Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Community Service at Jose Figuerres

During this semester, the Sabanilla community has been really welcoming and helpful to all of us, and we all agreed that we should do something to give back to the community that has given so much to us. Staci and Cullen, who has been student-teaching all semester, arranged for us to go to Jose Figuerres, a local elementary school for a beautification project. Linda supplied us with a car-load of flowers, shovels, rakes, spades, paint, etc. and we were set to spend the afternoon improving this poor public school.
What a shock it was! Like almost every building in Costa Rica, the school is enclosed in a cage of bars and barbed wires to keep out robbers. On the property were two open air 'court yards.' One was labelled a "Danger Zone" and had a big, gaping hole and jagged rocks scattered about. A sink of sorts, with rusty faucets and dirty looking water, was in front of this courtyard, and Cullen tells me that this is where each and every child brushes his teeth in the morning as part of a government implemented dental hygiene program. The second courtyard, where we worked, was smaller and had two big palm trees in the middle of it. Our job was to clear debis (including trash, dead leaves, and shards of glass) from the courtyard, and plant a colorful garden instead. We also cleared away several large rocks around the palm trees, and planted small flowers there instead. Cullen and Maggie painted the stone wall and several of the stones that were too big for us to move away.
I was also really surprised to see how excited how the Tico students were to help us. Whenever we put down a shovel or rake, we'd basically never see it again because the little boys and girls would snatch it up and use it until their hands hurts, then pass it on to another one who was waiting in line. They also really liked talking to us to practice their English and show off their knowledge of US pop culture.
After an hour or so of work and a lot of help, we finally finished our beautification project. The little courtyard looked a LOT better, but it was still quite disheartening to see that we threw our trash into this overflowing trash pile behind the kindegarden class rooms. Still, it was a positive experience to at least give back a little something to this community.

<3, jessi

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