Today marks two weeks since I left the states to teach ESL in the beautiful oasis that is Costa Rica. I have had many great experiences, improved my Spanish, learned more about teaching, and more about the person I want to be. I have also met so many great people who have been nothing but kind to me. I will always be grateful for the community that I've experienced in Copey (the town where I teach). All of this has truly been an adventure and a blessing.
Each Friday, I have been able to tour a different place in the Copey community/surrounding area. The first Friday I was here I was able to go to Santa Maria. Here, I toured the Coopedota R.L. which is a major coffee manufacturing business responsible for the production of the majority of this nation's well-known crop. The company took so much pride in their business and I even got to try some Costa Rican frapuccino which was beyond great! And I don't even like coffee normally! My second Friday, I got to tour directly in Copey, a student's farm. The farm is well-known for it's "lecheria" which is where milk production takes place. I got to meet some cute animals such as cows, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, and more. In addition, they harvest and produce many fruits. I got to try a local fruit called grandeja (not sure how to spell it). The family was also kind enough to send me home with fresh fruits such as strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
This past Saturday I got to explore a new town called San Marcos. It's about an hour bus ride outside of Copey. The bus fare was really cheap and I enjoyed the scenic mountain view on the way. In San Marcos, I ate arroz con pollo (ACP) which is way better than ACP I've eaten in the U.S. In addition, I got to try some Costa Rican ice cream which was delicious! I also had another goal while in San Marcos and that was to gather ingredients for a lasanga that I and another volunteer were going to make as a kind gesture for our host family. It was a fun experience and the lasagna was a success! The room was silent during the meal and the host father was able to consume three pieces of lasagna! Our host family has done so much for us and we wanted to show our appreciation. They have helped us so much with our Spanish and have even attempted to learn some English.
Teaching has been an educational experience for me. I have learned that it is necessary to be strict in certain situations to gain respect from the students and so that they will listen and overall learn. The language barrier has sometimes been a challenge, but has improved my critical thinking when communication may seem unclear. I have developed new problem-solving skills and strategies that help me to be a better teacher for my students. Overall, I am so appreciative of them and love getting to teach everyone. They are so full of potential and are precious in my eyes. For the first two weeks, I only taught 1st and 2nd, as well as helped with preschoolers and kindergarten. However, for the next two weeks I will be teaching teenagers and adults in addition to those classes. I look forward to working with different age groups and seeing how their English levels differ from one another.
I also had one physical complication that occurred during my second week in Copey. I fell and sprained my ankle on the way to the Copey Learning Center. Thankfully, my friend and other volunteer was with me and was able to help me back to my room. The Executive Director was so understanding and even came to check in on me and cancelled classes for the day. It was so sweet how concerned my host mother was for me and helped me out. The level of community here is amazing. I only sprained my ankle and I had several people from the community coming to my room checking in on me. The next day I was able to walk and teach classes again. I will never forget the kindness and hospitality I was given in Copey. Despite the language barrier, kindness can be found in all the corners of the world. This is something I want to encourage even more of when I get back to the U.S. I want to spread kindness and light in every room I step into like the people of Copey gave me by walking into my room.
With two weeks left, I want to be an even better teacher for my kids and explore more of Costa Rica. I am so blessed to have this opportunity. Again, to everyone who has made this trip possible for me thank you. I will always remember my time in the small, but loving community of Copey, Costa Rica.