Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Aly Dagang, PhD


Volunteering outside of one’s country and culture is a challenging endeavor. While abroad, international volunteers generally encounter a new language, culture, and lifestyle which can create challenges for volunteers. Pre-departure training can buffer and lend nuance to the difficulties that volunteers face. In Costa Rica, the organization Aliarse manages a volunteer project that experiences high volunteer attrition and incorporates minimal pre-departure training. This case study draws on quantitative and qualitative data collected from questionnaires and semi-structured interviews of former Aliarse volunteers over two months. Results from the data found that ninety-four percent of the interviewees said interacting either directly or indirectly with current and former teachers prior to their departure could have helped them set appropriate expectations or have more realistic expectations. Eighty-eight percent of interviewees identified “how to adapt to the culture” as an important pre-departure training topic, which recognizes the need for greater resources and support on cultural adaptation. One conclusion that can be drawn from the volunteer findings is that that having access to information on Costa Rican culture, schools, and conditions through a pre-departure training portal would have helped volunteers during the transition to their new environment. Based on the findings, this research proposes that a pre-departure training portal could decrease attrition and facilitate a smoother transition into a volunteer’s new environment.


Community-Based Learning | Development Studies | Latin American Studies | Leadership Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Other International and Area Studies | Tourism and Travel