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Volume 9 Issue 1 Highlights


Maximo Nivel 3380

Supply Chain

Integrating Language Training, Service, and Tourism: Maximo Nivel's Volunteer Adventure

Heading to Latin America for a voluntourism experience? Then you may want to consider Maximo Nivel as an option. A decade ago, a couple, Giovanna and Ken Jones, launched this social enterprise in Cusco, Peru, as a language institute focused on Spanish-language immersion and native instruction. Today, the organization has expanded its footprint to two more locations, Costa Rica and Guatemala, and has since incorporated direct connections to local communities and service projects for those who are interested in putting their newly-learned language proficiency into a volunteering context. It isn't all work, however. Opportunities abound for those who wish to explore the abundant touristic activities available within the surrounding footprint of each Maximo Nivel institute location.

Introduction & Background:

Maximo Nivel is a family-owned, social enterprise founded in 2003. Our three intercultural centers are locally-based organizations focused on international education and cross-cultural experiences. We offer our International Volunteer Program, TEFL/TESOL Certification, Native Spanish Program, Adventure & Culture Program and Native English Program in three countries — Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.

Giovanna and Ken Jones opened the first Máximo Nivel in Cusco, Peru in 2003. They were living in Cusco and felt there was a need for a high quality language institute that stressed client service, small class size, and certified native teachers, the qualities that still define Máximo Nivel today.

The institute provided a unique experience in Cusco, and soon expanded to offer TEFL/TESOL certification, Spanish classes, volunteer programs and adventure options.  Not long after, we expanded geographically as well, opening the doors to the Costa Rica institute in 2006, and moving into Guatemala in 2009.


Maximo Nivel 4300

Maximo Nivel's philosophy is built on the following four underlying principles:

- Deliver a GREAT experience to every program participant and client.
- Improve impact at every volunteer project site where we work.
- Train and certify awesome ESL teachers to teach all over the world.
- Provide the best Spanish language immersion in all of Latin America.

Volunteering Opportunities

We offer volunteer programs in the following areas:

•   Orphanages/Childcare
•   Conservation
•   Teaching English
•   Construction
•   Medical
•   Healthcare (non-medical)

This means that volunteers can choose to work at an orphanage, teach at a local school or do patient triage in a small clinic.  There are programs building community centers, working with environmental organizations and in homes for disabled children.  We work with each incoming volunteer to try to find a good fit for their particular skills and interests and to make sure that they can make an impact.

Tourism Experiences

The Volunteer Adventure is a program we created to let people give back and connect with the local community in a unique and profound way, but also to see some of the hotspots the country has to offer.  In Costa Rica, for instance, the program starts with an initial week of volunteer work (with an afterschool program, at a coffee farm, in a school or any of many other options).  This can be coupled with Spanish lessons for those that really want to maximize the experience and connect with their volunteer project.  Next, participants move on to a week of tours and adventure activities.  They visit the famous Manuel Antonio National Park and beach for a few days, spend a day on a catamaran visiting Tortuga Island, see local waterfalls and the incredible Poas Volcano, and join a folk dinner and dance night out in San Jose.  All of the details of transportation, lodging and planning are already set up, so participants can just jump right in and enjoy the country.

Similar to the program in Costa Rica, in either Peru or Guatemala the adventure also begins with a full week of volunteer work focused in the best area for the participant.  In Peru participants are able to do a Cusco City Tour, visit the majestic Sacred Valley, island hop on Lake Titicaca, and spend a few days at Macchu Picchu soaking in the history of the site.  Guatemala, on the other hand, lets people go beyond national borders, complimenting a hike up Pacaya Volcano, a visit to Lake Atitlan, the famous Chichicastenango artisan market and the historic ruins of Tikal with a few days of fun in the sun at the beach in El Salvador. 

All three options highlight the best tourist destinations in the country, but also dedicate an entire week to helping local communities and organizations in Guatemala, Peru and Costa Rica.

Maximo Nivel Costa Rican Beach

Sample Itinerary: Volunteer Adventure, Costa Rica

Sunday – arrive in San Jose; We’ll pick you up at the airport and bring you to the home of a local host family.

Monday – project orientation, walking tour of the area, and initial visit with our staff; start Spanish lessons

Tuesday – Friday – daily volunteer work and Spanish classes

Saturday – free day in San Jose

Sunday – City Tour of San Jose

Monday – Wednesday (3 days/2 nights) – Manuel Antonio beach and National Park. Take a guided tour in the incredible national park, replete with monkeys, sloths and other native species.  Relax on the white sands beaches and maybe mix things up with a zip-line tour over the nearby mountains.

Wednesday (evening) – Ram Luna typical Costa Rican music, dance and dinner

Thursday – Isla Tortuga Calipso Tour. Start the day with a boat ride from Puntarenas to Tortuga Island.  Once there you can tour the banana plantation, snorkel, or simply lie on the beach and eat lunch.

Friday – 3-in-1 Tour. Spend the morning at a typical Costa Rican coffee farm and learn about coffee production and processing.  Next see the incredible Poas Volcano, and from there head to the La Paz waterfall gardens with beautiful scenery and an opportunity to see and learn more about Costa Rican wildlife.

Contact Information:

Maixmo Nivel
De La Farmacia La Bomba
75m South, left side
San Pedro-Montes de Oca,
San Jose, Costa Rica 
Tel: +506 2253 9220
Tel: +506 2253 9330
Send e-mail

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