Written by Alexandra Carelli
In early March, a group of 12 UNC Chapel Hill Students split ways with their Cancun bound classmates and spent their spring break volunteering their knowledge, skills, and time to Abriendo Mentes.This dedicated group of students selflessly spent 4 days engaged in various development activities such as: teaching art classes; decorating the Mardi Gras float and participating in the Mardi Gras parade with 10 of the kids; and helping out with Renate’s workshop, about marine conservation, the ocean, a dance of the tides “spiral dance”, and an activity to simulate the senses of sea turtles. Needless to say, their trip was jam-packed with fun, educational opportunities.
All the volunteers were given a full cultural immersion experience by staying in home stays with families of AM students. This immersion allowed the volunteers the opportunity to practice their Spanish skills, try out local foods, and gain a deeper understanding of daily Costa Rica life.We also organized team-building events for the UNC group and other AM Volunteers.The first night the group arrived, we had a group dinner “Welcome Party” at Sol y Mar restaurant for everyone to meet. The last night, we had a big beach bonfire on Penca as a goodbye gesture, and spent the evening gazing at the stars recounting the week’s obstacles, triumphs, and learning experiences.
The group was led by Ashley Fiala, head of the UNC Chapel Hill Business Fraternity, who contacted me last year interested in starting a partnership between the fraternity and Abriendo Mentes. In addition to volunteer trips, the Fraternity plans to do a Golf Tournament supporting AM this Spring.The hope is to create a sustainable relationship between the Fraternity and AM that will encourage future projects.
I must say, this trip went so well that we cannot wait to welcome the next UNC volunteers! Thank you all so much for your hard work, time, and dedication to making Playa Potrero a more well-rounded community.