December is a special month known for giving and this past December, Idioma Internacional wanted to focus on the children in our community. On Thursday, December 12th, a team from Idioma planned and prepared a holiday event that the children would never forget. Idioma teamed up with the Hospital Nacional de Niños to create an event specifically for the children who rarely get to experience the holidays and the special treats. Our objective for the day was to include the young boys and girls who are often left out of parties because of their dietary restrictions.
The day started at 8:00 am at the Hospital Nacional de Niños off of Paseo Colón. We set up the large playroom with green and red decorations, divided up different stations to make origami Christmas trees and decorate ornaments, and played Christmas music. Once the children and their families settled in, our first activity was Christmas caroling. Standing in front of the playroom, we sang three English Christmas carols — We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming To Town. After singing, we moved to decorating ornaments. With our numerous supplies, the children were able to customize their own ornaments for their trees. Not only was it a hit with the children, but their family members too!
The best part of the day was our Santa surprise! Towards the end of the event, while the kids were creating their origami Christmas trees, our Academic Coordinator, Bill Harris, dressed up as Santa and surprised everyone. Everyone was so excited because even when some of the kids were skeptical about Santa Claus, they began to believe in him after seeing Santa in his bright, red costume and his big bag of presents! Once Santa was settled into his chair at the front of the room, the kids took pictures and told him what they wanted for Christmas. Everyone had officially begun to get in the holiday spirit after seeing Santa.
The morning ended with a group photo and many hugs and smiles from the children. Events like this one reminded us why community is so important and how powerful supporting one another can be. Idioma continues to bring that support in the events that they’re involved in — no matter the season.
Being active as a team is something that Idioma promotes and in previous years, the staff participated in Dr. Anna Ross Walk and Run Against Cancer. This year was no different as teachers and administration alike gathered together this October for Breast Cancer Awareness. Much like other supporters of the Anna Ross Foundation, some teachers and administration from Idioma joined together to walk, run, and promote Women’s Health.
In our pink shirts and tanks, our group of 11 set out at 7:30am to walk to the start of the race on Paseo Colón. We were all motivated by seeing hundreds of people (runners, walkers, and supporters) involved in something so life-changing. The Dr. Anna Ross Foundation has done so much for not only those who have been directly affected, but also their loved ones. The Foundation is maintained by numerous donations and sponsors who believe in the work and research that is being done. They lead the way in health by providing free workshops all over the country to stress the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle with healthy eating habits and exercising daily.
For the past 16 years, the Dr. Anna Ross Foundation has created many events related to cancer and the Walk and Run Against Cancer is one of their biggest events, catching the attention from both Costa Ricans and health professionals to raise awareness about the sickness in the country. That is why it’s important to take action in something that affects many people and why we, as Idioma Internacional, are always ready and willing to be part of a movement that supports those we care about.
After taking on an additional role at Idioma, I knew that my first project for Idioma Cares would be one to remember. Idioma Cares is based on the foundation of helping the community and getting everyone involved and that’s exactly what this first project did. Idioma Cares collaborated with Universidad La Salle in San Jose along with Dan Cruz who works for a specific organization within La Salle, Consultorio Jurídico, which aids immigrants and refugees that enter Costa Rica. The Consultorio Jurídico works alongside other organizations to bring help and support to these immigrants and refugees in legal ways. As part of Idioma Cares, we provided canned goods and donated clothes for a specific family. This family of five comes from Haiti but they were living in Venezuela until the political unrest started and it was no longer safe for them. They uprooted their lives in search of the American dream but unfortunately, a “coyote” took everything from them. Now they are residing in Costa Rica with the help of the Consultorio Jurídico.
After many phone calls and messages sent, I was finally able to meet Dan, drop off the canned goods and clothes, and tour La Universidad La Salle. On July 17th, along with two other Idioma teachers, we were given the grand tour of La Universidad La Salle. Dan was very proud in showing us his place of work and as visitors, we were just as excited to see how everything works and to know just what kind of organization we were working with. We met some of Dan’s coworkers and their love for helping others were very evident as they explained their roles. At the end of the meeting, we took a few group photos and said our goodbyes.
This first collaboration between La Salle and Idioma Cares will not be our last. While our official title is teacher, we are so much more than that. We are collaborators. We are supporters. We are givers. We are people who care about others. And that is what Idioma Internacional and Idioma Cares will continue to be.
We got home way later than we expected. It was a long drive back from the beach in typical Sunday traffic in the high (busy) season that I hadn’t taken into account when planning when we would leave. A lesson learned for next time. To me, that objectively sounds like a really less than ideal way to end a long day. But with this group of friends, at the end of this day, we had a blast the entire time we inched forward.
The music was blaring (in a fun way) in our humble buseta. Everyone was singing, laughing, and swapping stories. We generally made the best of the time. When we finally arrived at the office everyone pitched in and helped unload the barbeque supplies and the recycling we had collected. It was a long day rewarded with good company. A Sunday well spent.
The day started with everyone meeting at the office. It was 8:00am, and again I’m inspired by the amount of hands that showed up to help. Sure, we were getting a day at the beach together and a nice bbq lunch to go with it (which is awesome!), but it’s still collecting trash in the sunny heat of the Puntarenas Province and carefully sifting it into recycling piles to make sure we’re helping the environment properly. My point is there are plenty of other places all nine of us could have chosen to otherwise be on our collective day off, and yet, this is where we all wanted to be.
We have done a couple of park clean ups now, like at Parque de la Paz, and Peace University Park, but this was our first beach cleanup. One thing we have learned from park cleanups is how they’re deceptively filled with trash. You don’t necessarily see what you aren’t looking for. But bend over and pay attention and suddenly you can’t stop seeing the trash, small and large. On a beach, the amount of cigarette butts alone could have kept us there all day, in addition to large chunks of broken materials ditched in the forest the banks the sand.
But once again, when we were decked out in gloves and separate trash bags for junk and recycling, it wasn’t long before people took notice of the pairs we had broken out into and saw the impact we were making. Shirley, the Costa Rican owner and co-operator of the buseta we had rented, asked for gloves and a bag to help in the effort. And before long other people there, just to enjoy a relaxing day on the beach, were pitching in too. One person even asked Shirley, “Why are you doing this?” Her response was simple and profound, “because this is my beach, too.”
Because this is their beach. And it’s our beach, too. This is why we were there. We are welcome guests in this gorgeous country. We are also active participants. When you’re invited over for dinner, you’re of course going to offer to wash the dishes.
After concluding our efforts with a celebratory cheer, we concluded our cleanup by moving to a more secluded and shaded area that was perfect to set up hammocks and start the grill. We had Frisbees and volleyballs to toss around in the ocean and made new friends while doing so. Shirley, the joiner, of course, came out and had fun with us in the ocean.
On our way home we stopped for batidos, or fruit smoothies, as an extra gift from Idioma Cares that Bailey had chosen for all of us. And even though it took a long time to arrive to our beds after that, we loved and made the most of every second of it.
This is their beach. And it’s our beach, too. I think we all took pride in knowing we had shown that the respect and reciprocity it deserved. It was a delicious meal. And we made sure to do our dishes.
An unexpected fire in Barrio Cuba in late September brought the Idioma community together again. Near our office on Paseo Colon, our neighbors’ homes in Barrio Cuba were hit with a fire that ruined everything and left its tenants with nothing. Because of the sudden urgency of the situation, Idioma Cares rallied in a short amount of time to bring in as many donations from the team — clothes, food, hygiene products, etc — to give to Asociación Obras del Espíritu Santo in Barrio Cristo Rey, near where the fire happened. La Asociación is a large Catholic organization whose main job is to help the people in any type of situation. We were able to collaborate with them and they were thankful and astonished by the amount of people that Idioma Cares brought with them.
Along with donating items, many teachers and administration volunteered their time to help sort through the donated items with La Asociación. Outside, some volunteers carried boxes from the loading trucks and counted each type of item with the workers. Other volunteers helped with posters inside. I was impressed but not surprised by how willing the Idioma team was to donate their items and their time. What was even more amazing that after our allotted time with La Asociación, some of our team stayed extra and helped.
Without hesitation everyone who donated, whether it was donating goods or donating their time, did it with a positive attitude. Idioma Cares was fortunate to work with a highly-established and well-known organization that deeply cares for its community. This shows just how much we can accomplish together. Within a span of a few days, Idioma brought in numerous boxes full of items and volunteered their time to help. We continue supporting those around us because we believe that doing good makes the world a better place.