Saturday June 16, 2018
Session 1 of Beachside Service Adventure has begun! Students arrived last night and enjoyed an outdoor, traditional Costa Rican dinner that was catered and explained by Chef Mike, who is eager to share the many diverse flavors of the country. After trying new food, students got to know who they will be spending their time with during the duration of the program through our buddy system, designed to make sure everyone is accounted for and to meet new friends.
Each student received one name of a classic duo such as, but no limited to, “peanut butter and jelly.” Students went around and met every student until they found their complementary partner, (in this example, peanut butter found jelly!). After meeting their new buddy, everyone settled in and promptly went to bed at 10 to get ready for today, orientation! Students will be sorted into their service groups and engage in team building activities to facilitate a fun and effective learning environment. And mostly importantly, students learned the concept of “Pura Vida,” the motto of Costa Rica and useful phrase to say hello and that all is well. We are so excited to have our students, and will have them updating as we go. 🙂
Sunday June 17, 2018
Today was adventure day!!! All forty GLA members got split up into two groups (20 Carajillos and 20 Güilas), the Carajillos went ziplining in a forest 15 minutes away from home base while the Güilas drove an hour to go on a catamaran in Playa del Flamingo!
The Carajillos arrived at their destination 15 minutes away from home base on Playa Junquillal and were immediately dressed in harnesses and helmets. All 19 students then went on a trailer that took them up the winding roads through the rainforest, and up the hills until the top of the mountain where the first platform was. An instructor introduced us to the staff and gave us directions on what to do on the way down and how to use the handbrake as well. There were 11 different zip lines of different lengths, one (line #9) being a bit over a half a mile long. Each zip line took you over a beautiful valley where you could see the surrounding mountains and distant farmland; a perfect way to get a first glance at the country of Costa Rica! After plenty of hiking down trails to different platforms and overcoming each new line, we all eventually met at the bottom and made our way to the juice bar at the top of the building. Here, we enjoyed a lovely fruit plate, cooled off, and socialized with each other until we loaded the bus and headed back to home base.
For the Guilas, they took an hour trip down to Playa Flamingo!! On the bus ride, they listened to popular/well known Spanish music, evening learning a song or two!!! Upon arrival, they were all greeted by smiling faces, a blazing hot sun, and exquisite views. Having time to take a few photos, every member took as many as they could, all with their new friends to establish the everlasting memories of this life-changing experience!!! When on the boat, everyone was able to relax up front on trampoline-like floors and take in some sun rays, (or go in the cabin and stay in the shade). All bonding and taking time to play some games, catch some shut-eye, or just relax before the exciting sights ahead of them!!! About 30 minutes after departure, the boat docked on a bay by a beautiful, unique island, FILLED with exotic wildlife! Everyone had the option of snorkeling, swimming, or kayaking (with a life jacket of course)! All went snorkeling with a leader with experience and got to see amazing things. For starters, their leader picked up a pufferfish and showed it to them all, then grabbed a starfish and let everyone hold it, then found a baby octopus!! The sight searching lasted for an hour, by then everyone’s stomachs were well ready for lunch! Everyone was served some fruit, turkey subs, chips, and cookies!!!! With all you can drink water, it was the perfect day for all to enjoy!
Back at home base we enjoyed a dance class, ate traditional Arroz con Pollo for dinner, and then finished the evening in our mentor groups reflecting on how our values impact our behavior and therefore our leadership. Tomorrow is the first day of service! We are excited to jump into our projects in the community!
Monday June 18, 2018
We were all so excited to jump into our service projects today!!! The four groups (Playa Aveanas, Restoring our Watershed, Escuela Paraiso, and Verde Azul) were scattered around the area working hard with the Costa Rican community:
- Playa Avellanas picked up trash around a school and painted signs for a nearby beach to help prevent littering.
- ROW started the process of transplanting trees. They learned how to effectively transplant and the importance of the moringa.
- Escuela Paraiso were received warmly by the school kids, who were eager to learn more about the project. The group began work on a painted mural and started beautifying the garden.
- Verdiazul worked diligently, transferring logs around the beach. They used teamwork to problem solve and move the logs more efficiently.
After our busy morning of hard work, we relaxed a little and enjoyed listening to a guest speaker. A detailed account of his time in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica inspired us all to look for the “open doors” in our lives and learn from our experiences. He emphasized the importance of reflecting and learning from your service, rather than living with the mindset that you are the hero.
We spent the rest of our afternoon at a nearby beach, swimming in the crashing waves and taking time to relax after a long day of service. We had an insightful activity and dinner circle at the beach, then headed back to home base for a delicious chicken dinner. It wasn’t complete without a birthday cake and song for Ana! (Happy birthday!!!!!) We closed the night with mentor groups where we reflected on our values and conflict resolution skills, and talked about service plans for tomorrow.
The first day of service was fulfilling and exciting, and we can’t wait to work again tomorrow!
-Presley Mohler & Sydney McFadden
Tuesday June 19, 2018
Today we began our day with the second day of service!! Everyone was so eager to return to their projects and continue their hard work.
- Playa Avellanas group painted signs to raise awareness of beach cleanup. They then followed their works of art and scoured the beach for any trash or waste.
- ROW group assisted the local farmers today by packing bags of soil to plant cashews. They then visited the watershed and gained insight about biodiversity and how crops are strategically placed to prevent erosion and water runoff.
- Verdiazul group continued with a second day of challenging work. Because of the constant damage of biodiversity due to vehicles driving into the vegetation, today was focused on utilizing the logs collected yesterday to create a fence. Digging and placing the logs prevents damage to the important ecosystem.
- Escuela Paraiso group continued to work on their murals and garden preparation. They sawed wood and created boxes to house new crops, and also sketched murals on the side of the school. Topics of these murals include forests, farms, and sustainability. Relationships with the students at the school were strengthened through games of soccer and other activities.
Everyone met together and ate some delicious lunch before another leadership activity. This leadership activity focused on the effect of major economic decisions on children. A debate simulation was formed in the setting of the 2014 World Cup set in Brazil. FIFA, the Brazilian Government, the Brazilian Community, and a nonprofit organization were represented through different groups of students for the debate. After an intense discussion, students left with a newfound view on the impact of mega sporting events on children, as well as the economy.
After the debate, students all jumped into the buses and traveled through the forest to the organic farm, Huerta Vida y Salud. At this secluded farm, the local farmer explained the importance of natural farming, for both human health and nature itself. The farmer emphasized the respect that organic farming deserved, as it not only strengthens the health of a person, but also preserves necessities for future generations.
Everyone came back to home base to enjoy another amazingly prepared dinner. Following the dinner, the mentor groups all joined together on the topic of the negative impact assumptions have within the world. After placing themselves in a position of judgement, students placed themselves as victims of assumptions. The TED Talk Danger of a Single Story was then shown. Chimamanda Adiche, a Nigerian author, explained the dangers of making assumptions and forming stereotypes based on one side of a story. Students then split apart into their own mentor groups, where each discussed how these single stories are present in life, how they can be avoided, and how to protect others from the same damaging actions.
The final actions taken by the students tonight included a “Pulse Check,” which was a survey asking the students about their experience. Halfway through the program, everyone is ready for a good night’s rest and to continue with service in the morning!
-Emma Luchetti and Olivia Hoeing
Wednesday June 20, 2018
We’re on our third day of service and every group is making great progress!
ROW- The group gathered plants and supplies to go to the school in la Florida. When they went to the school where they cleaned, sanded, and painted barrels for trash and recycling. Others sanded wood for signs about recycling in both Spanish and English. Finally they picked up trash around the school grounds.
Verdi Azul – The group continued building a fence and started painting signs to protect the beach. They are working on the beach right in front of our Home Base.
Esquela – They continued working on the murals at the Paraiso school. We also had a fun day of interacting with the kids and dancing bachata.
Avellanas – Kids from the local school joined the volunteers in cleaning up trash at the beach.
After a delicious lunch everyone went to playa Blanca for a swim. Back at home base a guest speaker came to tell us about Costa Rica and it’s rich history. We ended the night with mentor discussions.
Thursday June 21, 2018
ROW group traveled to a nearby farm to plant trees. Before they started planting they saw and pet cows. A couple of them milked a cow. They then planted several trees throughout the farm.
School group prepared a fiesta based on sustainability. The kids also helped paint murals for sustainability. They then finished building a flower garden.
Verde Azul group finished painting signs. They also prepped for teaching the kids on Friday.
Playa group painted signs to educate the public. They then took a walk and picked up trash along the beach.
After service, we had rally day with a cooking class, a soccer match, and some fun games. To end the night, mentor groups discussed perspectives in service and how we can promote dignity for the people we work with. We can’t believe our time here is almost over! Friday will be our final day of service. Stay tuned!
Friday June 22, 2018
Today was definitely one of the best days yet! First we split up into our two adventure groups: Guilas went zip lining and Carajillos went on the catamaran.
Carajillos enjoyed an hour long bus ride filled with lots of spanish music to jam out to. When we arrived at the beach we rode a smaller boat to the Lazy Lizard Catamaran. The ride to the snorkeling spot was extremely relaxing, as we lied out on the boat, watching the beautiful view and sipping cool refreshments. At the snorkeling spot, our guide took us on a little tour of the area and even went down to catch a pufferfish, starfish, and octopus for us to touch! Finally, on the ride back to the bus we tanned while eating yummy sandwiches and chips.
Guilas had an amazing time zip lining at Pura Aventura. As soon as we got to Pura Aventura we were immediately helped with our gear. When everyone had their gear on, we got into a truck that took us to where the first zip line was. We got to see monkeys on our ride to the first zip line. There were 11 zip lines! Some of us even had the chance to ride the zip lines upside down!
ROW and Verdiazul got to collaborate today and combine their skills to teach and play games with the local children in La Florida- a mountain village. Some of our games included a race to plant a tree and a recycling relay. We also had fun arts and crafts to teach the kids about trees! Afterwards, some of us played soccer while others taught the kids how to play duck duck goose (“pato pato gonzo”)
Escuela Paraiso got to finish up their murals for the kids during the first two hours of service. After their murals were done, they got to play soccer with the kids of the school!
Playa Avellanas had the opportunity to get a surf lesson in the beach thanks to Frank (our community helper). After the surf lesson, they went to a small beach restaurant where people from the community prepared them drinks and danced to salsa music! After our afternoon service, we ate dinner and had good conversations in our mentor groups!
-by Mariela Jacinto and Layla Sumilang
The final day here at GLA started off bittersweet as several of us students woke up early to watch the picture-perfect sunrise, knowing it would be the last one we would see on this trip. We didn’t let that thought dampen our mood though because we still had a full day of adventure ahead, and we were going river tubing!!! This adventure was definitely worth the two-hour drive because the lush greenery and unique rock features made the excursion so scenic and serene. The many rapids also made the experience a lot more exciting! Everyone was starving by the time we got back to camp and were thrilled to be greeted with the most delicious lunch created by chef Mike. That gave us all enough energy to start packing for departure the next day, but we were all really excited for the market, which we had been waiting for all week. There were a variety of local vendors that came who created products ranging from anklets to crochet tops using sustainable resources.
All of the items were so full of color and they reflected the fun and caring lifestyle of Costa Rica. Before the final dinner all of us went to the beach where we took pictures and watched the sunset, which was so bright and full of color that it didn’t seem real. After dinner we were all surprised with a mesmerizing fire show and we celebrated together with salsa dancing for the very last time. All of us had grown so close over the 10 days we had been together and had become a little GLA family. The mentors and directors were all so much fun and they put so much thought into both the planning and execution of all of the activities we did together. Their eagerness for us to learn was apparent throughout the entire time we were here and every student was left with memories and experiences that they will never forget.
We, the students of GLA will continue to live our lives the PURA VIDA way.
Muchas gracias para todo,