WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 22, 2014 - Isabel Alcalde, 25, of Alexandria, Va., has completed her service as an economic development Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica and returned home to the United States on July 25.
Alcalde teaching students in Costa Rica.
For more than two years, Alcalde had been living and working in Costa Rica on community personal finance trainings and youth savings programs.
“When I was in elementary school, a returned Peace Corps volunteer came to speak to us and ever since that day I told myself I would serve. That is what led me to start volunteering in my community and it became something that I really enjoy and don’t ever plan to stop doing,” said Alcalde.
A graduate of Bishop Ireton High School and native of Alexandria, Va., Alcalde graduated from Marymount University in Arlington, Va., earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2011. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Alcalde volunteered with the Child and Family Network Center in Alexandria, Va.
Alcalde presenting one of the Marymount uniforms.
The project Alcalde is most proud of is a women’s empowerment event incorporating soccer. Before leaving for Costa Rica, Gayle Wilson, a soccer coach at Marymount University, gave Alcalde soccer uniforms and suggested they be used for a project.
As a member of the Peace Corps Gender and Development Committee in Costa Rica, Alcalde organized a national competition among women’s soccer teams to complete service projects in their communities and win the new uniforms. After completing projects related to recycling, anti-bullying, nutrition and exercise, the 4 winning teams received the new uniforms along with empowerment training facilitated by Alcalde.
“Overall, I trained over 100 people and got the see the excitement on their faces as they tried on their new uniforms,” said Alcalde.
One of the winning teams in their Marymount uniforms.
In the future, Alcalde plans to continue working in gender development. In 2015, she will be attending Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J. for a Master’s of Social Work degree focused on Community and International Development.
Alcalde said that she will most miss the sense of community that comes with living in a rural area and the quality time she spent with community members. She brought back a painting to the United States made by a woman in her community, which was paid for by all the people, groups and associations that she worked with during her service.
“I love it so much because she included a lot of characteristics from the community and every time I look at it, it’s such a great reminder of an unbelievable experience. I definitely brought Costa Rica back in my heart, but the painting makes its feel like I brought a little piece of it with me,” concluded Alcalde.
The painting Alcalde received as a gift from her community.
Alcalde was one of the 267 Virginia residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 7,241 Virginia residents have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.
About Peace Corps/Costa Rica: There are currently 120 volunteers in Costa Rica working in the areas of youth and community development and English education. During their service in Costa Rica, volunteers learn to speak Spanish. More than 3,500 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Costa Rica since the program was established in 1963.