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Archive for the ‘PC Costa Rica’ Category

bdaycake

Exactly one year ago I celebrated my 23rd birthday with an amazing family in Costa Rica. A family I hadn’t known for very long opened their hearts to me and treated me like another daughter. Ha, in fact my Costa Rican host mom in Heredia says that I’m her only chance to have a blue eyed, blonde haired granddaughter…they consider me part of their family.

At the same time, new friends made major footprints on my heart…(Ha, ha how could they not?? They knew the way to my heart, gifting me my all time favorite treat for my birthday; peanut butter!!) I have never felt so close to a group of friends as I do with those of Tico 23.

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My 24th birthday has been one of major reflection. It has been exactly one month since I left my role as a Peace Corps Volunteer early to move back home with my family in the United States. As much as deciding to join the Peace Corps was one of the toughest decisions I’d ever made, deciding to leave was equally, if not more, difficult. 

I do not regret joining the Peace Corps. It was the best decision I could have ever made at that point in time. It was a rewarding, humbling, at times infuriating and challenging experience, that is difficult to summarize in a few, short words. As a direct correlation of my experiences in Costa Rica I now, with confidence, know that I can do absolutely anything in this world. It was an experience that helped me feel empowered about who I am and the impact that I am capable of having on others.

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I also do not regret leaving the Peace Corps. It took me quite some time to realize that leaving would not be the end of the world. In fact, around 33% of all volunteers actually leave service early for a variety of personal reasons. It would not ruin my future career goals, nor would it mean that I would be shunned by the Peace Corps community. It took me several heart to heart conversations with many people to come to the conclusion that it would be okay for me to leave, and then one day it just clicked. Costa Rica no longer was where I needed to be at this point in time.

Throughout all of my decision making, this quote strongly resonated with me:

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”- Robert Tew

And so I began the process of moving my life. I finished my service on a high note, having completed a successful and impactful JumpStart camp. My last week in country was a rush, and I remember not feeling like I could quite fully process my emotions. Was I excited to go home? Or was it more nervous? Was I making the right decision? I packed up, quickly completed all of my medical checkout procedures (including more blood being drawn! Ick), exit interviews,  a language proficiency exam, and the most difficult part, saying “see you later” to my amazing friends.

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The thing about decisions is that no matter what, they must be made, and they must be made whole heartily with no looking back. Since being home I have gone through swings of missing Costa Rica…the people and friendships more than anything. Looking back on some of my first few blogs I realize that I did reach many of my original goals I had set for myself upon leaving for Costa Rica (https://poursomeamor.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/revisiting-my-motivation/)

I now feel confident with my Spanish abilities, having acquired a “advanced high” level of Spanish (that’s near native!!). I also feel like I helped break, or at least open eyes, toward some common stereotypes just by having good, open conversations. Maybe I didn’t’ convince anyone to believe differently through our conversations, but I did at least show that not everyone shares the same beliefs. I also taught a heck of a lot of English, and feel sooo happy when my past students continue to communicate with me (IN ENGLISH) via Facebook, Skype, etc. One of the things that Peace Corps staff constantly reminded us was that each person’s experience would be completely different. I feel satisfied with the way mine turned out.

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Moving to the present moment, my life back home in Colorado is starting to take shape again, and I am constantly reminded why I love this place I call home.

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I am able to attend yoga classes frequently, and it is wonderful to focus on my practice again, sharing space with other like minded yogis. I am doing a wonderful work exchange with Core Power Yoga that allows me to receive unlimited yoga! Once the growing season begins, my fiancé and I will begin volunteering once a week at a local farm, Native Hill Farm in exchange for fruits and vegetables. We’re both excited to be outside getting our hands dirty! Starting next fall I will be returning to Colorado State University for my MA in Spanish and will more than likely accept an offer to be a Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching beginning level Spanish classes!!

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The main thing I love though, is being able to be near my family and spend quality time with them during all the changes in their lives right now. My fiancé and I are looking forward to finally start building our lives together, in the same country!

I plan to keep this blog up and running with my thoughts, pictures, artwork and crafts, and perhaps even take it in a little different direction- recipes and food concoctions! Thank you all for reading and for your continual support on my various journeys!!

And remember,

Respectyourself

much love,

Riley

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Thank you to those who helped make JumpStart La Guaria happen. The students, Isenia and myself are all so grateful that this experience was made possible through all the support whether it be via donations or positive energy.

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Friday, February 1st marked the last day of La Guaria’s JumpStart camp. What a special day to end a very special week! I’ll start from the beginning…

 

This past week the students learned to tell time, to talk about different foods and ask for food in a restaurant setting, they played fun games in order to review everything, they had  their final interview, and we had a fun visitor!

 

Isenia teaching time in English

Isenia teaching time in English

 

Go Fish- "Do you have..."

Go Fish- “Do you have…”

 

 

Fly swatter races

Fly swatter races

 

I am SO proud of each and every student. I took a look at their first interview videos and then the final one and am soooo impressed by the change. They have learned and retained a ton of information.

 

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Isenia had to attend a meeting one day for the school, so my friend Lena came down to help out with class. The students prepared interview questions for her ranging from “Do you have a boyfriend?” to What’s your favorite fruit?”. Again, I felt so proud. Later we learned how to give and receive directions in order to take Lena on a tour of the high school (on which we lucked into seeing baby pigs!).

 

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We also found the time to squeeze in a little morning yoga. The kids really enjoyed doing something a little different! My favorite part was when we all sat in circle, holding hands and with our eyes closed. We were practicing “passing the energy”. I started by squeezing the hand of the person to my right, and then they passed it on by squeezing the hand of the person to his/her right and so on until the hand squeeze returned back to me.

 

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Class on Friday (our last day!) started with an activity called “Say Something Nice Behind My Back”. At the beginning of JumpStart each student received a notecard with his/her name on it to place on the desk. For this activity the students taped the notecards to their backs and then wrote nice, anonymous  comments on the notecards. We then danced the Cha Cha slide, followed by some other English games, and ended the day with a mini “graduation” where each student received a t-shirt and a certificate.

 

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Meet (from left, bottom) Maria Celeste, Yerlin, Chelsy, Jeikel, Daysi, Kristal, Valeri, Dinia.(from left, top) Teacher Isenia, Justin, Anthony, Yunieth, Marisol, Yailin, Jocelyn, Nathalie, Soledad, Darly, Sheila, Jose Daniel and me! (Andy couldn't make it the last day)

Meet (from left, bottom) Maria Celeste, Yerlin, Chelsy, Jeikel, Daysi, Kristal, Valeri, Dinia.
(from left, top) Teacher Isenia, Justin, Anthony, Yunieth, Marisol, Yailin, Jocelyn, Nathalie, Soledad, Darly, Sheila, Jose Daniel and me! (Andy couldn’t make it the last day)

 

Cake and a slideshow of pictures were the final treat to conclude an amazing English camp!! This project was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve partaken in during my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer and seeing these students succeed like they have fills me with such happiness!!

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Playing "Moose" before class!

Playing “Moose” before class!

Holy smokes, the time sure does fly by quickly! I have officially had 20 students in class for 10 days now, and we only have 5 more days left together. Within this short time frame of 10 days I have witnessed a group of students transform from quiet, shy 6th graders into bold, talkative, ready-for-high school 7th graders.

Once upon a time these kids did not know one another, and now they are a tight knit group of friends! It is amazing to watch the confidence (not just in English) grow and friendships form among them.

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This past week we learned how to describe people in regards to personality and physical appearance. The students learned vocabulary like “outgoing”, “lazy”, “beautiful”, “red hair” etc. They also took a look at body parts and clothing terminology. During one activity we had students brainstorm a list of famous people (like batman, Lady Gaga, and Laura Chinchilla). One student then came to the front and closed his/her eyes while we secretly chose one of our famous people to describe. The students then provided descriptions of the famous person (like “she is a musician” “she is ugly” etc.) so that the student with his/her eyes closed could guess who we were talking about!

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The kids also participated in a relay race to label body parts!

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The winning team!

The winning team!

One of my favorite games that the class played was the classic “Guess Who” that I loved playing so much when I was younger!!

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They got the chance to design their own monsters and then present them to the class!

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My all time favorite moment from last week was the amazing fashion show that some of the students volunteered to participate in! They dressed up in crazy clothes provided by Isenia and yours truly and paraded around the classroom as I flamboyantly announced what each person was wearing.

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I can hardly believe we have reached our last week of JumpStart. Among other things this week, students are taking a look at forming the present tense with a wide range of verbs and talking about their likes and dislikes. We will also be doing our final “interviews” to measure the students’ learning.

Only a few more days left before it’s time to send students off to 7th grade!! Check back later this week to see pictures from our JumpStart graduation 😉

 

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The idea of this activity was that students learn new vocabulary for personality traits. Students volunteered to act out opposites while the rest of the class guessed what they were representing. These two represent “active” and “lazy”,

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Two more students take part in the acting! They are representing “brave” and “cowardly”

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Making a "spider web" to show we're all connected!

Making a “spider web” to show we’re all connected!

We’ve reached  the end of week 1 of JumpStart here in La Guaria! It fleeeew by, and believe it or not, in just a week’s time the kids have expanded their English abilities immensely from where they started.

Everyday before class starts, or for the first 10 minutes of class I like to do an activity outside of English learning; usually something focusing on team building, leadership, confidence boosters, or just something fun! Here are a few pictures from when they had to form a human knot!!

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Uh oh, we're stuck!!

Uh oh, we’re stuck!!

Coming in with little to no English the kids can now carry on a basic conversation and ask and respond to a bunch of questions (they’ve got mad interviewing skills!!) such as:

“What’s your name?”

“How are you?”

“What do you do?”

“Where do you live?”

“How old are you?”

“Do you have any ______(brothers, sisters, pets, etc)?”

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Conversation lines

Conversation lines

"Where do you live"

“Where do you live?”

One of their favorite activities from the week was to play charades with the occupations. We had two teams racing against one another to be the first to guess who their actor/actress was mimicking. The signal to start acting was to call out “What do you do?” They really got into the roles and had a blast!

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Practicing numbers for "how old are you?"

Practicing numbers for “how old are you?”

After taking a look at family vocabulary, drawing and then describing our families, we said “see you later” and headed off for the weekend.

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The second week has started out to be just as fun as last week! I will definitely be posting more videos and photos soon! I want to take a second to say thank you to anyone who may have donated toward this JumpStart camp. It means soooo much to these students to be in the classroom with us learning English. Thank you for helping Isenia and I bring change to their lives.

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