Anna Ross Race Against Breast Cancer 2018

Little compares to the sense of purpose and drive you feel when you’re part of a team. Add that to the festival-like atmosphere of a city-wide race, with music, volunteers passing out water, and people on the sides of the streets cheering you on, and you have the recipe for a gorgeous day in the Costa Rican sun.

Some of us like racing and fitness, some of us are simply volunteers at heart and love participating, and for some of us it was deeply personal — we were there for the same reason the Anna Ross Fundraiser was created, because someone dear to us had been affected by breast cancer. Regardless of our reasons, we were all there together, an Idioma Cares team of eight, with that sense of purpose and drive multiplied by thousands who were side by side with us, same uniform and everything.

We made our way as a group to the start of the race on Paseo Colón, a stone’s throw away from our office. A fire engine that blew bubbles out of it seemed like the best pre-race photo op, before the sweat and sunscreen drenched our faces.

When the race began we knew that we wouldn’t stay side by side for long, but we had the same goal and destination. Regardless of our time or distance we all ended in the heart of Sabana Park and were met with cheers and medals. We designated a spot by the pond behind the main stage for us to all meet at afterwards. After enjoying our newly found deep breaths and congratulatory Latin dance music from the stage behind us, we exited the park as a team, knowing we had accomplished our shared goal separately, yet together.

Shortly after gathering our things at the office, we were clinking our bottles together with a well-earned salud and enjoying some much-anticipated food and drink in a cantina at the foot of an Escazú mountain, a simple bus ride away from the office where a lot of the teachers live. What I really love about Idioma Cares is that the comraderie of contributing to a cause doesn’t stop at a single event. It’s part of who we are. At our most recent staff retreat, one of the group’s proposed definitions of “excellence” was, “setting a high standard, meeting that goal, high fiving, then setting a new standard.” Enjoying an ice cold Imperial with my teammates was the exact high five I was looking for after running a 5K. And if that’s how we end a day of sun and sweat together, I know we’re all looking forward to the next new standard.

-Timothy Garren

 

The Power of Example

Language. Community. Action.

These are the three pillars of our social responsibility initiative: Idioma Cares.

The Idioma Cares leaders and staff volunteers conducted a park cleanup on Sunday, August 19th, 2018, with the mission of taking action in the community to make a positive difference. We chose “Parque de la Paz” in Desamparados as it is relatively close to our office and it is not provided with a private sanitation service like our local park, “Parque de la Sabana.”

Tim, our team leader, took care of the planning, supplies and logistics for the event. These preparations included scouting the location ahead of time and providing each of the Idioma Cares team members with a map of the park and a designated area to be cleaned that day, so as to cover the entire park and maximize our impact.

We numbered just over a dozen participants, including my two children (five-year-old and a seven-year-old) and a teacher’s partner who joined in the effort. First thing we did when we arrived was climb a steep hill in the center of the park with an incredible lookout point where we game-planned and surveyed the park. Tim passed out gloves, garbage bags, water  and maps while we got into teams of two, with one person taking a large bag for garbage and the other person taking a bag for recyclables.

We all set out to scour and clean our assigned areas of the park with an 11:00 am meet up time to throw the garbage in the park garbage bins for a later pick up (previously coordinated by Tim) and load the recyclables into our cars to haul off to a recycling center in neighboring Escazú.

By and large, it was a typical San José Sunday morning: beautiful weather, blue skies and lots of sunshine, billowy white clouds, scores of families and individuals bustling about the park. And there were some unanticipated, yet insightful  and positive moments to the day above the expected parts of just picking up trash and recyclables to clean up a city park.

The first element that stands out to me was the experience working alongside such a good-hearted team that took their personal time to make a difference in a place that is not their home country. That is so inspiring. Most of the Idioma Cares team is not from Costa Rica, yet their desire to serve and make a difference shows how compassion, support for others, and doing good goes beyond territorial and cultural borders. We were all volunteers joining together for a common cause of making a positive difference. It was pretty cool. And really fun.

The second element that sticks out is how proud I am of my children for participating wholeheartedly in the clean up efforts. This was an important lesson for them that I am really happy they got to experience in addition to their witnessing of the Idioma Cares team setting an example. It was great to see my children do something for others in order to make things better instead of playing, which is what they normally do on a Sunday. I hope this is something that they build upon for years to come as they make their way.

The third element that struck me was the impact we had on the locals. We all wore team shirts and that really made a difference, as we were highly visible while cleaning up the trash and separating it to recycle. Our good acts were noticed by a lot of people and many of them came up to us and thanked us for what we were doing. I didn’t know how to respond, as it was a little awkward. Here they are, thanking us for cleaning up their park, and you could tell they felt as ashamed as they were grateful. And for me, I didn’t know whether to say thank you or ask for them to do more themselves to help their own community. Just act, I thought. So I only said thank you and offered a smile.  

I couldn’t help thinking during the clean up that everything we were doing that day could have been avoided if everyone were responsible with their own trash and recyclables. Even though Costa Rica’s citizens have made monumental improvements over the years in terms of protecting the environment and not littering, there is still some work to be done. That is why the visual impact the Idioma Cares efforts had on the locals and the example we were setting give me confidence that if we continue to act in good will in a noticeable way in the community, that permanent positive change can be achieved. This is indeed the ‘Pura Vida’ vibe that can help move this wonderful country toward a brighter future.

 

Brian Logan – Founder

Quepos Clothing Drive

On October 5, tropical storm Nate hit the Costa Rica shoreline and devastated the entire nation. There were multiple deaths, massive amounts of infrastructural damage, and a state of emergency was declared closing government offices and schools throughout the nation.

In the wake of such a massively destructive storm, many families were left without homes, food, clothing, electricity, and water. Even though the country was distraught and wracked with grief, many communities quickly rallied to aid the families that were in need.

One such contributor was Timothy Garren, an Idioma Internacional teacher. He organized and promoted a clothing drive that benefitted families in the coastal town of Quepos. He asked the other teachers and our friends to donate any clothing that was still functional but no longer used. It was a simple request, but one that was needed regardless. The results were better than even he could have foreseen. He was able to collect a rather extraordinary number of articles in a very short time. There were dress shirts, jeans, leggings, socks and underwear, casual clothing, and much more.  These were then delivered to organizers in Quepos where they were sorted and distributed to the families in need.

Having someone show such care to people he has never met has been inspirational at the least and extremely heart-warming as a standard. This is the sense of community that we feel on a daily basis at Idioma Internacional. We have become part of this country, this culture, these communities, and this beautiful world.

Movember Mania

Here at Idioma Internacional we are half-way through our 5th year supporting Movember, a global movement to raise awareness about the dangers and causes of prostate cancer and testicular cancer, along with general education about men’s physical and mental health. Many members of the staff have seized the opportunity to show off their handsome, smoother, and younger looking faces.

During the month of November, male participants shave their faces bald. Then, they can choose whether to grow their beard or mustache for the entire month. The participants take a photo of themselves at the very beginning of the month (with no facial hair), and also track their progress by taking one photo for each week of hair growth. Profiles are created on the Movember website, where the participants upload their photos. Check out our profiles! Once the profiles are created, followers are encouraged to donate money to the research and disbursement of education programs worldwide. Idioma Internacional is donating for each staff participant or sponsored participant.

If you are female and want to contribute to this great cause you can sponsor a male friend, family member, spouse, significant other, etc. Upload their pictures and track their profiles. These amazing women sponsors are called Mosistas!

The second most prevalent cancer in men, prostate cancer is a topic that is not talked about enough. In 2012, there were more than 1.1 million documented cases of prostate cancer. This staggering number still doesn’t receive the attention that it deserves. As stated on the Movember website, “men are dying too young, before their time.” The Movember Foundation has a plan: Raise awareness through research, improve the lives and health of men by educating them on ways to take preventative action, and reduce the number of men who die too young.

Please follow the Movember Foundation’s link below to learn more about what they do and how you can help! The time to act is now.

https://us.movember.com/mens-health/general

Anna Ross Caminata Contra Cancer (Walk Against Cancer)

Here at Idioma Internacional, we are not only dedicated to our primary focus of English education, but we also hold a high regard for social responsibility. On October 8, 2017 our company participated in the annual Anna Ross Walk Against Cancer. Several teachers, administrators, and staff members joined the thousands of Costa Ricans to raise money for this great organization to continue their commitment to providing free services to cancer patients and their families. Idioma Internacional provided the entry fee for all of our company’s participants.

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The Dr. Anna Gabriela Ross Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to serving communities in all of Costa Rica with free education and support services to cancer patients and their families. To date, this organization has served more than 145 communities throughout Costa Rica. Their mission is to provide education about prevention, early detection, wellness, diet, exercise, and mental health in order to battle cancer at all stages of its harmful and life altering path. The foundation gives free workshops and talks to stifle the spread of cancer. (http://www.ross.or.cr/)

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On October 8, the staff at Idioma Internacional took to the streets with throngs of Costa Ricans and showed our support for such a wonderful organization as the Anna Ross Foundation. According to our Administrative Assistant, Christina:

“It was amazing to see so many people come together for such an important cause. When I turned onto Paseo Colon, I just saw an ocean of people. I was impressed by the amount of people that came to help raise awareness and support the event.

As we started running, it felt great to be surrounded by so many good people. There was even a man with crutches participating in the run! There is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone without a leg accomplishing what he did. It reminded me why I participated in the event in the first place. I will never understand the pain and challenges faced by someone with cancer and their loved ones. All I can do is show my support and help raise awareness. Seeing all these people come together really made me feel hopeful.”

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