Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

Not Verified What's this?
9.1 / 10 after 328 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

Submit a review

Going through IFRE was one of the best experiences of my life. I was able to volunteer in Xela, Guatemala at an orphanage for a month. This program was there for me whenever I needed help and quickly responded to all my questions. The program made the process of volunteering in another country as stress free as it can get. They helped me with all the little deatials, such as where to stay, and transportation. Not only was every day in the orphanage amazing but on the weekends the program allowed us to travel to other destinations throughout Guatemala. They provided information on what tours and places we should go. During my time in Guatemala I stayed with a host family that IFRE set up. My host mom was extremely nice and made me feel right at home. If you are looking for an amazing humbling experience, with beautiful people and places this is the program for you. I highly recommend.

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 3, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: ablidy
Age:
19

I am Karen fro Costa Rica, currently studying in China, and I came to do the volunteering job in the Orphanage in Galle. I have had one of the best experiences in my life. I did some volunteering job back home , but get to see the kids and realize how much it means to them the visit of foreigners was amazing. The conditions at the orphanage are not great, but they are there for the kids. Get to see their smiles while plying with them and feeling a relieve after a cuddle or a kiss....I will just say that everyone should eventually be an orphanage and give themselves to these kids. Regarding my staying at the host family I can just say that I definitely felt like at home; I couldn't have asked for more, lovely home made food and nice talks with the members of the family and the other volunteers. Of course, in here as with most of the Sri Lanka's people, I felt pretty comfortable and received a lot of help in almost everything I needed. Thanks Sri Lanka, you got my heart.

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 1, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Kailun
Age:
29

I did a lot of research to decide which program to volunteer abroad with, and IFRE seemed like an organized program with opportunities in many different locations and with many different forms of volunteering. I chose to volunteer in a hospital in Cusco, Peru, and it was the most wonderful experience. All of the staff made me feel very welcome and did a great job of facilitating my stay and helping me plan excursions. They always made themselves available to me and took great care to make me feel safe and comfortable. I was placed in a home-stay with a wonderful family, who I am still in contact with. IFRE really made the effort to make my experience everything I had hoped.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 28, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: katieguty
Age:
20

My finance and I did two weeks of volunteering in Costa Rica, and the first week we volunteered at the Coffee Plantation in Atena and the second week we volunteered at the Child Protective Services in Puntarenas.

Coffee Plantation @ Telodo
For the first week, we stayed with a host family in Atena and we had an amazing time interacting with the family and learning the culture. The host family did everything they could to make us feel like a part of the family despite the fact that we can’t speak Spanish and they couldn’t speak English. Anyhow they went out of the way to introduce us to all their extended family and invited us to all the family gathering during the holiday. We felt like we were part of the family during our stay and we became family at the end and when we travel back to Costa Rica later on our own, we will definitely visit them. The owner of the coffee farm and his family were also amazing people, in fact, they were related to the host family. The two sons of the coffee farm owner can speak English so they were the ones who showed us how to work in the farm. We spent our day drying coffee beans, processing beans for roasting, and drinking coffee. Everyone at the farm was really nice and knowledgeable and would not hesitate to teach us the process of growing coffee, processing them and finally roasting them into beans. If I were to rate this program alone, the rating would have been perfect. We didn’t meet our coordinate during our first week since she lives in Puntarenas, but since we had an amazing host family, it wasn’t a problem at all.

Child Protective Services @ Puntarenas
For the second week, we stayed at group housing with the coordinator's family. The dynamic is different than our stay at Atena but it allows us to meet other volunteers. There were three other volunteers from different programs staying with us at the house. They were all great people and we enjoyed spending time together after work and doing tours together on the weekends. Our work at the child protective services was less productive than I expected, but it mainly due to the language barrier. No one at the center can speak a bit of English and we didn’t have any assigned task or roles so we spent most of our days playing with the children and helped during lunch. I expected more structure but it was more like it’s what you make it and the language barrier made it challenging. I did taught some Cantonese classes to the older children and they were interested to learn but they have short attention span. Maybe this program would have been more valuable for someone who can speak Spanish.

Coordinator
Our coordinator was good and she was also the one who taught the Spanish classes for us. She also picked us up to and from Puntarenas, and gave us rides to work whenever she can. She helped us book 4 tours during our stay and three of them were great and we enjoyed the tours, but one of them didn’t work out. For our first tour to Arenal and the Hot Spring, there seems to be some communication problem and the tour company didn’t know we booked the tour nor paid for the tour until they drove us there but wouldn’t let us do it so we ended up wasting a day. We were supposed to get a refund on the tour but we haven’t yet, so hopefully it will work out.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 3, 2016
Overall:
8
Support:
7
Value:
7
By: sychuk
Age:
29

Comments

Project: I did the Coffee Farm project in Atenas (1 week duration) and Child Protective Services Center project in Puntarenas (1 week duration). The volunteer work for these projects are not very organized so you have to be a great self-starter and improvise as you go along. I didn't know exactly how the work was actually like until my first day on the project. You are given some guidance at the volunteer site, but it's very flexible. You can do more or less depending on your own initiative/effort and you can set your own work schedule. The help was very much appreciated by the beneficiary parties involved, however, I didn't get the sense that they were in dire need of help. For example, the workload at the coffee farm can pretty much be done by that one worker hired there. The Children Center seems like they can use the help due to the capacity (10-15 kids being taken care by 2 adults per housing unit/center). I genuinely felt that we made the biggest impact just from a relationship building aspect where both the coffee farm and children center really enjoyed our interactions and help. The volunteer work was just a bonus but not essential to the work place's mission. We absolutely loved meeting all the people that were involved and working to help them out in any way necessary.

Food: The Costa Rican home cooked meals were amazing. If you love rice, then you're in for a treat every day. Heavy meat eaters will have to tamper their expectations since that isn't as plentiful.

Housing: Both host families were great and super nice. The housing accommodations were good. The houses were big and has plenty of space. It’s a super clean environment. Depending on your location, Costa Rica can be very hot and be warned that these houses don’t have air condition. To compensate for this, there are plenty of fans in the house and take cold showers.

Safety: I felt really safe. Based on all my interactions, I had a great experience and everyone was very helpful.

Spanish Class: The lessons were good and nice structure. Lauren (instructor) was very patient and effective.

Coordinator: Lauren (instructor) was helpful and easily accessible during the whole process (via Skype calls/texts). She was informative on answering my questions. IFRE corporate office was also very helpful and responsive to your questions/emails.

Favorite Moment at Worksite: Bonding with all the children at the child protective service center. They were so appreciative of your attention and love. The younger kids really enjoyed playing with us (e.g. sports, toys, joking, etc.). Some of the older kids were very eager and excited for us to teach them some Chinese language. They were happy to be able to say some simple Chinese words and phrases.

Favorite Moment in General: Forging a filial type bond and relationship with our host mother, Cecelia, in Atenas. We instantly connected and she made us feel like it was home. Having the opportunity to the meet Cecelia’s entire family (over 25 people) was a memory I will cherish forever. Some of the adventures and fun activities we did on this trip for leisure was also very entertaining (e.g. surfing, beach, and snorkeling).

Opinion of Program: I am truly grateful for the full Costa Rican culture immersion, memories that I created, and people that I met on this trip. Although I wished the volunteer work was more organized and structured so a bigger impact can be accomplished, I would still do it again because of the people and culture enrichment. This volunteer experience and the Costa Ricans really broaden my horizon and perspective of the world.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 3, 2016
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8
By: Hun Duong
Age:
29

Pages