Choosing a project and organization can be overwhelming, and sometimes it just hard to trust who you choose based on an internet search. Our projects, host families, staff, and collaborators are referred, selected, verified and reviewed. Every piece of our program is designed to create a rewarding, meaningful and fun experience abroad. But don’t just take it from us, see what past participants have to say about our programs.
Why choose Integrated Learning Experiences?
Locally working since 2005.
Positive and sustainable impact.
During my time in Costa Rica I got to stay with an amazing tico host family in the city of San Ramón while working in a women empowerment program. San Ramón is a beautiful and lively city and the other volunteers and I were all really happy with our projects and host families. Tanya, the program’s coordinator took great care of us and regularly planed get-togethers and trips. You will be able to pick up the Spanish pretty quickly since you are always surrounded by it – at home as well as at work. Moreover, you’ll get the possibility to really get to know the wonderful people of Costa Rica and see the prettiest places. I can only recommend this program to anyone! Muchísimas gracias por todo! Tuve el mejor tiempo y quiero volver pronto.
All in all the program was an awesome experience. The family I stayed with was friendly, lovely and always open to help me. I really appreciated this much. Unfortunately I had to evacuate my program, due to the arising of COVID-19 and the immediate change if conditions. I could not enter my project, since I only stayed in Costa Rica for 5 weeks before the COVID-19 break out. These 5 weeks I had visited a Spanish course. All in all the experience was exceptional, even though I had to stop my project and return to Germany.
Costa Rica (especially the people!) is truly magnificent. San Ramón has everything you need and is located extremely well for traveling around the country. The coordinator is so sweet, fun (planned many activities) and really took the time for me and us. My volunteer project was really well organized and it was special to meet the other volunteers, who I’m still friends with. Living with the host family was authentic and special. I hope I can go back someday. I’m convinced, you won’t regret going!
Volunteering at the environmental project in Sololá was an amazing experience. The work itself was very interesting – they have a great mindset for what they want to work towards. As long as you bring initiative, there are some really interesting opportunities to help out. The homestay with the local family was a great way to learn about local life, about Mayan culture, and to practice Spanish. My family was hugely accommodating, they made me feel at home the whole time there. The programme itself was also very supportive, checking in with me regularly, and always providing helpful advice when needed (either about the programme or about travel in Guatemala more generally). Overall a fantastic experience! Lots of yummy food eaten and was great to learn about this, also trying to make tortillas (harder than it looks…) Caldo de pata was the most interesting and authentic thing to try!
I had a great time in Costa Rica; Including work on my two projects and life in a Costa Rican family, which I loved.
The volunteers are part of the families and all the families of my friends that I met were too pretty.
My family especially made me as their daughter or sister and totally as a part that made me feel super comfortable in that family and I will never forget that experience.
In my two projects (A school and a nursery) I felt very good too, because all the people are too kind and I was always a “vacilon” with them.
I am very grateful for everything I had in Costa Rica and for all the people I met.
I have spent a month in San Ramon, Costa Rica. I enjoyed my time in the programme where I have learned to care of others and be more independent. I was in a kinder garden which helps single mothers and families who have struggles. Also I loved the country and the people, who were so warm and made me feel like home. I would love to return and know more places. I really liked the culture and the joy of the people. I highly recommend doing a program as a volunteer because it helps you to grow as a person.
I just finished a six months internship program in Costa Rica, I had so much fun and gained a lot of knowledge in language and in my field. As a Muslim girl, I went to Costa Rica with some fear and hesitation because of the very different culture but when I arrived there, the people and staff were very welcoming and understanding for these differences and I felt like home! I would encourage anyone to go for this ! The language was not a barrier because most people there speak and understand English!!!!!!
I had a great experience volunteering in Costa Rica. I have met incredible people and the two coordinators (Tania & David) of the program have been amazing. The host family has been also perfect.
As regards the project I have been working with people with disabilities in the Universidad de San José, helping them to enhance their oral expression skills. Comparing to previous volunteering experiences (and despite this has been the shorter period – just 2 weeks!) this has been the time that I have felt more useful for the people I have worked with. And also the best local NGO/coordinators (Integrated Learning Experiences – Volunteer
Abroad) I have met! Staying with the family facilitates also a more complete experience and sharing the same mother tongue has allowed me to connect more with local people. I had the chance to meet other volunteers, to cook local food, to know other host families, travel around this beautiful country, etc. Nothing to complain about!
Living in Costa Rica was an incredible experience. I was doing the project on women empowerment and it was a great job, with a lot of things to learn and to achieve. Everybody was really welcoming and they were really nice. My family was great and I had a lot of fun with them, the room was good and the food that they gave me too! They are always open to talk and take care of your needs, wich is great when you are traveling and missing your homeland and family. Costa Rica is a really nice place to travel and it has amazing views, great people, food, beaches and animals. I was really glad that you could find really easily somebody to travel with and most of the people are open to it.
Glad to come back someday again and thank you very much!
I spent almost four months in San Ramon, a great city in the centre of Costa Rica.
My experience overseas started with a two-weeks language course which helped me a lot to learn about the specifics of the Costa Rican Spanish, to settle in and to prepare myself for the voluntary program.
I actually had two projects which I enjoyed a lot. The first project is a women empowerment project and it is the perfect place if you want to bring in your own ideas. I worked in the marketing and administration part, but although being a typical office job it was great to support a NGO with the knowledge I gained during my studies. Additionally I could exchange a lot with all participants, we had great events and I learned a lot about life in Costa Rica.
My second project was in the city hall, more specifically in the sustainable city development and here I could learn a lot about the efforts Costa Rica is undertaking in order to achieve their sustainability goals. The biggest part of my work consisted of supporting workshops in primary schools about recycling and it was super interesting to work with the children and teach them about this topic.
But my experience wouldn’t have been this great without my lovely host family. I felt like a family member and could really dig into the Costa Rican family life. For me it is a really important part of the voluntary program to also have this experience!
And to close I have always been supported greatly by my host organization in San Ramon. I felt welcomed from the very first day and we also did great trips together. Don’t expect that everything is working like in your home country! You are in a new and different country and therefore things are working differently. Just take some time, in the beginning, to settle in and observe how everything is working. Don’t compare too much to your home country and just adapt a bit to the lifestyle, I’m sure it will be an unforgettable experience!
I’m so happy that I did this. It is an experience which I never forget. Thank you all for this.
I was in a kind of education project to support children who live in really poor areas and it was a pleasure to see how happy the children are in this project. It had a lot of work, in the morning I worked with the little ones and it was so so great. And in the afternoon I played with the older ones, for example, soccer or other sports. It was really good to play and to see the children happy. For me, it was the best decision in life and I want to do more in my future. Furthermore, I had really good coordinators in my program who always support me. All in all it was a pleasure.
And the volunteering all in all was perfect, with my coordinators and my Spanish lessons, it was so so good and I really will miss it.
I highly recommend Inlex/CA, especially if you are considering a combination learn Spanish / volunteer experience.
From arrival at the airport in Guatemala City to my departure three weeks later, I was extremely well looked after. I never was concerned about how to get anywhere, how to do anything, or any other aspect of my stay, because the staff at Inlex/CA assisted me with every possible logistical detail and eventuality. The support is second-to-none.
One of the main reasons I chose Inlex/CA for my experience was because I wanted to learn Spanish, and I certainly was not disappointed. During my three weeks, I truly had an authentic immersion experience. With the support of the Inlex/CA staff, my incredible host family, an amazing one-on-one Spanish teacher (a total of 60 hours), and the staff in the project, my Spanish went from beginner to advanced in only three weeks.
The volunteering aspect of the programme was also rewarding. I was able to teach English to a small group of primary (age 5 – 8) students, and another group of junior (age 9 to 12) students at the project in Santo Tomas. The director and staff of this special project were also very supportive, and the children, although energetic and with a wide variety of learning needs, were responsive and appreciative of the time I spent with them.
The locale (Santa Lucia, Santo Tomas, and Antigua – the #1 tourist destination / jump-off point in Guatemala) was small enough to present an authentic picture of daily life in Guatemala, but it also provided close access to many popular trips around the entire country.
Inlex/CA really did give me the experience I was looking for; it effectively catered to both aspects (volunteering and learning Spanish) of my three-week “holiday.”
Climbing Pacaya Volcano was absolutely incredible. It is an absolute must if you visit this part of Guatemala.
I was lucky enough to volunteer at a local clinic in Peru. I was really scared coming into this, because I had never traveled out of the country by myself. I’m really glad that I completed this trip, and feel like a stronger person coming out of it. My time here has not only confirmed that I’m on the right path but has taught me a lot about the type of doctor I hope to be. I learned how to empathize with patients when you deliver bad news, and how to celebrate when you deliver good news. One thing I realized is how taxing it is on your mental health to be with sick patients all the time, but the doctors were constantly giving me advice and helping me through some of my first times with patients. The clinic opened its doors to me, allowing me to learn and thrive more than I could have imagined. From assisting in surgeries to perfecting my Spanish, no textbook or lecture will be able to teach me things I learned first hand in Peru. This experience has taught me to take risks and try new things; find my own path. I’m really excited to take everything I’ve learned and put it into practice, both in my personal and professional life.
My experience in Guatemala was exceptional; I learned about the culture, the language, and the amazing people who live here. Throughout my trip, I was challenged with several obstacles that advanced my ability to adapt, problem-solve, and be patient. With the support of Alex my volunteer coordinator, my host family, and the school system I was able to face these challenges and still progress as a student. I feel that leaving here I will have gained so much. The trip was so much fun and I will miss all my new friends dearly, especially the young children I got to meet. I believe that they taught me just as much as I taught them and that is something I will hold onto forever. Ultimately, this trip was an extraordinary learning experience and an opportunity that I am grateful that I got to attend.
It was a unique experience. People here are incredibly nice, they are really helpful and amicable.
I felt at home at the family where I was staying and the food there was amazing!
The programm was always looking out for you and they offered some activities for you to get to know all the volunteers.
Costa Rica is a really safe place to travel even if you go alone and if you need anything locals are always eager to help.
The volunteer work is very fulfilling. You get to learn a lot from professional people and you feel like the work you do really matters.
It’s an incredible opportunity to embrace another culture and get to live it with the locals. Great for learning and getting the opportunity to grow in both work and personal level. Being able to travel alone and discover yourself is one of the best things of this volunteering.
Overall it was an incredible experience and I would totally recommend this program.
I came to Costa Rica to practice speaking Spanish through immersion, to improve my teaching skills, to experience a new culture, and to have fun. I’ve definitely met all four of my goals.
I work as a teacher, and most of my students are from Spanish-speaking families. Teaching in Spanish with a new group of students helped me improve my Spanish, and my teaching skills, all at once.
I appreciate about INLEXCA that language immersion is important, as it helps one to be more of a participant in life here. Communication at the volunteer site, within the host family, and anywhere one wishes to travel are all greatly aided by knowing Spanish. INLEXCA makes the effort to connect volunteers with sites that can use their skills. It’s to everyone’s benefit that this is done, and creates a more meaningful experience for everyone.
I’m very happy with INLEXCA, and I look forward to completing more programs in the future!
This was an amazing project I loved every day. All the workers were friendly and made me laugh. They were great company and we’re always making jokes. The work was good however there were some times where we were just sitting around and waiting for someone to tells us what to do. Out of the two projects, the construction was my favorite because there were other people in my position unlike in the research where it was only me and the two guides. However, I know this is not because of the staff. However, at the construction, on my second week there were four of us which I felt was too many for that project at one time. The problem with research station was that I didn’t know what to do when the Guides weren’t there. They would leave me to do my own research if I had some but I didn’t so I would just have to sit there and wait.
I had an amazing experience with this program. To begin, the staff was consistently available and offered advice and assistance each week. They also placed me in a homestay with a family who not only helped me to experience Guatemalan culture but fully immersed me in the Spanish language so that I was able to improve vastly during my time abroad. Second, my internship placement, which was teaching English at a school to children aged 5- 18 years old, allowed me to both teach the students and to learn from them. I was able to teach the students and to learn new methods that I could utilize in my own classes in the United States, and I learned about the students and their culture through teaching. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking to broaden their horizons by experiencing teaching in another culture because it was an unforgettable and worthwhile experience.
During my time at the internship, I gained lots of valuable information that I otherwise would not have had to opportunity to acquire. Definitely worth it and would recommend to others that may be thinking about doing this program! Cesar, Reyna, and their entire family welcomed me with open arms. They cooked amazing meals, played games with the entire family after lunch, and ensured I had no concerns or worries. I was only about a 20 minutes walk away from the Centro de Salud, which is where the internship was held, and I felt very safe both on my walk to work and back home from the Centro. I got involved at the local gym and really enjoyed the atmosphere of Patzun. After my four weeks there’s it truly began to feel like home. I hope I am able to return in the near future!
Initially my program was scheduled for 4 weeks in the environmental project and a two weeks of Spanish course. The time I spent there was extremely rewarding because I was given the liberty to modify my work to be done. For example: I built a new pond, conducted research, review footage of trail cameras and gained the knowledge of the guides. These things were curtailed specifically for me. The Spanish classes were fantastic too with an exceptionally good teacher! Thanks Tanya!
I interned in a small Guatemalan town for five weeks teaching English at a private school. During my internship, I developed my abilities to communicate information and build relationships with others in a different language, actively listen to others, reflect on my perspective and privilege, and adapt to new environments and circumstances.
I also took five weeks of Spanish lessons. Doing so improved my teaching a lot because I needed to teach the students English in their language. Additionally, it improved my ability to connect with others, ask them questions, and comprehend their answers. I highly recommend that interns take several weeks of lessons in-country. Being able to communicate with my host family and students at the school improved my experience exponentially.
Sometimes my days were very long between my internship, Spanish lessons, and prepping for the next day’s classes, but I feel like it was totally worth it. I also highly encourage volunteers to make the most out of their time in-country. Being immersed in a new culture can be disorienting, and it can be easy to fall into negative thinking and staying in your bedroom all day. But, in my experience, you will have an unforgettable experience if you try your hardest to stay positive, flexible, and learn as much as you can.
Additionally, the in-country support team of INLEXCA was very friendly, helpful and caring. I always felt comfortable asking them questions or advice. They really care about their interns!
There are also many tourism opportunities in Guatemala. I recommend visiting the city of Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and the Mayan pyramids of Tikal!
Overall, my trip developed me in countless ways. I now feel more confident, experienced, and have a drive to positively affect the lives of others.
First volunteering and I had the opportunity to meet some amazing kids, every day I learned many more things from the people who helped there and the children, who have an incredible discipline at all times, are very applied and friendly.
This home offers a lot of love, reason more to leave all my help there.
Between adventures, supporting in the tasks and meeting each of these people, I managed to strengthen my confidence in social work. I also had the opportunity to travel to Peru for the first time, and to explore how beautiful is Cuzco, its culture and traditions.
Walking through the streets of Oropesa with the children was quite an experience, they told me their school days and the way they could help was unequaled.
This experience exceeded my expectations! I came with the goal to help others with their English and to improve my Spanish and I feel I have done both of those. Learning some Guatemalan words with the students at my school, and teaching them some Irish slang, was really funny!
At weekends, I had loads of free time to travel, going to different parts of Guatemala and even visiting other countries! The programme is well organized in that it gives you a lot of rewarding work to do but also a lot of time to relax and do your own thing.
Being placed near the city of Antigua (only 20-30 minutes away) was fantastic. You can’t get bored of that place! There is so much to do there, and you can easily book trips from the travel agencies there.
The staff at the organization Inlexca are incredibly helpful. The doors of their office are always open and they are willing to help in any way! I would 100% recommend this learning experience to others.
The program is very interesting for people into nature and physical work.
The work is normally very diverse, although, it could become repetitive for volunteers working in the Project eg. 6 months.
The guides and employees of the project are all very kind and willing to help.
I spent 10 great weeks in Costa Rica to work in a wildlife project with marine turtles. The project was located in a very beautiful place in Guanacaste, in the north of Costa Rica.
When I arrived at the first day, I felt a little bit lost because I didn’t spoke Spanish that well and the project was remote from bigger cities and had no Wifi. But the people were very friendly and after a few days it felt like we were a big family. That was a thing I enjoyed very much, just like the beautiful beaches and the work with the turtles. I had the possibility to learn many things about conservation and the nature of Costa Rica. The work showed me how important it is to protect the environment and how interesting biology is.
All in all, I had an unforgettable time in Costa Rica and made many new and interesting experiences. Actually it was much more than I expected and definitely I recommend this project.
My name is Louisa and I was a volunteer in Costa Rica for 6 month. I had applied for the Wildlife program because I wanted to do something which was unique for Costa Rica and which I couldn’t experience in Germany. I also like animals and enjoy being in the nature, so this was my decision. I was very excited about my project would be alike and when the information and my project details reached me I couldn’t wait to start.
My project was in a natural reserve in La Fortuna city, which is a nice, little village next to the volcano Arenal. There I lived in two host families.
I was in my project together with another volunteer. The park is not that big but it’s really beautiful and they have many species of Animals (crocodiles, butterflies, frogs, snakes, caimans, turtles). As a tourist you can book a day tour where you are shown the exhibition part, or a night tour, where you walk around the trails and look for wild animals. And there are so many! Our main job as volunteers was to help the reserve as tour guides for visitors. The cool thing about that was, that we could do the tours in English, Spanish and German. What I also really liked was that you get to know so many different, lovely people. And also all the information we had to learn before, we won’t forget so soon, which is amazing too; learning so much about the different animals. We also had to help the gardener in his tasks. Almost everyday we had to clean the trails, the reception and the services. In the end we could help in attending the tourists at the reception. Sometimes we helped in cleaning the butterfly cage, and one time some tourists left the doors of the cage open and we had to catch all the butterflies again. We also found many wild animals in the wilderness, mainly snakes and frogs, and one baby sloth.
All in all, was this project a good experience with amazing moments. I had never fed a baby sloth before and will probably never do it again. But those moments were little moments which couldn’t make up for the rest…
My second project then was in a kindergarten in San Ramon. And I really loved working there. So, in the end, everything turned out very well for me. As I already said, even though not everything turns out as you expect and wish it to, you can always make your own decisions and create your own, unique experience. And mine was a really great one, which I will never forget!
Although I only undertook my placement for two weeks, I feel like I have learned a lot of things in that time! I have discovered an environment completely different from those which I am used to, and I have been able to understand the importance of conserving that environment. It’s been amazing to see animals that I would never see in England, and to see many different places as well! Not only have I done the placement in the environmental project, but I have also had the opportunity to travel around as much as I could in two weeks, to beautiful places such as Puntarenas, La Fortuna and La Isla Tortuga. As well as this, I have met some really nice people who hopefully I will stay in contact with, and I think that my Spanish has improved a lot! I would definitely recommend staying with a host family, since they are so kind and generous, and I will be sad to leave! All in all, coming to Costa Rica has been a great experience, and I would love to come back one day! Also, do not be scared about coming on your own, because the country is very safe and you stay with the host family, so it is not like you have to stay anywhere on your own.
I had an awesome time in the day care center for children from 0 to 6 years in a community. On my first day everyone was welcoming me very warm hearted. Even though I was obviously nervous I felt very well right from the beginning. Everyone was interested in where I come from and why I want to spend 10 weeks here.
In the beginning, obviously it was a little bit difficult. Mainly because of the communication, because my Spanish still wasn’t as good and I wasn’t as confident to speak freely. Still, every single woman of the staff supported me a lot.
After about two weeks I really got into it and could finally start enjoying my time with the children. Of course, sometimes you also need to enforce consequences due to the children’s bad behaviour but all of that was kept within bounds.
What I really enjoyed was that I could also share the most traditional and very nutritious meals with the children and the staff. I also got to know how everything works, for example with the money for the food and so on.
The project helped me a lot to improve my Spanish skills and also my social skills. I have never had contact with that many children (30 in total) that young before. It helped me grow a lot and taught me to be a lot more patient.
Now that my time in the daycare center is over I am really sad. I will miss the children and the staff a lot. They had a great farewell party for me on my last day and really showed me how big the impact was that I had on the children and their lives.
Tuve la oportunidad de disfrutar este programa por 3 meses. Durante este tiempo visite distintas aldeas y comunidades en las que se encontraban grupos de mujeres con intenciones de capacitarse en distintos oficios como repostería, tejido, etc. Lo que estas mujeres muchas veces no contemplaban, era la posibilidad de sacar mayor provecho de todos estos aprendizajes y así poder cubrir sus grandes necesidades económicas.
Con la ayuda del programa pudimos mostrarles que tenían al alcance de su mano la posibilidad de emprender un negocio propio y así obtener sus propios ingresos.
Las mujeres fueron siempre muy agradables y abiertas a recibir todos los consejos que uno puede darle. Y lo más importante, es que en cada momento y en cada aldea visitada, me hicieron sentir como en mi propio hogar. También te enseñan que la gente que menos tiene, es la que más está dispuesta a dar. Uno aprende demasiado de todos ellos..
Por último, vivir en la casa de una familia local fue excelente! Uno se siente parte de este país desde el primer dia y termina amando sus costumbres, su comida, TODO! Uno termina teniendo una nueva familia a muchos kilómetros de su hogar y esto nunca se olvida.
Espero poder sumarme a algún otro programa porque es una experiencia increíble que uno no quiere terminar!
My experience was amazing and also really good to get to know myself better because I had the possibility to get to know a completely different culture and adapt myself. On top of that, I had fun in my programs and they were really interesting. I learned a lot helping in the school which has been my first program and everybody was so nice and helpful there which is why I will miss them a lot. It was so beautiful to be able to help and teaching the kids a little and I had a lot of fun. Furthermore, I loved being in the kindergarten and made many experiences with babies, smaller kids and also children that already go to school. Of course, I also got to know a lot of the country by traveling at the weekends and by living in a host family and this was amazing.
3 months I lived in Costa Rica, 2 ½ months of this time I worked as a volunteer in a welfare project in San Ramon, a nice town with a pleasant climate northwest of San José. First of all, I can say that the stay was an extraordinary and wonderful experience for me.
The support before the trip by my host organization and in Costa Rica by INLEXCA I found to be very pleasant and supportive. Tanya, our caregiver, lovingly looked after and helped when needed. She even helped me when I was looking for Christmas presents for my host family!
The young volunteers on site were really nice, several times they tried to involve me. I really appreciated that. Especially the contact with the young volunteer in my family was extraordinarily positive for me. Nevertheless, it would have been nice, if among the volunteers there would have been some of my age. On the weekends you have time to go on excursions. And the idea of what you want to do differs slightly depending on whether you are 20 or 60 years old.
Finally, I can say that this “experiment” has been completely successful. I do not want to miss the experiences I made. Also for people of my age, such an intensive getting to know a foreign country is infinitely enriching.
My fondest memory was the surprise party that my students threw on my last day of the programme. My most beautiful memory was when I saw the blood-red full moon rise at the Mirador de San Lucas Milpas Altas.
I was in a programme that involved teaching English and Maths alongside a Guatemalan Teacher. I was based in a small town in the mountains – and lived with a lovely family, who, from day 1, made me feel part of the family.
We got on so well, that we often did outings together at the weekend. Some weekends I would meet up with other volunteers – we went on to visit Antigua, Guatemala City (go with a local!) as well as the towns dotted around Lake Atitlan, which you get to by boat.
INLEXCA coordinated my stay – they did everything from helping me to get organised pre-departure, to finding the school and the host family. On arrival they provided me with a thorough induction – the advantage of going with an organisation is that someone is there to support you and advise you.
Advice for future Guatemala volunteers: Bring with you a decent supply of hand sanitiser, toilet paper, napkins, wetwipes and, if you can, more than one debit/credit card. Where I stayed, running water would be a bit on and off, and although not amazingly glamorous, those wetwipe camping-style showers are a godsend! This depends on the region, obviously.
Finally: Absolutely do go to Guatemala! It’s an amazingly colourful place – not just the clothes and the buildings, but it’s got everything from volcanoes to jungles to Mayan pyramids etc. You’re going to love it.
Everything about the programme lived up to my expectations.
I work with Go Overseas and had the opportunity to participate in a INLEXCA’s volunteer project in Costa Rica this past month — I cannot rave more about my experience! I highly recommend this organization to anyone who is looking to volunteer abroad in Central America.
INLEXCA was highly organized start to finish. I was connected with my project coordinator (Tanya) pre-departure and felt fully supported of before leaving the United States. Upon arrival in Costa Rica, Tanya and Carlos (INLEXCA’s Co-Founder) were at my gate right on time with big smiles on their faces. I came to Costa Rica knowing little-to-no Spanish, so the smooth pickup was extremely comforting!
I was impressed that Tanya and Carlos went the extra mile to personally drop each volunteer off at their homestay and spend time at the house while the volunteers (myself included) got adjusted. Tanya even had each volunteer’s contact on Whatsapp and remained connected throughout my stay. I already miss her daily check-ins!
My host family was more than I could have asked for. I spent the week with the kindest, most caring couple and their family. While they spoke no English, and I barely spoke Spanish, so we found ways to communicated through food and dance. Every night I came home from my project and my host family would give me amazing food, turn on music, and we would enjoy each other’s company. It was very clear that they viewed me as a part of the family. All of my meals were home cooked (I felt so spoiled!) and I found that I needed to learn how to say “gracias, estoy lleno” very quickly.
The project itself was also great. I chose a childcare project in San Ramon, at Guarderia Creciendo con Amor. I spent my days busy playing with children from infancy – 12 years old. Even after only a week, I felt that I was able to provide concrete assistance to the teachers and form strong connections with the children. They were lively, sweet, and eager to learn. It’s amazing how much care the staff at Guarderia Creciendo con Amor put into their work and I’m proud to have been a part of the impact these experiences will have on the kids.
One thing I will say is that there is a solid amount of free time when you are not working on your volunteer project, and it is up to the volunteers to make the most of it! Carlos and Tanya provided us with every single outlet we needed to make the most of our stay and encourage the volunteers to meet up with each other and get out of the house. Many of my nights were spent at a cafe or restaurant after my project getting the know my fellow volunteer which really made my experience the most memorable. I’m thankful for the strong connections I was able to make in such a short amount of time.
Again, I can’t recommend this program enough. If you’re an experienced Spanish speaker or know no Spanish at all, INLEXCA will have a project fit for you. Take advantage of the staff’s amazing support and guidance, and make a big impact on the community!
Overall I really enjoyed my time in Guatemala. I started with 2 weeks of Spanish lessons which were extremely helpful in my travels, here I also got to meet the INLEXCA team who were all very friendly and welcoming, offering lots of advice on what to do in free time and weekends. The microfinance part was good, however, as I was only there for a month there was understandably not much I could help with. I still found it very interesting visiting clients and gaining insight to the world of Guatemalan microfinance. Additionally, all staff at the Cooperative went out of their way to make me feel welcome and the whole office was a pleasure to work in. The host families I stayed with were both fairly typical Guatemalan households, both very pleasant and helpful in my transition. I also learned a lot about their culture from spending time with them, one much different to the English culture. I would recommend the programme especially if you’re able to work for several months, the staff of both organizations; the project and INLEXCA certainly played a role in how much I enjoyed my time in Guatemala.
I had an amazing experience with my host family & with my volunteer program. The coordinator Tanya is amazing, she is always there when you need her. I worked at a church with several kids, although the church needed a bit more organization & to distribute work for all volunteers. Overall amazing experience & I would definitely do it again. The children made a huge impact on me & it felt amazing to help them as well. This experience really helped me understand the lifestyle & culture in Costa Rica
I feel as if I have gained a huge connection to Guatemala. Although I did come to Guatemala as a volunteer and the project and program was amazing, it was only one part of my experience. I don’t feel as if I have visited Guatemala, I feel as if I have lived in Guatemala. I now have a family here who’s doors are open to me at any time. I think that I can now call Guatemala my home and get a little rush of excitement if I hear somebody mention the country, similar to when you hear somebody mention your home country while you’re abroad. This experience has definitely eye-opening and I have noticed that people truly are all the same, despite growing up thousands of miles away; we are not strangers to each other. I would recommend volunteering in a country because you truly get to know the country instead of just ticking a place off a map.
For two weeks I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the town of Novillero in Guatemala and volunteer in the project “Natural Reserve”. My sister is currently in Guatemala with the program for her second time, so my trip was organized through her and because I could only come for two weeks I did not have an orientation or the Spanish course. Inlexca made it possible for me, to stay with her and her host family, which allowed me to communicate and have an amazing experience despite barely speaking Spanish! Everyone I met in Guatemala, whether they were locals, other volunteers or members of the program, were incredibly welcoming and accommodating and made many efforts to make me feel comfortable.
In the park we mainly helped the staff with the opening of a new cafetería and snack store by painting its outside and inside. Other tasks included cleaning up the forest and working in a tree nursery or greenhouse. The atmosphere among the workers and volunteers was almost like a family. As a tip I would encourage future volunteers, no matter how long they are staying or how much of a language barrier there is, to try their best to communicate with everyone and really become a part of whatever project they are working in.
Doing this trip while I am still in high school was an excellent way to prepare me for my own future gap year. I now have a much greater knowledge of what to expect from a volunteering program and living with a host family and am itching to do many more trips like these in the future!
Because I only came for two weeks I unfortunately didn’t want take part in the orientation or the Spanish course provided by the program to welcome and prepare the volunteers. “I am extremely grateful” with INLEXCA for organizing my trip with my sister and allowing me to come for such a short time and in an unconventional way.
Really nice town with great transport links to Antigua and neighboring towns. I definitely felt very safe for the entirety of my stay. In terms of the project, I really enjoyed working with the children, especially those who were so eager to learn English, and appreciated that I got to choose to work in another project. Out of the two projects, I would say I preferred the second as I was working with a smaller group of children, and had more responsibility in teaching them. Overall would definitely recommend the project, but would also advise future volunteers to take initiative in involving themselves so as to get the most out of it. Finally, I want to thank my amazing host family for making me feel at home halfway across the world. 🙂
My time in Guatemala has been amazing. I loved working with kids in the education project. I formed so many new connections and am so sad to be leaving, but I will be back soon! Everyone from the students, the teachers, my host family, and INLEXCA have gone above and beyond to make me feel at home. This program really solidified my plans to go into social work in a school setting. I feel that this program has given me the opportunity for a lot of professional as well as personal growth. My favorite moments throughout the month have been watching kids do things on their own. I loved seeing them go from not understanding math or being afraid of new experiences to only asking me to double check their math homework and seeing them have the confidence to at least try something on their own. I loved being able to immerse myself and feel at home in the culture of another country. An absolutely amazing experience!!
I spent seven weeks in Guatemala with INLEXCA, an organization that provides volunteers with opportunities in Central America. The first two weeks were spent with Spanish lessons, as I wanted to practice and improve my Spanish a bit. Then I spent five weeks at an ecological park and Natural Reserve, where I helped with may different projects, from reforestation to nursery work to painting a store and café. I have no complaints as to how things went during my stay here in Guatemala. In both of the host families I was in, things seemed to go very well, and I was able to connect and get along with all members of the families. At the volunteer project site, the park workers welcomed us with open arms and helped us integrate with the park and find work to do. The program was run very well and smooth, as INLEXCA does a great job making sure volunteers are prepared and well-situated in their respective countries. The organization staff helped me when I had questions and made me feel more comfortable about the whole experience. They do a great job with the host family placement as well, as I had no problems with any of my host families, and even if I did I imagine that the organization staff would be accommodating. I would highly recommend Guatemala and INLEXCA to anyone looking for a good volunteer experience in Central America.
The conservation internship was great because I was always outside and able to be active, which I was hoping to be able to do during my time abroad. I also got first-hand experience with the wildlife of the Costa Rican cloud forest, a truly surreal privilege to have experienced. I think future interns should know that you will always be moving and will always be kept busy in a fun and intellectually enhancing way. I left the program with knowledge pertinent to several academic fields and memories of the amazing biodiversity unique to the cloud forest.
Awesome experience all around and perfect for my goals. I was hoping to learn Spanish in a medical setting and this program helped me immensely with this. The family I stayed with was incredible but everyone in Patzun was very friendly and willing to work with me. I hope that I can come back in the future and help out again when I have some more experience. However I have learned a lot about health in this country while I have been here!
Overall, my experience was as unique as it can get. I had always valued helping others as a valuable human instinct, which is why I’m happy to say that I achieved that during my 2-week stay. What had made my time here special was the persistent attention to a familiar setting. The locals, INLEXCA co-coordinators, my host-family and the teachers at the school that I taught in, all contributed to creating a sense of familiarity which had helped me feel more comfortable and confident in sharing my abilities and thoughts; creating a more authentic experience. Working with children had also made me understand the importance of early child development and how that is bound to influence later life; essentially what one is taught and how others interact with a child will affect later behaviors. To anyone potentially thinking of participating in such a project, I would strongly recommend it since there is nothing more useful and pure than raising the self-esteem of traumatized children; be kind and supporting to them and see the expression on their faces.
I spent 5 weeks in Guatemala with INLEXCA in the medical program. I was allocated a position in a small clinic near Antigua, Guatemala. Overall I was very content with the program. In the clinic, I could work in different parts (administration, pharmacy, doctor´s and nurse´s appointments) according to where help was needed and I really felt like my help and advice was appreciated by both the staff in the hospital and patients. Every week I was given more and more responsibilities and by the end felt completely integrated into the work of the clinic. I feel like everyone could benefit from a medical program like that – from people who have an interest in medicine to fully qualified doctors (like myself). The healthcare system works completely different here and there is so much to learn. Another integral part of the program is the host family who were just wonderful. They really got me acquainted with the Guatemalan culture and way of living. In INLEXCA the staff was super helpful and easily contactable before the arrival and during my program in Guatemala. I did not take Spanish classes so cannot comment on those. In general, I felt safe and supported by both my Guatemalan host family and the staff at the organization. I would definitely recommend!
Great organization, the trip was worth every penny. I was very impressed with the program and able to accomplish much during my two week stay in Guatemala. I was able to develop many friendship and professional contacts with the locals and I will continue to use them for all my new future medical projects in different locations through Central America – Bravo INLEXCA!!
Working with the children in 4 different daycare centers and being able to help them in a meaningful way was very gratifying. The appreciation shown by the children as well as the daycare personnel was very touching. The host families were very welcoming and living with them allowed us to get a real understanding of what life is like for them. It also provided a great opportunity to learn another language.
Where to start….
I am back in Ireland now and I am a changed man. I have gained, not only a wealth of knowledge and experience in the environmental volunteering sector, but I have made friends for life and scored myself another family.
My eight week programme began with 2 weeks of Spanish lessons close to Antigua. As a 33-year-old, I didn’t find this the easiest. My teacher was wonderful, created a fun atmosphere, and taught me all the Spanish I know. I was then taken to my project by my coordinator from INLEX – Alex. He was very professional and experienced in all things volunteering and Guate. Alex advised me impeccably for my entire stay and for that I am forever grateful. I still owe you that beer Alex!!
For the following 6 weeks, I was placed with a wonderful family in the Western Highlands of Guate in a beautifully relaxed village called El Novillero. I was made to feel like one of the locals by every member of this village and in particular my host family.
The project I was working on is a Natural Reserve in Sololá, an oasis in the highlands. My work involved supporting the full-time staff with their duties which included, the maintenance of mountain trails, working in the nursery and the organization and implementation of an anti-litter project devised by myself and my volunteering partner. Working at this project was a delight, however, due to my limited Spanish and the facilitators lack of English, communication and direction was somewhat tricky. However, following the implementation of our own anti-litter and information project, focus, and direction was very obvious.
I can not find the words to describe exactly how I feel following my return from Guatemala. All I can say is that I have been changed forever and that it has been the most wonderful experience I have ever had. I have made friends for life and gained a brand new Guatemalan family in INLEX. The people who I have not mentioned here you know who you are. Thank you for being so supportive and I wish I will see you very very soon!! You are the most amazing people I have ever met. You do such wonderful work, not only helping young travelers to see the world, but the work you support on the ground in Guatemala is incredible. You should all be very proud of yourselves.
I stayed for 3 months, 2 weeks learning Spanish and 10 weeks working with children with disabilities. Its been the biggest and best adventure of my life… so far. Every single person I met has a beautiful heart, from every member of Inlexa to each member of my host families and not forgetting the children and staff at the JT Children Foundation. I felt safe, at home and loved in Guatemala. I got to explore so many places and to see the rich and beautiful culture Guatemala and it’s people have to offer. I would do it all over again and not change a thing. If you decide to come along 3 months is not too long, its just enough time to immerse yourself into the culture. Don’t be afraid to practice your Spanish, the people there will help you and give it you all!!!
The happiness in my heart is as deep as the ocean. Volunteering with those beautiful children and living with my host family for the 2 weeks is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone even if it can be challenging. This entire experience has been incredibly enriching. Guatemala is beautiful and the people are so warm and welcoming.
THANK YOU INLEXCA FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT! you are amazing 🙂 I always felt safe and well taken care of.
I have been working as a volunteer in Granada, Nicaragua, in a project called Carita Feliz. It’s not or school, more like a huge learning center with different classes. The children come to do their homework there and the teachers are helping or giving them new exercises to practice. Also there is a teacher for English classes and computer classes. So the children have the opportunity to learn a lot apart of their normal school.
The teachers have been working with such a passion and I got part of it really quickly. I liked that. Also that the children came sometimes just to hug you and on my last day a lot of them just told me, that I shouldn’t leave. Carita Feliz is located in a “barrio”, which means a more or less poor area. But I never felt unsafe and at the end, I made a lot of friends there.
I liked that in Granada have been a lot of other voluntaries from all over the world. We made friends and traveled and partied so often together.
All in all, I really can recommend this project, but you should go there at least 2 or 3 months to make a relation with the children.
I learned more about language, life, and cultural assimilation than I ever could have in my ordinary environment. I did a 2 week language course and then worked in an ecological park that works to conserve and protect nature and Mayan Kiche culture. It was very hard work at times and challenging on several levels, which was a great way to grow and learn. Don’t shy away from the challenges!
I stayed with a lovely host family and will never forget the friendships I formed and memories I made there.
My time in Guatemala will forever be one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had. I couldn’t recommend volunteering and working in another country more highly – for people of all ages! INLEX was incredibly supportive and welcoming, so finding your way and feeling secure is as easy as it can be.
If you want to widen your horizons and become a more aware, conscientious, and understanding person, then this is the way to go.
On our second night on the trip we cooked our own dinner at the La Tortilla Cooking School. Our group had plenty of laughs and had the opportunity to learn about the food culture of Antigua Guatemala. We made a famous dish called pepian, and even got the chance the make party our own corn flour tortillas to eat along with the meal. We were all given a task to help with the coming together of our food, some did better than others, but overall it was an amazing experience that I cannot wait to write about in my journal and share with back home!
Of course, I would definitely recommend the health program in Guatemala. This experience simply changed my life. My stay at the home of a local family was very enjoyable. I received a lot of affection and was treated as part of the family. In the health center I learned a lot and met excellent professionals. Besides, Gloria, Carlos and Alex were very kind to me, they looked after me and cared about my well-being at all times. My volunteering in Guatemala was unforgettable and very important for my career as a doctor.
Guatemala is a wonderful country with very friendly people and beautiful places. On my days off I traveled to Antigua and Lake Atitlan. I felt very safe traveling around the country and met lovely people!
My stay in Santo Tomas, Milpas Altas was an experience I will never forget. My host family was very kind and couldn´t do enough for me, and the food was excellent.
The school where I was placed was a pleasure to work at and I was allocated a teacher, Ms Edlin, who guided me through the first few days. Gradually she loosened the reins so that I became more and more immersed in the day to day activities and was able to take classes on my own, which was sometimes slightly alarming but always good fun. The students were nearly always kean to learn and were very interested in my accent, where I came from, and the girls were especially interested in my blonde blue eyed son lol.
For 6 afternoons during my stay I spent time at the local EDUSI project which was attended by local children and their parents and was even more relaxed, and very enjoyable.
Altogether it was a great experience and I look forward to the next placement!
I’m a physiotherapy professor. I work at Universidad Europea de Madrid, and 5 years ago, I have been living in Tecpan for 3 weeks and working with my students from Madrid (medicine, physiotherapy, and nursing). They changed a lot in these 21 days and became adults because of the experiences lived.
We have been working empowerment women, talking about equality, doing courses about posture good health habits, all about pregnancy and breastfeeding, disease prevention, hand washing, healthy teeth …
It was great for all 🙂
I went to Guatemala with INLEXCA which turned out to be a great experience. Our group consisted of physical therapists and students from Idaho State University! Diego and Alex were our main volunteer coordinators and they could not have been more helpful or more personable. I can say that I am now friends with both of them and I invited both of them that they would be welcome in my home if they ever came to the United States! They paired us with a great clinic in Tecpan, Guatemala. Our trip was only 16 days long, but it proved to be a wonderful and enriching experience for all of us involved. We all stayed with host families who all proved to be the nicest people in the world! The family that I stayed with was nothing short of a good time. My host mom even went out into the marketplace with me to help me find deals and pick out souvenirs for my family. It was a great way to immerse ourselves in the culture!
They facilitated and coordinated well with the clinic to make sure we had a good learning experience and that we could accomplish our goals in what we wanted to achieve in our volunteer trip! They also planned activities such as hiking volcan Acatenango, visiting the Iximche ruins, exploring and taking a boat ride on Lake Atitlan, and seeing the old city of Antigua.
I could not have better things to say about our experience!
Everyone there was so incredibly nice to me! For example, I went to a coworkers graduation, and as I was waiting for him to grab his stuff, I was making conversation with one of his friends for maybe 3-5 minutes. After only talking for that short amount of time, he invited me to a family trip to the city. Being crazy enough to accept, he picked me up and we went to his aunt’s house for the weekend where I was treated like part of the family. There was nothing scary about it; many people just open their homes up to kind strangers. Furthermore, the family I was placed with could not have been sweeter! They truly treated me as their daughter and made me feel as comfortable as humanly possible.
All in all, it was a great experience.
So I just wanna mention some facts that I likes especially or also some I did not like. To help you to improve and to write an honest review.
I especially liked:
– that the coordinator was always there to help
– that there were also other volunteers in my town, it makes the first weeks way easier
– that my boss in my work was open-minded for my ideas
what could be improved:
– some more activities together with the coordinator and the volunteers could be organized
– the host family was more like a hotel than a family – they were lovely, but needed the money and I was treated more like in a hotel than like living together with a family.
Last summer after passing my final exams in high-school I decided to go to Costa Rica to learn Spanish and getting to know Latin Culture.
There are various organizations that offer trips and volunteer-stays in Central America, especially in Costa Rica which is known as the safest country in this region. The reason I choose to go with Inlex was because there programmes in community development sounded more interesting to me than caring for children or passing my days in a butterfly-farm.
I had a great time and made some great experiences, I met friendly people all over the country and i achieved an important goal by speaking spanish fluently within six month.
But overall I have to say I am kind of disappointed. Dont get me wrong, I don’t want to blame anyone of the people with who I passed half a year. People who always care for you, if you need help, people do the best they can, to provide you a wonderful time. But still I have to say I was kind of bored most of the time. If you are the nature guy, I am sure you will love Costa Rica. The rainforest in the mountains, the dry and hot areas in the north, the carreaben beaches which look exactly like directly from Hollywood – all these are beatiful and impressing places. If you are the social guy who likes to meet many interesting people, who loves a good conversation and needs some cultural input there is good chance to you won’t be satisfied. Sometimes I had the feeling Costa Rica lacks of these things. Of course, that is unfair to say because even in half a year I had the chance to see only a small part of Costa Rica, also it is my very subjective point of view on the other hand that is just a resume of the experience I made. You won’t find much indigenous culture, you won’t find that romatic socialist touch you may think of when you hear stories about Latin America. Instead you will feel the big influence of the U.S. (I don’t want to say that’s bad thing, but maybe not the reason why you take a long journey to Costa Rica), you will probably pass many hours in malls because thats how many Ticos spend their time, many nights in mostly German and American hostels because these are the nicest and cheapest all along the coast… I guess all depends on your expectations so make sure they fit. Honestly, I have to admit that there were many others who had a great time and I definitely don’t regret I went to CR but after all the experiences I made would have gone to a bigger city with more social activities and more intellectual-input.
I had a great time in Costa Rica. The people and the way of living made it easy for me to feel at ease and I soon started to get closer to the culture and to other people – natives and other volunteers. I made a lot of new friends and discovered the kindness of so many people. The work as such gave me the feeling to be needed in some way, but also to find myself in working with and talking to people, so different in many ways.
I was lucky to be in contact with such nice, helpful and lovely persons and I had the chance to learn to speak and to communicate in my own way (in another language).
All in all I can say that i don’t regret having made this decision to go to Costa Rica and to work with and for INLEX.
I am grateful to all the people who made my stay there as comfortable as I could imagine. The people who were/are in charge of the Costa Rican program were so kind, nice, helpful and became true friends.
Overall my experience was very positive. I had a lovely ‘home’ with a ‘mum’ who was a great cook. I worked for 3 weeks on 2 different projects which gave me the opportunity to experience even more. It suited me well, although I can imagine that not everybody would be happy with it, as it takes longer to familiarise oneself with the people and the work in the projects.
In 1 project I painted a mural with 5 and 6-year-old boys and girls in their classroom. The wall preparations I did alone in the afternoons when they were off; I magnified drawings they had prepared; the painting was done with all the children in a couple of mornings – these were quite mad mornings but very much fun and very satisfactory. The finishing off (where they couldn’t reach) I did alone again in some afternoons. It was brilliant to see how proud they were of ‘their’ wall. And the nuns of the school were almost equally excited!
In the other project I assisted in a soup kitchen where twice a week a lunch was prepared for around a hundred children of a very poor area. Although it initially was a bit unclear to me what I was expected to do as the 2 cooks were perfectly able to do the work without me, it was still lovely to help and get to know the project. A typical work (half) day started with tortilla making, then, when the children were coming, play games with them. Next handing out the lunches and finally help clean and wash everything. Before going down to this ‘job’ I would have Spanish tuition.
I regretted that I didn’t speak better Spanish. Although I didn’t come totally unprepared, it wasn’t enough to be able to have a bit of conversation. As a result, it sometimes was a bit lonely as I didn’t work with other volunteers, nor did I meet any.
I also realize that 3 weeks is a very short time to volunteer and ideally one should go for a longer time – I am convinced that everybody profits more from a longer volunteering period.
Guatemala is an awesome country with people who are even more awesome! I enjoyed every second being there and made lots of great experiences. They are based on people mostly. The culture is so different and unique that I could never stop asking questions to my Mayan host-family. You can integrate quite fast when you are open-minded and willing to experience. Working with turtles was one of the best things I have done in my life. The turtle project is really small and in an isolated village but this is just what makes it perfect. You cannot expect luxurious but you will find awesome wildlife and experience a whole different way of lifestyle. Spanish classes at INLEX are good and helpful, so you should take advantage of it because without speaking Spanish you cannot get as close to the people. Thank you for my perfect stay in Guatemala! I will never forget it!
I really enjoyed the program.
I got to live in a Guatemalan family and participate in their daily life.
The project was also fun because I could help little kids and teach English and Maths.