The following mid-program reflections were written by the Costa Rica students.
I have had some interesting experiences here in Costa Rica. From the abuela in and out of the hospital a couple of times to a few struggles at the school, it’s been a good experience so far. I am always surrounded by lots of family, because I live on a sort of family compound. My family has made me feel welcome and once when I was feeling very homesick, my host mother really helped me and put things into perspective. I have really loved being at the school, it is my favorite part of the day. My experience would be so different if it wasn’t for the director Jonathan, who is wonderful in letting us participate and asks us questions, even when we aren’t teaching. The kids have really made me feel welcome into the community. First of all, my brother in my homestay made me feel at home right off the bat. He is very kind and asked me a lot of questions and always tries to include me in anything he does. The kids at the school are very enthusiastic. It definitely makes a difference teaching the kids that really enjoy learning, like our third and fourth graders.
These past few weeks have been an incredible experience. There have been high points and low points, but overall I can say that I have already learned so much. I am living in a small village called Bolivia, which is about an hour away from San Isidro. Being in school has been the highlight of my time here. The students are always eager to learn which is so great. So far we have taught days of the week, greetings, and numbers. We are finding creative ways to teach such as through games, songs, and interaction between the students. Sometimes it can be really hard, whether that be because the students have just finished exams, or a long lesson – they are young and sometimes it can be hard to keep their attention. But most times it is incredibly rewarding, and the students often beg Don, their teacher for us to give a lesson.
In Bolivia, I am living with the cook at the school. Her name is Nena, and she lives with her husband, Pedro, and two children Yosimar (7) and Anthony (2). The boys can be crazy, but the usually provide sufficient entertainment for me. Anthony often plays his DVD of kids songs and dances along to it attempting to sings the words, though he hasn’t quite mastered them. Yosimar loves to show me his art work, which he usually does instead of listening in class. Sometimes the kids become too much, and those are the times when I get to sit in my room and read. But every day I get to run around with them and get endless hugs and kisses from my two boys.
We just got back from our mid program break in Uvita, which was a much needed four day vacation filled with lots of beach time, good food, and surf lessons. It was so great to see everyone in the program after another two weeks of being apart. My favorite part of the break was the surfing lesson. I truly learned what beginners luck was, when I got up on my first wave and rode it to the end. After that I wasn’t as good, and I am currently extremely bruised and sore, but it was totally worth it.
We are about to return to our communities, and I am both excited and nervous. I cannot believe that we only have four more weeks with our families, and I am prepared to make the most out of what little time we have. I know that there will be some hard parts but I feel so fortunate to have such a great school, and my wonderful little brothers. I am excited to keep teaching, especially since the students have shown interest in learning about animals and months. Emily and I will also keep working on our game box, something for the students and teachers to use to practice English once we are gone.
These last five weeks have been spent in a small rural but very special place called San Gerardo that I have learned to call home. My parents are coffee farmers offering me a super authentic look into the lives of families who produce one of Costa Rica’s most famous products. I even got to work with them in the fields one day, and now truly appreciate the hard work they do day in day out. I also have a thirteen
year old brother with cerebral palsy, microsyphalia, and epilepsy and a ten year old sister who constantly surprises me with her maturity and responsibility. Everyday I am in awe of the love this family has together and the strength they show having a child with special needs in a community where it is uncommon.
Everyday brings a new and exciting experience that always prompts me to start my journals with ¨Wow!…¨ Some of these experiences include: driving at sunset to feed the chanchos and chanchitos (pigs and piglets), handpicking yuca and green mangoes, harvesting honey, and taking my brother Cay to his school once a week. I’ve even gotten to experience the slaughtering of one our family pigs and chickens. These of course were later served to me at lunch, and with the watching eyes of everyone in the room took a big bite…and as a recent vegetarian, to my surprise, liked it!
Its the smaller moments though that really make each day special: coloring on my bed with the sister, playing and laughing with Cay, conversations with my Mom comparing cultural customs, and waking up to the loud but impressively on tune singing of my Dad in the shower. Its the learning how to properly wash my clothes by hand from my mom and sister, having my seat at the table, and babysitting my siblings when my parents are out that make me realize how much a part of this family I am, and for that I feel so lucky.
I’m excited for the next weeks and can’t wait to continue to throw myself into the community and my family and in turn receive all the love, openness, and new experiences I am presented with.