Volunteers' Reviews

Name: George Cameron Snider
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica
Travel Date : March 2018
Project of Volunteer : Turtle Conservation (Osa)

We had an amazing experience and really appreciate you connecting our family with this great group.

Regards,
Cameron & Annegien Snider

Do you recommend IFRE volunteers to other volunteers?

Yes No

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Evaluation Form

Name: Yeon Ji Kim
Date and Country of Volunteer : June, 2014, Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 4
  • Accommodation
  • 4
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 4
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering with IFRE. Don Geraldo at the coffee farm is very kind and understanding and I have learned a lot about sustainable agriculture by working with him. The program coordinator, Tina, is awesome and answered every question I had before and during my stay here. My host mother, Damaris, is a great cook and I enjoyed communicating with her though I speak very limited Spanish and she doesn’t speak any English. The Spanish lessons were great – David is fantastic, he will answer any question about culture or travelling and give you the best advices – and all the other volunteers and local people I’ve met in Atenas were very welcoming and kind. In short, I had an amazing experience!

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: yeonjikim0722@hotmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Marie Lilly
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • no airport pickup
  • Food
  • 4
  • Accommodation
  • 4
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 4
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I had a really wonderful experience volunteering with sea turtles in the Osa Peninsula. My host family was amazing (great people, great food, also very nice that they could accommodate my vegetarian diet) and all of the staff on site were very friendly and good at explaining what needed to be done with the turtles. I learned so much about sea turtles, their habitats, and what can be discovered from studying them. It was also great to practice my Spanish and I really felt a connection to the local community, making it difficult to say goodbye.

I would definitely say that the organization is well run. However, during my project orientation at the office in San Jose, I was given a sheet with very specific instructions to get off the bus in the town of Puerto Escondido and that my host family would be waiting for me there. In reality, I should have gotten off at the next stop. I was fortunate enough to encounter a local who knew the people at Widecast and was able to drive me the 10-15 Kilometers to the project site, but this mistake is one that should easily be cleared up in the San Jose office by confirming which towns the host families live in.

Anyway, overall I had a an absolutely great time volunteering on this project and would recommend it to anyone with a sense of adventure and love of nature (and sea turtles of course!).

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: marievlilly@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Kikki
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 3
  • Airport pick up
  • 3
  • Food
  • 3
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 3
  • Volunteer Project
  • 4
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I was in Costa Rica for 3 weeks, volunteering in an orphanage …I think it has been the most amazing experience.

I went there wanting to help someone, and instead the kids helped me.

It has been wonderful to work with Cherry, she’s an extraordinary woman and I could never have expected a more fulfilling experience.

The country is beautiful, and during the weekends we also got the chance to travel a little bit and discover so many wonderful places.

I will definitely do it again, it has changed me.

I am also thinking of going back to Cherry’s children home after high school and stay with them for a while.

My timetable went from 8AM to 12PM but at the end of the first week I asked to do from 8AM to 5 30PM because I just couldn’t have enough of the kids.

I sincerely loved every moment of my volunteer experience.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: kikki.ledda@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Julie Truong
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 4
  • Accommodation
  • 4
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 4
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

My volunteer experience at IFRE was a great one as it was my first time volunteering abroad. My host mother, Xinia, and her family are fantastic, very welcoming, and accommodating. She is a fantastic cook and really takes time to get to know you. Living in a small city in Atenas is a great experience because you get to really experience the culture and people. I really enjoyed my project at the rural school, the kids are so warm and sweet. The English teacher I worked with was absolutely wonderful, and the staff at the school were really great engaging me in conversation even though my Spanish was poor.

There was lots to do on the weekends travelling to different cities. IFRE is a good organization, Tina was extremely helpful with everything and Andreas made sure we were well acquainted with the city ensuring that we knew how to take the bus to our designated projects.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: truong.julie@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Julie Phillips
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 4
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 2
  • Volunteer Project
  • 4
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

Overall, I am very pleased with my volunteer experience. I found this to be the best way for me to travel, to be immersed in the Spanish language, to volunteer and be involved in the schools and to travel and experience Costa Rica.

Working in the local school was very rewarding and I love the English teacher that worked with me. We taught each other a lot and are planning for her to visit me in Nebraska next year. Every person in the community, from bus and taxi drivers to school employees to neighbors, was generous, kind, helpful and eager to talk with me. My Spanish comprehension and speaking skills have improved due to this experience.

The weekend trips were lovely, whether I was traveling with a group or alone. Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and it was awe-inspiring to walk right into the warm sea surrounded by such beauty.

My host family and I never really bonded with each other personally, but they offered me great food, a safe place to stay and all my laundry done regularly. When I fell down and skinned my knee and threw my ripped and bloody pants into the trash, my host mom, Ana Maria, fished them out, washed them and turned them into a nice pair of shorts for me :-). It’s possible that we were just very different and didn’t really have much in common but I enjoy spending time on my own and I managed just fine.

Tina was wonderful; very knowledgeable always available to answer questions, look up travel information or just to offer advice, and it was comforting to know that Su Espacio was always there as a resource or just a place to meet people and touch base during my six weeks in Atenas.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: jphillips5@cox.net

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Evaluation Form

Name:Lorena Barrales
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 4
  • Accommodation
  • 4
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 4
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I have had a wonderful time with Su Espacio and Costa Rica. Our host family was very welcoming and friendly. Despite having 6 women sharing a bathroom we all found a way to make it work. The food has been amazing. I have many recipes and photos of traditional Costa Rican mealsmade by Xina. Xina is an awesome cook and is so sweet and patient. Her girls are hilarious and we felt very included by them. They took care of us and worried about us. They are truly amazing people.

All the staff has been lovely at Su Espacio. Tina and Andres were wonderful at making you feel at home and giving information and making you feel looked after. My wonderful tutor Daysi who went above and beyond with our lessons.

I will truly miss my school. The kids were a lot of fun and so loving. They are so curious and interested in you. It was very easy to teach. My English teacher Lily is the best!!! She was a fountain of knowledge on Costa Rican history, culture, traditions, stories, food and dance. She allowed me to take part in so many activities and was open to ideas and games from me as well. She is a fabulous teacher.

Overall a wonderful experience!!!

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: lorenabarrales@hotmail.com




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Evaluation Form

Name: Jené Etheridge
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

Volunteering with IFRE was a really great decision. The USA staff was really helpful when I had any questions, but the local coordinator, Tina, was always available to answer questions. She knows so much about Costa Rica, having traveled to almost all of the touristy (and not-so touristy) spots so she was always a great resource for planning any trips. She was also very flexible; I was able to change projects without a problem. My host family was really great, they only spoke Spanish but having taken it for about 7 years I had no problem with communication. The thing about Costa Rican families is they usually overfeed you, but communicating to the family that I preferred less wasn’t a problem. The only downside to living with a host family was that specifically in my family my host mom was a little distant, so I didn’t converse in Spanish as much as I wanted to, but everything else was great! Living in another country is obviously different, but as long as you come in with those expectations then there shouldn’t be any other complaints. I volunteered at 3 projects: the orchid farm, organic coffee farm, and teaching English. I enjoyed each project for different reasons, and would easily do any of them again. Everyone at each project was very friendly and welcoming, and I was always excited to go to each project every day. Living in Costa Rica for 3 months gave me a new perspective on the culture, nature, people, and every-day life. Atenas is a small town, with not many tourists at all, so you get a really good feel of what Costa Rican life, but you also have the opportunity to go see the more fast-paced areas where more tourists go. I would definitely recommend volunteering through IFRE

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: jene_eden@comcast.net

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Evaluation Form

Name: Eleanor Leatham
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I did not meet many of the USA staff, but the few i met were really helpful and friendly. i did get nervous the week before the trip because i had not heard from anyone from the program, which made me a little nervous. i would have benefited from a check-in phone call, just to confirm that everything was good and in order.

The airport pick-up was smooth and easy; very much appreciated seeings how getting to/from he airport is often the most stressful part about traveling.

The food was very delicious except my host mom, Gena, over-fed me and and it did cause some tension. while i enjoyed her food immensely, i like to try foods from cafes and street vendors too, and as much as i tried to communicate to her that i was not hungry and had already eaten, she was determined to continually feed me very large portions.

Gina herself was very wonderful though! very affectionate and caring. i enjoyed her company so much and felt so welcome in her home; she is a wonderful person and i would definitely recommend her for EVERY volunteer.

The volunteer project i choose was the Turtle Program, which i was a little disappointed by. i wish the project description had been more descriptive either on the website, or in the follow-up email. i was expecting to work with larger, more exotic turtles, not domestic/sick turtles. or at least have a field-trip to see the sea turtles. the people working at the tortufauna were really wonderful, however i would not recommend this project for someone such as myself, a 26 year old visiting for a short period of time, hoping to accomplish something substantial. i would recommend it more for young persons, or people that are not looking for a serious commitment. i did get to visit the Coffee Program, which i feel would have been a better match for me.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: quynniecake@Yahoo.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Quynh Sam
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I signed up to teach English to kids at a rural school. I was assigned to a school in a nearby neighborhood where I worked with kids from grades 1 - 6. The English teacher had a lesson planned each day and I would assist her in teaching the students, mostly with pronunciation and comprehension. The kids were great and a lot of fun to work with. The only major complaint I had was that I had several days where I came in, sat idly for several hours, and then left because the teachers had no work for me to do.

Outside of the classroom, I had a great experience and learned a lot. Atenas is a small and tranquil city with very little tourism. I was able to get a look at true Costa Rican living and I was forced to use my Spanish, two things I really looked forward to. It really helped that my host family was great. They took me to meet a bunch of my relatives and treated me like one of their own. That was something I didn't expect but I'm really glad I got to experience.

Volunteering abroad and living with a host family is something I definitely plan to do again. I was able to see different aspects of the beautiful country of Costa Rica. I experienced the small town lifestyle on the weekdays and then visited some of the most popular tourist destinations on the weekends. Overall, it was an exciting and eye-opening experience.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: quynniecake@Yahoo.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Erin Shaw
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I absolutely loved my time here. The only thing I wish was different is that there were more activities (volunteering) in the afternoons because sometimes I felt like I wasn’t doing anything. Other than that, I loved teaching English classes and I loved my host family. China is the sweetest woman and she makes the best food. Any other volunteer that gets placed there is very fortunate. I felt like Tina was great in her organization of programs and that fact that she was very flexible with our schedules and understanding of the fact that we wanted to travel as well as work. I think this is an incredible program and a wonderful opportunity for future participants and I would recommend it to anyone interested in traveling abroad and helping others.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: ermshaw@umail.iu.edu

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Hello,

This is Martin, and first off I want to thank you for all of your help! I had an incredible experience in Costa Rica, working with the sea turtles, and I could't have done it without you! For twelve days I was on the Caribbean beach, which in itself was awesome. But rather than just sitting on a beach doing nothing, I was making a difference; I felt needed and useful.

Every night we would patrol the beach, looking for turtles. Now that probably sounds pretty easy, seeing how an adult leatherback turtle is close to two meters long, but it wasn't. We would patrol from, either, 8:00pm-12:00am or 12:00am-4:00am, and of course bright lights would frighten the turtles, we had to walk in the dark. So it was quite a task, dividing your attention between scanning the beach and shore for turtles, and watching right in front of you so you didn't trip on anything. It was quite an adventure!

All in all, it was fantastic. The volunteers were great, the project was great, and even the hard work was great! I would definitely recommend this to anyone!

Again, thank you so much for making all of this possible!

Kind regards,
Martin Hennessey

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Evaluation Form

NameNeha Shah
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I volunteered at Su Espacio, the community center in Atenas. I worked with IFRE last year and felt that I got more out of this volunteer experience because we had to run our own English classes daily. It was great to see the progress students made as I was able to work with them for a month total. I enjoyed the experience a lot and would recommend the program to someone looking for a similar experience.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: nehashah84@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Casey-Fithen
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I highly recommend using IFRE volunteers to volunteer or travel abroad. They picked us up right from the airport and took care of us every step of the way. Tina Newton, the Costa Rica country coordinator was fantastic. She answered any questions we had, was helpful in booking excursions, and had extensive knowledge of the do’s and don’ts of Costa Rica. The IFRE USA sent out regular emails and kept in contact extremely well, even during the trip to make sure that everything was going great. We had zero problems, but if we did I am positive that IFRE would have handled them in a professional and timely manner. Our host family has been absolutely amazing. We stayed with Manuel and Migdalia Quesada and they were accommodating, caring, and had a great sense of humor. I would recommend for anyone to stay with this family, but especially those who have a real drive to learn or practice Spanish, because they have a large extended family that is always around the house and Migdalia loves to have conversations and learn about other cultures and people. After all the amazing things we have done and seen in Costa Rica, living at the Quesada’s is what I will miss the most. Both of the projects we did were incredible. The sea turtle station was a great opportunity to help an endangered species and perfect for anyone who loves animals or is studying in a science or biology field. The coffee farm was great as well. Gabriel and his wife who run the farm day to day are caring and extremely interesting people. Gabriel cares a lot about what he is doing with the organic processes on the farm and it show in the quality of the coffee he produces. To any coffee connoisseurs who want to work on the farm, I recommend bringing an extra suitcase to bring back all the coffee you will want to give to friends and family. This trip is an experience I will never forget and I have nothing but good things to say about IFRE and everyone who works for them.

Suggestions: Please let future volunteers know that if they are working at the seas turtle station that they will need long sleeve shirts, long pants, and long socks. We went without these for a while and the mosquitoes and sand fleas were difficult to deal with. The website only says beach clothes, red light, and repellant, but the long clothes are necessary to keep the bugs at bay. Thanks IFRE for everything!

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: cfithen012@gmail.com; cfithen@neo.tamu.edu

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Evaluation Form

Name:Emily Morrow
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

My experience here in Costa Rica was incredible to say the least. I volunteered for 10 weeks- five weeks spent working with the sea turtles and the other five working on an organic coffee farm. From start to finish I enjoyed every minute. IFRE was great with picking me up and making sure I was adjusting well. I stayed with Migdalia and Manuel Quesada an incredible host family. They made sure to include me and the other volunteer in numerous family gatherings, truly making us feel like a part of the family. I could not have asked for a more caring and helpful host family. Because I studied Spanish it was imperative for me to practice all the time and this family helped me by only talking to me in Spanish. The work on the turtle reserve was very rewarding. We released thousands of hatchlings during my five week stay and harvested turtle eggs during the evenings. It was a little difficult dealing with the insects and lack of resources but I enjoyed it overall. The last five weeks at the coffee farm were spectacular. I learned everything there is to know about organic coffee farming (washing, drying, peeling, roasting, and packing coffee beans). I also brought back over 20 bags of the coffee I helped with to my family and friends. Learning about the organic process was quite humbling and made me appreciate this rich country even more. Thank you IFRE for making this experience unforgettable!

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

-just a note to future volunteers who are going to volunteer at the sea turtle station: The only thing it says you need is a red light but you will be limited to water, electricity, and refrigeration there. It is an amazing experience but I stayed on the station for 5 weeks (the only way to leave is by boat which only goes out for supplies) and wished I would’ve brought a few more items.

  • long sleeve shirts, pants, and socks- the mosquitoes are terrible as are the sand fleas but this will help you not have as many bites during night patrols.
  • extra batteries for your red light
  • rain pants for when it rains on the beach and a rain jacket, if possible a rain cover for your backpack or luggage
  • mosquito net
  • good walking shoes
  • lots and lots of GOOD mosquito repellent, I used it more than sunscreen
  • snacks for your stay- the food is mostly beans and rice without much flavor and can get a little old

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers?? If yes, e-mail: Yes !
Emily morrow_e@neo.tamu.edu

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Evaluation Form

Name:Allison Skopec
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

My volunteer experience through IFRE at Su Espacio has been nothing short of exceptional. The night before I left for Costa Rica, I experienced an onslaught of anxiety because I had never been to Central America and knew very minimal Spanish. However, once I arrived in San Jose and was greeted by Josua I could tell that IFRE was very detailed oriented and my previous fears faded away. My project was at Su Espacio and I worked closely with Tina Newton. Tina really helped me adjust and acclimate to Costa Rica through her constant encouragement and lively personality. Working with Tina was really great because she encouraged me to pick up different projects and help out Su Espacio with my art skills.

IFRE was so helpful and diligent in providing me with all the details I needed to know before and during my stay in Costa Rica; it made the entire process seamless. I would definitely recommend IFRE to any friends considering going abroad and I am already starting to save up money for another IFRE program for next summer.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: askopec@trinity.edu

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Evaluation Form

Name: Jessica Colburn
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

Overall, I had a fantastic time. I enjoyed teaching the English Classes the first two weeks. I also had the opportunity to volunteer in the schools, which was a blast! I would of actually liked to spend more time volunteering. However, I did enjoy taking Spanish classes in the afternoon. The weekend trips that were suggested turned out to be great day trips! I truly will always cherish my month spent in Costa Rica because of the opportunities I had, the people I met, and the places I saw.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: jescolburn09@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name:Stott Buchannan
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

The IFRE Costa Rica volunteer trip was an unbelievable experience for both my mom and me. I was a bit nervous at first, being that this was the first time in 25+ years my mom had traveled abroad, and most of the volunteers were a younger age; nonetheless, Tina and the other volunteers were more-than accommodating to both of us, and worked every day make our stay as comfortable and worthwhile as possible. Really, she went above and beyond what needed to be done for the both of us: advice regarding customs, cultural quirks, speaking skills, our volunteer projects, weekend trips, everything. If we needed help, she was there to give it. Having that staff behind us was reassuring for us, and made it easier to integrate into the Costa Rican culture. I feel like I hit the jackpot with my package. Our housemother had housed 43 previous volunteers, so she had the system down. I immediately befriended her two daughters as well, and they integrated my mom and I into their house as though we were family. The meals were delicious. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I miss it already and it’s only been a week. My mom and I had two separate rooms which was more than either of us could’ve asked for. The house was clean from top to bottom. Clothes were washed twice a week. Overall, amazing accommodations. As for my project, I got the best situation possible. I was with an English teacher, Glenda Rodriguez, who had two degrees from University and worked everyday to include me in the teachings. She was easy to talk to, and even went out of her way to take my mom and I out to the zoo and other areas in Atenas. I connected with the students almost immediately, and even after two weeks of teaching, it was pretty hard to say goodbye.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: ScottBuchanan7@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Lauren
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

My volunteer experience was amazing. I spend a total of 12 days in Costa Rica and wish I could have been there for much, much longer. I made amazing friends, had amazing food, and experience an amazing culture. Originally I was supposed to work in a government run day care facility but that changed when I arrived. My volunteer experience ended up being a school-based project and involved teaching English. I worked with children between the ages of pre-k to grade 5. I taught them basic English words while working in conjunction with the English teacher at the school in San Miguael.

Overall, my experience was really positive. I would highly recommend others to have the same experience.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: laurenmacbeth@yahoo.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Rebecca Dean
Country of Volunteer : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I felt very welcome in Costa Rica from the second I met Hannia at the airport. This continued with meeting my host family and to orientation with Tina and the other volunteers, all the way to my project school, Estanquillos. I truly enjoyed every minute of my experience in Atenas. The teachers and students at the school were so nice and I enjoyed teaching English to the enthusiastic students with the great English teacher, as well as practicing Spanish with the other teachers and the students. My host family was more than welcoming and accommodating. They made me feel like part of the family from the day I got to their house. I am going to miss them dearly. Tina and Hannia were more than helpful answering questions, working out logistical issues with my project, helping with information for weekend travels, etc. It was very helpful that Hannia physically took us to our projects the first day, rather than just telling us what bus and what time. Interacting with the other volunteers was so great as well. Since we were all in different houses it was so nice to have Su Espacio there as a “home base” type place where we could all meet up. Overall my experience in Costa Rica was incredible.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers?? If yes, e-mail: Beccaboo9@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Jennifer Huybregts
Date and Country of Volunteer Program: Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I really loved my volunteer project. I was volunteering at a temporary home for abused and neglected children and it was a really fun experience. The ladies who worked there were very friendly and all I had to do was play with the kids and help them with their homework. The children were really fun and well taken care of. The only downside of the project was that it was a bit of a journey to get out to the project as it was in a different town. However the kids at the home made the journey worthwhile.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers?? If yes, e-mail: Jennifer.huybregts@gmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name: Ashley Drinkwalter
Date and Country of Volunteer Program: : Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I loved my volunteer experience in Costa Rica! The host family was amazing and made me feel comfortable in their home. The food was great and everyone was friendly. The field staff were awesome and very helpful. They made sure that my volunteer experience was the best it could be. I volunteered at a childcare/orphanage. The staff there are such hard workers. The language barrier was difficult but at the end of the week I had learn a lot more spanish! The children were the best part, I loved working with them! I hope I can volunteer again someday because of the great experience I had in Costa Rica!

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: no thank you

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Evaluation Form

Name: Shaina Schafers
Date and Country of Volunteer Program: Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 4
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 2
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 2
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

I had an amazing time in Costa Rica. Tina, the country coordinator was really great and was ready to help with anything I needed. The project that I worked on was a free English classes camp for any kids that wanted to come (while they were on a two week break from school). We planned the lessons and created a fun, relaxed space in the classroom, and it was so much fun! My host family was really great; I played volleyball with my host sister all the time, listened to my brother play guitar and learnt how to salsa and meringue with my host mother on the weekends when we would go out dancing. All in all my family was really awesome and the food was great, nothing too crazy, but still different enough that it was certainly a cultural experience.

My actual house was also really great; I had my own room and space to be alone if I wanted to be. I was overwhelmed at first at the fact that my family didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Spanish, but as soon as I learnt the basics sit was OK. The Spanish lessons were great, and I can’t even believe how much I learnt to speak during my stay of one short, amazing, month in Costa Rica. This is the way to learn Spanish: emersion! It was also great to meet all the other volunteers, and we would often hang out in the evening at one of the restaurants/ pubs in town. The town of Atenas is safe, beautiful and full of friendly people as well. I also did the adventure tour (as part of the Youth Summer Abroad Volunteer and Adventure Tour that IFRE offers) and it was really great. It was only me, two other volunteers and our guide, which was surprising to me at first, and a little disappointing that it wasn’t a larger group, but it turned out to be really awesome anyways! Our guide was so much fun! She was also completely bilingual and knowledgeable about her country. All in all, my trip was perfect! I just wish I would have booked it for longer.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle) (i) Yes (ii) No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: shainaschafers@hotmail.com

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Evaluation Form

Name:Beth Shaffer
Date and Country of Volunteer Program: April 5-12, 2014, Costa Rica

Please rate the following as 1--poor, 2--good, 3--very good or 4-- excellent:

  • USA Staff
  • 3
  • Airport pick up
  • 4
  • Food
  • 3
  • Accommodation
  • 3
  • Host Family
  • 4
  • Volunteer Project
  • 4
  • Field staff
  • 4

Please summarize your about volunteer experience (please attach extra sheet if necessary) with IFRE.

My husband and I spent one week in Atenas, Costa Rica volunteering with Su Espacio and we were very impressed and satisfied with the program from the very start. I served as the English teacher for those who had set up lessons for that week and my husband taught / played guitar at one of the children’s homes. It turned out that some of the English students cancelled and so I was lucky enough to help out with the rehearsal for the ballet classes next recital.

We had two full days on either end of our week and so we arranged with the coordinator and owner of Su Espacio, Tina, to do some sight-seeing. We went kayaking in Jaco and then toured an organic coffee plantation both in the same day. Tina organized a private driver for us, who was excellent. We really enjoyed both of those activities. We also toured La Paz waterfalls and went to Volcan Poas – although it was too cloudy to see the volcano! Tina also arranged something very special for my husband which was to play guitar with some locals. That was a great way to interact with locals on a different level.

Our host family was wonderful. We were very content there although the room was hot a couple of nights and with mosquitos a couple of nights. Still, 2 out of the 8 nights of discomfort did not make our stay unpleasant and we would return to do it again. The bed was comfortable, but my husband did use ear plugs to block out the motorcycle traffic noise right outside. Our host family was very generous with what they had and treated us like members of the family. All in all, we slept and ate very well.

I was nervous about teaching English as I had not done it before, but there were materials at Su Espacio, progress logs on each student, and a detailed down load of each student by Tina prior to my meeting with them. Only two (children) classes were in groups – the rest were one on one. I loved it so much, I am thinking of taking teaching English more seriously. Tina gave me a lot of freedom and confidence and that was helpful for me to develop my own style and confidence.

I truly wish we could have stayed more than a week, but it was very doable with just a week and I don’t regret traveling the distance for the short time.

Do you recommend IFRE program for others (please circle)

Yes No

Can we pass your e-mail to interested potential volunteers? If yes, e-mail: Yes, that’s fine. My personal e-mail address is: bshaffer@comcast.net

Working at Atenas Preschool

I liked that the volunteer program offered many different options for types of volunteer work and that the whole experience is customizable for each individual. I had a wonderful time working at Atenas Preschool. The staff was so gracious and incredible with the kids. They made me feel very welcome from the beginning. The children were such a joy and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

My host family was amazing and truly treated me like a member of the family. They all were encouraging and helpful with my learning of Spanish and my host mom was extremely patient with my progress and very accommodating of my vegetarian diet.

I learned a lot and really enjoyed the Spanish classes. The teacher's humor and patience made every class enjoyable. Two hours per day was perfect.

Louisa

Our Experience in Costa Rica

We arrived in Costa Rica Jan. 1, 2007 to, luckily for us, start the new year by doing volunteer work. Our host city was Atenas in Costa Rica and our host family could not have been nicer. We had our own room and a large family to nurture and take care of us. Our limited Spanish was augmented with daily Spanish lessons from a native of Atenas who enlightened us as to the history of the area. Our volunteer work took place in a municipal forest which was a 20 minute bus ride up into the hills above Atenas. The setting was gorgeous. We were surrounded by green hills and mountains, cattle grazing, coffee plantations and the Pacific sparkling to the West. We maintained trails by reinforcing steps built into the hillside, building water bars, using machetes to clear the underbrush and making signs to place along the trail sides. .

Highlights of our trip included: Living in a beautiful climate and city, riding the bus to and from our work, learning Spanish from funny, patient Yadira, enjoying the food our host family served us, sitting in the park under the Palm Trees, successfully finishing our work in the forest, visiting the ocean and volcanos over the weekends and most importantly, getting to know and enjoy our host family. We spent many evenings in the cool of their porch speaking about our days and our lives. And in the course of these conversations, learning and understanding Spanish and for our host family, English.

Thank you Tina and Nolan for having us, placing us with the Arguedas.Marin family and providing us with a truly wonderful experience.

Priscilla and Don Maddocks
Essex Junction, Vermont

My time in Costa Rica was a wonderful opportunity

I just got back to my home in Minnesota safe and sound. My overall experience in Costa Rica was wonderful! I truly loved being in Atenas. Learning to speak with the people of the town was great for me. I thought I'd be volunteering more than what I did, but in the end it was okay. At the volunteer site, I felt that help really wasn't needed. I tried asking for things to do, but then I felt like a burden. The women there were great sports though, and always helpful. My time in Costa Rica was a wonderful opportunity!

Caitlin Joyce

My Time in Costa Rica

I think that IFRE gives people a great opportunity to learn about the communities in Costa Rica and have a great vacation. Su Espacio is an ideal location for people who want to learn more and indulge themselves into the rich culture of Costa Rica .

One of the greatest things about Costa Rica isn't the mountains, or the volcanoes, or the forest, and not even the beaches. But, it's the wonderful people that you will meet when you stay in this beautiful country. The citizens will take you in with a warm smile and treat you as if you are one of their own, and if what interests you is learning more about the country, then Atenas , Costa Rica is the place to do it.

Dominique Sloan

My trip to Costa Rica

My trip to Costa Rica has been even better than I had hoped. From my smooth arrival at the airport, to my spanish classes and volunteer program, everything has been very well planned, and organized. During the week I am able to take advantage of the wonderful, peaceful
town of Atenas, and on weekends I have the freedom to travel around this beautiful country to get a full perspective of the culture.

The children, and workers at the orphanage are very greatful, and I felt welcomed there from the first day. I also feel like I am making a true contribution and that I have been able to really help out down here.

Jill Magnani
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