A UBELONG Volunteer in Costa Rica exploring the local volcanoes

“I was challenged everyday.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Addison Stanley
Age: 18
Hometown: Rochester Hills, Michigan
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (intermediate)
Occupation: Nanny
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Disadvantaged Youth in Cartago, Costa Rica
Duration: 13 weeks
Start month: September 2017
Claim to fame: Besides being a nanny, Addison volunteers at a local hospital in her hometown four days a week. Wonderful to have you on board, Addison!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer because I wanted the opportunity to give back to the world in some way. I felt like I needed to experience a different part of the world before starting my college studies. I looked at many organizations to do volunteer work through but UBELONG seemed like the best fit. They were very helpful and friendly in the beginning of the process of applying to be a volunteer (as well as when I was at my project). I felt welcomed before I was even part of the UBELONG Family. They also had many nice reviews and interviews from previous volunteers that convinced me that I would thoroughly enjoy my time with their organization. I am very happy to have chosen UBELONG.

What did you take from the experience?
I learned countless things from my experience. A huge part of my great experience was getting to know how to do things on my own. I learned to put myself out there and try new things by my own will. I was placed at a local orphanage in Paraiso, Costa Rica. Only Spanish was spoken in the orphanage, so it was frustrating at times, but of course extremely beneficial to my understanding of the language. I was challenged everyday to get better at expressing myself in a foreign language and it in turn obviously made my knowledge of the language advance more than I would have thought it could. Not only did working there help my Spanish skills, but it also sparked my love for children that I did not know I had. I wanted to take every single child home from the orphanage. It was unbelievably heart-breaking having to leave them, but they all made such a special place in my heart and I am so thankful to have been able to spend time with such loving kids.

I will remember each of them so fondly, they have changed my life for the better. I also made many life-long friends in fellow volunteers and memories that I will cherish forever. I am very lucky to say that I was able to be immersed in a foreign country. This volunteer trip matured me and prepared me for any challenge that life could throw at me.

Tell me about someone you met that impressed you?
Several people that I met during my trip really impressed me. All of my local UBELONG Team Members definitely made an incredible impression. Alberto, Diego, and Vilma are the kindest, most comforting, funnest people in the world. The UBELONG Team also had an intern working in their office, Maaike. It was amazing having her experience Costa Rica with me. Together, we went on weekend trips almost every single weekend while I was there. She is a very experienced traveler so I was really thankful to have someone help me along all of our adventures. I was so impressed by her because even though she was in Costa Rica for her internship to get college credits done, she made the most of every opportunity she was given to explore the country and learn more about the culture. I was truly inspired by her to take any situation and use it to my benefit. I am so glad that I was able to find a role model and best friend within my UBELONG Team.

Another very important person within my experience that I was hugely impressed by was my host mom. Marielos welcomed me into her home, no questions asked. I always felt very safe and a special member of the family. She was selfless, supportive, understanding, and extremely caring. I loved getting to experience the true Tico culture in my host home and could not have asked for a better place to live for three months.

In a sentence or less, what did you think about the food?
The food was awesome. It was so much fresher and more flavorful than anything I had had in my home.

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Related post:
Watch our video about Cartago, Costa Rica!