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Why you should start volunteering

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Hi everyone! My name is Victoria and I’m working as a volunteer here at De la Gente through Maximo Nivel. If you were thinking about volunteering, let me tell you why you absolutely need to just jump into it.

Where I’m from, an extra diploma is needed before heading to university. In the province of Quebec (Canada), a student graduates from high school at the age of 17, but can only apply to university at the age of 19 when he or she possesses a CEGEP diploma. To get this diploma, every student is required to produce a project or a research paper on a topic of their choice. Instead of staying home and dream about countries like Guatemala or Costa Rica, I decided to jump right on this opportunity and go do some field work. It was a simple choice to go to coffee plantations for me. I take part in the world wide morning routine of sipping a hot cup coffee before starting my day. I work in a coffee shop. I need afternoon coffees to function. I love talking about my love for coffee with friends and customers. Basically, my world spins around coffee.

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I started my trip in Costa Rica, living the Highlands where coffee fields are found everywhere. I was living with a small scale farmer that only sold his coffee to tourists that happens to walk into his house. I then headed to Antigua to work with De la Gente where I was welcomed with open arms. Even if I’m only spending two weeks, I really feel everyone is grateful of the work I’m doing. The farmers are happy to teach us about their techniques, the history of their town, their families… Their hospitality and generosity makes us feel so welcomed that we forget the fact that we are foreigner.

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Working here has been every humbling and challenging. I’m lucky that with my natural French speaking mind I can get by in Spanish, but being place in situations where you are confronted with a leak of understanding is tricky and scary. However, it helps you develop your ability of communicating and being aware of your environment. I have learned something unique from every single farmer I met while working here. If you are thinking about volunteering, I highly recommend you to just do it.