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Community Development, Teaching & TEFL Internship in Costa Rica

Become TEFL certified, learn Spanish, explore Central America and receive career development opportunities


Program Information

Gain invaluable community development experience when you join an internship in the stunning coastal town of Quepos in Costa Rica. Your training will encompass leadership coursework; group training sessions; lesson planning; team management and teaching practises as you make a difference in this community by providing an education to children and adults while living in this stunning, culturally rich area.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to Latin America, to the laid back and naturally rich country of Costa Rica. Living in the community of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, this stunning location will be your home as you educate children and adults while gaining practical and invaluable community development, teaching and project management experience.



Your first 12 weeks will be spent working alongside other volunteers on our project in Costa Rica whilst also undertaking TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) training for your full certification. Interns will also receive ongoing training that encompasses leadership course work, one-on-one mentorship, group study, lesson planning, team management and teaching practises.

GVI's TEFL Certification is an accredited course through the International TEFL Academy and includes 150 hours of online coursework and 20 hours of practical training in the classroom.

On completion of a successful 12 weeks, interns will have the necessary skills to undertake our 12-week work placement. During this phase, interns will assist the GVI team in the operations and management of our programme, as well as developing our work in the local communities by implementing their own project ideas.

Throughout the course of your internship training and work placement phase, you will receive hands-on professional experience, weekly reviews, a final evaluation from a dedicated staff mentor and a confidential professional reference.

All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. GVI have been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1997 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects. The internship serves as a fabulous stepping stone to developing your personal career, whether it be through the valuable work experience you can gain or the purely unique teaching environment that surrounds you each day.

In the communities where we work, you will be expected to make an effort to speak Spanish. This programme provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn a new language and work with children at the same time. Speak to your coordinator about arranging group/1-on-1 Spanish lessons (extra to the programme) that will fully prepare you for life on the programme (Interns will have to do a min of 20 hours from the start unless they are fluent). We also recommend that you start practicing early in order to get the most out of your experience.

Program Details

Life on the Internship

Your First 12 Weeks

From Monday to Friday you will be working in local schools near Quepos teaching English, tutoring, assisting classroom teachers, participating/leading activities in sports, arts and crafts, and/or extracurricular workshops.  Outside of the schools, you will take on increasing responsibilities relevant to your area of focus, assisting the staff with house management and project development in order to develop your leadership skills.

GVI aims to create a safe and fun learning environment that allows you the opportunity to provide a variety of lessons that will contribute to the critical early stages of educational development of the local children. Interns will also be working on educational initiatives aimed at adults in the local communities.

Work Placement

After a successful 12 weeks, you will begin your work placement within the GVI team. Your role will see you take on increased responsibility as you take on a leadership role in planning and preparing for classes while managing the volunteers and assisting with the general running of the programme.

You will also be expected to complete a project you are passionate about that supports the project’s goals. You will be guided through the process of selecting your project, developing your ideas and, finally, implementation by a staff mentor on site.

Accommodation

Throughout your internship, you will be sharing accommodation in a comfortable house with other volunteers in Quepos, next to stunning Manuel Antonio National Park, where you will share amenities and general household duties such as cooking and cleaning on a rotational basis.

Project Details

Although the education system in Costa Rica is free, it is understaffed and lacking in resources.  With your help, the children can receive more one-on-one attention that will drastically enhance their educational development.

Intern tasks include:

  • Planning and delivering lessons

  • Organising arts & crafts workshops

  • Designing and delivering after-school activities

  • Organising after-school sports events and environmental lessons

  • Mentoring and coaching the future leaders of the community

  • Designing your own project that will continually help the volunteers and the community learn and grow


The ultimate goal of this programme is to establish a more efficient and stimulating learning environment for the local children.

*During school holidays, you may have the opportunity to organize alternative activities such as summer programs with educational games, arts and sports for the local children, or organizing the resources and doing community/restoration work such as painting or construction work.

How this project makes a difference:

In partnership with the local community in Quepos, Costa Rica, this programme was established to help reduce teacher to student ratios and help provide additional support to keep students engaged.

You will help provide assistance to the community through after-school programmes, sports, arts, English classes and more.

Throughout the course of your internship training and work placement phase, you will receive; hands-on professional experience; weekly reviews and final evaluation from a dedicated staff mentor; and, a confidential professional reference.

Quepos' short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Quepos:


1. Improve access to education and wellness to El Cocal community

2, Increase environmental awareness in the local community

3. Improve English literacy levels in Quepos community and surrounded areas

4. Ensure that GVI Quepos base provides volunteers and interns unique, safe, responsible travel experiences, exceptional training and career development opportunities, and facilitate the ability to make a real difference

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 170 hour TEFL Course
  • 20 hours Spanish classes in local community
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Certification and summary of training and experience received
  • Confidential professional reference
  • Final assessment prior to placement (for qualifying candidates)
  • Final evaluation from your mentor
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Teaching and class management techniques
  • Teamwork and leadership experience
  • Weekly assessments with a GVI staff mentor
  • Weekly evaulation with your mentor
  • Welcome meeting
  • Work placement (if successful during the first 12 weeks of the internship)

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • Food during the placement portion of your internship
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Spanish lessons
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Country Exploration

Joining a GVI program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer. Many decide to travel before or after their GVI experience, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.


Our own long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Weekend Trips

Manuel Antonio National Park

The gorgeous National Park of Manuel Antonio is less than a ten-minute bus ride away. Here lush tropical rainforests coincide with the stunning beaches of the Pacific coast. The park is acclaimed as one of the most biodiverse on the planet. Hike the forest trails or zipline through the canopies spotting exotic species like the mantled howler monkeys and two-toed sloths. You can also book a white water rafting trip.


Surfing

Costa Rica is well-known as a surfing destination and the Pacific Coast town of Quepos features some incredibly beaches. You can also explore nearby like Jaco, Dominical, Punta Arenas, and Playa Hermosa known for their excellent surfing conditions.


Mangrove Tour

Mangrove wetlands are a fragile, yet vital ecosystem, providing shelter to precious species, protection from tropical storms along coastlines, and act as a carbon sink, draining excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more about the importance of these systems by booking one of several mangrove tours in the Quepos area.


White-water Rafting

The coastal region of Quepos is dotted with rivers flanked with dense jungle. The powerful currents and diverse landscape make for excellent white-water river rafting.  


Kayaking and Canoeing

There are also many more peaceful rivers to explore on a kayak or canoe. The tranquil setting will allow you to spot local wildlife like monkeys and birds in the canopies above.


Canopy Tour

Fly through the rainforest like superman, walk gingerly across a suspended walkway, and rappel down jungle waterfalls, by booking on of the many canopy tours available.


Coffee Plantation Tour

Coffee connoisseurs can book a tour of one of the local coffee plantations. Costa Rica has a rich history of growing the crop, and you can learn about farming methods, both old and new, while sampling the local brew.


Further Travels

San Jose

Explore the capital of Costa Rica, for an insight into the country’s heritage and modern lifestyle. Learn about the country’s ancient cultures by visiting the Gold or Jade museums and visit restaurants to sample authentic Latin American fare.


Volcanoes

View the active volcanoes of Arenal and Poas from a safe distance and experience the beautiful natural habitats that flourish in the surrounding fertile soils.


National Parks

With one of the greatest biodiversities in the world and a commitment to preserving this unique natural heritage Costa Rica features many natural reserves that offer plenty of opportunities to spot one-of-a-kind wildlife.


Other Latin American Nations

There are plenty of opportunities for further exploration throughout Latin America. Travel South to Panama and then Colombia or North to Nicaragua and Honduras.


The Team

Hannah Watson

Education Officer
Meet Hannah, our happy education officer. Hannah joined the GVI staff after she decided to work abroad in the field, in a more face to face role. She has a degree in Spanish and English Literature, evidently making her a perfect fit for this role!

Hannah also has other impressive experience working abroad. "I worked in Spain for a year as a language assistant in a primary school. I then went to Colombia and I ran a conversation club in a University. When I returned from Colombia I got a job with World Challeng. In between all this I have nnterrailed around Europe, spent a summer volunteering in a hostel in Barcelona, helped to lead an expedition to Morocco, cycled around Cuba, hiked in Peru, rocked around the Galapagos and Ecuador, spied on Orangutans in Borneo and chased Penguins in the Falkland Islands!"

Luis Jimenez

Logistics Manager
Meet Luis, our well-travelled logistics manager! Luis studied Arts History and also has degree in Human Resources. His first contact with volunteer work was when he was studying at the University of Costa Rica and worked on a project to protect the sea turtles at Ostional beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Luis has a culturally diverse background as his stepfather was German and he had the opportunity to get to travel to some European, American and Latin American countries.

The chance to contribute to community development and help shape the children’s futures is what first attracted Luis to GVI. He loves getting to know and work with all the volunteers from around the world!

Eunice Jimenez

Base Manager
Meet Eunice, our experience base manager here in Quepos. Eunice is a Biologist with a Masters in high school education and has volunteer experience doing construction work in the middle of a forest in Germany, rebuilding some public areas in a small village in the north of Spain, and working with marine turtles in Costa Rica. She has also been lucky enough to have travelled around Europe, China, Canada and the USA.

Her internship as a Environmental Educator was what set her career into motion and now, years later, she is still pursuing her passion for the environment and teaching. She loves working for GVI as it gives her the opportunity to make a difference and to work with people from all around the world!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Cynthia Arochi Zendejas

Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!

Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.

The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.

What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”

Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

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Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Manuel-Antonio's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVICostaRicaManuelAntonio

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.