By Rachael Sine
I recently returned to Costa Rica for a week towards the end of the year. I had spent January-July of 2012 in Potrero with Abriendo Mentes, and was thrilled to be able to return for a short week before I started a new job in the “real world.”
I was amazed at how normal it felt to be back in Potrero. The constant heat and sweat, the pot holes in the dirt road leading into Potrero, the smiling faces of the kids when they come running into the Kids Club for English class; it all felt so comfortable. Almost like I had never left. But I was aware that I had been gone for almost six months, and in those six months AM had grown significantly.
Everything I had missed about Potrero was there when I returned…but with so much growth! The kids’ English levels were significantly improved. The Mujeres Activas de Potrero met multiple times per week, sewing bags at rapid rates and selling them almost as quickly. AM had recently acquired a second office space because just one office was no longer adequate space for all of AM’s growing programs. There were a record amount Adult English classes being taught along with a record amount of volunteers. It was amazing to see how much AM had grown over the last six months. It truly reflects how Abriendo Mentes effectively responds to the needs of the community.
One of the challenging things I faced when I left Costa Rica for the U.S. in July was the feeling that I wasn’t ready to leave. Potrero felt like home. I love the community, the culture and how the mission of Abriendo Mentes is empowering this small, rural community to overcome difficult obstacles. Everything about my experience in Costa Rica aligned with how I wanted my life to look, yet I was leaving.
Being back in the United States has taught me the importance of being present where you are. Although I often dream about being back in Costa Rica, singing the Days of the Week song three times a day and eating gallo pinto next to the beautiful Pacific, I am realizing the value of investing in the community where I am. Estoy aqui…I am here. Potrero will always be there waiting to welcome me back with open arms. I can’t wait to visit again and see how much more Abriendo Mentes has grown.