August 2013 Volunteer of the Month

Erin Zivic

I had wanted to do a volunteer vacation for some time, but had never quite gotten around to organizing it. Beginning this year, my husband Eric and I had planned to go on a trip to Alaska, but at the last minute, I decided that now was the time to do a different sort of vacation, a vacation where we could really be participants in the local culture rather than observers.

After researching on the internet, reading reviews, and talking to the staff at Globe Aware, it was clear that Globe Aware was the right fit for us. The staff members were always there on the other end of the phone or ready to answer my e-mails with any trip questions and fundraising matters I asked.

Once Eric and I started planning our trip to the Orosi Valley of Costa Rica, I knew that this would be the trip of a lifetime. I knew that my 18 year-old sister-in-law, Melissa, just could not miss this trip either, so we roped her in with us.

We started fundraising and it was inspiring to see how many people supported us in this adventure. It was particularmeaningful for Melissa to see that if she put her mind to something, she could make it happen.

About halfway through our fundraising and after our flights were confirmed, Eric and I found out that I was three months pregnant! I contacted the Globe Aware office and once again, they were happy to answer all of my questions regarding safety, local hospitals, food and water supplies and the kind of work we’d be doing. Given the infrastructure of the program and their close connections with the community, I was able to confirm with my doctor that the trip was still a go!

As soon as we met our trip coordinator in Costa Rica, Sapphire, we knew that we were in good hands. Sapphire was friendly, informative, and had us start our volunteer work even before we made it back to the volunteer quarters. She arranged volunteer projects in consideration of all of our abilities. We were able to do projects with the local school as well as the local ecological society and a women-run Organic farm. Sapphire also arranged for us to have every lunch and dinner with a local family.

It was especially meaningful to work side-by-side with members of the community and then share stories with them about our lives over a meal. The unique opportunity to work and break bread with these families gave meaning, and context helped us see how many differences there were between us, yet how many similarities also unite us.

I will never forget watching butterflies hatch to fill the butterfly garden, filling our worm boxes with compost, and seeing the locals purchase organic vegetables that we helped harvest. Globe Aware Costa Rica was one of the best vacations I have ever taken, and I look forward to my next adventure with them!

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