffee crop on the farm. In addition, I assisted with basic construction of a few buildings on the property.
Was the volunteer work about what you expected when you signed up?
Maureen: The work was not as intense as I’d originally anticipated. I had heard of ASVO volunteers who lived in less plush surroundings; I was living in a house with running water, electricity, and a room to myself, while other volunteers lived on the park grounds in cabin-like accommodations. In this regard, I think work varies from site to site; overall, however, I did feel that the work was meaningful.
Would you have changed anything about the trip?
Maureen: I would have loved to stay longer—three weeks was not long enough!
What was your favorite part of volunteering with ASVO?
Maureen: The interaction I had with the locals in my area was unparalleled. In my case, I learned so much about the campo lifestyle, one that I had never experienced before ASVO.
Would you recommend ASVO to a friend?
Maureen: Absolutely. I have nothing but fond memories of my volunteer experience through ASVO, and I praise this program as a credible, cost-effective and easy way to volunteer in Costa Rica.