I never thought in my entire life that I would ever be going on a month long trip to Costa Rica with 10 other girls from a different school, but I did. I did not know what to expect. I usually try to predict how things are going to be before I do them, and I am usually wrong. Going to Costa Rica proved this to still be true. When I got to the airport, and saw all of the girls that were going on the trip, I really had to think twice about whether month long trip would be fun or not. Getting to know everyone in the group turned out to be a wonderful experience.
The first week we were in Costa Rica was pretty easy to get through. I was learning so much about education, my Spanish classes were very interesting, and my host family really made me feel like I was at home. I had never learned so much about education in my life. When Emmanuel Cheverrie Alforo came and talked about the school system in Costa Rica, I was very surprised on how much different it was than the system in the United States. I also learned that one of the biggest problems for education in Costa Rica is that the parents of students in general do not make an effort to support their kids in school. If the parents do not care much about school, the kids will not see any reason to try to learn in school. This is especially true in learning English. The parents probably did not have to learn English when they were in school, and they have jobs now. This means that the parents might think that it is a waste of time for their kids to learn English. There is such a need for learning English in Costa Rica because there are so many more jobs that are available to you if you are bilingual.
The second week was tough because people started getting tired of the same routine every day. It was hard getting up early every day, having Spanish every day, and seeing the same people every day. During this week we spent a lot of time visiting schools and teaching lessons. For me I was a little nervous about teaching English to kids who speak Spanish. First of all, I am not a teacher or and education major, and second, I am not that great at speaking Spanish. With all of that in my head I tried my best to teach the lessons on how to write a letter, and the lesson on the different types of leaves. After teaching a couple times, I really surprised myself. The kids were actually engaged in what I was teaching them, and they were really having fun. Another big part that surprised me was that the kids understood what I was saying in Spanish, and at the same time I could understand them. Going through that really made me think about how much I was learning while I was in Costa Rica.
The third and last week was probably the easiest and most fun. Everyone really came together and we grew closer as a group. As the days came to an end and we got closer to the end of the trip, everyone really appreciated our time together in Costa Rica. The Cloud Forest School was very interesting. I was so surprised that all of the kids in the school are being taught in English, so that they are all bilingual. It was a great experience to see how a school like that was so successful.
In the end, I had mixed feelings. I was ready to get home, but at the same time I wanted to stay in Costa Rica longer. I learned so much about education and Costa Rican culture. I have found that I have learned to respect people more. Seeing certain people’s backgrounds and living where they live really helps you empathize. Living with a host family was a great experience, and it was surprisingly better than staying in a hotel. I love the relationship that I had with my two host families. This trip has changed my attitude so much towards school and towards non-English speaking people. I had the most wonderful experience of my life, and I am very thankful to have been able to have the opportunity to go on this journey.