Today was the second full day in Costa Rica, and the first day of community service. We started the day with pancakes in the local school, San Rafael. After breakfast, we split into groups. Some of us met the children in their classrooms, and the rest went outside to start work on our project, the covered gym. In the classrooms, we experienced education in Costa Rica, firsthand. The experience was heart-warming and humbling. The students of San Rafael have limited athletic facilities and few teachers, but their campus is beautiful and they are welcoming. The students also made an effort to communicate with us, despite our limited Spanish, and even taught us a few new words and soccer tricks. Those of us who were outside working on the service project quickly learned that cement-laying and the surrounding process was hard work, but rewarding. It was hot, humid, gritty and exhausting labor, but having already seen and interacted with the children of the school, gave us more of an effort to work on the project and give the children a place to play and have fun. We worked hard during our shifts outside, and many of us even came back for more of the work! After finishing the project for the day and cleaning up, we found our Homestay partners and walked by ourselves to our host families’ houses. Now that we had broken the ice yesterday, we found it easier to communicate with our host families. We played games, talked, and ate delicious lunches of rice, beans, and other common foods of Costa Rica. It was a fun time and also a good learning experience to see how people in Costa Rica live. We realized(for the most part) that despite language barriers, communication is possible with effort on both sides.
We said “Adios” to our host families and all met up at the school. Our next stop was a nearby rainforest, where with the help of Rafa, our guide, we planted fruit tree saplings in the forest. We got our hands dirty, but we learned the significance of what we were doing. Rafa told us that planting these trees would help to offset our carbon footprint and purify the water in the area. After we finished planting, we walked through the rainforest, with Rafa explaining to us the sights and sounds around us as we went. One incredible sound was the call of a Motmot, a bird of the rainforest. We also came across a gigantic strangler fig covering a tree. We were able to go inside the hollow tree and look up into the heart of the tree. This was an incredible experience for all of us. Back at Cabinas Cecelia, we learned about the importance of communication and cooperation through a leadership activity. We also learned more about our personal leadership styles, and were able to clearly see the differences between all of us. Today, we saw and heard some incredible things, we put in some serious elbow grease, and we grew to know Santa Maria de Dota and its people a little more. We don’t think we’ll forget this day anytime soon!
Fifteen Strong, All Day Long!
Happy Birthday, Dad! My real dad, not Ms. Lear. (Love, Natalie)