Berkeley Carroll Students Help School in Costa Rica

By: Kimberly Carmody
Middle School Visual Arts

BC students just completed their third year of volunteer work for a local school in the Chilamate Rainforest Eco Retreat in Costa Rica and change in the infrastructure is super visible & inspiring! This year, the 7th and 8th graders raised $8,000 to support these projects in partnership with other World Leadership School groups and local fundraising efforts:

1.) Auditorium
Last year students painted the tall metal beams used to hold the roof up with rustproof paint and moved rocks and small boulders to clear space for the floor of the auditorium, which is now poured concrete. This year the roof is up and the structure is complete. The huge space provides a location for performances, large group meetings, basketball and other games, and it’s a refuge from the rain!


2.) Bathrooms & Lockers
This year students helped cement walls of these structures, which are in the beginning stages of being built. There are about 240 students who attend the Chilamate school and currently there are only four toilets for everyone. So, these bathrooms are much needed.

3.) Wall to divert the rain
This year students also helped cement between the cinder block bricks of this wall, which is needed to keep the auditorium from flooding, especially during the rainy season.

4.) Wifi & Smartboards
Each classroom now has access to the Internet and is outfitted with Smartboards.

5.) Electrical System
Last year we learned that the electrical system needed to be updated because it was decaying and the cost of using it was exorbitant. This has now been accomplished. There is a new electrical system throughout the school, including in the new auditorium, and the monthly cost to the school has been greatly reduced.

In speaking with Davis, who coordinated our work projects at the school, students learned that there are few resources for art, music, and sports. Floria A.’20 asked Davis which activity they would prioritize in schools throughout Costa Rica if they had the money. Davis explained that before they were able to consider offering classes in art and music, and sports, they would need to make sure that there were enough chairs and that there was a cafeteria. The next priority would be teaching students English because it would help them find more career opportunities.

This was a moving moment in the conversation for many students and for me. At that moment I felt keenly aware of our privilege here at Berkeley Carroll, as well as heartfelt joy, and a deepening commitment to the ongoing and rewarding work of strengthening global, ethical and critical thinking in our students and in myself.

I and the other faculty members who oversaw this program, Elizabeth Luscombe, Geoff Agnor, Lili Zimmett, couldn’t be prouder of our students.

For more photos from the trip, click here.