Name: Jessica Vogel
Nationality: United States
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Languages spoken: English and Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Newbie
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Disadvantaged Youth in Cartago, Costa Rica
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: May 2015
Claim to fame: Back home in the United States, Jessica volunteers in her community with boys and girls from underprivileged backgrounds. Jessica was a joy to have on the UBELONG projects, we’re glad to have her in the UBELONG Family. Thank you Jessica!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I discovered UBELONG through my university and started reading more about the company and everything it had to offer. I am currently a nursing student and volunteer a lot here in the United States, but I was looking for a new and different experience. I saw many of the volunteer opportunities UBELONG had to offer and decided that it would be nice to travel and explore new places while also helping other people. I wanted both to travel for fun and to make a difference and with UBELONG I was able to do both.
What were your major challenges?
I traveled to Costa Rica and the people were amazing, however, my biggest challenge was the language barrier. I speak very basic Spanish so it was sometimes difficult for me to understand everything that was going on and to communicate everything that I wanted to say. While I was there, I volunteered at a school that works towards helping young adults with disabilities. It was an incredible experience and even though it was hard to communicate in Spanish there were many different, creative ways to talk to one another. For example, we would have to act things out to one another, draw pictures, or try to speak as much as we could until each of us understood. At times it was a challenge but I believe that is also what made my experience even more unique and fun.
What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was the last day that I was at the school volunteering with the young adults. Each person was so grateful and thankful for the volunteers. The students gave us a cute jar full of a variety of Costa Rican candy, the made us a picture frame with our group picture inside, Thank You Cards with the paper that they make themselves, and even showed us a typical Costa Rican dance. All of the students wanted to take multiple pictures with us and gave us so many hugs. It was such an unforgettable feeling realizing how much each student enjoyed the volunteers and how much we impacted their lives in such a short time.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe the locals you met?
The locals, and especially my house family, were so giving, friendly, and helpful.