AM reaches out to Costa Rican tradition!

Written by Alexandra Carelli / Photography by Jonathan Katzenberg

Here at Abriendo Mentes, we spend a lot of time preparing the youth of Playa Potrero for the future. We teach them the language, skills, and concepts that will allow them to propel themselves into the developed world, and leave their lives of poverty and discomfort behind. However, quite often when communities are rapidly industrialized, trademark ties to the traditional culture are completely lost. Songs, recipes, clothing, and dances that have been a hallmark of the community for generations are dissolved into a new culture of ipods, skinny jeans, and cell phones. The youth become distracted by their new access to the greater globe, and no longer have an interest in learning the secrets and trades of their elders.

This problem is something that we, as an organization, have a deep appreciation and awareness of. We see the differences in the lives of the grandparents and grandchildren, and while we recognize that many of these changes are positive, some are certainly a sad movement aware from the beautiful, traditional culture. As we move forward in assisting in the development of this rural community, we want to insure that the traditional Costa Rican culture moves forward with us.

One of the traditions that has already begun to be lost on the youngest generation, is that of the traditional Guanacaste dance. This dance is one of the oldest surviving relics of ancient life in Central America, and one of the few things that has not changed as the country has become one of the most desirable tourist hot spots. Recently, a few community members came to us and suggested we begin teaching lessons in traditional Guanacaste dance. So, last Tuesday, thats exactly what we did.

We recruited Maritza, a young woman born and raised in Playa Potrero, to teach the dance classes to the AM students. When the day came to hold the class, the room was completely packed with kids ranging in age from 3-15. Maritza lined up the students from smallest to largest, and began teaching the steps that would prove to be one of the most difficult, and sweatiest, lessons I have encountered in quite some time. But alas, the kids loved learning it and we even caught some of them practicing once the class was over!

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