Student Reflections on Costa Rica Service Project

By: 7th and 8th Grade Students

Eighteen 7th and 8th grade students spent a week volunteering in Costa Rica. During the trip, they wrote reflections on their experiences in the trip’s blog. Here are a collection of quotes from their reflections:

We learned how there is a tree that had three hundred different species of symbiotic plants growing on it (crazy but incredibly cool)! After our minds were full of new knowledge and information, we set back to clean our rooms and prepare for our next adventure.” – Floria A. ’20

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As well as being the first full day at our homestays, we also visited an organic farm run by Daniel Vega. On the farm we got to feed a calf, make compost (very, very smelly), do some exploring, and eat a delicious lunch prepared by Don Daniel’s family. On our way, we learned about Costa Rica’s reliance on agriculture and how pesticides and other agricultural chemicals can damage the production of the foods that Costa Rica relies on.” – Sage O. ’21

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We made two big teams and then played a huge and crowded game of soccer with lots of cheering. After playing, we went to work painting the playground of the Chilamate School and fortifying a concrete wall. We were especially focused on painting a barrier to keep snakes out and some tables. We were very happy at the end because the playground is now very colorful.” – Ana M. ’21

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And another day began. With it, came zip lining. That in itself was terrifying to me, as I have a chronic fear of falling. I was second in line to go and I considered moving myself behind a few of my peers as to stall my ‘awaiting doom.’ However, I knew that if I kept putting it off, I would psych myself out. So, I allowed my harness to be strapped to the wire cables and prepared myself. It was terrifying. Terrifying and thrilling.” – Sylvie E. ’20

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I was greatly surprised with the immediate hospitality from my homestay family. I was even more surprised by the incredible cooking; I would pay dollars upon dollars for the food, honestly. I would never have expected to become so close with a family from another country with such ease. I am truly so happy to have gotten the opportunity go to a beautiful country and be hosted by a kind and caring family.” – Ashley A. ’21

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We raised almost $8,000- $5,000 of which went to the Chilamate School and the rest went to La Linda Vista School. We also learned that 60% of the money we raised went towards the materials and 40% of the money we raised went towards the work force. Although some of the money we raised went to workers, some people in the community volunteered to help out. Without all the help from everyone that donated money and time, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything for the community. So, thank you to everyone who helped. Our work was extremely helpful for the people of Chilamate.” – Kira C. ’20

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We are now on the airplane coming back from a week in Chilamate, Costa Rica. I think I speak for everyone when I say that this past week has been one of the most influential and enjoyable weeks of my life. While we were there, we laughed, talked (in two languages), worked, sang, and even cried. But most of all, we learned. We learned about Costa Rica. We learned Spanish. We learned about the world. We learned about what needs to change. We learned about culture. The culture is so different in rural Costa Rica. People wake up at 5:00am and go to bed at 9:00pm. Beans and rice are eaten at every meal. Cows are milked on a daily basis. Doors and windows are left open and unlocked. The culture of the small rural town of Chilamate in Costa Rica is so different, and we learned that not everything is the same as bustling, busy, and urban Brooklyn, NY. We also learned about what communities over the world are lacking. Day to day, everyone had all that they needed. But there aren’t the resources for bigger, more expensive projects. For example, computers and teachers and school space were an issue. Also, the community bridge was in a bad state, but there was no money for repairs. These issues are the ones that organizations like the WLS are trying to solve.

We also learned about each other and ourselves. We learned that we have put limits on ourselves, saying “I can’t do this” or “I am bad at that.” And we learned that when we step out of our comfort zones, when we break our limits, we grow and bond and live. Some people conquered their fear of heights on the zip line, while others confronted a fear or bugs every day. People also learned how they work in a group. Some realized that they are problem solvers, helping their friends through homesickness and drama on the trip. Others learned that they are real leaders, and can unify and organize the group. Others still realized that they are active followers, who, as we learned during the trip, are just as important as the leaders themselves.

On the airplane coming home, I look back on my time in Costa Rica with extreme happiness. I did really fun things, and am so glad that I had this opportunity. But, more importantly, I will take so much away from this experience. The friendship and understanding that I have is too valuable to quantify. So, thank you. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. And thank you to everyone who shared this experience with me.” – Henry S,’ 20

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Read the rest of the student reflections here.

For photos from the trip click here.