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Costa Rica: La Pura Vida (Session 1) 2016

June 26, 2016

Our first day started at Hotel Heliconias. We had breakfast and then went to the pool to talk, swim and get to know each other. It was a great start. We played some soccer after lunch and then loaded the bus. On the bus we looked out the window and saw lots of farm land and livestock. Along the way we stopped for snacks. Then we finally arrived at the community.

We were greeted with open arms, they showed is a video about the area and played the national anthem of the region. We also had dinner with the families. We also played games with the kids of the community, like monkey in the middle. Then we headed home with our families.

It felt like home already. To our house it was a long walk. We talked to our host families about necessary things and they showed us around the house. It was definitely eye opening to see how other people live in this new country.

We are looking forward to interesting experiences and traditional food. It will definitely be a defining moment in our lives and we are excited to see what will come!

Pura vida!

Gage B., Dan G., and Will R.

June 27, 2016

Today was the first (full) day at the community. In the morning we went to the community center where there was a cement soccer field. Before we started work we had a little soccer game with some local children. We are working to help them build the community center. The work was hard but everyone put in a great effort. The weather was so hot and humid that we needed to drink plenty of water.

Our host moms picked us up and walked us home for lunch. My host mom made us pasta which was good. Then at 1, we went back to work. The weather in the afternoon was cooler which was refreshing. It even rained, which was fun. It always rains in the afternoon in Costa Rica.

At 4 pm our host family mom came to pick us up from the community center. We took a short break at the house to get ready for dinner. Tonight’s dinner was more in depth and interesting than last night’s because we started to get close to each other and the people in this community. We took a lot of pictures, played games and did face painting. Even though we have just been here for in day, we felt like we’ve known the people for a long since all of them are so nice and kind to us. Today was a meaningful day, we had fun, did a lot of work and improved our Spanish!

Sammi Z. and Yuqi Z.

June 28, 2016
This morning we started the day off with a delicious breakfast. We headed to work and continued our project of clearing the drainage around the soccer field and digging holes for the columns that will some day hold up a roof over the community center. In the afternoon after work we played a pick up soccer game or mejenga against the local kids. They are all so good at futbol and come and play everyday after school or work. It was us against them and we won! They were pretty disappointed but it was a good game.

For dinner we met up with the group and homestay families as we always do. We learned to make tortillas and enjoyed the sounds of a local musical group who played ranchero music. It is great developing a relationship with everyone in the community and speaking with our host families every night has definitely improved our Spanish.

Erin W. and Naderay A.

June 29, 2016
Today started off as all the others have, we are really getting into a rhythm here. We had rice and beans and eggs for breakfast while our host mom showed us pictures of her family, it was very sweet. It was a rainy day which made work more challenging but we all tried to keep our spirits elevated.

We took the afternoon off and hiked into the countryside to a pool. Luckily the weather cleared up. It was so nice to relax and rejuvenate after working so hard. It was also cool to see more of the surrounding area. In the evening we didn’t have a group activity so we were able to spend some quality time with our host families.

We can’t believe the week is almost over, we will definitely miss all the generosity of this Costa Rican village. We have worked really hard but it feels really good to be helping others and working with them to create something that will be great for the community.

Elizabeth M. And Cameron S.


June 30th, 2016

Today started like every other day: rice and beans for breakfast and then off to work. We started with a circle of compliments which was really nice. It’s amazing how well we all have gotten to know each other in the group and how positive everyone is. Then we got down to our final work day, digging holes and cleaning out the drainage at the community center.

In the afternoon we finished digging the drainage and all but one of the holes for the columns! What an accomplishment, that last scoop of dirt felt so good!

Then of course we played our final game of soccer. Gringos vs. Ticos, and we had a title to defend. We tied which was a nice way to end it. Then we headed home to get ready for the despedida. My host mom cut my hair first which was super sweet! I love how welcoming and sweet all these families are.

Everyone looked great for the despedida, we ate chips and a salsa made with green bananas, and arroz con pollo. Then we danced the night away to the sounds of DJ Alejandro and of course took many photos. We learned some Latin dance styles and bonded with the youth of the community. Then there was a piñata which the children loved. When it came time to say goodbye everyone got really sad, some of the children cried and there were too many hugs to count. We all have so much appreciation for everything that the community and our families have done for us. We built relationships and learned so much, the goodbyes were difficult for all of us. ¡Adios El Refugio!

-Sylvia B.