Expanding my 6-year-old daughter's compassion and knowledge of the world thru voluntourism

By Chris Yenney

  • My Experience
  • Photos

My wife and I want to find volunteer efforts that my 6 yr old daughter can participate in to expand her compassion and knowledge of the people and world outside the US. The opportunity Travel for Good and Globe Aware provided us to volunteer in a small remote village in Costa Rica was so rewarding for all of my family.

It was over the July 4th holiday and only the 3 of us volunteered for the week. The program and guide were exceptionally coordinated and made us feel safe, prepared, and allowed us to completely immerse in the local culture. We painted doors in the school nutrition center including local children handprints for art and we painted outdoor recycling centers around town to weather proof them so the containers could be placed on them.

We also patrolled the beaches at night and found nesting sea turtles and collected their eggs while they were laying them and watched as the mothers would swim back into the ocean by moonlight. It was like a Disney movie participating in this with my daughter and learning about all of the dangers (poaching, fishing, nature, human development) and challenges the sea turtles face and the rest of the world because of them being endangered. My daughter also was lucky enough to be able to release 3 baby leatherback sea turtles back to the ocean one morning when they hatched while we were in the village.

We stayed in a local house in the village and every meal was prepared by a local family that ate with us and our guide. When we weren't doing projects our guide ensured we had an immersive cultural experience with the local villagers and learned tons about Costa Rica and Parismina as well. We swam in a lagoon with one local family and even though they didn't speak English our daughters overcame the language barrier and became great friends. We also made coconut candy with them over an open fire. We visited a local dairy farm and had breakfast, milked cows, and made local Costa Rican cheese. We visited a botanical garden and saw howler monkeys, a 3-toed sloth, held poison dart frogs and giant owl butterflies, fed toucans by hand, and saw a myriad of beautiful flora and fauna of Costa Rica.

Our guide picked fresh sugar cane for us to try, climbed trees and picked fruit if my daughter was interested in it, and showed us giant rhinocerous beetles(about 4" long) that we could hold. We attended a local village dance party with the villagers 2 nights and had a blast dancing with all of the locals. We ate local food including beans and rice 3 meals a day but also the many other vegetables, fruits, and meats that are staples in the Costa Rican diet. We also visited a banana plantation and coffee plantation to see the work being performed before it was exported.

The villagers were all so compassionate for the sea turtle efforts and thankful for our volunteering that it really warmed our hearts and made us appreciate everything we have. My daughter was able to see how other cultures live and how happy they are with what they have. We were so inspired we started taking Spanish as a family upon our return and are determined to speak it on our next voluntourism trip. We would love to go back to Parismina, Costa Rica, again but will probably wait a few years and try to experience other GlobeAware adventures in the meantime. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.

Additional Info:

Trip Duration: One Week
Country: Costa Rica
When: June 2008
Travel Provider: GlobeAware
Volunteer Experience Type: Environment / Wildlife
Organization: Costa Rican Caribbean Experience

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