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Student Group Ready to Volunteer in Santa Elena

Volunteer in Santa Elena

Read about Fountain Hills High School group’s first service-learning day in Costa Rica

Getting ready to volunteer in Santa Elena on our service assignments started today with a basic Spanish lesson and orientation to the Monteverde area. We learned about Costa Rica-specific words such as ‘mae’ (which means ‘dude’). We learned to introduce ourselves, our ages, our grades, and our hobbies.

Volunteer in Santa Elena - Orientation Day

Spanish lessons during orientation

Two buses transported us on a four-hour trek up the mountain. We stopped halfway for los baños (the restrooms) y helados (ice cream). The first 2/3 of the trip were easy breezy and the last 1/3 was non-paved winding up a mountain with the ability to look down – way down – and ponder your own mortality. As we made our way toward Monteverde, we saw more monkeys hanging in the tree, as well as beautiful rainbows. We arrived just fine in Monteverde.

Volunteer in Santa Elena - Rainbow

Rainbow in Monteverde

The first three ‘profes’ (teachers) from Colegio introduced us to more of the country. With our team leader, Maggie, interpreting, we learned how long they’d been working there, what the school offers students, and how students progress through the programs there. It was cool to see that basically, these students are learning life skills and studying tourism, just like us. Claire, Danica, and Sam E. got to sit with Joy, who teaches rural tourism. Through a blend of Spanish and English, we learned about her love of nature photography, birds, and hiking. Her pictures were stunning still photos of birds and bats in flight. She has two books published with her pictures.

The drive revealed a lot of differences in how city and country ticos (Costa Ricans) live. We saw cattle being shuttled and also procreating in the wild. We also saw a lot of horses and goats. It’s pretty easy to fall in love with this place and this country. The people we have met have more than live up to their reputation for being kind and happy. Though they may not have the ‘stuff’ we have, they appear to us to have the stuff of life – connection, enjoyment, family. Time to get dirty! Time to meet the teens of Colegio! We are ready to volunteer in Santa Elena!

Journal entry by Sam C., Sam E., Nat B., and Danica

Read more about Fountain Hills High School volunteering experience in Costa Rica here.

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