Saturday, June 11, 2011

Final Reflection

            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.

June 3rd

It is the last day of classes at CPI!  It feels like these 3 week flew by so fast.  My experience with my host family has been something I will remember for the rest of my life.  I grew to become part of the family.  Also, I have become very close to my teachers in Monteverde.  I found that I had great motivation to learn Spanish in my classes everyday because I wanted to communicate with my family.

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 2nd

It's hard to believe that the trip is almost over, but we are starting to wind down.  We finally got to go on the zipline, and it was one of the best experiences that I've ever had.  Now I can say that I went zip lining in Costa Rica.  It is progressively getting easier to talk with my host family, and I am enjoying my time here more every day.  Spanish is really improving my communication skills, and I am learning so much about Costa Rican culture.  The biggest thing that I have realized living with my host family is that although there are some obvious differences, the way they act as a family is very similar to the United States.  I have really enjoyed staying with a host family, and it has definitely been better than staying in a hotel.  I just need to keep on practicing my Spanish when I get home so I don't forget it all!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May 31st

Today we went to the Cloud Forest School in Monteverde.  I was very surprised to hear that all of the teachers speak English to the kids.  It is an English immersion school with 180 students from Kindergarten to the 11th grade.  Most of the students are local kids, and there are also some international students and exchange students.  It is very interesting to see all of these students learning to speak English and Spanish fluently.  We walked some of the campus observing classes and talking about the goals of the school.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It has been another good day observing the local elementary school.  The week flew by, and Spanish classes have been going very well.  It has been very interesting to observe the elementary school classes, and to teach some lessons to the kids in English.  I've been noticing how much the school system here differs from the system in the United States.

It has been harder to talk with my host family, and at times it is a little uncomfortable not being able to understand everything that they say.  The more I learn in Spanish every day in class, the easier it is to converse with my family.  I am very engaged in my Spanish class because of the activities that we do.  It is hard to pay attention in class when we are just going over verbs or memorizing nouns.  But when we play interactive games like Pictionary and Scrabble, I find that I learn more Spanish vocabulary.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The first week flew by.  It was very fun living with my host family, taking Spanish lessons, teaching kids English, and walking around the city.  After a calm and relaxing weekend at Manuel Antonio beach, we are back to taking Spanish lessons again at CPI in Monteverde.  My new host family is very nice, and I think that I will enjoy Monteverde even more than Heredia.  My Spanish is slowly getting better day by day, so it becoming easier to communicate with my host family.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yesterday was a long day of learning.  Emmanuel Cheverrie Alforo came and talked about the school system in Costa Rica and how it differs from our system in the United States.  The main problems with education here are: families cannot afford to pay for books, children's parents do not encourage them to learn English because when their parents were younger they didn't take English, and it is better to get a job right after high school in order to make more money instead of going to a university.

My host family was very welcoming.  My mama tica showed me around the house, showed me my room, then served me some very tasty chicken and rice.  We talked for a couple hours and I visited with Ashlee and Bardin, since they live in the 2 house right next to me.  We talked, ate dinner, and I tried to understand everything that they were saying.  I found that I understood more Spanish than I thought I would.  Last night, after 4 hours of Spanish classes, I spoke to my host mother with ease.  The one day of classes helped me a lot with my Spanish so it looks like I'll be speaking Spanish even better by the end of this week!