Connecting With the Students

Our painted ice cream buckets for planting on campus

Team Journal Entry for Tuesday, March 8

Breakfast was delicious. I read the Message of the Day to remind us of “where we are and why we are here.” Then we heard Bill’s surgically precise journal entry for Monday. After breakfast, we walk to “El Colegio” – which is a secondary school, grades seven to twelve.

At the school, we gather in Ana Ruth’s class for introductions and work assignments. We volunteers introduce ourselves in Spanish and say a few short sentences about ourselves. The students reciprocate in English. It is a great ice-breaker prior to working elbow-to-elbow with total strangers from a different culture.

Costa Rica volunteers Robert and Bill clearing the area for planting

Volunteers Robert and Bill clearing the area for planting

Bill and I have landscaping duty and before we begin, we huddle with the student workers. I suggest we do a chant. So we gather in a circle, put our hands in the middle and yell: “1, 2, 3, Let’s work!” – first in English, then in Spanish.

The landscaping job is to till the soil, remove weeds, and level a strip of soil in preparation of plantings along a 25-meter fence. One of the school’s teachers has a philosophy: “There is no such thing as a weed; only a plant that hasn’t found its purpose.”

As we begin digging and raking, I talk with Deiner, who speaks excellent English. As I continue to relocate un-purposed plants, Deiner introduces me to his friend Felipe, who wants to practice his English. I slowly ask him simple questions: Where do you live? How far is it from Colegio? How many brothers and sisters do you have? What color are my shoes, pants, and shirt? Then I quiz him on body parts. I learn that he wants to major in Marine Biology and later Deiner tells with admiration that Felipe is very intelligent.

Costa Rica volunteer Bill introducing himself in Spanish to a group of students in Monteverde

Bill introducing himself in Spanish to a group of students

On Monday, a female student named Nyerley had asked Sharon what her favorite colors were. Then today Nyerley gave Sharon a lovely oil painting of a coatimundi, a raccoon-like animal.

After lunch, we five volunteers were sitting in the hallway, when an older student came up to me and gave me an American (firm) handshake. He then proceeded to shake the other volunteer’s hands, saying only “pura vida” and then continued walking down the breezeway.

At the end of the day, I went over to Barb, who was just finishing painting buckets. She then proceeded to shake each students hand and said, “Good job, thank you.” Later I found out that Vicki and Sharon did the same thing with their English students.

Between the end of the day and dinner, we managed to squeeze in a walk into town. We tried to walk without notice, lest anyone confuse us for tourists.

And that’s how Costa Rican Team #233 waged peace and promoted justice for today.

Entry submitted by: Robert

Message of the Day – Robert: Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” – Author Unknown

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