Costa Rica News – One of the questions we receive almost on a daily basis is “How can I become involved in community service or help those less fortunate in Costa Rica?” There are many projects around the country in which students and adults alike can become involved. This story is about one of them.
Rarely in this day and age do students realize what life is like in other areas of the world. We live in a post-industrial society with all of the modern conveniences and benefits of being the world’s last great superpower. Our students have rarely experienced anything outside their sphere of influence. This was certainly the case for many of the 43 Spanish students from Roncalli High School venturing to Costa Rica, in Central America, for the 2013 Spanish trip from March 26 to April 2. Some students had never ventured outside of Wisconsin, and fewer had stepped foot outside of U.S. soil.
This was going to be an adventure for everyone involved. The temperature in Costa Rica had been monitored daily for weeks before the trip and everyone was looking forward to the 80- and 90-degree days. The thought of getting out of the dregs of spring in Wisconsin warmed everyone’s hearts, but, amazingly, the topic of conversation always seemed to venture toward one significant aspect of the trip – the service and outreach aspect. The leaders of the trip, Spanish teachers Beth Seizert and Shannon Pritzl, required it to incorporate a service and outreach aspect.
The trip is not just about students using the knowledge they have gained in the classroom and putting it into practice in the real world. It is about making a difference in people’s lives that truly need it. This year’s service involved an orphanage in San José, Costa Rica. These are individuals who truly have the world against them in a Third World country. Besides the orphans, the orphanage takes in mothers with small children who have experienced abuses that would bring the average person to tears. Things such as rape, physical abuse, prostitution, etc., were in many of these young mothers’ backgrounds.
When the day finally came for the mothers and their children to meet our students at El Rancho Lodge, the outpouring of support was astonishing. Our students personally donated from their own pocketbooks more than $500 to buy everything from diapers to clothes to coloring books, face paint, etc., and created a shopping extravaganza for the less fortunate. Anything that these mothers needed for their children was put in a shopping bag and taken back to the orphanage. Not one item was left over, and our students wanted to do more.
While the mothers were shopping, our students took the small children into the swimming pool, blew bubbles, read them Spanish children books, painted faces, painted fingernails and put smiles on the faces of individuals who rarely have things for which to smile. It was certainly a long day, but on our return trip home I asked the students what their most memorable experience was, and over and over again they said it was the orphanage.
The trip started out on a sad note when, by coincidence, Señora Seizert and Señora Pritzl were seated next to a man who clearly was not on a pleasure trip to Costa Rica. They were seated next to the assistant principal of a high school that had just had one of their Spanish teachers and chaperone for the trip pass away in front of her students from an aneurysm while rafting. Costa Rica would not allow the body to be released to his care unless a funeral was performed, and he and his school were having difficulty raising funds. Seeing a community that truly needed help, the señoras donated funds to help cover the cost of the required funeral.
What our students experienced in Costa Rica shed light onto many of the difficult aspects of the world in which we live. Sometimes we wish to close our eyes and pray that they go away, but the reality is, doing something about it is much more effective. I know that because of these experiences, many of our students will be lifelong servants to the communities in which they live. That is what this trip was about – making a difference.
Written by Anthony Mack, htrnews.com