Time Capsule Letter
We hope you’re doing well and have adjusted into the school year and life back in the U.S. We often think back fondly on our days in Alajuela and all of the fun memories we shared. From the meaningful time we spent at service to the endless games of foursquare, we will not forget the special time spent together!
Our different service projects clearly made an impact on both the school community and the animals at the wildlife rescue center. The connections made with students at Escuela La Pradera are unforgettable and the freshly painted walls made a huge difference in the now fully painted school. The director of the school and English teacher were very grateful for the help we gave and we will not forget how much we learned from them as well.
The wildlife rescue center was also a really amazing learning experience. We were able to help out the staff and other volunteers there by cleaning and building the cages and feeding the animals. We all fell in love with Pumpkin, the sloth baby! It was an unforgettable experience being able to learn about the animals in Costa Rica while also helping out. As we learned, service is about both giving back to others while also learning and growing individually and I think we definitely accomplished that goal.
We also experienced so many and varied adventures in Costa Rica; hiking to waterfalls, bathing in volcanic hot springs, ziplining through the rain forest canopy, and milking cows. We swam in the Pacific and spent time on the beautiful beaches taking in the amazing views.
Carlos, Marbella’s husband taught us how to make ceramic pieces in the manner of the ancient Central American people and we learned about sustainable organic farming practices. We also can’t forget how we danced our hearts out in a Zumba class!
It was an exciting and exhausting week that we will always remember and hope you will too!
Cathy, Joseph, Jen, and Chris
This blog includes both community service tracks – Children & Community Development and Wildlife Conservation.
Thursday June 20, 2019
Hello families of Intrepid Middle School Travelers!
Things are off to a fun and promising start here in Costa Rica! While we are still eagerly awaiting our students traveling from Newark to arrive later this evening, those students who have already arrived have lost no time enjoying themselves in the company of their new friends at the beautiful Hotel El Robledal.
Although tired, they are energetically immersing themselves in the wonderful work of making friends, learning about their new surroundings, and even testing their volleyball skills in our beautiful pool! Orientation will begin with earnest tomorrow morning, and we’ll be visiting our service sites tomorrow afternoon, so now is the time for fun, rest, and relaxation!
I’m deeply inspired by these young members of the GLA family, All-Stars each one of them. On behalf of our team here in Costa Rica, we are so excited to share our passion for travel, adventure, service, and experiential education with these amazing kiddos!
Look for more to come soon! It’s going to be one great trip!
Pura Vida Mae!
International Director, Chris Schuhmann
Friday June 21, 2019
Hola padres. We started the day by waking up at 7, well, most of us at least. After waking up we gathered in The Yard and learned how to make a perfect circle with the chicken wing rule. After that we ate some delish breakfast including eggs, beans, and rice. Then we did the orientation. There we learned how to respect one another within the rules and expectations. For lunch we ate spaghetti, salad, and flan.
After that we when to our respective service sites. The people who went to the children’s school played fun games with the first graders and sanded some of the walls of the classrooms. We sanded the walls to be able to paint them on the other service days. The teachers and staff at the school were generous and welcoming. After sanding the walls, we played with the 1st graders outside.
We learned a game called elastico which is kind of similar to jump rope. There was a small playground and many kids running around and playing with us. Then we made our return on the bus back to the home base. For those of us that went to the Wildlife service, we did a tour. There were lots of birds, monkeys, sloths, and even a porcupine!
There were lots of stories behind all the animals and how they got there, but the best part is that they are all safe in the sanctuary. After dinner we started an activity where we broke into groups to brainstorm for a debate about possibly building a tourist site called SeaPlanet in Costa Rica.
Saturday June 22, 2019
Each morning at our HomeBase, we begin with an energizing team activity that gets students working together. It’s a great way to start the day!
Our first activity of the day was a tour of a Coca plantation. Students picked their own ripe cacoa fruit and then we got to prepare it!
But you can’t thow it in your mouth! There’s a lot of preparation to do before it’s ready, as Luca demonstrates. A raw and unprepared cacao seed is horribly bitter, and turns purple in your mouth!
First you have to dry it for seven days, and then roast it. Then you have to mash it to pieces.
Which takes more three hours! You gotta mash it into little bits! Easier if you can do it in shifts with your new friends : )
Then you have to grind it into dust. Not so easy to do, but even harder if you have to grind it using rocks the way indigenous tribes prepared cacao for countless generations.
Finally it’s ready to add sugar and all kinds of wonderful flavors according to your preference. Try the coffee, sea salt, and chili spices!
Then we we went to Baldi Hot Springs, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch buffet and spent two hour exploring the beauty and unique adventure that only the world’s largest hot springs resort can provide!
Sunday June 23, 2019
We had an amazing time playing four square on the beach! One of our first activities of the day was taking a hike to Los Chorros waterfalls. It was a little hot, but so rewarding when we were able to go swimmin!
Even though it was a rainy day at the beach, we weren’t going to let that stop us from swimming in the farm Costa Rican waters at La Herradura beach. We spent a bunch of time body surfing, catching waves, and having a great time. This waterfall was absolutely incredible. 10/10 would recommend!
Hiking through the jungle to get to the waterfalls was great. Even though the hike was a little challenging, it was so rewarding to see the final product! Seriously still can’t believe how beautiful this country is!
Monday June 24, 2019
We started our day bright and early at our service sites. We began to paint the exterior walls of the Escuela La Pradera and also had some fun teaching students English and joining them for recess. They practice their English with us and we practice our Spanish with them!
At the wildlife refuge and rehabilitation center we fed the parrots and helped clean the sloth enclosures. We enjoyed being so close to these beautiful animals!
Our afternoon activity was a tour of the Sr. Y Sra. Ese factory where beautiful wooden bowls, jewelry and artisan work are created from Costa Rican native wood for sale around the world. We had the added treat of learning how to make “cajeta”, a Costa Rican fudge-like treat. Yum! We also got to feed the pet bull, Fred!
It’s Brogan’s birthday today and we are celebrating with a cake. Feliz Cumpleaños! Pura Vida!
-by Cathy Kellstrom – GLA Mentor
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Hi Parents! We had another wonderful day here in Alajuela and had the chance to meet new people and explore the city. During service we switched between small groups teaching in the English class while the rest of us painted. We followed Don Bernardino’s instructions to continue to repaint the school two different shades of blue. In the English class we played hot potato and taught the students common questions and answers focusing on pronunciation. When the students had recess and breaks between classes we played hand games and ran around playing tag and cops and robbers (Policía y Ladrones).
At the animal rescue center, we cleaned up around the cages and worked on expanding the cages for the raccoons. Our sloth friend hanging around at the rescue center! We brought an elastic back to our home base and taught elástico to the group who goes to the animal rescue center for service. In the afternoon we went to a market in the town center to shop and see more of this city. Even though there was a storm we still had a great time and made some awesome memories.
After dinner we watched a TED Talk called ‘The Power of a Single Story’ and journaled about how it connects to our experiences here. We’re looking forward to another day at our service sites tomorrow and a fun afternoon activity. ¡Buenas noches!
Wednesday June 26, 2019
Today at the school we worked alongside the 6th graders to paint the building. As a reward for all of our hard work, we played fun fames with the kids from the school. We also continued to work with the English teacher in the second grade, helping them learn their numbers. In the fourth grade we helped them practice words for family members, such as mother, son, cousin, etc. The students in the school are participating in a regional English spelling bee, so we also helped them begin to prepare for that! It was another busy and productive day!
At the wildlife center we made our morning rounds cleaning cages and distributing food. Getting the monkeys to cooperate was quite a challenge, the monkeys are so naughty! There are three species of monkeys at the center. Howler monkeys are the loudest but gentlest, capuchin monkeys are the cutest but most devious, and spider monkeys are largest and most strange. They only have four fingers on their hands and use their tails as a thumb!
Then we mixed concrete and spread mortar to help enlarge a new enclosure the Rescue Center is building for their two resident raccoons, Rice and Beans. It was hard work making concrete, but we are so happy to know eventually they will have more room to play and explore!
Then we went to a dairy farm hight in the mountains above San Jose. It was so beautiful there, and cold! We were able to milk cows, pick strawberries, feed chickens, and even chase rabbits. It was such a wonderful way to finish our third official day of service!
Today at service, the two different groups were able to visit each others service site. While there, they were able to learn more about what each group has been working on, as well as what impact they have been having so far. In addition to working directly with the animals, students got to assist in the construction project of a brand new raccoon enclosure for their good pals Rice and Beans (The raccoons).
Students continued with their painting projects around Escuela La Pradera. We had the chance to visit one of Costa Rica’s many organic farms, and learn about the permaculture in the area. Students learned from a local artisan about ceramic artwork, and traditional weaving methods. This picture shows off Jen (Mentor) teaching the students her technique for rolling clay.
Finally, we got to end the night with a local Zumba class!