Tuesday, March 17, 2015

En Route Home

Hello friends and family of the BCS: Costa Rica program!!

We have heard from our instructor, Sarah, that the group is at the airport and doing great!! Currently, the flight is on time and students should be back in Newark at 6:46PM.  

United Flight 1081

Status: On Schedule
City: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)
Gate: 9
Check-in Terminal: 
Scheduled Time: 11:35 a.m.
Scheduled Date: Tue., Mar. 17, 2015
Estimated Time: 11:35 a.m.Estimated Date: Tue., Mar. 17, 2015
City: New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty)
Gate: C131
Terminal: Terminal C, Concourse C3
Scheduled Time: 6:45 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Tue., Mar. 17, 2015
Estimated Time: 6:46 p.m.Estimated Date: Tue., Mar. 17, 2015

Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 aircraft #3298

Thank you for your support of this program, and please feel free to call the office with any questions or concerns (303-679-3412).  

Pura vida!

Maria Selde
Program Coordinator
World Leadership School

Monday, March 16, 2015

Authentic Costa Rican Cooking Class:

As we left our homestays we walked together in a big group toward Barney’s house, where the cooking class would begin at 3:00. We walked along the dirt road, and up the hill to a large house built by Barney himself, almost single handedly. We arrived at the house at 3:15, and quickly sat around a wood table, covered with food and ingredients to make empanadas. As we sat down, Jennifer told us that she would be translating a bit for Erica, the cooking teacher. Erica introduced herself, and we quickly began. Each of us took one of the many balls of corn dough and started to make an even, flat circle. Erica instructed us to not make the dough too thin, and also not to make it too thick. When we were all done with making the circles of dough, Erica passed around tubs of chicken, beans, and cheese. She showed us how to put them into the empanadas, as well on how to close it and write our initials into the dough. When we were all done, we took out empanadas and gave it to a woman who put them in a frying pan, and she fried all of our empanadas. As we waited, Erica passed out cups of coffee, with milk and sugar. When our empanadas were done, we sat around the same wooden table with our mugs of sweet coffee and enjoyed our homemade empanadas.
 — Miles

Take Aways:

            After a fun night with our homestay families, we gathered at the Eco-lodge this morning and talked about take-aways from this entire trip so far. There were extremely thoughtful, well phrased, and smart answers to some difficult and complicated questions. For example, we were talking about how extremely close and loving the families that we were staying with are, how they trust each other, and how they are so happy. We had an in depth conversation about the connection between money and happiness. We realized that we, as a group, have more material things than the people we have encountered in Costa Rica. However, we noticed how incredibly happy and loving, in general, the people we have encountered are. When the people of Chilamate need help with something, they can literally just yell and someone will be at their door within one minute. The children can go out and play without it being a worry, but at least with my family, my mom must know how long I will be out, with who, why, when, when I will be home etc, etc.
— Imogen
Last day at the Chilamate School:
Today was our last day at the school. Because it was raining very hard, we weren’t able to paint as planned, but we did talk in Spanish and English and hang out with local Chilamate students. We visited an English class full of sixth graders, and asked them questions such as, ‘How old are you?’ Afterwards, we had recess for 10 minutes, and used that time to connect more with the students. We then had an assembly in the school hallway, which really showed us why they need a roof for a meeting space: the outdoor auditorium we were helping to build. The kids and teachers sang a national hymn to the flag and then the national anthem of Costa Rica, and gave us personal hand-made cards. We then ate lunch at the school with the students. The experience of students giving us cards and expressing their thanks was humbling for us all, showing that you really can make a difference, even if it’s only for a few people.
— Alayna

At 2:00 in the afternoon, we all left the Eco-Lodge for white water rafting. We hiked along the river to the station where we got onto a bus. After 15 minutes of driving, we made it to one of the banks on the river. There, we were equipped with life jackets, helmets, and paddles. One of the instructors told us all of the safety rules and commands that were necessary while rafting, and in five minutes, we were off! After 30 minutes of splashing through the rapids of the Sarapiquí River, we stopped at a beach to eat freshly cut pineapple and swim in the river. 15 minutes later, we started rafting again, making our way through the small and large rapids in the river. Finally, when we were tired, cold, and wet, we finally went ashore and walked back to the Eco-Lodge. It was a great experience.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Students’ Journal: Costa Rica Day 5

Yesterday we all went up to Jaime’s, our rainforest expert, ethno-botany studio.  Jaime and his nephew, Elian, brought us all different kinds of plants, fruits, herbs, and more. First, we tried out the “lipstick plant”; it was spikey on the outside and had seeds on the inside that produced a red paste that we could smear on our lips and face. Some people went for tribal face paint, and others just used it as lip tint. We also tried other plants that made our tongues numb and ones that produced a perfume scent. We also had the pleasure of trying many fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which he had grown in his garden, these being, oranges, a full coconut, and mimbro, a small, green, bitter vegetable that tastes great when paired with salt. The last thing that Jaime brought out was bagged chocolate and banana ice cream; it was delicious. 

Fun in the Sun
Earlier today, many Berkeley Carroll homestay families went down to the river to cool off. Our family told us that on Sundays, most Costa Rican families from Linda Vista (rural community within Chilamate) come down to the river at some time or another during the day. This is one of many ways which we have seen the connectedness of the community, one of their many strengths. When we went to the river, we collected tadpoles with our homestay siblings, but mostly with our 5-year-old brother, Manfred. Each tadpole was jet black and some even had little legs growing. Soon after, other students started drizzling in with their families and we had a big splash war. Manfred formed a bond with CC, hanging all over him like a monkey that wouldn’t get off a tree. We also waded into the water, which was really refreshing on a day that was muy caliente.”

Our Homestay Experience
“I had a great first impression when I first met my homestay family. They all had huge smiles on their faces and were giving everyone big hugs. The first night we had rice and beans, and I immediately loved it. The entire time at our homestay family was amazing, and our family was comforting when I felt homesick. I am really going to miss them and I hope that we keep in touch.”
      - Bea

“I really loved how my homestay family was so welcoming.  I felt so honored that my homestay mom, Bianca, was worrying so much about our stay, when she should be worrying about herself, seeing as she is pregnant and due in two weeks.  The kids were also very welcoming and gave many hugs.”
-       Camille

“When I first stepped foot in our homestay house, I felt at home. Our room was very spacious, and our mother, Bianca, had left us delicious candies on our pillows. In the bathroom there was a paper flower folded from bath tissue. Bianca has made us only the most gourmet food of Costa Rica and, overall, has made our experience truly incredible.”
- Gaia

CC and Mr. Agnor reenacting a scene from Lord of the Flies.

Camille used a special leaf to stamp on a “natural tattoo”.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Students working on the blog in a Chilamate classroom. 

Swimming hole off the Sarapiqui River near the Ecolodge 

Day 3:
Bussing to home stays after a great day! 


Painting large metal frames, which will serve as the structure for an outdoor auditorium for Chilamate Elementary School

From Day 3:

Preparing to zip line and s
caling a tower to zip over the Rio Sarapiqui!

Students' Journal: Day 4

Apologies for the delay in the blog posts. The blogger phone app is still down, and internet service has been spotty at times in uploading our posts! Nevertheless, we will post at least once every day and check in with Maria at WLS if we have any internet difficulties.

All is well here in Chilamate! Our days have been full and rewarding, filled with "stretch" moments where students and chaperones alike are presented with a different lifestyle and culture. It has already been a very exciting and rewarding experience with so much learning.
- Geoff, Kimberly, Liz and the WLS team

We were about to get on the bus to head to our homestays. But suddenly someone spotted a howler monkey! (Howler monkeys are the loudest mammal on the planet.) We paused and watched for a few minutes and then boarded the bus. Rae, Freya and I were the first ones to get off the bus. At the gate to our new home, there was our homestay family waiting for us. Our homestay family took our bags, and we walked in. They dropped off our bags in our new room, then gave us time to settle in. We were all a little nervous to come out of our rooms. When we finally came out, everything went smoothly. Our homestay sister and brother invited us to play cards. We played for a while, and talked a bit.

Soon dinner was ready. Our homestay mother cooked us a delicious dinner of chicken and potatoes, rice and beans, and yucca (which I thought was a potato, but that happens with a lot of things). Then we played a few more card games and started passing a soccer ball around. My homestay sister taught me how to kick, and Ana (our homestay mother) was remarkably unconcerned about the soccer ball in the house. Eventually we moved outside. Cleo, Freya, and I, city kids all the way, looked in awe at the numerous stars in the sky. We played "monkey in the middle," the soccer version, for an hour and a half, then went to get some water. After a few more minutes of playing, we finally went to bed at the end of our first day in the homestays. As I was falling asleep, I missed the now familiar sounds of the eco-lodge rainforest and the other people on our trip. Staying at the lodge was truly an amazing experience, and I'm sure the homestays will be, too.

Early this morning, at about 5:00am, the roosters started crowing. Although some kids slept through it,  a bunch of other kids and I in different homestays were woken up and kept awake. Once the roosters had finished crowing, the cows started mooing. That went on for a while, but I finally managed to fall asleep again. Rae, Cleo, and I woke up at around 7am. We talked a little, but then went out to our homestay family. As soon as we got out of our room, everyone greeted us, and our homestay mom started making breakfast right away. For breakfast, we had rice and black beans, and an enchilada. To drink we had a type of strawberry drink, and for dessert we had strawberry wafers. After breakfast we went to visit Emily and Isabel who were in the homestay next to us. Their family has 3 little puppies and an adult dog. Then at 8am we headed off to the soccer field, gathering other kids from other families along the way.

A hot, humid day... that's how it started today. We had all woken up in our homestay beds and were ready for the new day. As we knew, the day would start off with breakfast and then we would go and play an "official" soccer game. We all ate and then set off. My homestay brother Sol Rey and I went to visit our friends in the house that was next to us. We went off to their house, even though our house was much closer to where we would be playing soccer, and began a small pickup game with our friends. Then our group got larger and we left to the soccer field. We were split into groups of "experienced" players and the people who don't play soccer. We did a few stretching exercises which were led by the Costa Rican's coach who was called Chino and then we did some running. Finally, the game began. Experienced Berkeley Carroll students were up first against the Costa Rican experienced team. We were already thinking, "We're probably going to lose," but that didn't matter. We got into our positions and then the game began. Soccer ball, goal, sweat, the searing hot sun was beating down on us, but it didn't matter. We were in the moment, and our objective could be described in one word: "win". Then the ball was stolen by Costa Rica and we barely ever got it back. 1... 2... 3... 4... 5. Those were the goals that the Costa Ricans scored on us. We tried to get back at them but our efforts were to no avail. The first half was done. Berkeley Carroll was being destroyed in the game. We stood no chance against them. It was still fun though. The second half began with us having the ball, but it still went the same as the first half. Then the game was over and it was the "less experienced" team. The game went pretty much the same, but guess what... we scored a goal! We were so happy and felt accomplished. At least that's what I felt. Then the game ended and we left to go have lunch.

After a sweaty bus ride to the eco-lodge, we disembarked and went to rest in the hammocks for a little. Later, we made posters about our global issues and wrote about our assumptions, challenges, and questions about Costa Rica and Chilamate. Then we had a delicious lunch, courtesy of the eco-lodge cooks. Later, we are going to see an eco-botanist and learn about plants in the forest that have healing properties, and some we can eat! We are learning that we don't need to use words to communicate with each other.

More Day 3 pictures - Zip lining followed by hard work!

Students' Journal: Costa Rica Day 3

The Blogger phone App has been down for most of the trip; therefore, we have not been able to upload as near as many photos as we have taken. We hope the app will be up and running shortly. Until then, we will be posting at least once a day from the computer. -Geoff, Kimberly, and Liz

Costa Rica Blog: Day 3

            Today we moved out of the wonderful Chilamate Ecolodge. We head to our homestay families tonight. Everyone enjoyed our wonderful stay there, and we all thank Meghan and Davis for their hospitality. All the homestays will be within walking distance to the lodge, where we will go for lunch, meeting, and curriculum every day. Some of us have already met our homestay brothers and sisters, and they are all very nice. In some families, there are going to be as many as seven kids, both American and Costa Rican! In the worksite today, we were a lot friendlier with the Costa Ricans, mainly because once you've hauled enough 100-pound rocks together, it's way easier to bond. The food today was great (as usual). We had an Italian special for lunch, which was a nice hiatus from our usual diet of rice and beans. We also played foosball with the Costa Rican kids before going to the worksite.

            From canopy to canopy hanging on a wire suspended four stories above the ground, the beautiful green of the trees can be seen for miles. Yep, you guessed it. Today was fun filled with a zip lining experience! Most of us had never gone zip lining until today but let us tell you: it’s a beautiful experience that cannot be missed! Besides the occasional fear or hiccup with trippy equipment, we were all able to let it go because three miles of ‘flying’ through the skies, well, you get the picture. Overall, it was a wonderful experience that we wish we could do 1,000,000 more times.

            With the experience from zip lining most of us can say we have at least bonded with one person. With the many breaks between towers, a few of us successfully struck up a friendship with two Costa Ricans, Michael and Jimena. Although we are from different countries and have different backgrounds we were able to have normal conversations in Spanish. We talked about music, school gossip, and social media. After the zip lining, we came back to the Ecolodge. Then we had a break and got ready for the worksite. We cleaned up after ourselves, took our clothes off the line, grabbed anything left behind, and then we took our luggage and headed for the Chilamate Elementary School. Unlike yesterday, however, there was no rain at all, and while constant rain seems terrible, it was baking hot this afternoon. Today, some of us worked by lugging large metal beams from the church next door to the school, and others painted those beams. Mr. Agnor had a method for dividing us into these groups. He stopped at each person and told them they were a Costa or a Rica. The Costa group went to get the beams from the church while the Rica group painted the beams. It was fun, because we were getting more confident with our Spanish and we communicated with the local people- students and workers- much easier. The only problems that we encountered were, of course, the heat, the sun, and the paint. If you got it on you clothes, it wouldn’t come out. And if you got it on your skin, there was a cloth with special cleaner to remove it. After we return to the Ecolodge later to clean up, we will go straight to our homestays, which we are both nervous and excited about. Either way, we know we will have a good time.
     - Owen Potter, Sol Rey Vashez, Lindsay Guerrero, and Maelle Sannon


Update on Costa Rica

Hi Parents:

We've been having some internet issues in Costa Rica, and the group was not able to blog yesterday. I just spoke with Jennifer Klein, our instructor, and everyone was just about to get together for a morning learning experience. They had a great day yesterday at the school and with the service project, and have lots to share with you. They will try to put up at least one blog today. They are having a great time and all is well.

Regarding the Turrialba volcano: the group has not been affected at all by the ash from the volcano, which appears to have quieted down. The airport is open since yesterday and we are hoping for no issues for their flight home. We will make sure to confirm the group very early on Monday!

Thank you!

Ross Wehner, World Leadership School

Friday, March 13, 2015

Volcano Turrialba

Update: Volcano Turrialba has been burping ash, resulting in the closure of the international airport in San Jose for a few hours yesterday, yet we are safely away (about 135 km drive north) in Chilamate. The airport is back open today, and we will keep you abridged of any updates.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Students' Journal: Day 2

After we arrived in at the Ecolodge in Chilamate, Costa Rica, we were arranged in our rooms and treated to a fabulous dinner. Then, we were sorted into groups to go on a night hike!!! The two guides escorted us through the rainforest, and we learned so much about the wildlife, and the eighth graders kept comparing everything to Lord of the Flies. The hike lasted about an hour, and afterwards we got a good night's rest. There was tons of rain in the night, helping everyone to fall asleep.

The next morning, we had a great breakfast before going on our daytime hike and seeing lots of millipedes and poison dart frogs. We learned all about the wildlife of the rainforest, including that sloths sleep for 16 hours a day and that there is an ant called the Bullet Ant that, when it bites you, makes it feel like you're being shot (don't worry, we weren't bitten!).

After our hike, we came back to the lodge and cooled off because it was SCORCHING HOT!!! We played games, went over some leadership story and risk management curriculum and, most importantly, cooled off. Part of this cooling off included an amazing lunch filled with delicious rice and plantains. After this we got ready for our next activity, visiting the Chilamate Elementary School.

At the Chilamate Elementary School, we introduced ourselves to the students there and did a variety of activities. We took tours of the school and learned that the younger students go to school in the morning (from 7:30-12:10) and the older students go later-on in the afternoon (12:10-4:20). They do this because there aren't enough classrooms or teachers for students to go to school at the same time, the way we do at Berkeley Carroll. The school had few resources compared to what we are used to (no instruments, 3 classrooms) and it made us feel very grateful for everything we have. The people there were very thankful for everything we have done for them as well. We had the opportunities to play soccer with the kids and work on their soccer-field. We all spent several hours clearing rocks out of the soccer field, so that an assembly-space could be built. We also worked with cement mixers and got very, very muddy. There were even some mud fights. It was an amazing experience and we all came back happy, yet a little bit tired. Part of the reason it was so amazing is because we had the chance to interact with the Costa Rican kids and adults from Chilamate and work on improving another school that is so different from ours, yet so similar, in a completely new environment.

Overall, today was pretty awesome.
--Emmi Dudley, Emily Lucas, Isabel Mudannayake, Kylie Conner-Sax

Early Bird...

Emily woke up before anyone to enjoy some solitude in the hammock!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chilamate Ecolodge: Day 1

We have all safely arrived to the Ecolodge in Chilamate after an uneventful, if very early, flight. Students were efficient, well behaved travelers and enjoyed the airtime to commiserate, listen to music, watch movies, nap, and read. The many shared earbuds and heads on proximate shoulders symbolized the budding group camaraderie. Upon arrival we held a study session on how to correctly fill out customs and visa forms on the tile floor of the airport: collaboration at its finest. 
Our shuttle from San Jose into the rainforest of Sarapiqui was a beautiful scenic journey, allowing us to take in the sights from our movie theatre-size transport windows: local Ticos strolling and waiting for buses, businesses along the road ("Mini Super Malibu"), horses, cows, and a steady rainforest rainstorm: humid, lush, and lovely. We even stopped for a colorful buffet lunch at El Yugo (next door to the Rancho de Rinconcito). 
We have just wrapped up fears and goals and the Ecolodge introduction with our wonderful hosts, Megan and Davis, and students are enjoying some downtime before dinner and the night hike. 

Boarded at Newark! Next stop: San Jose!

We have arrived!

The group has arrived safely in Costa Rica and is underway to Chilamate!  Their program is off to a great start and they will begin updating the blog soon!

Maria Selde
Program Coordinator
World Leadership School

En route!

Hello friends and family of the BCS: Costa Rica program!

The group is on the flight and en route to San Jose. They will start posting to the blog once they have arrived and settled in. Please feel free to call the office with any questions or concerns (303) 679-3412.

¡Pura vida!

Program Coordinator
World Leadership School