Tuesday July 9, 2019
Hello Family & Loved Ones!
Our students have arrived at our gorgeous home base in Junquillal, Costa Rica. Most were exhausted after traveling since late, but everyone is now here and settled into the rooms they’ll call home for the next 10 days.
We can’t wait for the adventures, service learning, lifelong memories, and deep friendships that await.
Pura Vida!! More updates to come.
Your Beachside Service Adventure Team,
Michael, Daya, Cassie, Blake, Dana, Drake, Nora, Sergio, Kevin, & Jacob
Wednesday July 10, 2019
Orientation Day of Beachside Service Adventure Session 2 was a giant success! We kicked off our summer with a welcome circle including some quick Spanish learning, an active game, and a mindful moment. Then we announced service projects; students will be working with local organizations cleaning up beaches, planting trees, restoring the watershed, 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 sunset, which was so beautiful we didn’t even mind the light rain! We had our first “Chow Circle” where the leaders of the day introduced tomorrow’s Leadership Pillar. We ate dinner in our new friend groups and had free time to relax, walk around the hotel, and play 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 has been a very long day, but we are so excited to meet our local community organizations and start service learning tomorrow!
Thursday July 11, 2019
¡Hola glamilia! Today Beachside Service Adventurers practiced the GLA pillar of leadership “Live your values”. We all strived to discover our own morals, beliefs, and ideologies and try to embody them in our own lives and community service projects. Our challenge was to learn about the values of our peers and try to understand why they have them and how they present themselves in our friends lives.
We had group discussions in groups led by our amazing mentors where we talked about our core beliefs and the reasons behind them. Today and yesterday we have started sharing our stories of self where we share the important aspects of our lives within our mentor groups. Today was also the first day of our service!
At the Marbella group one group cleaned up the beach for environmental beautification and got a chance to engage with the local children in a game of soccer. Another group reused oil drums and painted them to make recycling bins.
In Verdiazul, the group cleaned up trash on the beach and helped preserve the environment. They later had the opportunity to take a break and play a squirt gun game with the local kids.
In Paraíso, the group went to a local school and began working on beautifying the grounds by building a new play space and garden.
In Avellanos, the group picked up trash around the area walking all the way up to Playa Negra. They learned the importance of their work and how pollution and trash has affected the community. They later were able to take a nice break in a game of soccer with local kids who were also helping with the trash clean up.
In ROW (Restoring Our Watershed), the group utilized microorganisms to make mud balls which will later be used to purify water. The group also played around with the kids including some piggy back ride.
We all had a great days here in Costa Rica (and the torrential rain only adds to the fun). Can’t wait to see what’s next!
Dana Oshiro Jane
Friday July 12, 2019
This morning we started with ziplining and a pool party. Sergio played some sick beats, and Michael organized a riff off! Ziplining was amazing fun. It put a lot of people out of their comfort zone, but it helped us grow as leaders. There were double and triple lines. We went on 11 courses and got to see some of Costa Rica’s stunning scenery. All of us had a chance to practice our Spanish with the zipline guides. After quickly grabbing some lunch, we headed to our service projects!
Today VerdiAzul and ROW went to a park with some local kids and played games that taught them about water conservation. They did a relay race with various activities that taught them the importance of saving water. After that we played other games with them. We walked to a nearby river with them and threw mud balls in the river that one of the service groups made the previous day. The mud balls are made of microorganisms that help clean the river water. Then we said goodbye to the kids and came back to home base!
Today the Paraíso School team finished painted old tires to create a new play structure for kindergarten age children. We also worked on the planters. We are all planning on putting a handprint on the tires. The tires play structures looking like a bumble bee and a ladybug! The kids can either use them as a tunnel or jump on them. We wanted to try and finish before Monday because the children will start school again.
Avellanas Beach Cleanup went and picked up Local named Frank and 2 local kids and went to a large beach near there home where we picked up many different types of trash from microplastics spread along the beach to bottles and cans left in the brush farther from the ocean. Once we filled up 3-4 bags of trash we played soccer with the local kids and brought them back to their home!
The group picked up trash off of the beach, students were shocked at the amount of plastic being left on the beach. It was rewarding to see the finished product with no more trash left on the beach.
Marbella Verde students went to the community center today. They were introduced to Lori and Nuri. Students were set the task of painting old cans so that they could be used as recycling containers all across Costa Rica. It was fufilling to see the end result and to walk away knowing other students better.
This evening we all went to watch the sunset, ate grilled chicken with rice, beans, and salad. Afterwards for mentor groups we switched things up. Tonight we all had a opportunity to hear about other mentors life experiences. We all appreciated the mentors opening up to us! Overall today was an adventurous and exciting day!
Saturday July 13, 2019
Day 5 started with a delicious breakfast of french toast. A classic. From there, each of the five service project groups went there separate ways for a morning full of new experiences and fun activities. Marbella Verde left the earliest at a shocking 715 in the morning but they were all up and ready to go. While one of the two Marbella groups went into the city, the other went to the beach. The beach clean up team started off their day with some early morning yoga led by a woman named Lori.
Afterwards, they powered through the heat while beautifying the environment around them and picking up enough trash to fill an impressive ten bags. The city team spent the day picking up trash and meeting some cute dogs along the way before combining into one large group to go to the recycling center. The work was tough but extremely rewarding and everyone is happy to help. Three of the service groups left later at 745: Avellanas, Paraíso School, and ROW.
The Avellanas service group spent the day on the beach picking up microplastics that would have otherwise ended up in the ocean. Despite the humidity, there were hardly any complaints from these troopers!
The Paraíso School service group went back to the school to finish the projects they had started yesterday. They built and painted structures to look like a bumblebee and a race car for the kids. In the garden, they recycled old tires to make plant holders and even made a new friend! His name was Fernando. Also, he was a frog.
The ROW (Restore Our Watershed) crew went to a local plant nursery today to learn about erosion and local water sources. They then planted trees and cannonball fruit seeds. The group had to slam the cannonball fruit on the ground to open it and then search for and plant the seeds. Everyone had a blast breaking open the fruit but were not so happy when they realized the fruit had a very…unique…smell. They then enjoyed a scrumptious fruit platter of pineapple and papaya from a local market.
Verdiazul, my group, was the last group to leave at 8. Yes, you can be jealous. We spent the morning working with a man named Jaime digging holes for turtle eggs. The sand was heavy and it was very hot, but the group worked together and dug a solid 16 holes to put nets in for the turtle eggs. We also spent our time talking to the locals and practicing our Spanish, even getting some raw coconuts to quench our thirst. All the groups came back around 12 for lunch. We all enjoyed the food and also our much needed free time. Probably lots of naps were taken!
Afterwards we went to the beach, and even though the trip ended early due to thunderstorms, everyone still had a blast. Right afterwards, we had an amazing dance (baile!) class led by two local salsa dancers. The warm up was led by Micheal, our amazing camp director, and we all got very into his Zoomba moves. We learned several fun dances and at the end we all converged into one big dance circle. It was one of the highlights of the day! Dinner was next. Tonight was an overall favorite. TACOS!! Finally, we watched an inspirational video about how it is always important to have more than one story about someone before judging and making assumptions. It was an amazing day and we can’t wait for more!!
-By Hannah and Eva
Sunday July 14, 2019
Even though we didn’t have service, today was still a pretty busy day. We woke up early for a 6:15 breakfast, and left at 7 for Tubing at a river about two hours from home base!
Upon arrival, we listened to some safety instructions, took our tubes to the river and plunged in the water. The wild ride downstream lasted around 45 minutes. After returning our tubes and getting back on the bus, we drove to a nearby restaurant for an amazing buffet lunch. We had some free time to chill and visit the souvenir shop, then we headed over to the natural hot springs. We relaxed there and covered ourselves in mud, which has positive effects on the skin. After drying off, we headed back to home base.
We had our sunset meeting around 6, dinner and then got into our mentor groups to do an activity where we took on roles to debate a true 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.
¡Hola GLA familia!
Today’s leadership pillar for everyone in Beachside Service Adventures was “Be inclusive” in order for all our adventurers to get to know each other better. As a leader, we need to be able to create a safe and open environment where everyone feels like they can talk to anyone without the fear of judgement or being left out. Each person was tasked with talking to five new people and learning one interesting fact about each of them. By the end of the day, many of our peers who had rarely talked before were able to discover commonalities between themselves and form deeper connections with each other.
Here’s a quick summary of the highlights of today’s service:
⁃ Marbella: Both groups were continued making dream catchers and cleaning up the beaches. One group dug up and replanted coconut trees in a new area then took their trash to a local recycling center.
⁃ Avellanos: The group cleaned up trash from Playa Avellanos and learned about the importance of mangrove trees in the ecosystem
⁃ Parasío: They finished painting signs and murals, completed the creation of the garden, and then many played Costa Rican and American games with the students from the school.
⁃ ROW (Restoring Our Watershed): We planted indigenous tree saplings along a river that connected two protected forests in Costa Rica to restore the natural pathway between them and prevent erosion.
⁃ Verdiazul: The group made ecobricks, cleaned up the nearby beach, and then helped to released the newly hatched sea turtles.
The last day of service was bittersweet as we said goodbye to the guides who have been working with us every service day, but we continued the day with a rally. It consisted of a cooking class, a class where we learned traditional games, and soccer, but we were able to turn every bit of it into a competition. We cooked delicious empanadas and judged them for their beauty, competed against each other in traditional Costa Rican games, and had a fierce game of soccer with the local children.
After dinner, everyone worked together in their food groups in a fun game of Volunteer Feud where we had to name the pros and cons of voluntourism/service learning. It was a new topic for a lot of us (including me) and we were able to learn so much about how our volunteering in GLA can both positively and negatively affect the local communities. In our mentor groups, we continued this discussion by talking about how our certain service groups fit in with the pros and cons of our volunteering and how we can continue volunteering in our own neighborhoods. Since this was one of our last meetings with our groups, we wrote down some group goals that extended past the conclusion of our adventure together in Costa Rica.
Let’s all have an amazing last day together!! ¡Pura Vida!