Session 5 is underway and it’s off to a wonderful start! We’ve done quite a bit so far, including, getting to know each other and the mentors, kicking it at the beach, and learning about where GLA came from and where it’s going. We have a jam packed, but fun week ahead of us! We are looking forward to all of the activities and becoming leaders!
Until next time!
Today we went to a preschool and used recycled tires to create a playground fence for the kids. We painted the tires, drilled them together, and made a colorful and fun addition to their playground. Later, we got to play with the children, whether it be a game of soccer or dancing. It was a super fun experience and we can’t wait for 3 more days at the school!
– Evan Parness (Leader of the Day)
Today our service group went to the high school in La Cruz. It was a great experience and during our debrief everyone seemed to be impacted and to have really enjoyed connecting with the students, as well as improving our Spanish speaking skills. We first started out in a classroom with 10th graders, where we split up into groups to talk to the students. It was engaging to try and communicate the best we could despite the language barrier. Then we went to both a 7th and 12th grade classroom and played games. Overall it was a very enjoyable service trip.
– Olivia Foster & Emily Jones (Leaders of the Day)
Today was an amazing first day of service for all of us!! We learned how to mix and pour the cement from. We also had a great bonding opportunity when the student came out for recess and we got to practice our Spanish to get to know them. We could tell we still have some work due to the laughter of the children as we tried to speak to them.
– Bridget Bruneau (Leader of the Day)
¡Hola! Today we got to a school in Tempatal around 8:45 am. As soon as we walked into the gates of the school, chiquitos (little kids) ran up to us and grabbed onto our hands to take us to their playground. We played with the kids during their recess (which involved our hair being put into braids and some fun piggy back rides around the school). When the children had to go back to class, we started our service assignment. Using wheelbarrows, we carried wet cement over to the holes for the fence posts. We worked hard and really enjoyed our time at the beautiful school. We are going to a local town later today called La Cruz, and we couldn’t be more excited! ¡Adios!
– Lauren Forster and Sarah Samaniego (Leaders of the Day)
In Jake’s Service group today we hoped repair a playground in El Jobo, a small community close to home base with many wonderful women who take great pride in their town, constantly working to better it and a lively group of elementary school kids that easily beat us in soccer and were a blast to play with. For our service we scraped the bark off of pieces of wood to be turned into wooden planks that could eventually be used for a fence. In addition, we painted signs that were hard to see and turned them into bright clear signs. After this hard work we headed to La Cruz where we bought snacks and fresh produce where some tired dragon fruit and passion for for the first time. Today was so much fun!
– Sarina Moore (Leader of the Day)
The smiling faces of young Costa Rican children could barely contain their excitement as they watched my team and I worked to improve their playground. These preschoolers now have a completed fence made from the recycled tires that our service team painted around their playground. We all rotated in groups of three or four either painting, pushing wheelbarrows of sand to be put on the ground of the playground, or using rakes to spread out the freshly dumped sand. After some teammates finished their work, they helped to shovel gravel as a way to secure different play areas also made from the recycled tires. Sadly we did not have enough time to play with the kids today, but we all are looking forward to having fun with them tomorrow!
– Kelly Kartarian (Leader of the Day)
Today, some of our GLA students went to al coal high school here in the region of Guanacaste. The students interacted with residing middle school and high school students here in Costa Rica in what we call a language exchange. WHen we first arrived, we were greeted by the Costa Rican children and we introduced ourselves. Almost directly after that we headed out to a field to play a game called “Mano Pelota.” Most Americans would probably recognize it as a clever cross bread between the American sports basketball and soccer. We ended up playing, “Nosotros contra ustedes” or “us against you,” which basically means that children vs. the volunteers. It was very fun and the children also learned English because they were forced to communicate in English while playing. Overall the volunteers learned the connections between teachers and students in Costa Rica are different than Americans have with their students or teachers and that many Latinos or Costa Ricans take their sports more seriously than most and they really love the games they play. In my own personal perspective, it’s almost like soccer or Mano Pelota is like another language that is shared and enjoyed by many of the residents of Costa Rica
– Josh Conti (Leader of the Day)
We all had so much fun today! We went back to the city of Tempatal. Our service group as a collective, in combination with the local people got together to design, cut and measure the wood and paint it to build wood signs for the beach. These beaches are “protected” by the people that live in the community, so these people take care of the place, keep the local clean and do their best to preserve the place. We had such a great experience and got to know more about the region. Playing with the kids in the school was super exciting, they are such amazing people and very thankful for the little they have!!
I loved it!
– Bianca Coelho & Samantha Macrides (Leaders of the Day)
Today we visited the students at Inglés de la Cruz, a bilingual high school, and came to the realization that laughter is universal. We were given the opportunity to converse with peers at the high school as well as compete against them in a super conceptive handball game….GLA was victorious. Although communication was a barrier to the relationship we had with the students at some points in time; it was through cooperation, the use of both English and Spanish skills, and frantic/animated hand gestures that had us all rolling on the floor laughing like the oldest of friends. This experience enlightened the face that despite our differences we are all still human.
– Thomas Bolland & Tiffany Tang (Leaders of the Day)
Today, our service group worked on building a sidewalk for an elementary school. First we had to mid sand and rocks with water and concrete mix to create concrete that we would later wheelbarrow out and lay down. Through the experience we lean red that teamwork is necessary for the success for these types of projects.
What, we as a group, enjoyed was the feeling of accomplishment during and especially after the laborious work. The students were very happy to have us there and enjoyed playing with us.
– Flynn Eastwood and Alexander Kamen (Leaders of the Day)
Today was a fun and efficient day making sidewalks for the elementary school. The children were very friendly and even played an intense game of ultimate frisbee with us! They have such positive attitudes and can never stop smiling.
– Skylar Cunniff and Kata Fusco (Leaders of the Day)
Hi everyone! Today in the beautiful Costa Rica my service group and I went to a high school in La Cruz. We spoke to them in English to help improve their language skills and made fantastic friends. Some of us played soccer with them while others took a tour of the school. Bonds grew between us and everyone in the group had a beautiful experience. The local teens were so friendly and kind I think everyone in my group would agree that if we returned in 2 years or so they would still remember us. We all took away from it new Spanish words and memories that will last a lifetime. Alright, back to festivities for us, PURA VIDA!
– Lauren Rose (Leader of the Day)
On Wednesday, Regina’s service group made its way out to a local preschool in La Cruz, in Spanish called centro de cuido infantil de la Cruz, or the center for infant care of La Cruz. The team met with Maria Jose, who assisted GLA students with the projects. Several projects at the site included transporting wheelbarrows of sand to a playground that had recently been cemented and painting and preparing a hopscotch made of tires for the students. Together, we completed the projects at the preschool after they had been in progress for 5 weeks, allowing tomorrow’s team to now move to work at the local high school. Go GLA!
– Alice Vinogradsky (Leader of the Day)
Today had to be my favorite service day so far. We had a change in schedule and ended up volunteering at the local high school. We walked in and the class greeted us. Kelly and I sat next to 3 boys and we talked about our lives in Los Estados Unidos and their lives in Costa Rica. We joked about one of the boys, Pedro, having una novia (a girlfriend). He claims he doesn’t have one but we know he did. There was also Marco who claimed to be “the nerd” of the class. He knew a lot of English and I was very impressed.
Then it was time for recess. A boy named Matthew came and sat down next to us as we watched the other students play handball. He told me he always wanted to live in New York and I told him I was from there. He was so excited as I began to show him photos of the big apple. He even said that he might come to New York next year! I said he could contact me when he got here and I could show him around. We then exchanged social media accounts.
After, we had to part. I was so upset because I really got along well with the students. I hope we get to see them again!
A few hours later we also went to play a soccer game against the locals. It was so much fun even though we lost. We met 3 dogs, 2 of whom we named Lloyd and Socks, and also met a few of the local kids and played with them for an hour or so.
Overall it was personally the best day we have had so far and I’m so excited to see what’s ahead in the future.
– Isabella Boccasino (Leader of the Day)
Today at our service site in El Jobo, we continued to work peeling the bark off of planks of wood and touched up the playground with spray paint. We also finished painting a sign displayed near the school and pulled an old one out of the ground to revamp. At the school, we watched some students preform a dance and joined in to learn.
– “The Maggies” aka Margaret Stevens & Margaret Hughes (Leaders of the Day)
Today was an incredibly relaxing day, with an abrupt start. My roommates and I nearly missed the bus by sleeping through breakfast and beyond (note to self, set an alarm). Service went mostly smoothly, except for a mishap with the concrete mixing which nearly ruined the whole batch. Personally I’m incredibly happy it got fixed as lifting buckets of rocks and sand is not easy.
On the bus ride back there was lots of extra room since one group had completed their task. We stopped at a fruit stand and bought this awesomely weird fruit called mamon chino. It was covered in tendrils that hooked towards the bottom of the fruit. They tasted somewhat like an apple but squishy and chewy rather than crisp.
After a delicious lunch of seasoned chicken, rice, and beans there was hours of time to relax and read in the pool. The activities were fun too, Manuel’s personality test revealed that I was in the green group of more analytical thinkers. Zumba, a form of exercise dance was fun as well, providing a truly unique experience.
Overall the day was a perfect mix of manual labor and relaxation, and sure to put me to sleep early tonight.
– Elias Garcia (Leader of the Day)
Today at the service site we struggled with the cement formula. We put in the sand before the concrete bags and Lennon had to fix our mistake. This demonstrated how sometimes volunteers in other countries can actually be detrimental rather than benefiting the community. Being aware of this made us more sensitive to our actions and we were more careful during the remaining time at the service site. We were able to successfully complete a good amount of the sidewalk. Playing with the kids at recess was fun and they were starting to be more outgoing and warmed up to us because we are becoming familiar faces. They are becoming more friendly and just seeing how excited they get to see us is heart warming. Despite the language barrier we communicated with the universal language of empathy, compassion, and kindness.
– Emma Roush (Leader of the Day)
On service day 4, Manuel’s group worked in Tempatal where we worked at an elementary school finishing up the fence we started on the first day. Before starting our service work, we were able to play with the kids for about half an hour, which is always the best part. After a heartfelt goodbye to the kids, we started our service. We made the concrete and finished putting up the three fence poles that will be used to protect the school from stray animals that could disrupt the school. Since we worked fast, we were able to finish with half an hour to spare. So we were able to go buy some food at a snack shack. After returning to home base, we ate lunch and had our siesta time. After, Jake and Regina/Alex’s group were able to go the island and either hike or swim. At 7, there was a fun dance lesson which concluded our day of fun activities. Overall, this was a very fine day and everyone is excited, but sad to finish our service in Costa Rica.
– Daniella Vo & Elia Levitin (Leaders of the Day)
Today, August 6th, our service group went with Alex to the beach located on the Ecoplaya property. Before we went to the beach we watched videos about The Pacific Gyre that made us think about how much trash is in the ocean and on the shore. Then we went to go collect trash on the beach. We found trash in the sand and in the branches. We were surprised by what trash we found, which inspired us to continue to pass on how much trash there really is in the oceans and how even picking up the littlest trash will make a difference somewhere.
– Jill Maisel, Maddi Frissora, and Paige Brala (Leaders of the Day)
Today my service group and I returned to el Jobo to continue our service projects. We finished painting and installing a local sight as well as taking the bark off the trees so that they can later be turned into a kiosk for some of the local women. The children didn’t have school today so a majority of them were down playing on the playground we were working on. This gave us an amazing opportunity to play with the local children.
We were also able to visit some local houses. This was such a unique experience to be able to physically see how the Costa Ricans live, which was amazing and simple. Once you stepped in their houses, you;d instantly feel more appreciative for the things you have, and you feel more at home and included with the community. We really wish to see them and their houses again.
– Leah Levin-Aznar and Rebekah Robinson (Leaders of the Day)
Today was the last day of service at Tempatal. All of us had a great time playing tag, Sharks and minnows, and capture the flag with the children. After playing with the children we helped to make signs by stripping bark off of wood, sanding it, and painting it. Then, we filled more holes with cement at the front of the school. It was a great and productive week of service and we are very happy to help the kids at tempatal!
By Karlye Pinto, Michael Soto, Helen Frazer (Leaders of the Day)
Today, on our last day of service, Lisa’s service group continued our work on the sidewalk for the school. Our group made an extra round of cement and managed to complete almost one side of the school. We also got a chance to see a special event performed by the children at the school which included viewing their science projects and dancing with the kids. We are so thankful to have been a part of such a rewarding and meaningful experience which will be used by the children and locals for years to come.
Today we gathered all of our strength to power through the last day of service. although it was really sad that we had to leave our site filled with hard work and relationships with the kids that we hadn’t had time to build, I feel satisfied knowing that I could help provide a better environment for the kids. today we got to join a dance party that the kids had. I noticed right away the difference between Our two cultures that was so prominent: while we have been taught to keep away from strangers, they have been taught to be welcoming to the people they don’t know yet. another difference I noticed was none of the girls were judging other girls while they danced, like what I am used to seeing at home. instead, the girls were just interested in having fun and dancing as much as possible. it was refreshing to see these positive changes that are small things, but make a big difference.
-Laura Swagmoney Hammer (Leader of the Day)
Today, sadly, was our last day of service, meaning we had to part with the many friends we had made at our service site. In spite of the inevitable goodbye we got a great deal of work done in the way of painting and nailing signs around the park as well as playing with the amazing kids that were there with us! With the morning over the afternoon featured a trip to the beach as well as a soccer game against the hotel staff, which ended in a predictable 5-2 loss. Talent show was an amazing success though we must get some early shut eye in order to make 5:30am breakfast for adventure day!
Conor Wight (Leader of the Day)
GLA took a trip into La Cruz today to help build benches at one of the two high schools. Our service group including me woke up for the 5th and last day of community service. Knowing it was the last day of service we all came ready and prepared to help. The past few days my group helped build a playground at a preschool. Although it was fun playing with the younger kids I’m glad we came to the high school today. It was fun and interesting seeing how much different their culture is from mine. I’m sad that the trip is almost over but I feel very good about the work that we’ve done so far. I feel confident that my work has helped the town of La Cruz and I hope my peers feel the same. Since our service is finished i am looking forward for all the adventures to come.
Jonah Mikkalson (Leader of the Day)
Today was a significant day for both GLA workers and the community surrounding ___ El Jobo. After coating the torn off tree bark in paint, we wrote directions and rules for the park and mounted them on the fences surrounding the park, thus completing a 3 week-long project that was started by a GLA group before us. Perhaps what was more moving to us, however, was the support of the children and locals. Men, women, and children were eager to help us out, and that is an understatement. In addition, throughout our service at ___, here was never a moment that local kids weren’t playing on the structure of enjoying a game of soccer. Having them there personally helped me understand why this work I’m doing is so meaningful. This is home to so many children and families, and we are able to forever change their experience at the park, for the better. While it was a bittersweet day (as it was our last day of service), it was definitely a sweet feeling to do some good to a community that truly deserved it.
-Rohit Rathor, 16, Sacramento CA (Leader of the Day)
All students have departed and are on their way home!