The GVI team in Quepos, Costa Rica, is still going strong in our new community center, La Casa del Sol. Our team and the town of El Cocal have seen the huge impact that GVI has had thus far in the short amount of time we have occupied the Casa. The children return every day for hours of enjoyment with volunteers and school friends alike. Students in El Cocal only have school in for three hours every day since the teachers are in charge of two grades each and must split the day accordingly. When the students are not in school, they change out of their uniforms and return to the Casa, ready to play and learn.
There is no art curriculum in the school of El Cocal, and we felt this was a perfect opportunity for us to step up and take charge. The GVI volunteers have taught the children all of the basics and continue to increase the general knowledge of art in the community through new plans and projects. The artwork on the walls of the Casa prove that the kids are now experts on primary colors, mixing colors, shapes, patterns, designs, drawing, painting, and tracing. While we believe all of these are an essential part of a child´s education, the art program has surpassed all expectations by also introducing the children to music, theatre, construction, and so much more.
Music days in La Casa del Sol are a favorite of everyone. The days are filled making instruments and practicing keeping rhythm, learning different choreography and making dances to popular songs, experimenting with different sounds and creating new noises, and even learning to play the guitar. On these days, sounds of music and laughter come ringing from every room in the Casa. Children light up as they experience different types of music and dance for the first time. This past week we even had a train of children and volunteers, with different homemade instruments, singing and chanting while walking down the main street in El Cocal; it was a special sight to see.
Another huge hit has also been our theatre days. With the help of GVI volunteers, children are able to make puppets out of all different kinds of materials, practice comedy skits, create their own plays, learn miming techniques, practice ventriloquism, write their own scripts, and experiment with different voices and accents- just to name a few of the days´ activities. The children have even taken time to make miniature stages for their puppet shows! Construction is also a favorite, especially for the older kids who can never turn down building something new. They have constructed kites to fly on the beach, boats for racing, cars, volcanoes, and houses. Every day in La Casa del Sol is a new adventure for everyone involved.
We are going strong here in Quepos with a dedicated group of children who come every day to be with us. Summer vacation has already begun for the children, many of whom are now working, watching siblings, or helping around the house, but we still are lucky enough to hang out with 25-35 children every day. The activities we have been doing with the children put a fun spin on all things educational, and an educational spin on all things fun.
2012 - what a year! And to top it off, a group of GVI staff and volunteers participated in a rafting challenge to secure additional funds for the projects in Costa Rica, on top of your much appreciated donation. A big congratulations to the team in Costa Rica for completing the Source to Sea challenge! Thank you and well done to all the challengers for your stamina, good humour and perseverance. A huge thank you also to all the friends and family of the Challengers who kindly donated to support our Jalova and Quepos projects.
The challenge was an epic 3 day adventure from the source of the Pacuare river to the GVI base in Jalova, Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Sea – half way across Costa Rica. The Group rafted through the best white water rapids in Costa Rica, and then kayaked through to the calm and wild canals of Tortuguero. There was plenty amount of time along the way to enjoy the scenery, but they also got their adrenaline pumping and completed some group and individual challenges along the way. Rafters were temporarily stranded in the rapids some went for unwanted swims, but all arrived safely, thoroughly tired and with a big smile on their face in Jalova.
Funds raised through this challenge will be used to enhance the education of the children in the community close to Quepos. The Community Development Project on the Pacific coast is working to support the children of an isolated community near Quepos. The school and community has very limited infrastructure and we are raising funds to enhance the children’s education. We would like funds to buy more books, teaching supplies and materials to renovate a room in the school that we can use as the GVI classroom.
Thank you again for your support in 2012, we are excited to be able to continue working with the community in Costa Rica in 2013!
One of GVI’s primary initiatives in Quepos is the English program. Although Costa Rica has an incredibly high literacy rate, literacy is not enough to guarantee future success for these children. In a country dominated and fueled by tourism, the ability to speak English is crucial to Costa Ricans’ job prospects. With this in mind, GVI Quepos runs English programs in both of our communities – Boca Vieja and El Cocal.
Boca Vieja, although our newest community, has a slightly more established curriculum; largely due to the fact that the school schedule is more regular, which allows for a higher level of consistency in learning. El Cocal, however, has historically been a bit more inconsistent, which is why the team in Quepos has focused much of its energy on this issue in the past several months. We are happy to report that these efforts have paid off!
By implementing a program in which we take the five best students from each English class, and give them more concentrated teaching by native English speakers, the local teachers have seen a marked increase in those students’ learning. Due to these efforts, two things have happened. The local English teacher has asked our volunteers to come in to his classroom and lead the class with his support. This is an incredible milestone because it means that when the local English teacher is unable to attend school due to other obligations, our volunteers will know where the students are in the curriculum, and be prepared to lead the class without the local teacher, thereby increasing the students’ class time – giving them that consistency needed for continuous learning. Additionally, our 6th grade teacher has asked us to give her class English lessons outside of school hours to better prepare them for graduation. These lessons have always been available to the students, but now they are coming on a regular basis, thanks to the buy in and active support of the local teacher.
All in all, some major steps were made this month towards greatly improving the childrens’ options upon graduating from school and entering the job market. To stay updated on our adventures please take a look at our blog at Costa Rica blog.
Here in Quepos we have been working in the community of El Cocal for over a year now. There are several reasons why this community was identified as a priority for our work in Quepos. Firstly, there is only one school on the entire island which means that the school has had to divide it’s day in half to accommodate all of the students in its existing structure. As a result, the children in El Cocal only have school for half a day and are free to roam the island for the other half. The second major issue on the island is drugs. Everywhere you look in El Cocal you can find evidence of drug use, and with so much free time on their hands, it is likely that the children will get sucked into this life at a young age.
In order to counteract this, the GVI team in Quepos opened a community center on the island. The idea here is that the children can still receive a full day of education as well as have a safe, drug free space available to them. Until recently, we had been running this center out of an outdoor space we rented from a local church. However, as our various initiatives – such as adult English classes – grew, we found that we needed a bigger, more structured space. With a combination of luck, timing, and good fortune, we found a new center immediately across the path from the El Cocal school. After a little loving elbow grease by all of us here, the new center is well on its way to becoming the epicenter of fun, educational, drug-free activities on the island, and the Grand Opening is scheduled for the middle of September.
For the past several months, the team in Quepos has been renovating a spare storage room at our school in El Cocal, with the goal in mind of turning this room into a classroom and resource room. After a lot of sweat and sore muscles, the volunteers successfully pulled off a complete transformation of the space, and we now have a classroom out of which to base our operations in the school. The creation of this classroom is extremely important to GVI’s work in the school, because it now makes it possible for our volunteers to work one on one with students that need a little extra help in order to catch up with the rest of the class. It also allows us to take a small group of the best English students from each grade and give them more concentrated attention in order to let them progress to their full potential.
The creation of this new classroom has everyone in the project very excited – the teachers are excited because they can now be more effective with their lessons while knowing that the students that need more concentrated help are receiving it, and the volunteers are thrilled because it lets them form a stronger connection to their students. All in all, this is a big step towards GVI’s ultimate goal here in Costa Rica – furthering the education of students in under resourced schools and giving them the one on one attention and encouragement that they crave. To follow the happenings in Costa Rica, take a look at our blog at www.gvicostarica.blogspot.com .
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager