Portland/Vancouver volunteers to Costa Rica

CRGS19Corralillo, Costa Rica is now home to Courts for Kids’ sixty-fourth court.  On August 4, twenty-seven hard-working volunteers from Portland, Denver and Vancouver gathered to begin their amazing week in this community.   Even though the journey began with weather-related delays and a flight cancellation, the unexpected overnight in Houston really brought the group together.  Everyone arrived in Costa Rica eager to get to work and make up for lost time!   After being greeted at the airport by Anali Diaz, the Peace Corps volunteer in Corralillo, and Diego Silva, the local director of Youth with a Mission, the group set out on a four-hour bus ride to the Nicoya Peninsula and the community.

The multi-generational team included members of Church of the Good Shepherd, high school and

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college students from Portland and Vancouver, and even a volunteer who traveled all the way from Denver to join the group.   It was incredible to see how this group, which included all ages from elementary school to retirees, worked together with one goal in mind.

 

Over the four days of building, everyone went above and beyond.  Even though torrential rains cut workdays short, the team was determined to finish on time.  Donald, the local contractor, and his team were great to work with and made the process fun with their enthusiasm, lively banter, and jokes. By the last day, our group and the local crew were a well-oiled machine!  A loud cheer went up as the last wheelbarrow of cement was emptied onto the court.

The group enjoyed experiencing daily life in this small and welcoming community. The week included shopping at the many local markets for refreshing drinks (important in the extreme heat!), a visit to the elementary school, a bus trip to the bigger city of Nicoya, and many soccer games with the locals.   Anali and Diego were excellent hosts, as was the Coralillo town association.   A group of women showed such hospitality by cooking all our meals “con gusto” (with pleasure).  The team will always remember the “salon communal” where they ate, slept, met, played games at night, and even saw a giant iguana!

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After finishing the court, the team experienced Costa Rican beach life at beautiful Samara Beach.  Everyone played in the waves, relaxed on the beach, and shared a great meal while a dramatic thunder and lightning storm raged outside.  The final night was spent in San Jose, where the team was able to reflect on and share about their experience.  The team returned back home, knowing they will never forget their journey.

 

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I learned that it’s possible to work together well and communicate effectively with others even without speaking the same language.  I discovered the joy of working with people of other cultures and the pleasure of overcoming the difficulty of language barriers to reach a common goal. – Jack Kehoe, High School Student

 Overall, the most memorable part of the trip was interacting and working with the community. During our work, I slowly gained a connection with each community member helping out on site. Their lively behavior and strong aspiration to finish motivated me to work harder because I knew 

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the court was going to a fantastic community.

–          David Richenstein, High School Student

 My favorite memory from the trip was having one of the local workers introduce me to his son.  I became good friend with the local over the course of the trip, and we developed a strong enough friendship (even through language barriers) that he made sure that I met his son before we left.  He even wanted me to take a few pictures with his family.

–          Matt Hope, Adult Participant

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 What I learned from the community is that you don’t need much to make you smile.

–          Claire Scott, 12 years old

 What I learned from the community while on this trip was that life does not revolve around making money and putting a very high value on material objects and other aspects of one’s life that aren’t as valuable as family or friends.  To me it was obvious that the people or Corralillo did not have much, but they did value what few possessions they had.  A higher value seemed to be placed on friendship and family because for a lot of the people that may be all they have. 

–          John Duffy, High School Student

 Our first day in Corralillo was spent picking up trash.  As we gradually shuffled down a long dirt

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 road a local elder approached us.  He spoke Spanish but I could understand him with the skills that Spanish One gave me.  He explained the country’s saying “Pura Vida” which means Pure Life.  He explained how their community was focused on friends and making each other happy.  As the week went on I saw his words come to life.  They came to life in the kids on the soccer field and the workers helping us with the court.  No matter what they were always smiling, whistling and laughing.  It was obvious they loved life.

–          Emily Goodman, High School Student

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 I guess some favorite memories might be when we were working on the court and we were sweaty, dirty, and working out tails off but laughing and being a part of the joking around with the workers.  Their “have fun” attitude was contagious and motivating. 

–          Teckla Reed Goodman, Adult Participant

 What I learned most from the community is to live in the moment.  It seems like in the US we are

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 constantly looking forward to the next hour, day, or month.  With that mindset it is difficult to focus on the here and now.  However, the locals seemed to relish the time they were spending together.  Any obstacles faced weren’t met with frustration but just as another opportunity to work together to problem solve.

–          Laura Gill-Dale, Adult Participant

 Challenges gave us a chance to go beyond our personal selves and to engage with community- 

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otherwise (we) could have just dumped rock and sand and left with some muscles.  Instead I grew and entered into some relationships that provide connection and understanding.

–          Chuck Bristol, Adult Participant