By: Amara Stuehling
(Written on July 25, 2012)
In exactly two weeks, I will be on a plane back to Philadelphia. I’m amazed at how fast my time volunteering in Costa Rica has gone. I’m not quite sure how I feel about going back home but I do know that 3 months is an entirely too short of a time to really get to know understand a community abroad. I feel like I just got here even though I’ve been here for two and a half months. Yes, most of the faces I pass as I walk to the AM office are familiar now and many of the kids wave or stop to say hi when they are outside playing. Just today one of the girls in preschool eagerly told her big brother “Ella es mi maestra!” (she’s my teacher!) as she pointed to me walking by. However, I still have a lot to learn about the Costa Rican culture and I’m really just getting accustomed to the slow way of life here. There’s still much to learn:
I want to learn about the education system here and how people make a living in Portero.
I want to know more about the Nicaraguans’ lives before they came to Portrero.
I want to learn how to cook Costa Rican food.
I want to spend more time teaching English to the kids.
I want to teach more English lessons to my adult students.
I want to keep teaching my host mom how to use a computer.
I want to see more monkeys in the trees and I want more days hanging out with other volunteers at the beach.
Last week, after traveling for nearly two weeks, I was really ready to go back to the U.S. I was tired of living in hostels and wandering new cities every day. I was ready to eat my own food again, have hot showers all the time, and be completely understood every time I opened my mouth. Now that I’ve been back in Portero for a few days, that’s completely changed. I’m not ready to leave at all- partly because of all of the things I listed above, but also because there are so many things I’d like to help AM with too. I’m finishing up my projects here and am excited about bringing my experiences with Omprakash and AM back to my own community, but I’ll definitely be sad to goodbye to this sleepy little town on the coast in Costa Rica.
Some things I’ll miss:
- Smiling children singing “The Wheels on the Bus” and “The Hokey Pokey” in class
- Adult English students working so hard to learn a very confusing language (why is glass part of a
- window and what you drink from, why do read and red sound the same, etc.?)
- Beach sunsets
- Warm weather
- Monday staff meetings where we talk about all of the events of the week
- Fun Fridays with the kids
- Speaking Spanish
- Passing soccer games on the plaza
- Having everything I need within walking distance
Some things I’m pretty excited about having again in the US:
- Hot showers!
- A lack of everything being covered in dust
- My car / being able to get around
- My job and getting to share my summer with my students
- Friends back home
- My own food
- Paved roads
Although I think it’s possible to have a very rewarding experience in just a month or two for some people, I really would have liked to stay longer. However, in my time here I’ve learned a lot about rural education, beliefs and values of families here, and issues they face. I want to continue thinking about how volunteering abroad can be made as beneficial to both the volunteer and community members as possible and how to continue spreading the word about the wonderful opportunities Omprakash has to offer.