My name is Ave Abellanosa, and here’s my story on my experience during my construction volunteer program with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica.

I decided to volunteer abroad so that I could experience a new country in a way a tourist wouldn’t be able to. I’ve always wanted to travel the world, but it was important for me to experience the culture and sites of a new country through the lens of a local. I knew I needed to be truly immersed, and therefore, a volunteer program seemed perfect.


With a background in architecture, building and construction are really important subjects for me. I’ve always wanted to get hands-on experience, but I knew that my formal education in University wasn’t going to allow that opportunity. I completed my studies without further inquiry into my passions, but I still hadn’t found the courage to leave home to volunteer in another country, meet new people, and understand the hard labor that makes the dream a reality. Finally, after discovering an organization founded by two architecture graduates, I learned of the opportunity to get involved with a construction project in a foreign country. I felt really comfortable with Costa Rica because I knew it would be an easy transition for someone like me who was still hesitant about traveling in Latin America. But it was the perfect first step.

I chose to stay with a host family to ensure I get the full experience of living and volunteering abroad. My hosts were a sweet couple who lived on a hill just outside of the capital city of San Jose; their home and hospitality were beyond my expectations. My host family cooked me a delicious breakfast every morning and prepared dinner for me when I came home in the evening. Their house was also conveniently located near a bus stop that would take me directly to the site of my construction project every morning.


I worked with three other volunteers and a professional, local Site Foreman during my volunteer program. Our jobs were to assist the foreman to build a small laundry facility in a young girls’ rehabilitation home. We assisted in construction tasks such as putting up metal stud