Over the summer I will be traveling to Costa Rica for a service and leadership trip with an international volunteer organization, EDventure. The cost of the trip to Costa Rica is $3500, not including airfare. Travel expenses add up to about another $1000. The remainder of the money will go towards necessities for the trip, and then be donated to the community where I will be going. Below is a brief description of the things I will be doing in Costa Rica. Teach - Teaching, and learning, is a huge part of my volunteer experience. The Costa Rican classrooms are brimming with laughing, energetic children eager for us to teach them. Not only is this a teaching experience, but also a learning experience. Most of the volunteer teaching opportunities will be teaching English, but some opportunities will educate local schools and travelers about why various species, such as the sloth or sea turtles, need protection and how to provide them with this protection. Costa Rica is precious and the brilliantly colored mccaws, scaly reptiles, and screeching monkeys are just a few of the species that rely on the care of the rich bio-diversity that makes up the natural beauty here. Build - The conservation projects in Costa Rica require great responsibility, commitment, keen interest, and some sweat and dirt from their volunteers. The conservation effort means more than feeding turtles or chopping fruit for the monkeys, or handling sloth (although there will be plenty of this). The projects here will need my help to work as a team alongside professionals and "ticos", by building and repairing shelters, keeping the cages clean, painting signs in the animal parks, building bamboo fencing, planting trees in the Banana Plantations, and gardening the orchards. Protect - Unfortunately because of hunting, illegal pet trade, loss of habitat, or accidents, many of the exotic species of Costa Rica need refuge. Some stay and live at the refuge, and others can be nursed back to health and released back into the wild. For endangered species, such as turtles or iguanas, wildlife shelters operate breeding programs to help sustain their numbers and then release them into their natural habitats. As a volunteer, I will receive guidance from the shelter trainers who will explain to me how to provide nutrition to the animals by chopping fruit to feed them, how to handle each animal properly with care, and many more things that will help make my volunteer experience a positive one. The wildlife centers are typically small, so I will have lots of time to handle the animals, such as baby monkeys, reptiles, and tropical birds. It will be noisy, smelly, and I'll probably come back with a few scratches by a clingy sloth or two, but the contact I will have with these animals, and the opportunity to help them and learn about their environment will be incredible. Every day, in some way, I will get to protecct part of the ecosystem in Costa Rica by caring for these amazing animals. When was the last time you did that? Pushing my Boundaries - My trip to Costa Rica is about more than learning to speak Spanish, or handling snakes, or building shelters. It's about more than eating rice and beans in one form or another for most of my meals. It's about challenging myself. Can I live in a foreign country with foreign customs and a diet I am unaccustomed to? Can I meet other volunteers from places in the world I've never been to, and realize we have many things in common? My trip to Costa Rica will be about pushing my boundaries, and in a country so vibrant with life and sun, and diverse populations of animals and trees, and locals, so warm and friendly, the possibilities to push these boundaries are seemingly infinite. The climate is tropical, hot, and sometimes very wet, but how could I pass up an opportunity like this? As you have read, the trip will be jam packed with tons of hard work from sun up to sun down, but I will get free time here and there to sit back and enjoy the view. Sometimes with fresh ceviche, sometimes with a cold, fruity drink, or sometimes from a hammock in the shade. Explore the coasts or jungles, taste locally grown produce sold in nearby markets, or salsa dance the night away. There is more to Costa Rica than just admiring the scenery.