Although my suitcase was full of supplies, it was so little in comparison to what I got back.
While searching for things to do in Costa Rica, I decided that I would like to visit a school. I didn’t know if that was possible, but I thought I could give it a try. Because I’m a teacher, I knew it would be a great experience to share with my students when the new school year began. While searching, I came across Pack for a Purpose’s website, and immediately contacted them. It turned out that the founder, Rebecca Rothney, is almost a neighbor! She called me back immediately and she “e-troduced” me to the owner of the Pura Vida Hotel, Bernie.
A few nights before my departure, I packed my extra suitcase full of the supplies I had collected. I knew that people usually just dropped supplies off at designated hotels, but in the back of my mind, I was really hoping to spend some time at the school. From the emails back and forth with Bernie, it seemed like this might be possible.
The day I arrived in Costa Rica, my travel buddy unfortunately did not. She missed her layover in Texas, which meant she wouldn’t make it to Costa Rica until the following day, changing our plans slightly. Due to her late arrival, I had to find something to do until her flight landed. This was my opportunity to spend more time at the school, but I wasn’t sure if it was permissible.
When I arrived at the Pura Vida Hotel the next day, I was greeted by Bernie. He loaded up the car with all the supplies and we headed off to the school. This was my chance to tell him about my “problem.” When I explained my situation to him, he laughingly said, “This is Costa Rica. There are no problems in Costa Rica.” I started to feel better.
When we arrived at the school I met the director Juan and, again, I explained my “situation.” I asked him if I could stay for the day and told him I was willing to help out in any way they needed me to. Before I could finish explaining, I was sitting with the English teacher and one of her students, Kendall, working on a script for an upcoming English Festival.
Yendry was a wonderful young lady that was very passionate about her role as the school’s English teacher, and I could tell that we had a lot in common. I immediately knew this would be the highlight of my 12-day trip to Costa Rica. Working with Kendall made me feel like I was right at home. We practiced his new scripts, his pronunciation, and he even got to the point of memorization and was able to present with confidence. My heart grew bigger and bigger. Like Yendry, teaching is my passion! I was on cloud nine to be assisting her.
When I finished working with Kendall, Yendry humbly asked if I could help her with the upcoming Spelling Bumblebee List. She wanted to read all the words to me to make sure that she was pronouncing them correctly. This was also very fun. She and I laughed as I helped her practice certain words. As most of us know, English is a tough language to learn.
Next, we went to the cafeteria where they were having a Baby Shower luncheon. It was exactly how my coworkers would set up a Baby Shower for an expecting teacher. There was just one distinct difference: School was delayed that day from 12:30 until 1 p.m. so the teachers could enjoy spending time with each other without interruption. It was a genius idea, but we could never get away with that in any of the schools I’ve ever worked in. Shocked and impressed, I made myself a plate of Costa Rican-style lasagna and sat amongst all the other teachers where I felt welcomed. I couldn’t communicate with them much, but smiles are universal.
My day at the school ended with classroom visits and discussions about education in Costa Rica. I quickly realized that kids are kids and teachers are teachers. We share the same goals and intentions, as well as face some of the same obstacles. I could not have asked for a better group of people to spend the day with. I am so thankful to Pack for a Purpose for affording me the opportunity!