Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Shannon & Jess
Summer Blog Posts
All students have arrived safely. Let the Pura Vida adventure begin!
Day 2: Friday, June 17, 2016
Buenos Dias from Costa Rica!
Thursday afternoon and evening we did a few activities to get to know each other and on Friday the fun began. We started with a tour of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. David (our local director) showed us all of the important places of San Jose that we passed and explained their history and significance. Then we started on our journey to our home base of Cedrela (Eco-Lodge) in Los Santos region.
One of the most interesting, was the national fútbol (U.S. Soccer) stadium. A few years back, the Chinese government gave Costa Rica money as a gift to either rework the road system or tear down the old national soccer stadium and build a new one. The roads in San Jose are old and so they don’t fit the amount of traffic that goes through nowadays. However, it was no contest and the people voted for the new stadium. We all passed several churches and David told us that that’s how we could tell we the old communities were before they grew together into San Jose. Every community here has a catholic church and a soccer field.
After San Jose, we went through the mountains to a coffee farm. We learned how coffee is grown and planted a few seedlings and larger trees. Besides the coffee plants, there were banana, avocado, and other tropical fruit trees. One of the trees had fruit that looked like lemons, but tasted sweet at first with a bitter after taste. After we walked through the farm, we went back to learn about the different types of coffee. We smelled and tasted 14 different varieties!
We got to our home base of Cedrela in the afternoon, and the view from the cabins is beautiful. We have four cabins for the students, with two for the girls and two from the boys. They all look over the valley and several mountains. The sunsets and the clouds around the mountains are beautiful.
Day 3 – 6/18/2016
The third day of our GLA adventure began with a 630 AM breakfast. Cedrela provided us with delectable homemade scrambled eggs and pancakes. A jam prepared with Blackberries found in Cedrela’s very own garden accompanied the pancakes. A plethora of fruits rounded a wonderfully prepared meal. Cedrela’s exquisite chefs paired the palatable breakfast with Costa Rica’s main export- coffee.
Half an hour later we filed into our bus and began the nearly one hour trek to Zapotal. Zapotal houses one of the communities we are hoping to help through our service. Our assistance to the community primarily consists of continuing the community’s sidewalk. The community hopes to implement a sidewalk beginning at the church and reaching the primary school. A sidewalk for the town provides the community with an extra level of safety, especially for the young children who are forced to make the commute to and from school on foot.
The community greeted us with a traditional dance; despite the technical difficulties, the dancers managed to depict a vivid scene of a bull fight. The end of the dance marked the commencement of two hours filled with discussions and activities in order to further exemplify the beneficial effects of our service projects. In pairs we defined sustainable and community development. We discussed the environmental and economic factors of the service project. Our final activity revealed how dependent we are on our environment. We ended with a discussion of the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and what we can do to help the environment.
After an extensive introduction, we were deemed prepared enough to begin working on the sidewalk. Half of us were granted the job of creating and lying out the concrete. The progress begins with the task of shoveling four buckets of dirt and carrying them downhill to be mixed with cement and water. We proceeded to carry the cement in wheel barrels up the hill where it was spread and leveled. By repeating this process multiple times we will be able to complete the sidewalk in the months to come.
The women of the community rewarded our hard work with an amazing homemade lunch. Naturally, our plates contained Costa Rica’s staple dish – rice and beans. A variety of meats and vegetables were skillfully mixed into the rice. A fresh salad containing lettuce, avocado and tomatoes.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay with the community all day; home base required our presence in order to begin our very first Spanish class. In order to gain a better grasp on our level, the teachers presented us with a two part placement test, written and oral. We then practiced conversing in Spanish and played games geared to improving our Spanish.
The third day of our GLA adventure proved that by the end of our stay in Costa Rica we will have made a change in peoples lives and will have taken our Spanish to new levels.
Day 4- June 19, 2016
Everything is vibrant and alive, from the pink and blue houses with green and red metal roofs, to the flower bushes reaching up to our windows and the mountains covered with forests and coffee farms. As we are quickly learning, the life that we see all around us is fully reflected in the people. Many people waved as we drove past and once our bus and the bus in the other lane stopped as the drivers shook hands and greeted each other. Really the only way to describe it is with the phrase that we learned as soon as we got here – “Pura Vida.”
Today was the second day of working on our service project, of making a sidewalk from the church to the primary school of the community of Zapotal, and so it was also a chance to get to know the community better. After we’d finished the work for the day, we connected with eachother and the community by playing musical chairs and learning a few of their dances (Bachata and Cumbia). We also went out to their futbol field and played soccer together.
This afternoon, we also had our first real spanish class of the trip. Both the beginner and intermediate groups started working on our projects that we will present at the end of our trip. We also learned more about the Costa Rican culture, and compared and contrasted it with our own cultures.
Day 5 – June 20, 2016
Under normal circumstances, one would wake up to cold weather and reluctantly get out of bed while slightly shivering at about 6:00am (give or take) unfortunately it was raining at about this time which practically set the mood for the rest of our work day. Instead of digging out gutters for the very important Zapotal futbol field, or mixing cement to pave the sidewalk for the locals, we had to work inside on eco-bricks (plastic bottles stuffed with pieces of plastic bags that serve as a useful alternative for a brick). Although finding a way to help the community, despite the rain, was great, a common complaint was the smell of the recycled plastic that we were using. Luckily for the group, we had plenty chances to take breaks and lighten the mood by playing a game of ninja or attempting to limbo. We ended up discovering that there are some very flexible campers among us! Although the service work was different then expected because of the rain, it was still pretty great! I’m really sad that our last day at this community is tomorrow.
Usually, after the 45 minute bus ride after home base we would split up into our Spanish groups and attend classes. This wasn’t too great for us students considering we had just come back from 4 hours of work. As a result, our wonderful counselors convinced the teachers to give us 30 minutes to relax and rest before class. The class dynamic was definitely different, in a more than great way. Pretty soon dinner came along, which was followed by plenty of exciting activities, ranging from what it means to be a leader (lead by a student) to skits about space pirates discovering talking cheese. Crazy! Right!? Not for us! Every opportunity to be different was taken and the adventurous personalities of the GLA students makes everything exciting.
Still wondering about the talking cheese? I guess I have to tell you…
All of the students had the opportunity to engage themselves in a proposed skit. After opening up to the “audience” for ideas, great minds thought alike and led us to… space pirates looking for treasure, but they ended up finding a talking cheese. Our laughs were both abundant and tremendous. In short, it was a great day for a slow morning, and I would be more than happy to have one just like it.
Day 6 – June 21, 2016
A beautiful, clear morning started our last day of service helping the Zapotal community. Our chef, Marcial, prepared a warm, delicate breakfast of french toasts to pump us up. We were in the bus heading to Zapotal at 7:15! Another warm welcome from the community cheered us up before we began our final service. For today, our goal was to mix and spread 8 bags (plus 32 wheel barrels of sand/rocks) the process was arduous and demanding, but we were still able to finish our jobs efficiently and successfully.
Lunch came at a perfect time. The Zapotal community prepared a plentiful amount of homemade Costa Rican food for us, including rice, black beans, potatoes and salad. It was absolutely delicious and we were all falling in love with the gourmet. Right after lunch, we went to the football field and reflected in our journals. Thanks to David (our local director) for leading the discussion about tourists vs travelers.
Then, as soon as we got inside salon comunal (where we rested and dined), the rain started pouring down. David, our local leader, told us that the friendly community had a surprise for all of us, how exciting! They gave us pieces of chopped coffee wood to make handcrafts as keepsakes and presents to our families. We created bracelets, earrings, and necklaces from the coffee wood; first, we sanded the surfaces and after that… Jonathan, a community member drilled holes in them and we were able to apply colored paintings onto the “exquisite” surprises. We started to say our farewells to the community by playing games and exchanging blessings. We gave them a poster that we made for them, with a costa rican flag and U.S flag on it, centering a heart – signaling the love that we have shared with the Zapotal people. Everyone signed a kind message and their name.
We concluded our service with Zapotal with an awesome, joyful, and unforgettable afternoon.
The dinner tonight was a mesmerizing dish of shredded beef, beans and yellow rice with peas. Leo (our local home base host) was kind enough to offer extra tortillas for us. The food was great for revitalizing our night, after a full day of working and fun. We had an inspirational and meaningful discussion afterward, encompassing aspects such as – reasons and goals for attending this program, dreams and passions, and environmental destruction versus recreation of nature. Everyone wholeheartedly engaged in the conversation despite the fact that we were tired from the day.
Tomorrow we will set off for a two day adventure of white water rafting, closer to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. All in all, the fun never ends and we hope to get more immersed through our experiences within our 21 days here, far from home.
-Thomas and Eli
Day 7 – June 22, 2016
It was not a usual day here in Costa Rica as breakfast started at 8:30 instead of 6:30. So that meant more sleep and relaxation before our breakfast of warm pancakes and eggs with fresh fruit. Then we headed to Cartago, the former capital of Costa Rica, in search of the local market and cathedral. Even though the bus ride was an hour long it consisted of rolling green hills.
Once at the market we were able to get a taste of a Costa Rican’s local day. We bargained for the best price, practiced our spanish with the venders and tried some new things! After we had our fills of candy and breads we walked down the streets of Cartago, as we were greeted with smiles, until we hit the famous Cathedral, Nuestra Señora de los Angeles. It is a beautiful cathedral laced with gold that millions pilgrimage to every year. We witnessed a truly magical experience as many walked on their knees to the center of the church and others were using holy water for their misfortunes.
Lunch was next at one of the local restraints, then it was off to our hotel where we passed two volcanoes and drove through many clouds. The hotel meant three things – food, sleep and wifi (all of which we were equally excited for.) At last our day came to a close with games, discussions, dinner and a fun jeopardy game as we prepared for our rafting adventure tomorrow.
Day 8 – June 23, 2016
Waking up to the view at Guayabo Lodge was just as beautiful as our typical view from Cedrela but different because it was more of a tropical climate. There were so many beautiful flowers and plants and we could even catch a glimpse of a volcano in the distance.
To start off our day, we had a delicious and hearty breakfast at the lodge to fuel us for the long day of adventure ahead. We then set off for the river, which is known to be one of the top 5 best rivers for white water rafting in the world. Our rafting guides were very friendly and helped us to practice our Spanish. They went above and beyond and even prepared us a special lunch halfway through consisting of fresh pineapple and watermelon and a make-your-own burrito bar.
In the beginning a lot of us were unsure whether rafting would be a positive experience because of all the hard physical work required. However, we soon discovered that all it takes is a little teamwork. I think everyone can agree that all of the challenges were easily overshadowed by the tremendous beauty surrounding us. We were in the middle of the lush rainforest and at times we were lucky enough to see towering waterfalls flowing into the river. No words that we include in this post could do the beauty of the scenery justice.
The best part was after the last class 4 rapids, we got the chance to jump out of our rafts and float in the calm water, just taking in the scenery. It’s a bit like the saying “Despues de la tormenta viene la calma” or “After the storm comes the calm.”
Tomorrow we are heading to a new community to continue our service but we appreciated our break. Today was a really special day and we all stepped out of our comfort zones.
-Haley and Faith
Day 9 – June 24
Today at GLA we had started our new adventure at the San Pedro community. I think I speak for everyone here when I say, that the previous day’s strenuous physical activity of rafting wore us out, but that didn’t stop us from working hard and getting or jobs done. Our first task we performed at San Pedro was to shovel organic fertilizer into bags and distribute them for use at ecological coffee farms. That might sound like easy work but if you think that, you have clearly never tried shoveling dirt with one hand while plugging your nose with the other. It’s not exactly a fun job, but here at Global Leadership Adventures we make all work enjoyable. To pass the time, we told jokes and riddles, and before we knew it, it was time to eat lunch and board the bus.
When we got back to Cedrela, we showered, cleaned up and got ready for Spanish. Three hours of spanish class might sound like a horrible nightmare at school- but our teachers engage us in activities and games and I feel like I’ve gained more experience in these 9 days here then I have in my three years at school.
After class came the most anticipated part of the day; DINNER!!!! On our 9th day here we had a traditional Costa Rican dinner.. Hamburguesas con queso and french fries And it was delicioso! I was even tempted to go for thirds.
Overall today was a good day and we can’t wait to continue our service at San Pedro.
Day 10 – June 25
Today at the Cedrela Lodge, we got ready and had an amazing breakfast (like always) to start our very exciting day. After breakfast, we traveled to San Pedro to continue our service. Once we got there, we got all of our gear on and headed to the work site where we finished up shoveling the fertilizer into bags. After that, we took a lot of bags to both of the coffee farm sites. Once that was over, we played a friendly game of soccer and had so much fun doing so. Exhausted and tired, our group was happy to finally have a fantastic lunch provided by the amazing community members at San Pedro.
After our lunch, all of us changed into a clean pair of clothes and we traveled to Santa Maria where we were greeted by our Spanish teachers (Marilyn and Laura). They told us about a scavenger hunt for us to do within the city (We had been divided into 4 separate groups). Sounds easy right? Well….. It wasn’t since we had to read and translate Spanish on a total of 10 different cards in different locations. After figuring what one card said, we had to politely ask strangers in Spanish where these places would be. After we figured out that place on the card, we would find the next card and so on for the scavenger hunt. I speak for all of the teens when I say that this was such a fun activity and was very helpful for us to be more social while also improving our Spanish.
Once every group finished with their separate hunt, we all came together to discuss how we all did and how it went. After that we traveled back to our home base where we had 2 hours of downtime. During that downtime, half of us went on a little hike down the trails from our bases while the other half decided to rest for that time. Upon our downtime ending, we all went to the dining hall where we had a great dinner of chicken and sliced potatoes. After that, we all made a circle where we participated in communication/feedback activities. Once we were all done giving constructive and positive feedback to one another, one of our counselors (Jessica) put on a documentary called “Cowspiracy”. This described the impact of both humans and agricultural farming on the planet and how destructive both of them are. We discussed how the film was interesting and our personal/open thoughts about how what we do to the earth can be extremely harmful or dangerous. Concluding the night, each one of us presented at least one thing we did today that was out of our comfort zone. All together today went very well because the amount of production/work and how lovely we all had been throughout the day.
– Michael McCann
Day 11 – June 26
Pancakes and eggs for breakfast this morning! We woke up to warm weather and after having breakfast headed out for San Pedro around 7:30.Today before service we spent some time observing then discussing the difference between conventional and ecological coffee farms. The way they both affect the environment — conventional negatively and ecological positively — is amazing. I think the discussion, along with the Cowspiracy documentary we watched held quite a bit of weight behind them, and got everyone’s attention.
For today’s service we shoveled our soil into buckets and created something of an assembly line, then spread the soil throughout the ecological farm.
After finishing the day’s work we went to the community’s center where we had a wonderful meal with a large portion of the community’s citizens; today was a big day of celebration for them. Many were dressed for the occasion, many were out playing games on the fútbol field, and it seemed as though the vast majority were having a wonderful time.
After getting back to home base, we began Spanish. We spoke about yesterday’s time downtown and then put together a treat — fruit salad with ice cream — afterwards going down to Cedrela’s garden and examining the fruits and vegetables they grow there. We did quite a bit of work on our group’s mural as well! (Laura (our teacher) is the best.)
Later in the evening after dinner, we finished our Cowspiracy documentary and then had a conversation about global issues and how we can put our ideas into action and push solutions. And thaaaaaat was how we ended our night.
Our time in Costa Rica has been incredibly interesting and fun, and I don’t think anything highlights it more then the wide variety of activities we partook in today.
The day began as any other with one twist. It was the birthday of one of our guides, Shannon. We had a surprise party for her this morning at breakfast, the joy on her face was something to behold.
As for the workload, Phase 1 consisted of moving half-filled bags of manure to make a pile where we could shovel it. Easy to begin with no doubt, but going back and forth did get a little tiring. It’s fortunate then, that our next phase of work was relatively simple. Shovel the previously mentioned manure into small buckets so we could spread it throughout the coffee plants. This was not too difficult, and we ended up finishing early.
After lunch, we played soccer! We then had our cultural activity for the day, spending an hour and a half with a Costa Rican family “Adopt a gringo.” I was very happy to learn my Spanish was at the very least passable, if not on the level of some here. All in all it was pleasant, we even got to have some coffee and cookies with them.
Upon returning to Cedrela, nothing of note happened until dinner, in which we threw another more extended party for Shannon and a member of our group, Anemone, whose birthday is tomorrow. Music, dancing, cake, limbo, more games and a piñata. It was without a doubt, the best Costa Rican birthday celebration I’ve had the honor to be a part of. As for whats to come in the future, that’s a story for another day.
Find inspiration within
June 28, 2016
Today was the first half of our national park and surfing adventure, so in the morning we left Cedrela and drove through bumpy mountain roads for a few hours. At first, we saw colorful birds and waterfalls, as well as Coffee farms. And as we got out of the mountains, we saw a group of monkeys! At first we only saw a couple, but then as we stopped and looked, we noticed that there were many more jumping from tree to tree.
We ate lunch across the road from the beach and then we went to Manuel Antonio National Park. One of the first animals that we saw was a three toed sloth. We watched it slowly turn its head and make its way down the tree… Verrryyy slowly. We also saw two golden orbed spiders, a few bats hanging from a tree, a poisonous snake camouflaged in with some leaves, and a few more monkeys. Later at the beach, we saw a raccoon stealing Pringles chips and an iguana! We relaxed at the beach for a while before heading to our hotel.
After dinner we participated in two activities: one that was lead by the house of the day and the other lead by our favorite GLA staff. In the first activity, we each had a different assigned social custom and we had a discussion in small groups with four different cultures. This allowed us to better understand how different cultures interact and communicate differently than one another.
In the second activity, we laid around a circle of rope and placed our water bottles on top of our heads. The water bottles represented our goals. Then all fourteen of us stood inside the rope and without touching the ground outside of it- we each had to reach for our own water bottle and bring it back inside the circle. At first we thought it was impossible, but with everyone holding on to each other and supporting the one who had to lean out of the circle, we finally figured out how to do it. Once we were done retrieving each water bottle- it felt good to see what we could accomplish together. The point of this exercise was to reach for our goals, and we discovered that we needed a whole team of people behind us to support us when we take risks.
Parents, you’re a part of our teams, so thank you for supporting us before, during and after our trip.
June 29, 2016
Today was the latest time to wake up in the morning. It felt really good to sleep in till 9am, a lot of students needed it. We spent the night at the DioWak Hotel and Beach Resort. The GLA directors were not kidding when they said it was going to be much hotter here than our home base back at Cedrela.
The adventure of today was surfing. It was very successful that many students stood up for their first time and road the waves. I personally had the best experience considering that I can’t swim well and I took the advantage of it because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity being a teenager who gets surfing lessons in Costa Rica. PURA VIDA!
After our lesson, David (our local director) had a beautiful lunch scenery set up for us. It looked as if we were famous and had VIP reservations. Spending quality time with everyone and seeing down the table of 18 people made it seem as if it was a family reunion, yet we see each other everyday. We are getting closer to going home but for now I am completely happy here with the people I’ve come to know and love.
Day 15 – June 30
Today was the last day at the hotel. We were all looking forward to going back home to Cedrela. After living there for two weeks it really felt like home. What we were not looking forward to was the three hour car ride. Midway on our way back to Cedrela we stopped by a store. We couldn´t help resist the curiosity – we had to explore it. The majority of us spent money on buying snacks. I was no exception. We got back to Cedrela with plenty of time to get settled back in.
For Spanish class we all worked on our Spanish projects and we got to help make dinner. We made picadillo (diced potatoes and veggies) patacones and chicken. It was an amazing experience to get to work in the kitchen with everyone. Patacones are flat plantains fried. We had to peel the plantains, cut it in somewhat big pieces, fry them to soften them, then squish them using some kind of squishing machine. Then we had to re-fry the squished (pancake-like) plantain.
I feel like we all enjoyed dinner because of how much effort and hard work we put into it.. After dinner the Spanish teachers had a special surprise for us. Since it was their last night with us. The surprise was a Pajama movie night! We all got in our p.j´s to watch a movie called EL REGRESO (the return) while we munched on popcorn! It was a Costa Rican movie about a guy coming back home to Costa Rica after living in New York for the last 9 years. It was an amazing movie that made me tear up at the end.
That was the whole day, even though it was one of the most chillest days we have had in Costa Rica, we still got a lot done.
Day 16 – July 1
Today is the second to last day of service that we have in San Pedro. We started our day off by going to the community and finishing up the spreading of the rest of the fertilizer to one of the plantations. After we finished our work and got back to the cafeteria, we were greeted by cooks and the fruit they had prepared for us.
Once we all settled down and had our snack, it was time to play with all the kiddies at the school. We played a great variety of different games that each group had to lead in Spanish for the kids. Some of the games were ninja, red light green light, limbo, and shipwrecked.
After we had a great time playing with all the happy kids, we went back to Cedrela to have a wonderful last day of Spanish. For our last day, we presented our amazing projects that we worked on since day 1 of Spanish. After presenting our projects, we all had a small graduation ceremony to show how much we improved our Spanish. Then we had a thoughtful discussion that David set for us.
After dinner we watched a video called “The Story of Stuff” which was a very honest and inspiring video to us all. Fueled by our motivations from this video, we have an amazing and thoughtful discussion about what and how we want to change in terms of global issues. Once our final discussion for the night was over, we all went to bed and had a wonderful sleep.
Day 17 – July 2nd
Today was a bittersweet day because it was our last day in San Pedro and our very last day of service. Shortly after arriving in San Pedro, we set off on a hike into the forest. It was a little tiring at parts but it was worth it because of the great conversation and the breathtaking view once we climbed high enough. Eventually we made it to a clearing and sat down to have a discussion about the ways we waste water and the ways we can save it. David shared eye opening statistics about the amount of fresh water on earth and the amount that is undrinkable due to human interference. We also learned about people in other countries who walk hours and hours to get just a little water. With a new perspective after this discussion, David then led us to a nearby freshwater stream and explained that is where San Pedro gets it’s water.
On our hike, we unfortunately came across a huge amount of garbage that had been swept by the rain towards the stream. Everyone pitched in to pick up trash and we all had our hands full walking back to San Pedro’s community room.
After our excursion, we set to work making more Eco Bricks and painting the ones we had already made. When we were done, we mixed some concrete and were able to build a bench next to their football field. After our hike and all our hard work, we were hungry. The women of San Pedro prepared us a delicious meal (as always) and performed a traditional dance for us. They let us join in on the dance as well and soon everyone was laughing, dancing, and clapping!
To end our final day of service, we played one more game of football. Saying goodbye to the people of San Pedro was hard. They were so welcoming and gracious towards us. Even though we were all sad to go, we’re very grateful for the opportunity to make a difference there and to have met so many special people. It’s hard to believe we are done with service. It seems like time has flown by! We only have a few more days left here so we plan on cherishing every moment and making the most of our remaining time.
Day 18 – July 3rd
Starting the day off great with pancakes and Marcial’s famous blackberry jelly which is the best jelly in the world ! That breakfast really got us pumped up for the amazing zip lining trip for our second to last adventure tour. There were four courses and personally I don’t have a fear of heights but the ones where high up I did close my eyes when I felt the drop go down quickly.
Though I knew I had to open my eyes because of how beautiful the forest was filled with so much nature and diversity of plants. The courses were made to the ability that nature let green communities make them. The night coming back to Cedrela, we had a lot of free time to work on our talent show and I can say it was a very good practice that we kept saying one more , one more and we ended practice at least 10pm. Overall , today was a good day<3
Day 19 – 4th of July
Hey blog visitors! Today was our last day in Santa Maria before going to San Jose for our return trips home. Though the majority of us were upset that our little family was going to be disbanded, none of us let that stop us from having an amazing day! After waking up to a fantastic breakfast, we all headed out to a government protected farm for an adventure tour. Something unique about the owner of the farm was that he had 60 chickens, and they could lay eggs anywhere on the property. Because of this, most everyday was an Easter egg hunt!
Anyway, little did our group know, we were in for a big surprise. After a 15-20 minute hike downslope, many of us were hot and/or sweaty. Still full of energy, we hit flat ground and were amazed by the sight of a beautiful waterfall that had been the official conclusion of our little excursion. THIS IS WHY WE NEEDED OUR BATHING SUITS IN THE MORNING *drops jaw in realization*. I feel it is perfectly Normal for someone to want to jump in the water when they’re super sweaty, but that wasn’t the case today. That’s because the water was FREEZING COLD. Sometimes, I think freezing might be considered an understatement. For the lucky ones, it took two second to get into the water. For others, the cold soaked our skin another inch or so every ten seconds as we slowly waded into the water. Despite all this, it was beautifully relaxing once you adjusted to the feeling. It was at this waterfall that I, alongside many of my peers, realized my true appreciation and beauty of the planet we live on. We are so fortunate to be alive.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. This good thing happened to end with a very tiring walk up the steep slope we previously went down. Breaks were crucial.
A much needed lunch break finally came along and we stayed local in the small community of San Marcos. After a delicious meal, we were granted 30 minutes of free time to walk around and explore the area! I’m still in shock over how open people are here in Costa Rica. Shortly after loading the bus, we arrived back at Cedrela, our home base. With two hours of free time, we had the option of preparing our action plans to the world, or our acts for our GLA talent show. It was our last night here in Santa Maria and we certainly weren’t going to leave without leaving memories.
After a wonderful barbecue dinner, it was time for the talent show (GLAmour 4 Days). We were lucky to have a fellow camper who brought lots of ‘Murican gear, being July fourth and all. We had 11 acts in total and a little game of quiz bowl during the halftime. All the acts were fantastic and I was very fortunate to be the MC for this event. There was music, dancing, acting, spoken word, a flashmob, comedy, and friends all around! It was truly beautiful to see what people can do and come up with.
After the glamorous performances of all the campers, we students were able to push curfew back from 10:00 to 11:30 pm! The power of words made us an hour and thirty minutes happier :))) We danced and we danced. I’m sad to say goodbye, but there was no better way to conclude a fun trip than a talent show and a dance party!
Live life to the fullest.
Day 20 – July 5th – STORY OF ACTION
Upon waking up this morning, we decided that our final day of our GLA experience would be cheerful, not the sad day it so easily could have morphed into. Today’s agenda revealed that this would not be as difficult as we anticipated; today’s schedule focused on sharing our Stories of Action.
Much of our final few days as part of the GLA program had been dedicated to preparing to present our story of action. Having participated in an abundance of activities geared to making us the best leaders we could be, armed with the knowledge that change was necessary and that kids could be that change, and inspired by the story of two young girls in Bali eliminating plastic from their country and countless other success stories we’d been exposed to in the past weeks, we ready to embrace GLA motto and “be the change.” We began developing our Story of Actions by comparing problems that we found to be high priority and those that faced our community.
Issue in hand, we worked on narrowing it down to the specific dilemma we would focus our energy on. We then examined why this problem was an issue and how it was happening. With a better grasp on the issue, it was time to transform a problem into an opportunity. We brainstormed solutions to our problem-identifying resources, anticipating challenges, and preparing to network. Plan of Action prepared, we began developing elevator pitches, which we presented to our friends today.
Jack began the presentations by exploring Tallahassee’s lack of a Floridian identity. He proposed implementing a major Film Festival at FSU, in an attempt to unite the city.
Thomas followed up Jack’s presentation by exploring the troubles haunting China’s testing system. Understanding that the stress paired with these exams was unacceptable, Thomas planned on beginning online dialogue in an attempt to find solutions to these problems. Possible solutions that Thomas begins to bring to the government’s attention are an easier retake process and exams not being given in all subjects to every student. Thomas reminded all of us to enjoy the process of studying and learning.
Next, I explained that lack of Computer Science education for women and foster care children. I planned on bringing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) tutoring to my local foster homes and introductions to Computer Science. I also hoped to introduce Computer Science and STEM subjects to young girls before stereotypes set in and, as a women, be a role model and remind them that they can have fun and success in STEM fields. I hope all those who have been too scared to try Computer Science make a small attempt to explore the subject.
Eli proceeded to detailed the problems that existing with gardening in his community, including but not limited to use of pesticides and introduction of foreign species of plants. Eli plans on changing his garden first and then spreading the word to his friends and neighbors. Eli suggest that we support locally grown food and start a garden of our own.
Adam tackled the growing issue of plastic bags in his community. He plans on asking local stores to stop offering plastic bags as an option, or at least attach a price tag to them, and encouraging the use of reusable bags. Adam asks that we all say no to plastic at the store.
Faith followed with a presentation on the lack of education on sustainability. Faith had a plethora of methods she intended to use to fight this issue. She planned on converting her lifestyle to a sustainable one and convincing others to do so. She hopes to more actively participate in our eco club and use her position as class president to raise awareness with events, such as assemblies and an eco-week. She hopes to spread the education to younger children as well. Faith reminds us all that it is our job to spread the word on this issue.
Michael took the floor next and explained the problems of deforestation. Intending to focus primarily on the biological implications of deforestation, Michael intends on talking to his uncle and other experts on the subject. Michael asks that we are all resourceful.
Rachel proceeded to examine the problems tourism and their trash is causing. She intends on starting new courses to educate others on this issue and offering better advertising for those already existing. She hopes to get local businesses involved. Rachel reminds us to recycle and pick up trash whenever we see some littering the ground.
Kyle followed by detailing the problem of the over consumption of plastic bottles. Kyle intends to get his friends involved and to have the school stop having the option of plastic bottles. He also hopes to improve his school’s eco-club. Kyle asks that we stop buying plastic bottles.
Next, Kylie focused on the inaccessibility and high price tag of education. She plans on fighting this issue first in our local community and then globally. She hopes to collect backpacks and school supplies to distribute locally. Kylie hopes that we will all donate school supplies.
Haley proceeded to passionately explore her anger at the use of plastic bags in Arizona. She plans on starting by eliminating plastic bags in supermarkets. She will began by sharing local success stories with other stores, raising awareness, and bring the issue to the government’s attention. Haley reminds us all that reusable bags are the only option.
Anemone started her presentation with a thought-provoking speech on the destruction of creativity and individuality of schools in the United States. Anemone hopes to start an after-school club at the local elementary school she will be volunteering at next year. This club will bring in creative teachers to introduce music, art, poetry, etc… in an environment free of the stress of grades. Anemone asks that we are supportive, and reminds us that it is ok to enjoy an activity we don’t excel in.
Katherine tackled the issue of an excess of plastic in her community. She plans on spreading awareness to those around her, and introducing the idea of eco-bricks to her community. Katherine asks that we help with spreading the idea of eco-bricks as a form of reducing plastic.
Finally, Ashley examined the problems with the distribution and budgeting of money in her community. Ashley hopes to get her family and neighbors to stop buying too much. Ashley hopes that discussions hoped up to the members of her community and not just the officials will allow money to be placed in more appropriate areas of her community such as school. Ashley hopes that we will be supportive and add another voice to her solution.
Shannon and Jessica reminded us that our changes were possible and our goals were reachable. They added that it was important to take the initiative and stick with our goals. I think I speak for all of us when I say GLA has forever changed us and inspired us to be the change. Thank you GLA.
Sydnie Shea Cohen