Bringing the family to Potrero

Ted Haile has been Abriendo Mentes’ Technology Coordinator since September 2013. He moved to Potrero from Los Angeles with his wife Kristina, and three sons, Jonathan (11), Noah (8) and Orion (5). He is a software engineer by trade, and his current job allows him to work remotely. During their time in Potrero, Ted teaches daily technology classes in the Abriendo Mentes’ technology lab as well as working online, while Kristina home schools the boys, using local culture and influences to add unique and innovative material to her self-written curriculum.

Ted Haile

Ted Haile

Ted’s role as Abriendo Mentes Technology Coordinator involves leading the daily program of adult and youth technology classes. I began by asking him how he approaches these classes.

“Initially, I observed a lot to see how the students are using the internet and what level they are at. I am now trying to improve their ability to use the web to help them become more connected in the world and better equipped to embrace opportunities that technology can present. My classes have three goals:

  1. To give students the ability to search the internet independently and effectively.
  2. To improve their translation skills.
  3. To improve their typing and understanding of technology.”

As the conversation continues, I was very interested to learn more about Ted’s perceptions of the children he is teaching:

“They’re pretty awesome! They are very interested in learning about the web and how it can help them learn new things. I’ve never taught before so it has been very interesting for me and great to see their eyes widen when I teach them something new. I’ve also worked hard to keep them engaged and to keep the content of the classes relevant.”

Ted teaching his technology class

Ted teaching his class in the Abriendo Mentes technology lab

I went on to ask Ted what he hopes for the future of Abriendo Mentes’ technology program,

“I hope that we will be able to incorporate a vocational approach to empower people to become entrepreneurs.  Potrero faces numerous issues due to its rural isolation but I hope that the internet and our classes will give our students the opportunity to make money online. This is a long-term goal and hopefully, the children we are working with today will be the entrepreneurs of the future.”

Ted has come to Costa Rica with his family after previously spending a year in Spain. It is clear that travel is a passion for the Haile family but what made them want to come to Costa Rica?

“We wanted to experience the ‘pura vida’ culture that Costa Rica offers. We were interested in the culture, environment and history of Central America and wanted our kids to experience these things first hand. We also wanted to come and get involved with Abriendo Mentes. It has welcomed us into the community and provided us with a network of friends and activities that we have loved.

“We have found this experience both amazing and challenging but I would definitely recommend it. Moving to a different country with three young children was never going to be easy but I think that the challenge is good and our experience has already been extremely memorable, much more so than if we had stayed in the States.”

So what’s next for the Haile family? After Abriendo Mentes, will they return home or keep travelling?

“Keep travelling. We’re planning to visit Medellin in Colombia next and hope that it will offer us the history and city life that we experienced in Spain mixed with the Latin American vibe that we have enjoyed so much in Costa Rica.”

I was interested to know how they have found home schooling their three boys, who often partake in activities offered by Abriendo Mentes and Lacrosse the Nations. I have met them all and can say that they are polite and intelligent young boys who are a pleasure to be around and comfortable interacting with the local children. It is interesting watching them communicate in a mixture of English and Spanish.

“My wife is an excellent teacher so we find home schooling wholly positive. She is able to tailor the curriculum to each child and focus on what they are interested in. I am conscious sometimes that they are missing out on the social aspect of traditional schooling but we always make an effort to participate in local activities so they have the opportunity to interact and socialize with other people.”

Ted is clearly enjoying his time with Abriendo Mentes and his laid back yet diligent and keenly observed approach obviously works with the students, both youth and adult. I finished by asking him what he will miss about Potrero and what he has learned.

“My daily commute! I walk home from classes along the beach right around sunset so I will definitely miss that part of life here.  We have also enjoyed being part of an inspirational and fun group of volunteers who have embraced our family and made us feel part of a very special community.

I think the main thing I have learned from living in Costa Rica is to slow down and embrace a more relaxed lifestyle. While staying here I have dropped my iPod in the ocean and cracked the screen on my tablet. At home, this would have been very stressful and required many hours of sorting out but here I have learned to be more chilled and not see it as such a big deal!”

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