June 20, 2012
This blog was written six weeks into my volunteer experience.
It’s been six weeks since I arrived to Potrero, Costa Rica, and somehow, thinking about it, six weeks seems like nothing, but at the same time I feel like I’ve been here forever. This is my life! The first couple of weeks it felt like a vacation, going to the beach all the time and discovering the area and I still thank God every single day for the Paradise I’m in, but the first amazement has settled and now this really is my home.
I’ve been putting off writing about it because I simply don’t know where to start, what to write and what to leave out, but I’m going to do my best.
The first two weeks were intense in the way that everything was new. New country, new surroundings, new home (home stay, so home in other people’s home), if not new then different language, new people, new responsibilities and new challenges. Spanish did not come as easy to me as I’d expected it to. I struggled speaking it, but more so understanding it. The Costa Rican dialect is different to the European Spanish accent. Being a shy person and a perfectionist, it was hard reaching out to the family with whom I stayed. Only now am I beginning to feel confident about my Spanish and I understand the people much better, but I’d never expected for it to take me six weeks to get back into Spanish!
The family I stayed with was great in many ways, but the experience of a home stay was not so great for me. They were so kind towards me and treated me so nicely, but it was obvious that they considered me a guest in their home while I came with the expectation of being an actual part of the family. After two weeks there, I didn’t see that expectation ever coming true, and I felt uncomfortable in the home. I didn’t spent very much time there because the volunteer group is awesome and does a lot of things together. So I decided that home stay wasn't for me, because I longed for more independence. I wanted to cook my own food and tidy my own room. I made inquiries about moving to my own place and immediately I had an apartment on my hands, ready for me to move in to only a few days later. I love my apartment, my home, and I actually talk more with the family now than I did before, visiting them every now and then or running errands to their place. The daughter is in our 2nd grade English class, so I see her frequently and she’s amazing.
Now I live with an Australian in a small, but great apartment. I have the bigger and better room because I got here first. The kitchen didn’t have a lot of things, but we've bought stuff and it feels like home. I love it and living here has given me so much more energy to focus on what I’m here to do; volunteer.
Monday through Thursday, we’ve got 3 classes a day switching between Kinder class, 1st and 2nd grade, 3rd and 4th and 5th and 6th. On Fridays we have what we call Fun Friday where we do arts or sports outside of the class room. This week we’re having a scavenger hunt! Furthermore, I teach a beginner adult class Monday and Wednesday after kids’ classes. I just took over leading it and I’m loving the challenge! It is very challenging, but I feel up to the challenge and love how much my students learn in a single class.
It took me a good month, I’d say, to get into a good rhythm with knowing what to do when. I still rely on people to tell me what to do sometimes and how to do things all the time, but I’ve also learnt how to do a lot of things. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing more bad than good, because I make so many mistakes all the time, but on the other hand I know that I’m very appreciated here and that every little thing helps.
One thing I find a lot of joy in and that I know is so appreciated is photography. I’ve taken so many pictures and uploaded so many pictures to different media pages, that some days I’m sick of it, but most days I love it. I’m not a skilled photographer but nobody seems to mind that and I see myself improve day by day.
That's it for now!
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