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Carmela Chirinos - Alternative Spring Break, Care in Costa Rica

A Child at the Care Placement

My name is Carmela Chirinos. I am from Peru, but I currently attend a boarding school in the US. In Peru, my school offered us the opportunity to volunteer during breaks, so I was used to spending my time doing volunteer work around Peru. When I went to boarding school, I didn't want to stop volunteering. I had to look for a place where I could volunteer, and when I searched online for information about companies that offered this type of experience, I found Projects Abroad.

Projects Abroad impressed me the most because of the variety of projects offered for Spring Break. I could choose between Jamaica, Morocco, and Costa Rica. I chose Costa Rica because I wanted to work with kids and gain some experience and responsibility.

My Care Placement in Costa Rica

A typical day in Costa Rica started with waking up at six every day. I would get ready, have breakfast (by the way, Costa Rica has wonderful coffee), and then walk to the bus station with the other volunteers living with my host family. We would then have a 30-45 (depending on the traffic) minute bus ride to our work place and we would start working.

I was in a group with four other female volunteers and we decided we were going to switch the age groups we were working with so that each of us had a chance to work with in every classroom. I worked with kids from the ages from 1-5. The kids were great; they were all very energetic and creative. The babies would call us "mom" and there was even this one kid who called me "dad".

The Local Wildlife

Our main responsibilities were playing with the kids, taking them to the bathroom, helping the teacher with the activities that she gave the kids, feeding the babies, cleaning up after the kids, assisting with nap-time, and teaching games. One of my favourite memories in Costa Rica is probably when we taught the kids how to play Simon Says. We also taught them how to sing and we taught them another game that I knew from back home.

My Costa Rican Host Family

We would return to the house around 4pm and immediately our host family would do the best they could to make us feel at home. I got to try typical Costa Rican food like rice and beans and had a wonderful roommate. One of the things I remember best about living with my host family is having Samy, our host family’s dog, coming to wake us up every morning and then coming to say goodnight every night. This made me feel very at home!

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Carmela Chirinos

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