Saturday June 16, 2018
We are happy to write you from our lovely home base in Santa Teresa as we enjoy the soft sounds of the birds and watch the swaying shadows of the palm trees. All of our students are here safe and sound and we are all very excited to begin our first session of the 14-day Initiative for Children program! Everyone arrived safely and almost exactly to plan in San Jose. Several students got to experience a Costa Rican mall while waiting for the rest of their 30 new best friends to arrive. We admired the Costa Rican countryside (or slept) on our three-hour bus ride to our secluded home-away-from-home. We ate our first meal together at the Crazy Iguana pizzeria and came back to home base to rest after a long day of traveling. Tomorrow we will hit the ground running with orientation before getting into service and cultural activities starting Monday. Be on the lookout for more updates on our adventures coming soon!
Monday June 18, 2018
Student bloggers: Bailey, Jackson, Anna:
This is Bailey! Today we went to Santa Teresa de Sur to help the students prepare for their art show this upcoming Friday. We cleaned up the yard, power washed the concrete, played with the kids, and cleaned some classrooms. The kids were so sweet and talkative and kept wanting to play games with us, including soccer and some new games they taught us how to play. They even performed a dance and sang several songs for us! Everyone had fun and an amazing time, not only did the school benefit from our works but we learned a lot too! Even though they don’t speak English and we barely speak spanish, we could uniquely communicate with them through body and facial language.
This is Jackson. One of our expert photographers.“Pura Vida!!!!” The most memorable part of our day was going to Bellavista School. Seeing the kids’ contagious smiles would never NOT bring a smile to your face. Although there was a communication barrier, we had fun trying to speak to our best of abilities. Overall, the experience of these little children is absolutely magnificent. I am very happy that I came to Costa Rica with GLA.
My name is Anna Vaine, and I was in Sofia’s group. We went to the smallest school, with a grand total of twelve students! Today, we went to the school and got a tour, even though there weren’t any students. We started talking about the kinds of things we wanted to do, and as we were discussing, three boys showed up! It was really great because they were willing to spend all their time with us. We played hanky panky, and they showed us around the town. We saw the pineapple fields, the church, and we went to a “lake” that was actually a little pond that the kids love to swim in. We also learned where all the “brujas” live and all the spells that they will put on you. After we got the tour, we went back to home base and made a tentative schedule for what we want to do the rest of the time that we will be there. I feel really prepared, and very excited for our time here.
Tuesday June 19, 2018
This is Anna again. Today was another great day. We woke up to a lot of rain, and while it was beautiful, it forced us to cancel our hike for today. For my group, it was the first time that we met all of the kids and their teacher. Everyone was so nice and accepting. It was really wonderful. We started by introducing our selves and playing a few games to break the ice. Then our group of people split up. Half of us worked on organizing the shed, while the other half taught the kids English. I was really impressed with how engaged all the kids were with the lesson, especially the younger ones. Some even took it upon themselves to write notes!
We got back and had another amazing lunch. We were supposed to take a hike, but like I said, the rain was too intense. So, we hung out for a little while, before the owner of the house we are staying in, Alfredo, gave us a talk about Costa Rican coffee. He talked to us a little bit about the history of coffee in Costa Rica, and then had us compare two brands of coffee. One was a brand you can find in stores, while the other one was his family’s brand. His coffee was by far the best. After that, we did a leadership activity where we broke into groups, and each group represented a culture with their own greeting. We then greeted each other, and then discussed how different greetings came across to other people, and what assumptions we made about those groups. It was really enlightening when it was connected back to the real world and how we make assumptions about people and try to change those people.
After that we had some down time, where a group of us played a couple rounds of mafia. Then, we played something called Telephone Charades, which was the most fun I have had in a long time. Overall, today was an amazing day, and I am very excited for tomorrow.
Hi Im Hailey, today we spent the majority of the time interacting with the children since the rain prevented us from doing most of the outdoor jobs, like painting and raking. We got to the meet the English teacher, Susan, and were given the opportunity to help teach the first graders greetings in English, like hello and what is your name. A few of us also got to one-on-one help the older students practice for their spelling bee on Friday, which was a great way for both us and the students to learn more about the languages that each of us speak. Other volunteers who were not with the kids worked on power washing the rest of the sidewalks and concrete walls. For the majority time left at the school today we played games with the kids, such as duck duck goose with a number twist, musical chairs, and soccer to further help engage some of the kids in the English language while still further building friendly relationships between us and the students.
This is Emily! Today was yet another amazing day. We went to our school and got to play games with the children such as hot potato and an awesome game of soccer (US vs. Costa Rica). Although the kids had to leave in the middle, the soccer game ended with a great score of 3-3. Some of us got to help in the garden, rake, and teach the kindergarteners ‘head, shoulders, knees, and toes’ in English. Today we got a lot of rain and had to cancel our hike. Although a bit inconvenient, it gave us the opportunity to play a few games of mafia and charades telephone. Alfredo taught us all about the history of coffee and his family’s coffee business. Afterwards he offered us his coffee to taste that is 100% made from coffee beans grown in Costa Rica. We have all been enjoying the delicious meals at home base. Some of which included: rice and beans, steak, potatoes, and plantain! All of us kids are excited to see what the rest of our time here holds for us!
Wednesday June 20, 2018
Here are a few updates about the day from students: Heath Reynolds, Caryus Pak, and Amber
Estoy aprendiendo español! Translated into English means “I am learning Spanish!” My experience here at GLA So far has truly been adventurous and humbling. Being blessed with the opportunity to work with the youth of Costa Rica has truly been amazing! Not only do I feel that I have made a difference in their lives, but they’ve made a difference in mine.
Today we worked at Santa Teresa Norte School, where we alternated with teaching the children and organizing a shed full of supplies for the school. In the classroom, we helped teach the children the numbers and colors, and with the older kids we introduced them to the alphabet. The kids quickly picked up the lesson and were eager to utilize their newfound words. In the shed, we helped clean out the termite and spider infested cardboard, and organized the supplies into categories such as paint, classroom materials, and gardening tools. At the end of the day, as we’re leaving the school, we were saying our goodbyes only to receive “hellos” back from the kids. So we have some work to do but progress is progress, and its rewarding to see the children so eager to use what we taught them. Later in the afternoon, we drove a short distance to a nearby hiking adventure. Despite the bad humidity and heat, we ventured on, eventually gathering around the base of a huge tree, maneuvering through itchy weeds in search of monkeys we supposedly heard, and skipping rocks on the San Carlos River. On the way home, we were given a nice treat at a nearby convenience store where we got ice cream and soda. Overall the day was splendid and rewarding, and I felt accomplished with the work I did today.
Today in Gabby’s group we did a lot of manual labor. Our group took advantage of the beautiful day we had and prepared for the art show on Friday at our school. We had three stations at the school in order to utilize our time efficiently. We had a group working on moving poles out of the way for a more safe environment. The second group was moving rocks to prevent mud from forming and creating a mess. The third group was painting the court where the art show is going to be held. We worked very hard today, so hard that the director of our school told us how impressed she was, and how she would like it if we participated in the art show. After our hard day at service we came home to a delicious lunch prepared by our family at the base. Next we took a short hike to a really big tree then a longer hike to a really cool river. After skipping rocks at the river Alfredo (our celebrity host) treated everyone to ice cream and a soda. Later we had some down time where we could either swim in the lake our play a game of pool. Then we broke up into mentor groups and made a deeper more personal connection with each member creating a stronger bond of trust and confidence within each other. Overall today was one of the most challenging days where almost everyone overcame their own inner struggle. Pura vida!
Thursday June 21, 2018
Here are a few updates about the day from students: Robin, Isis, and Jennifer
Hi, I’m Robin. Today was a day of having fun with the kindergarteners at the school and dogs! The kids in my group today learned the long heads, shoulders, knees, and toes, and later me and several others did some manual labor in the yard. After lunch we had the chance to wash and play with some beautiful dogs, my favorite of which being a fluffy black one named Sacha. The afternoon was extremely hot but very satisfying as more or less each person had their own cat or dog to care for; however, sooner or later, we had to leave our fluffy friends and go back to the home base. The bus ride was bumpy as ever, but I was riding with Jackson who had been bitten by a bullet ant! The rest of the day was spent in the tower with some friends and calm music over the beautiful lake.
Hi this is Isis and today was a good day. All of us doing service were super excited to prepare for the art show tomorrow, as we learned new dances, practiced, sung, and set up for it. As we got back to home base we had time to share our enjoyment of the morning with one another and prepare to go to a dog rescue league. Though I couldn’t go to the dog rescue because I’m allergic, everyone else had the opportunity to bathe a few, swim with some and run around with them all, it seemed a great time in the sun. From what I heard, everyone was all smiles as they spent time with the dogs, it was almost like they were in dog heaven! As for me, I took a long nap and when my roommates got back they all had to shower and be careful as they entered the room with me. My room and the bus had to be disinfected! The afternoon continued to be great as we continued to get to know one another and practice our cheer dance that we will preform tomorrow at the school’s art show.
Hey, I’m Jennifer. After finishing a very delicious breakfast, my service group walked over to our school. Despite there being no school today, a few kids showed up to see us! They’re awesome. Today we decided it would be best to tackle the “book graveyard” as we call it. We made a lot of progress and I think the teacher will be proud 🙂 We also played futbol with the kids and everyone was fried from the sun. We literally looked like overheated potatoes by the end of it haha. Then our group came back and took a dip into the lake, a refreshing end to a hot and productive work day. As the sun was setting and everything was a shade of golden, everyone headed to our leadership activity of the day, an activity on what it means to be “triggered” (something that makes you feel insulted). We wrote on post-it-notes about our reaction and emotions to six scenarios that are triggering and then posted them on the wall, high up meaning you were very triggered and low on the wall meaning not bothered. Then we sat on the grass and had a deep discussion on the results. I found everyone’s comments very enlightening and I’m proud of us all for being open-minded and capitalizing on the importance of being respectful of different opinions and rather than being angered by differing opinions, learning and growing from them. Also, we had burritos for dinner, they were great. (mayo and hot sauce is a pretty bomb combo).
Friday June 22, 2018
Here are a few updates about the day from students Gracie and Blair, and Staff Mentors Carlos, Gabriella, Sophia, and Rosie
Hey it’s Gracie Platt and wow we are already halfway through the program! Today I got to be a photographer and I’m glad that I could do it. So today we woke up and had breakfast and then went to our schools for service. When we got to the school, we played soccer with the kids and then we helped teach some of the kids english. We also played simon says and it was very fun! Then some of the kids started drawing on the white board and they were drawing pictures and then writing the spanish word and we wrote the english word for them. We also worked in the garden and pulled weeds and it was very hot. Then we came back to home base and ate lunch and then left again and went to an ice cream place called Iguanas. The ice cream was very good and some of us also got some souvenirs. Then we left and went to a farmers market place and everyone just bought a ton of junk food like cookies, chips, and more! Then we headed back to the home base and we just chilled for a bit and then got with our mentor groups and did some activities and they were super fun. Then we ate dinner and now we are heading to bed but today was a good day!! Pura Vida!!
Hi, this is Blair! Today at Sant Teresa Sur, the students and staff put on an Art Show to show off their talents. Everyone participated and all the teachers wore matching costumes. Besides signing and dancing, students showed their artwork which was centered around themes of sustainable development on Earth. It was super cute to take pictures with the students and to spend time with them. Everyone who attended was having the time of their life and cheering for all the participants. All GLA students danced in a choreographed dance and also in the Macarena. It was super fun to dance in front of the crowd and be silly and sing along. Afterwards, we came back to the home base for lunch. Later on, the group went out for ice cream to try and connect to wifi and also to the supermarket to buy snacks and restock on supplies. I really enjoyed doing activities with my mentor group before dinner. The chickpea soup we had for dinner was delicious! Hasta luego.
Hi Friends and Family! Wow we cannot believe this program is already halfway done. We are so proud of all of our students, we can see a huge transformation in all of them; some big and some truly eye opening. Its such a privilege and an honor for us to have you trust us with you kids and send them on this amazing journey. This week has been pretty eventful but now that its the weekend we have even more adventure planned for your kiddos! A lot of this is new for us too, so its really special to be able to share this for the first time with you children and reflect all together as a group. We can see ever lasting friendships forming, relationships growing, and hearts and minds transforming into future leaders. We hope that you are proud of your sons and/or daughters as much as we are. We cannot wait to see what this next week has in store for us! Sending much Tico Love, Mentors Carlos, Gabriella, Sophia, and Rosie
Saturday June 23, 2018
Hola! Today, we took an hour long journey to a trail up in the mountains of Costa Rica! The trail took four hours to compete though thick mud and rocks, but the destination was all worth it! What we came across was a beautiful green lake. It was the perfect spot for pictures, and a great place to take a rest before the journey back. After returning to the buses, we took a quick detour to Ciudad Quesada and had lunch at a café. Afterwards we shopped at a local store and hung out in the city’s plaza until the rain kicked us out. Then we returned to home base and participated in some leadership activities. Overall the day was very tiring, yet it was worth the effort, and we had a great time!
-by Heath Reynolds, Arianna Schott, and Caryus Pak
Sunday June 24, 2018
Hey guys! It’s Hailey, Bailey, and Robin. Today we had the opportunity to go horseback riding and zip-lining through the rainforest near the volcano in La Fortuna. The view was beautiful and we saw some sloths and monkeys during these excursions. It’s really cool for us to see more of the volcano and rainforests in this beautiful country. We also got to go into the La Fortuna town where we went into an artisan shop to buy some souvenirs. Finally, we ended the night with a bonfire and pizza from our favorite restaurant, the Crazy Iguana.
Monday June 25, 2018
Here are some recaps of the day from students: Jennifer, Blair, Raina and Bailey!
hey guys, my name is jennifer. today at sophia’s service site we power washed the chairs and picked up trash around the school field. picking up trash was very tiring but it felt good seeing a clean lawn afterwards. also, you don’t even know how fun power washing is. it’s like you’re blasting a zombie haha. then we drove to the hot springs. that was by far one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip. it was so refreshing just chillaxing in the warm water, staring out at the sunlight speckled trees. we were totally immersed in nature and it was much needed after a long day of working outside under the hot sun. we even saw a toucan!
Hi everyone, it’s Blair! Today was our first day back at service since our weekend excursions. My service group went to our school and worked on tearing down the existing greenhouse in order to expand it and pull weeds. There were no teachers or students at Santa Teresa Sur today because of a teacher strike, but we were still able to make a lot of progress and plan out what needs to get done by the end of the week. After lunch, our whole group went swimming in naturally heated hot springs to enjoy the warm water and relax. I thought the hot springs were great because they were very clean and soothing to itchy bug bites. For the rest of the week we will continue to go to our schools and get done as much as we can before our time in beautiful Costa Rica is up. ¡Adios!
Hi guys! It’s Raina and Bailey. Today, we worked on the greenhouse at our service site, Santa Teresa Sur. We weeded, pulled out tree stumps, big rocks and poles, picked up trash, and loosened the soil. The kids were not at school today because their teachers were on strike, but we still managed to get work done at the school. After service, we went to a hot springs water park where we spent 3 hours relaxing by the pools. It was refreshing following our active weekend and morning. We plan on starting the mural tomorrow at our school.
Tuesday June 26, 2018
This is Dean. Today was another great and impactful day of this program. After breakfast, we went to our school. Outside, we worked on power washing the fence. Hopefully the next group will be able to finish power washing and painting it. Inside the school, we played games like uno and one where we said a word in english and the kids had to find the Spanish word on the whiteboard before the others. We also went swimming in the lake and looked at the cows and pigs. It was crazy to see how many animals were packed in such a small space. They had nowhere to run when they were afraid of us. It made me think for the first time that vegetarianism is a good idea. Back at camp, we learned about each other in an activity where we had to find something that made us different from everybody or the same as everybody. It was much easier to find similarities. In mentor groups we thought about what we did well today and what others did well. Overall, today was a great day and we had a lot to think about.
Today was a great day 🙂 This morning the group at the small school finished up our English review and started power washing the fence it’s sad to think that tomorrow’s our last service day but I’m glad we’re making a lasting impact. This afternoon our AMAZING host Alfredo gave us a “cow tour” we got to learn about them, watch them get milked, and pet them. Fun fact: Cows love to lick people. Alfredo made the whole learning experience great. We also got some time in the lake. It was a blast!! Can’t believe we only have a few days here 🙂 -Alexus
Hey it’s Isis here! Today was a fun day as we were able to distribute friendship bracelets we made to all pf the children at the school. The children were gleaming with excitement as we gave them the bracelets and absolutely loved them. It felt good to see the smiles on all their faces. At the school, we also played a game of BINGO as a way of teaching words in English. The game was full of laughter and the children, my peers and I really enjoyed it. As we came home, we got to have time in the lake house to bond with one another and just talk. Later on we played a really fun game as a whole, which motivated us to learn more about one another and realize how many similarities we have with one another. With tomorrow being our last day at our schools and the program coming to an end, I think it’s evident how much we’ll miss one another and how memorable the bonds we created are.
Hey guys it’s Raina, Tori, Allyson, and Arianna,
Wednesday was our last day at the service sites. In the Santa Teresa del Sur school, the group painted a mural of a big tree with hand prints as the leaves. In the Santa Teresa del Norte school the group had a game day where they enjoyed their last day the kids while playing soccer. In the Bella Vista school we taught English and played games like tag, soccer, and musical chairs. Saying goodbye was hard. The kids gave us notes, posters, and lots of hugs. Later in the day, we split up into two groups: one attended a cooking class and the other attended a dance class. For the cooking class we learned how to make a delicious vegan stir fry. In the dance class we learned how to dance bachata. After dinner, we had a movie night outside where we watched the Parent Trap. It was a lot of fun and great bonding experience.
Thursday we woke up early to drive out to the Santa Teresa river for a boat safari. On the safari we saw crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas, and otters. We had a great time seeing all these animals and splashing and racing each other down the river. Once we got out of the boats, we were fed hot tortillas with plantains and cheese. We also got to grind cocoa beans to make our own hot chocolate. Then we headed back to home base and had lots of lake time where we took turns jumping from the lake house. After dinner we all got dressed for our goodbye party. We danced and sang to our favorite songs and enjoyed our last night together. It was a memorable way end such a impactful trip.