“Seek to do good, and you will find that happiness will run after you.”
~James Freeman Clarke
You may already know this or maybe not, but one of my greatest passions in life is being a teacher. As long as I can possibly remember, I’ve always been willing to help my classmates, people around me or just about anyone comes to see me in search of answers or needing some things to be explained to them in an easy manner 🙂 It is like a second nature for me.
My teaching career has allowed me to teach English as a Second Language to young students (primary school), teenagers (foreign students) and adults (government and company employees) in the past decade at home in Canada and in South Korea.
It has brought so many satisfactions, not only professionally but also personally. The knowledge shared affects or impacts positively the lives of many persons, young and old, is worth a lot in my eyes. I’ve learned so much from every single one of them and made me a much better person and professional in return.
Now whenever I travel to a new location, I do not just go and enjoy il dolce far niente which is to do nothing but rest, relax, sip a cold drink and work on my tan. Well I used to in the past but not these days.
I have become more aware about the reason why I travel; I’ve become a more educated and responsible traveler. Therefore I am always looking for a way of contributing to the community or at least give something back that they can use and benefit from.
That is why I did some research prior to my visit to Costa Rica. I was super happy to learn that Parador Resort and Spa (the hotel where I was going to stay at) was a supporter of the Pack for a Purpose program. I thought it would be a great idea to participate and leave some room in my carry on to bring some school supplies and deliver them in person!
Now what exactly is Pack for a Purpose you may ask?
Let me start by telling you that it is an awesome initiative that Rebecca Rothney, a former teacher from North Carolina, developed.
The idea came first when traveled to the African nation of Botswana. She followed her mother’s advice and true words of wisdom: to always bring something to her hosts or to the local community she was visiting. She did see the need of bringing school supplies to local schools for under served students. Therefore Pack for a Purpose was born.
For the past five years, she has inspired thousands of travelers all over the world to contribute to programs in over 60 countries!
How can I help or How do I get involved?
You can start by heading to their website: http://www.packforapurpose.org
Then select the destination by continent
Next, you choose the country and a detailed list will come up.
Once you see the hotel where you are going to stay in click on their link.
and the school (s) selected by the establishment will list their needs.
Once you have an idea what you can bring (5 pounds or 2.27 kg), it is time to go shopping and gather the material.
In my case, I went out and got the following:
- A dozen notebooks
- A box of HB pencils
- Colored pencils
- Glue sticks
- Hand sharpeners
And a few more things for the teacher 🙂
The day after arriving in Punta Quepos, the hotel had arranged a special visit to Anita Primary School which is located about 30 minutes away by bus. Let me be totally honest with you…nothing, absolutely nothing had prepared me for what I was going to experience!
It was a hot and sunny Thursday morning as we arrived in front of the school. At first sight it is a very simple structure, nothing too fancy but the gardens, trees and flowers around make it an inviting place.
Then we knocked on the door and we saw a small group of students diligently working and Mariano, the head teacher came to greet us at the door. He was very happy to see us and he asked his estudiantes to pause for a moment.
They were pretty shy as they don’t get to see foreigners very often but they were in luck, we all spoke Spanish 🙂
We said hello to them and they waved back. I took a quick look and I saw what it meant to have basic education. Not that it matters but I totally understood right there and then that they do need help and a lot!
Mariano proceeded to explain to us that the students were all grouped together from 3rd and 4th year and one student, the oldest is in 5th grade. Since there is only 1 teacher, he had managed to share his knowledge to his students depending on their needs and sometimes they did activities that everyone knew and that helped build their social, analytic skills as well as team work. It is just admirable if you ask me.
In my case I had 10 children to look after and that was enough to make me pull my hair, imagine teaching different subjects to different grades! Wow!
We learned that these children were from migrant parents who came to work in the fields close to the school. As you know, Costa Rica is a great producer of fruit, vegetables, coffee and so much more. Hence, people from neighboring countries come and look for better opportunities to help their families and provide a better life for them!
Normally it costs quite a bit for them to send them to school but Anita Primary School is there to help. We were told that the oldest student has to travel a great distance by motorcycle and his father drops him off every single day. Imagine if he had to walk all the way to class? It sure makes you think right?
The main reason while we were there in the first place is to deliver the supplies we had brought with us in our luggage!
Thanks to awesome Moisés Duran, who is the e-commerce Supervisor at Parador Resort & Spa. He organized this visit on my behalf (and all my activities) as well as the beautiful ladies: Lydia, her daughter Mia and Vanessa (the dynamic Puerto Ricans 🙂
We then proceeded to share the goodies with the students.
So we went around the small classroom and distributed them. The expressions on their little faces were priceless.
It was like watching children open their presents on Christmas Day 🙂
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this precious moment!
The teacher let them admire them for a few moments and he said that they all knew what do to which is to classify and arrange them accordingly in the shelves for future use! Now that’s what the spirit of giving and sharing is all about.
Just seeing them smile and be excited about our small contribution made my heart very happy. It reminded me to never take anything for granted, may it be big or small. Who knew that such simple things in life can actually bring an east to west smile, especially a young child. They do have a great memory and remember long after you’ve given them something cool and useful. Trust me I used to be one of them and my ex students did too. Those memories are irreplaceable but mostly the feelings can’t be explained!
Now they wanted to offer us a presentation of a typical dance of Costa Rica called “Tico de Corazón” (Tico at heart).
There were technical problems, so they decided instead to dance for us 🙂 How sweet of them! Again Moises was quick to act and saved the day. He looked for the song on his smart phone and thank God for Youtube!
It only took a few minutes to put shyness aside and for the beautiful dance to start
What a fun way of learning a bit more about the Costa Rican Culture thanks to the children!
It was now time for them to go back to class and try to focus once more.
That was so lovely to watch and right there and then I felt much more appreciation as well as admiration for the teacher and the students.
I definitely felt a lot of respect and it will teach me to be even more humble and count my blessings and not to complain about anything…ever again!
I told the kids to keep up the great work and to always believe in their dreams. Anything they set their mind to is possible and not to let anyone tell them otherwise.
After bidding them farewell, we left and walked around the beautiful gardens before heading back to our HQ (Headquarters).
I now understand that giving back, even if it’s something small is truly a gift for those who receive it. There simply is no better feeling in life than knowing that you made a difference or a positive impact in their lives!
I would like to thank Parador Resort and Spa for being a fantastic hotel with a heart and for supporting the community. I really hope more guests will become aware of the Pack For a Purpose program and remember it whenever or wherever they travel.
This humbling, educating, eye-opening (and life-changing) experience in Costa Rica is definitely something I needed and certainly recommend to anyone. I hope to visit another school or institution in the near future!
I hope you enjoyed the first adventure! Stay tuned for more 🙂
Tell me something,
Have you ever contributed to a community or
Have you participated in a similar activity while abroad?
Did you know about Pack for a Purpose?
Let us know!
Make sure you follow Parador Resort and Spa
And Pack For a Purpose
Hasta Luego, see you soon!
All the best, Pura Vida