Sunday August 4, 2019
Pura Vida, Family & Loved Ones!
All students arrived Saturday to our gorgeous home base in Junquillal, Costa Rica. We are so excited to have our fifth session of the summer here and settled! We have thirty students here this time, which feels like the perfect amount. Everyone is bonding faster than usual and the whispers among staff have been full of “what a fun group!”
Yesterday was Orientation Day and we kicked it off with a welcome circle including some quick Spanish learning, an active game, and a mindful moment. Then we announced our four service projects; students will be working with local organizations cleaning up beaches, planting trees, restoring the watershed, painting schools, and beautifying the community.
Every student successfully completed the orientation photo scavenger hunt learning about environmental risks, inventing the perfect disciplinary policy, hysterically acting out “code of conduct” skits, and learning about Costa Rican culture and how to be respectful travelers. All students also met their service/mentor groups today and started to discover the leadership curriculum focused on GLA’s leadership pillars.
We talked in our newly formed “mentor groups” about what leadership means to us and when we have been leaders. Then the “Bucket of Dreams” activity was a very fun (and often frustrating) way to actively learn about teamwork, support, and the different styles of leadership. While students wrote in their journals, mentors completed the health checks with each student to make sure everyone is happy, healthy and enjoying themselves.
After a review of safety procedures, we took a walk to the beach to watch the beautiful sunset! We had our first “Chow Circle” where the leaders of the day introduced tomorrow’s Leadership Pillar, “Live Your Values”. We ate dinner in our new friend groups and had free time to relax, walked around the hotel, and played games. In the evening, mentor groups met up for a talk about what we value personally and as a group. We put those values to the test and came up with our own community contracts that we’ll abide by for the next 10 days.
It was a very long day, but everyone’s excited to meet their local community organizations and start service-learning tomorrow!
Your BSA Team,
Michael, Daya, Abi, Blake, Cassie, Drake, Richyth, & Sergio
Monday August 5, 2019
¡Pura vida desde Costa Rica!
The leadership pillar for today was “Living Your Values”. The challenge that the leaders of the day came up with was to think of an object that represented things that you valued. An example of what someone said was that they value empathy, so their object was their shoes and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can cause you to understand what they’re going through.
Before service, those who wanted to wake up early enough did yoga. Once we went to our service sites, the groups did the following:
-Marbella picked up a lot of trash on the streets and walked 3.2 miles.
-ROW planted trees. They also learned about the watershed and about Costa Rican culture and biodiversity.
-Avellanas walked through the road, went to a beach to pick up trash, and played a game of soccer with some local people.
-The group that went to the Junquillal School taped the walls to prepare them to be painted and began to paint. We also started to prepare our designs for the surf boards that will be used as signs.
After lunch we went to the beach called Playa Negra where the waves were huge but super fun.
After the beach, we had a guest speaker named Silvia come to our resort. She lives in the town and did a presentation on the culture, environment, and geography of Costa Rica. After that we got into our Casado groups (teams that we do challenges in), and played Jeopardy based off of the information that Silvia told us.
After dinner, in our mentor groups, we looked at pictures that previous GLA students posted on Instagram and discussed whether or not they were responsible in the way that they presented the communities we visit. We learned how to responsibly use social media when going traveling or volunteering.
Today’s Leaders of the Day,
Heidi, Sonia, Michael, Kennedy
Blog post by: Heidi Bucking
Tuesday August 6, 2019
Yesterday’s pillar was courage! The challenge was based on getting out of your comfort zone by making the effort to engage into a conversation with someone you hadn’t talked to yet. This would enable us to get to know each other even better. Many of us learned interesting facts about our friends, for example, Sonia wants to work at the FBI! How cool is that?
We spent the morning zip lining. Some of us conquered our fear for heights. What a day to be courageous!! It was a great experience for all of us, so.much.fun. Free time was spent in the pool. (Except for me, a Nap was well deserved and totally worth it). Service was done in the afternoon, although much more tiring than usual, our spirits were raised and our motivation present.
In the evening, we watched the famous Ted Talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, “Danger of a Single Story”. Afterwards, in smaller mentor groups, we discussed the lessons we took away and how we’ll be sure to share “multiple stories” about our time in Costa Rica, avoiding stereotypes and “single stories”.
In my humble opinion, yesterday was one of the best days so far… yet, it’s for sure better days are to come.
– by Irene
Wednesday August 7, 2019
Today in service the Junquillal School continued painting the school. We played games during breaks. We also got to play soccer with the school kids. It was a lot of fun to be able to get work done, and rewarding to get to play after.
The Avellanas group went to the beaches and picked up more trash. We looked for an abundance of different types of trash and recyclables. Afterwards, Frank, a local who they have been working with picking up trash with bought us really good smoothies.
Marbella went to a high school and taught kids how to make eco-bricks. We practiced our Spanish by introducing ourselves in Spanish to the school. We laughed together while still getting work done. After the high school, the group went to a local beach near the high school.
At ROW today, we went to a local public school to teach the kids how to make mud balls, that we will throw into a river on Saturday. We practiced our Spanish by taking turns explaining how to mix the ingredients and form the mud balls. We also played a game of tag with the kids to get to know each other for our events on Saturday!
After service and lunch, we went to a Indigenous Pottery Museum. At the museum we played a game where we split into two groups. Each group learned about one side of the museum and had to explain it to the other group. Then we roamed the shop and bought some beautiful handmade pottery. Then we made our own pottery class. Our teacher was a local that made some if the pottery in the shop. He showed how to mix the clay by stepping on it and mix it with our feet! He also showed us the different colored paints used, which are red, white and black. We then made our own pots, and took them back to home-base to dry.
In the evening, in our mentor groups, we had a debate about a real controversial issue not far from here, regarding a hotel conglomerate destroying important mangroves and turtle nesting beaches. There were four sides: the hotel, the local people, the local government and the Costa Rica Ministry of the Environment. Afterwards, we had a discussion about this particular issue, but also about how to resolve conflict with people/groups with differing belief systems– one of the marks of a true leader.
Thursday August 8, 2019
On Thursday, we did a full adventure day. We got on the bus at 7:00, and drove two hours to our destination. Some slept, some kept others from sleeping, and others stared out the window for two hours. Our first activity was tubing. We went flying down the river, sometimes getting stuck on rocks, or being the rock that someone else got stuck behind. Some of us just relaxed and floated down the rapids, some of us came to win.
As people lightly floated to the impending rapids to break there rest, the racers kicked off of walls, hopped out of the tubes and pushed. The winner was Cade Christensen. After tubing we drove to the hot springs. We walked down bridges and pathways to the springs, where the biggest aahhs were made. We covered ourselves in mud, and washed ourselves in a river.
At the hot springs, we got in and relaxed. A lady we had never met tried to push someone in, but with no success, resulted in just splashing. Confusion is for sure, a weapon.
We drove back, and some managed to get a few winks of sleep. But the day was not over. It had only just begun.
It was Nico’s birthday, and we threw him a banger. We started the party with a game of cops and robbers. Kids ran to and fro, mostly from Big Mike and Big Tom. Some sneaked into the safe zone. Some fought there way to it. Those of us who made it treated ourselves to some chips and soda. After two rounds of cops and robbers, the dancing started. Many line dances were done, including Cotten Eye Joe and the Cupid Shuffle.
After Sergio led a Spanish dance on his own, the karaoke started. Cade started us off with a beautiful solo with Come And Get Your Love. Then everyone sang together, some great songs such as You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful, Party In The USA, Don’t Stop Believing, and others hits. We ended the night with lifting Nico up for a pictures, and running as fast as humanly possible to get first shower.
-by Cade Christensen
Hello parents, friends and family!
Today we started off the day with morning yoga and a breakfast of pancakes and Gallo pinto.
At service with ROW, Restore Our Watershed, we planted nearly 100 trees after learning about indigenous cultures through ceremony and spiritually.
In Junquillal School we painted the inside of the school and worked on the surfboard signs for the school.
At Marbella we taught local children how to make Eco bricks and played soccer. In Avellanas, we picked up trash along the beach and some of us collaborated to paint the Junquillal school.
After lunch and free time, we went to play traditional Costa Rican games, play soccer with locals, and cook empanadas and tortillas with two local women. We ended the day with a sunset (as usual) and a minor power outage. It was actually a fun adventure to play cards in the dark and bond with roommates.