One of today's most exciting trends is global education and service-oriented travel, and students from all over the United States are finding Costa Rica to be a perfect location to volunteer their time. On the outskirts of Costa Rica's capital city are marginal communities of peoples with great physical and spiritual needs, including entire populations of refugees living in squatters' villages and orphanages filled with children in need of attention. Global ministries like Joshua Expeditions enable youth to donate time and resources toward serving these communities and gaining valuable volunteer experience.
In Costa Rica, students have been able to participate in construction projects, sports clinics, and children's clubs, as well as hands-on service with local organizations to provide basic needs to area residents. Volunteers may find themselves painting a building or prepping wood for a new construction project, while others have been able to present fairs and Vacation Bible School to the many children who love to participate in anything offered to them. Soccer is a huge sport in Costa Rica, and students will often use their time to organize a clinic to gather all of the local children together into one shared activity. The benefit to the communities is far-reaching, from providing for basic physical needs like food and clothing, to simply encouraging the Costa Rican residents and offering hope for a better future. For student volunteers the benefits are equally great.
Global opportunities offer youth the chance to immerse themselves in local culture and enhance language skills, all the while enriching their lives through the act of volunteerism. Serving in foreign countries encourages students to discover their own gifts through hands-on experiences, leading them to develop a broader perspective of the world and increased cross-cultural understanding. Organizations like Joshua Expeditions also provide students opportunities to participate in Christian ministry while enriching educational experiences. Simply put, students are taking on the challenge issued by Jesus Christ when he said, "I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me. …Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:35-36,40 NIV)
Volunteering in a foreign country is the adventure of a lifetime, and the benefits reach far beyond education alone. Communities around the world are in need of hope and aid, and students are rising to the challenge. Through service-oriented programs, thousands of lives have been touched worldwide, and many families and individuals have been personally encouraged through the willingness of youth to share their time. Opportunities like these go far toward building a generation of world-changing leaders with a steadfast heart for the world and deep compassion for humanity.