by Lindsay Losasso
Has it really been a year already???
One year ago today, I made my first trek down the dusty, bumpy roads to Potrero. After a whirlwind month of stateside preparations, my husband and I had condensed our entire lives to a few suitcases and entered our new hometown for the first time, sight unseen, full of excitement, nerves, and wonder. What did Potrero look like? Would we be able to become a part of this community? What was running AM going to be like?
I can still remember rattling down the roads in our newly purchased 4Runner, reading Drew’s detailed directions, referencing taking the dirt road at Banco Nacional, a turn at “the castle” (wondering at the time what was a castle doing in Potrero, coming to find out later there are actually two castles here!) and passing “Super Wendy”, places that were all so foreign at the time. I clearly remember pulling up to the Salon Comunal when we first arrived. I was warmly greeted by Meradith, who then introduced me to a group of girls practicing their baile for the big Three Year Anniversary party. I would quickly come to learn how important and ubiquitous dancing is to all things Potrero. I remember my first few nights here, reflecting each night as I went to sleep about how my life had completely changed in a span of a just a few days. Everything was so new and exciting, and I definitely had a lot to learn.
My first year with AM has been nothing short of amazing. I had dreamed of doing non-profit management in Latin America and working with AM has been such an incredible opportunity for me. Thanks to the hard work, dedication, and vision of Drew and Meradith, the organization was poised for its next chapter of growth and development when I arrived, and I have witnessed incredible advances over the past year.
Both our youth and adult ESL programs, which were very strong to begin with, have continued to flourish over the past year thanks to the enthusiasm, creativity and commitment of our volunteers and staff. I was so impressed by AM’s tech equipment when I arrived, and was very eager to see our Technology program grow. Thanks to the efforts of several volunteers and interns, the lab has completely taken off and has become a hub for learning and discovery, now offering classes to kids and adults five days a week. Starting from a great foundation of engaged, active participants, the women’s group has achieved so many accomplishments in the past year… the launch of a sewing micro-enterprise, the opening of their own storefront, a new vocational training series, and expansion of a free community exercise program.
The best part of this year by far has been getting to know so many incredible people. The residents of Potrero and Brasilito have such big hearts and tremendous work ethics, and they inspire me to work harder every day. I am constantly amazed by the generosity and spirit of collaboration of our local businesses. I could not ask for better partners who do so much for AM and the entire community all throughout the year. Our participants are fantastic – the kids are smart, inquisitive, funny, and adorable; the adults are motivated, determined, and enthusiastic. And of course it goes without saying that our volunteers, interns and staff really are what make AM tick. I feel very lucky to have gotten to meet so many bright, hardworking, caring individuals who all are making financial and personal sacrifices to be a part of our team here in Costa Rica.
Needless to say, the past year has been pretty fantastic. I am thankful every day for the special opportunity to live and work in this community. I am also very excited to announce that I will be staying in Potrero for another year, continuing to promote our mission and vision, and looking for new ways to support and empower our local communities. Looking forward to the great things that lie ahead in year two!