Last winter I decided to sign up for a term abroad in a country called Costa Rica as part of Proctor's off-campus programs. I had no expectations at all for what I was going to experience. Most people probably think of Costa Rica expectation as a destination for tourists on spring break or summer vacation, but from what I have learned it is more than that!
As I walked into my home stay for the first time I instantly felt welcome. The feelings were all happy as I could not wait to learn their story and begin to understand how my new family lived and all about their culture. I have learned a lot from them already and it has only been four weeks. The lessons I have learned are not all about culture, but about life in general.
I learned about strength from my host mom, Edith, who is a single mother working to keep her two sons in school. This was refreshing as I sometimes look at education as a burden, rather than an opportunity I too often take for granted.
I also took away the lesson of Edith caring for Isaac, her youngest son, who is actually her sister’s son she took in. This made me look up to Edith as she already had a full plate with J.P and realized that Isaac needed help. Isaac helped me remember the days of being innocent and watching Pokemon all day. Jose Pablo or J.P has taught me strength as he does not have a father and has to be like a father figure to Isaac. Watching him act beyond his age has inspired me to take on more responsibility and to appreciate the fact you never know someone’s whole story until you are willing to get to know them on a personal level.
I also have seen how important an ecosystem can be to one group of people and how people can change the way people look at the environment by teaching them at a young age. My experience at Cloud Forest School has shown me just how impactful early education on the environment can be in terms of changing lifelong habits and behaviors.
I hope the next months will be as amazing as the last four weeks!
- Drew ‘17