Friday, March 4, 2011

1 down, 1+ to go

Then: March 2010
It is difficult to believe that we have been living in Costa Rica for one year.  There are the perpetual challenges of time flying, of time standing still and the never changing season (hotness) which at times make us feel like we're experiencing our own version of Groundhog Day.  It's not necessarily that we're living the same day over and over again (though I'm sure I have the same conversation about chickens nearly every day, sometimes with our host dad, sometimes with our host mom), but it is really difficult to measure the passing of time when there is an absence of seasons.  And so, in some ways it came as a (slight) surprise to us this week when we could proudly tell our friends and family, both state side and in Costa Rica, that we have been living here for one year.

The year has been an eventful one - a roller coaster - full of ups and downs.  We have had our moments where we have wanted to throw our hands high to the sky and let out a scream that would leave us gasping for air at the end.  We have had our moments where we have held on tight, not quite sure what would be waiting for us at the top of the next hill or around the next bend, and plastered smiles to our faces because we were pretty sure that there would only be good stuff waiting for us.  We have looked for the hidden camera that is poised to take your photo at the scariest point of the ride and we have looked out at the bystanders who were waiting patiently in line, ready to be the next passengers on board.  We have been sitting on that roller coaster for a year and have almost reached the half way point (it's a really long roller coaster!).  We're sitting here at the bottom of a big hill and we're looking at a corkscrew that requires the momentum to stay at full speed and doesn't appear to have an end in site.  This is what Peace Corps looks like as you approach the mid-point of your service.

The corkscrew in front of us is marked at each turn with projects that are in the works; some that started this week, some that will start next week, and many more that will begin as counterparts are ready.  This week we started working with the new English teacher in our high school.  We have been helping with the pronunciation of words, describing cultural norms of the US, helping to keep advanced classes more conversational and answering questions that the teacher has about grammar, pronunciation and translation.

Next week we will begin our venture into Peace Corps programs called Chicos Poderosos and Chicas Poderosas (Powerful Boys and Powerful Girls).  We have obtained the support of the school guidance counselor, school director and sixth grade teacher and as a result will be able to provide this program as a part of the school day.  Every Thursday for the next 13 weeks we will be leading 80-minute sessions with 51 feisty 11 to 14 year olds on topics ranging from communication and teamwork to dating, decision making and goal setting.  We will have half of the students in the mornings and the other half in the afternoons.  If all goes well we will do the same thing with fifth graders starting in July.

We have plans to work with the guidance counselor and special education director to offer academic support for students who have had to repeat a grade.  There is hope that we will be able to help the guidance counselor start a school newspaper as well.  We have met with the new guidance counselor for the high school and hope to be able to work with each grade level at least once a month during her class periods.

We have permission to use the town water office after school (it is used as a classroom during the days) for programs and so hope to start offering an after school hour for youth and potentially English classes for the community at night.

As you can see, that corkscrew grows and grows.  Of course, we know, before long that next hill will be looming in front of us and we'll be ready to scream again.  The difference is that now we know what to expect on the other side, and it makes us smile.
Now: February 2011

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