The next country coordinator featured in our Country Coordinator Spotlight series is Pouchi Chan! A couple months ago, we interviewed some of our country coordinators so we could share with you a little bit about their lives! All of our CCs are hardworking, passionate individuals who enjoy serving their communities and working with ISL volunteers, and they all have their own very unique stories. A couple weeks ago, we featured Gaby, and now you’ll get to learn about our other co-country coordinator in Costa Rica!
Where is she from? Where has she lived?
Pouchi is from the Province of Guanacaste, which is in the Pacific part of Costa Rica. Her parents are Chinese immigrants who came more than 30 years ago.
What does she love most about her country?
She loves the people. She says that they have an air of human warmth and are mostly good people. Also, Costa Rica’s slogan, “Pura Vida,” has much to do with the positivity that the people have. She also loves the nature of Costa Rica.
What is her family like?
Pouchi has an older sister and her parents, and they are all quite close. On her parents’ side, they really preserve the Chinese culture, and on her and her sister’s side, they have a mix of Chinese culture with Latin culture.
Where did she grow up? What was her childhood like?
Since she was born in a pretty rural area, they had more freedom to go out and play, go to the park, and do more activities outside compared with children now. She went out to skate with her friends, played hide-and-go-seek, and played with Barbies and toy houses. Everyone knew each other. She also remembers going to buy homemade ice cream from her neighbor and riding her bike.
What was the most impactful moment for her during her education?
An impactful moment for Pouchi was when she did her professional practicum. Since she studied nutrition, they went to retirement homes and had to evaluate the residents in the area of nutritional health to see how they were eating. It was hard because they were elderly people who had many illnesses and were very delicate. During that time, she realized the importance of being a part of working with them. Another impactful moment for her was when she was in college and volunteered at a national park. They stayed there for a week helping with the work of the park rangers. It was then that she saw the significance of volunteering and providing help.
What has she worked in besides being a CC?
In addition to being a country coordinator, she worked as an ISL team leader and translator, and little by little learned more and more. Before that, she worked for awhile teaching her field of nutrition for companies, doing a little of everything. She realized that everything she does has always involved teaching, and she really enjoys it.
At what point did she realize what her calling was?
In her last years in college, Pouchi realized that she really liked to work with people, especially teaching them about her country and her culture. That is something she likes about ISL, that they help the communities and the people. Because of these things, she believes that a calling is someone’s passion. For her, that means working with people, sharing cultures, and learning from others.
What was her path to becoming an ISL CC?
At one time, she was looking for work in the health field, but ISL appeared on the horizon, and she said that she had to try it. She worked as a translator for ISL with a college group from Tennessee Knoxville, and they helped give care to people with disabilities who had been abandoned at an institution. She loved it so much that she wanted to continue working with these people and help out. She continued doing it, and with time they asked her if she wanted to try out being a team leader. At that time she was learning and advancing, and with her experience from then until now, she became a country coordinator.
How long has she been working with ISL?
Pouchi has worked with ISL since March 2014.
A brief summary of what she does as a CC:
In Costa Rica, they have something unusual: co-coordination. She and Gaby are in charge of the coordination in Costa Rica to develop and plan all the logistics that have to do with a volunteer team program, such as the staff, food, lodging, doctors, and professionals, and they choose the communities they will serve. That is the logistics part, but they also work a lot with the staff by doing training, and they are in charge of the area of maintaining relationships and partnerships with the different institutions that support them, such as retirement homes and homes for children. They have to take care of these partnerships and also find new ones where they can provide service. Also, they have to manage the budget that they need to reach, and they work very closely with the United States staff for the planning of the programs.
What inspires her most about what she does?
What most inspires Pouchi is that sometimes the Costa Rican staff think about the fact that they have a more advantaged position to help other people, and they are so blessed by that. What calls her attention the most is seeing the faces and the smiles of the people in the communities when they thank them. They are not expecting a thank you, but it is a way of seeing the love that someone gives that cannot be bought. Also, it inspires her to see the evolution in the volunteers; they go to a country and grow into people who are more sensitive to others’ needs. She says that everyone in the field of health has to work with people and, because of that, needs to have that human sensitivity.
Interested in experiencing Costa Rica for yourself? Check out our upcoming teams here!