Time Capsule Letter
The two weeks in June spent on Alfredo’s farm in San Carlos, Costa Rica were tremendously memorable. As we flew in from various parts of the United States and abroad we loaded into vans to head back to the home base site. Lush greenery and mountainous views aided the excitement of the volunteers.
We began to make friends and slowly open up to one another as we introduced our various hopes and fears as one of our orientation activities. On day three we celebrated Arbor Day by inviting young students from a nearby school called Santa Teresa to plant trees at the home base property, and we loved the opportunity to practice our Spanish.
The following day we integrated into the two partner schools. We taught in classrooms, started sanding desks for the larger school, and played games with the Tico youth. As the days progressed so did our activities, and on the twentieth of June a dance instructor visited the home base and gave us all an incredible lesson on both salsa and bachata.
One of the most notable aspects of this program was the rural location on a lake near a pineapple farm, and the food certainly was memorable as well. On June 22nd our group went rafting down the river near Muelle, a town nearby. We splashed each other and saw wildlife we will never forget such as alligators, sloths, monkeys, and birds.
During that evening we were given an opportunity to try Alfredo’s coffee that he considered to be some of the most delicious in the region. On Sunday students had a great time riding horses near Arenal Volcano and ziplining. This was the first time horseback riding for many of the volunteers and many mentioned that it was one of the most beautiful experiences.
While our experiences varied from getting to visit a farm where we milked cows to ziplining, some of the best moments were spent by the lake swimming and playing games. We danced, laughed, sang karaoke, and enjoyed the beautiful view from home base.
As the days began to close in toward the end of the program many of us were sad to leave the young students we had bonded with. Our last day at Santa Teresa school we viewed traditional dances from students and we performed our own dance from the United States.
It was truly a beautiful moment for the group to be immersed in both cultures. In conclusion, we created friendships with local students and among one another which we will never forget. Language usage increased dramatically toward the end of the program and we left their comfort zones on various occasions.
Thanks to our help, we were able to leave the students with desks and chairs in better conditions than before. From our time shared in smaller groups with mentors to group activities led by our director, these two weeks in June were unforgettable for all of us.
Keaton, Sofia, Susan and Nicole
Sunday June 16, 2019
Hola desde Costa Rica!
After a long journey for many, all the students made it safe and sound to San Jose. Some of the earlier arrivals had a chance to visit a nearby mall and even met pickachu. We all made it to home base in time for a delicious meal that included grilled pork and pineapple, mashed potatoes, and a variety of veggies arranged by Alfredo, our local director. Tomorrow starts our first full day in the country, and we are looking forward to what the day will bring.
Sofia, Keaton, Nicole and Susan
Monday June 17, 2019
Hola a todos,
Today was our first full day on the program. We had a busy day filled with orientation, get to know you activities and lake time. Everyone got in the lake for a bit- whether it was using the kayaks or just swimming in the temperate waters. On the dock we played pool and participated in a conga line. We also got to know our mentor groups. At dinner we practiced one of our community agreements, inclusiveness, by uniting all the tables. Tomorrow we’re excited to begin working with one of the two schools where we will be doing our service.
Sofia, Keaton, Susan y Nicole
Tuesday June 18, 2019
So today was our first real day of service. We got to sleep in a little and started the day off with breakfast at 8:00 and the option of yoga at 7:15. After breakfast we went over games and stuff that we could do with the kids. The kids came at 10:00; they came from a small school of about 15 from down the road. We paired up and planted trees with them then played games incorporated with english words. The kids ate lunch at 11:30 and after that we said our goodbyes.
Later we got a tour of the cows and learned more about them. We also took a walk up the property and got to see a small nearby church. After, we spent time swimming in the lake, met in our mentor groups to talk about our “story of self,” and had dinner. We all had so much fun getting to meet all of the little kids for the first time even though some were a bit shy. It was a good chance to practice Spanish!
We really look forward to getting to interact with them even more.
-by Kayleigh and Trever
Wednesday June 19, 2019
This morning after breakfast we split up into two different service groups. One went to the small school, Santa Teresa, down the road from home base, and the other group went to the bigger school, Chacón. At the small school the GLA students helped teach the children their ABCs. We played soccer and danced with the children and helped bring color to the school by painting the bathrooms. At the bigger school, we helped repair chairs and desks. We also helped teach the children different words in English. After lunch back at home base, we learned how to cook homemade veggie burgers and empanadas. For dessert we celebrated Ellie’s birthday with cake, ice cream, and fruit salad.
See you later,
Eden and Chaeli
Thursday June 20, 2019
We started the day at 7 a.m. with warm pancakes and syrup from Alfredo. We split up into our service groups, with Susan’s group going to the smaller school, Santa Teresa, and Keaton and Nicole’s groups going to Chacón. At Santa Teresa, we taught them some animal names in English and played Pictionary, before splitting up even further to play soccer and dance. The kids had a lot of fun teaching us traditional dances, and some even drew us pictures. At Chacón, we refurbished old desks for the students. We also played tag and ninja with the younger students.
After lunch back at Home Base, we learned two traditional Latin American dances; the salsa and bachata. We started off learning the basic steps, but soon we partnered up and mastered some harder techniques. After the dance class, we got some well-deserved free time, and most of us spent it cooling off in the lake. Our day ended with our usual Chow Circle, and burritos for dinner.
-by Ananya and Erica
Friday June 21, 2019
As another day in the GLA program passes by, new experiences do along with it. But today brought new adventures that the other students and I were all eager to embark upon. After a standard, but much appreciated breakfast we visited a Spanish elementary school to paint chairs and desks for future students, and show off some dance moves to the eager children. Subsequently the GLA group visited a lecheria (dairy farm) where we were all thoroughly immersed in the unique process of milking cows and uncovering the behind the scenes of farm life.
Finally, upon return to home base, we all dove into the unwinding atmosphere of the property lake, swimming and playing games has become a habit here. Finally we concluded the night with riveting performances of various kids in a home base karaoke night! Even though the beat has stopped, the music of Spanish culture continues to play within us all. As we have all learned to say: “Pura Vida!”
Christine and Keshav
Saturday June 22, 2019
Today our group woke up to a series of rainstorms that lasted throughout the day. After a group favorite breakfast of pancakes, we went rafting down the San Carlos river where we saw all sorts of species of animals including crocodiles, howler monkeys, snakes, and bats. After rafting we were brought back to a lookout where we were treated with fresh tortillas, cheese, plantains, and a series of Costa Rican coffee. Much to our surprise, we were able to go to a supermarket after rafting to stock up on all of the junk food that we have been missing out on.
To further add to our learning aspect of our trip, our very own Alfredo taught the group about the history and cultural aspects behind coffee. This activity allowed for the group to try two different types of coffee and compare and contrast. To end off the day, many people played in the rainstorms to distract them from the heat. Finally to wind down, we broke off into mentor groups to further dive into each individuals personal life. Can’t wait for you all to see the exciting blog tomorrow!! Bye!!!
-Barrett and Ellie
Sunday June 23, 2019
Today we had an eventful start to our second week of the program. We started the morning extra early with our traditional breakfast of eggs and fruit. We then split our group into two to different sections to go zip lining and horseback riding. Each group got the chance to experience both activities with a lunch in between. During the horseback riding we learned how to control the horses and took a trail ride up to the base of Arenal Volcano. We rode between rivers and through the cloud forest. The zip lining course took place in the same area. There was a series of ziplines that varied in length and speed. After our adventures zip lining and and horseback riding, we went souvenir shopping in the town of La Fortuna and got ice cream. We look forward continuing volunteer work out the school tomorrow!
Hallie, Mae, and Elli K.
Monday June 24, 2019
Today we were done with our weekend break and back to the schools for community service. At Santa Teresa, we taught them more English by playing various games with the children such as Red Rover, Duck Duck Goose, Kick Ball, and Soccer. The kids there loved all the games and were very excited to play. At Chacón, we began removing weeds on the walls of the school. Later, more chairs and desks arrived that needed to be broken down, sanded and then painted. Some of us got to work with the kids in classrooms today, and the rest will tomorrow.
After service, we came back and ate lunch and then changed to get ready for hot springs. It was chill and relaxing to sit in the hot springs after a long day of service. Afterward, we had more free time before dinner. We had pork, noodles with tuna, and yucca (a traditional Costa Rican dish). We then had more free time before we went to bed and fell asleep.
-Ian, Oliver, and Sahil
Tuesday June 25, 2019
This morning we woke up to a sunny day and had a great typical Costa Rican breakfast with gallo pinto and scrambled eggs. After breakfast Bigotes, our driver, took us to the school where we taught second graders how to say and identify animals and fruits. Then the kids had recess and we played soccer, duck duck goose and did the hokie pokie. When their recess was over, we taught the kids about their family trees and how to says Grandpop, Grandmom, Mother and Father in English.
After service, Bigotes drove us back to home base so we would have a quick lunch before heading to the pineapple farm. Later that afternoon we arrived at the pineapple farm to a refreshing cup of a fresh and smooth pineapple juice. We then continued to get on the tour bus and toured the property of the pineapple farm where a very funny tour guide gave us samples of pineapple and told us about the history of pineapple farming in Costa Rica. We are now about to finish off our fun-filled day with a bonfire.
-Elizabeth, Afonso, and Temile
Wednesday June 26, 2019
Hello everyone, greetings from Costa Rica! Today was a very eventful day. We first went to Chacon for service. At Chacon, we painted chairs and desks to help renovate the classrooms. We also gardended and worked with the kids in their English classes. Shortly after, we visited a wildlife conservatory where we found an array of native animals such as monkeys, birds, snakes, and much more. After the zoo, we had a traditional Costa Rican dinner called ollacarne which consisted of a soup with beef, corn, and yucca. We finished the day off by practicing many different dance routines that we will present to the children of Santa Teresa tomorrow.
Jess, McKenna and Neel
Thursday June 27, 2019
We started off our day with a traditional Costa Rican breakfast and then headed down to Escuela Santa Teresa (the smaller school), where we participated in their Arts and Education Festival and played musical chairs with the children. We had the opportunity to see them dress up and perform a series of customary dances. In turn, we shared a classic American dance: the Cotton Eyed Joe. Afterwards, we said our goodbyes to the children at the smaller school, as it was our last day volunteering there and had our final mentor group once we returned to home base. We spent our afternoon having a rainy lake day and creating several goals for ourselves for the next year. Later, we witnessed many karaoke performances to songs such as “Firework” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” and ended the evening with another home-cooked meal provided by our GLA staff.
Eleanor and Molly
Today was our last full day here in Costa Rica! To start off the day, we traveled to Chacón, the larger school, where our group finished painting, and crafting together the desks for the children. Sadly, after a long day of work, our group had to say our final goodbyes to all of the children that we had worked with thus far. When our group arrived at home base, we all gathered together to play a series of games including personality games as well as silly ones.
These activities gave our group one final time to really grow closer to each other and value everyone as a group. Looking back on our two weeks in Costa Rica, our group reminisced over all of the fun and unforgettable times we had experienced together. After thanking our hardworking staff, eating a homemade dinner, and talking to each other for hours, our group finally wound down and said our final goodbyes to one another. Thank you all for experiencing this trip with us! Bye!!!!!
-by Chloe and Caroline