costa rica service learning

In Monteverde, the Fountain Hills High School group discovered Costa Rica’s flora and fauna, a highlight of volunteering in the cloud forest region.

Discovering Costa Rica’s Flora and Fauna

Before breakfast, howler monkeys visited us from the rooftops of our hotel. We reached up and fed them fruit, and they hung from their tails as they reached for the fruit, picked out the seeds, gobbled, and chucked the rind on the ground. They were so expressive, and if you didn’t open your hand up fast enough, they squeaked at you.

After our final morning meeting and breakfast at the Mar Inn, we played ‘Simón Dice’ (Simon Says), ‘Pato, Pato, Ganso’ (Duck, Duck, Goose), and ‘Red Rover’ with the Costa Rican high school students. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t speak each other’s languages, we all had fun and laughed together.

The breakfast was prepared by the culinary ‘food and drink’ students at Colegio in their kitchen lab/restaurant. We walked in to find slices of watermelon with bowls of a white creamy sauce next to them. We put some of the sauce on the watermelon and noted it tasted like sour cream. What an interesting food combo they had going on…until…they giggled at us and kindly said that sour cream is for the gallo pinto (rice and beans mix) not the watermelon! Oops! So sour cream does taste good on watermelon, but that’s a personal thing.

Next they took us on a final tour of the trails surrounding Colegio, starting with the base of the path we worked on together and going to the point where our work ended, and then continuing all the way around to the more primitive paths that will need work in the future. Kelsey noted that once we reached a meadow in the middle of the hike, the wind was really powerful, cool, and refreshing, and clean. Robbie climbed a guava tree (he is an avid tree climber we have learned on this trip) and our students and Colegio students all rested for a bit and enjoyed the expansive view gorgeous view of the scenic landscapes.

After the hike we went back to the culinary lab. The administration and profes (teachers) of Colegio presented each of our team members with a certificate of appreciation. They told us that from the bottom of their hearts, they thanked us for and appreciated the work we had done to infuse energy and optimism with our willingness to come and work on the trails with them. They said that through collaboration they were able to achieve far more than they would have on their own. Claire told the administration and students of Colegio that they showed us the true spirit of hospitality, and that even though most of the volunteers did not speak excellent (any?) Spanish, we were still able to forge friendships despite the barriers and be productive together. She said we learned from the students and faculty at Colegio, and they will be in our hearts.

Some of our volunteers said they felt sad that they were not able to say goodbye to some of the Colegio students they had worked with most. Emilee said she will miss Melanie, a ninth grader, because from the start Melanie made her feel at home from the moment they met, and are now Facebook friends. It was sad to walk out of those gates and know that, at least for now, they are closed to us. We felt lucky for the time we spent at that very special place.

Journal by Emily, Kelsey, and Nataly

Read more about the Fountain Hills High School Group serving and learning in Costa Rica.

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