As an Adventure Nanny I have been thrilled to travel often with the current family I am placed with. I love to travel and even more than that, I love to help others. I’ve always believed in combining the two and traveling with a purpose. Through traveling with a purpose, we can grow to understand ourselves more, the world we live in, and the people we share it with. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing all of the touristy things but oftentimes this only provides a small glimpse into the culture of the area. As a high-end nanny, I usually get to stay in beautiful homes and exotic 5-star resorts which are amazing, but I don’t always get to fully experience what the destination is truly like when I stay at these places. I enjoy going off the beaten path, talking to locals, and becoming a part of their community. I want to leave feeling like I have made a positive impact. I want to feel like I know more about them and they know more about me. I want to make a meaningful connection. Recently, my nanny family traveled to Costa Rica. I was lucky enough to get a couple of days off while we were there so I did some research on what the area had to offer. I discovered a great nonprofit program called Creciendo Juntos to work with that was affiliated with the resort we were staying at.
1. How did you discover Creciendo Juntos?
I discovered Creciendo Juntos while I was doing some research online. I knew we were going to be staying in Costa Rica and what part we’d be staying in. I knew the name of our resort so I started there and it turned out that The Four Seasons has a program for guests who want to give back! I messaged the concierge prior to departing for Costa Rica and made arrangements to volunteer with Creciendo Juntos. Creciendo Juntos supports 19 communities, increasing their access to healthcare, education and training. They want the people who live in these poverty-stricken areas to feel empowered and know that they can have a better future and quality of life.
2. What qualifications do they have for prospective volunteers?
Anyone who is able and willing is able to help and volunteer in some way is welcome to contribute and participate. You can volunteer as an individual, a group, or with your family. Guests that are staying in homes and hotels in the area of Peninsula Papagayo can support Creciendo Juntos and their causes. You can help even without volunteering a lot of your time as they have multiple ways to be involved – one of the programs that Creciendo Juntos has is called Backpack Buddies. Through this program, you can donate backpacks filled with school supplies to underprivileged children. Before departing for Costa Rica I let friends and family know that I needed school supplies and backpacks to take with me and donate to the school/children. I went to local businessses and asked them to donate to the cause and my nanny family was even generous enough to donate to the cause. My nanny kids even got to pick out the backpacks that go to the children and the supplies that go inside them. This was a great time to have a discusion with them about other places around the world that don’t have as much as we do.
3. What did you love about the organization and the school?
At the school, Escuela de Guardia I will never forget all of the children who came up to me, grabbed my hand, hugged me, and locked eyes with mine. I saw so many opportunities in their futures because of organizations like Creciendo Juntos. The kids were so curious about me. They wanted to see me and they wanted to be seen. Many of them tried to communicate with me, very little spoke any English and I know just enough Spanish to get by. Luckily, the representative with Creciendo Juntos that met with me that day was there if I really struggled and needed a translator. The staff at the school were all very welcoming and warm. The school was bare and they did not have a lot. It was open air without AC and the library was a tiny room. Despite having so little, the children and staff at the school were beyond happy and their energies exuded love and kindness.
4. What are a few of your favorite moments with the kids?
The day that I visited the school happened to be “sports day”. I was told it was a great day to come and I definitely was not disappointed. All of the kids in the school gathered outside in the play yard. There was music, dancing, singing, hula hooping, jump rope, sack races, bull riding and socializing. The bull riding was interesting to watch. It was a metal barrel with ropes attached to each end. The kids took turns sitting on it and pulling the ropes to try and shake each other off. It was something that you would never see in U.S. schools and the kids were having a blast! I connected with so many of them. I wanted to stay longer and return the next day. Creating memories with the children and communicating through the universal languages of smiles and dancing was something I will never forget.
5. Are you going to try to go back at some point?
It was really difficult leaving that day. I most definitely want to go back. On the flight back home I made a promise to myself to return again. The pure joy I felt and connections I made was undeniable. The saying in Costa Rica is, “Pura Vida” which means “Pure Life”. It simply means to enjoy life and be happy. While I was there I learned it is not just a saying, it is a way of life in Costa Rica and I am bringing that back home with me.
6. What advice do you have for nannies volunteering abroad?
Do your research. Sometimes you can find a project that really connects to you and your values. These programs can be more meaningful to you on a personal level because passion is behind it. Sometimes the volunteer opportunities are limited so the second piece of advice I would give is to be open minded and flexible. Try to go into it with the mindset that you are there to help in any way that you can, whatever it may be. I messaged Creciento Juntos and said that I would help wherever they needed me the most. It turned out that teaching at a school is where they could use me that day which was perfect for me since I love children so much!