Camp GLOW: Week Two

During Week Two of Camp GLOW, we took over the Peace Corps Costa Rica Facebook page and posted daily updates about the camp. Below, I am sharing the posts that we did just to give some insight of our daily sessions during the camp.


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We’re Princess and Tily, Community Economic Development volunteers serving in southern Costa Rica. This week, we’re takin’ over the Peace Corps Costa Rica Facebook page to bring you daily deets of our week-long girls empowerment and leadership camp, Camp GLOW, which starts tomorrow!


Day 1

Day 1 of Camp GLOW was a success! It was a jam-packed day full of tons of great activities.

In the morning, the group spent time making their bolsas de cumplidos (compliment bags), an activity that we’ll do throughout the week to create a positive environment and encourage our group to give and receive complements to each other.

Then, we spent almost an entire hour trying to untangle ourselves from our human knot! Afterwards, the girls were relieved to do some Zumba, led by PCV (and future Zumba instructor) Jasmine.

We finished the day with a session on Gender Equality & Empowerment led by PCV Princess that encouraged the girls to think about gender as relates to their community in Costa Rica.

Tomorrow, we’ll be focusing on relationships, reproductive health and health & wellness!

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Camp GLOW: Week One

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10 months ago, I sat on a bus with my friend and Tico 31 comrade Princess as we made our way to our San Jose for our first IST (in-service training) just three months after arriving in our sites.

Princess and I are site neighbors, and I use the word “neighbors” loosely because we live almost two hours away from each other.

Princess lives in Sabalito, a city of about 1,000 people while I live higher up in the mountains in a rural community of 150 people.

Sitting on the bus, Princess told me about the challenges her community was facing, especially the young girls in the local high school where she worked. She told me the dropout rate for girls was 4.85% due to risk factors such as prostitution and teen pregnancy, and because she lives so close to the Panamanian border, drugs and poverty also play a big role in the high dropout rate.

We both eagerly made hypothetical plans together to do a girls empowerment camp at the high school sometime during our service. I mean, 10 months ago, we had plenty of time to make some magic happen.

Fast forward 10 months later to today and here we are, executing two 6-day GLOW camps after having successfully secured a $2,500 Let Girls Learn grant. Continue reading

Teaching in a Rural Escuela

When Peace Corps Volunteers arrive at site, the first thing they do is panic.

After that step is complete, many of us find ourselves working in local escuelas y colegios (elementary schools and high schools) as a way to integrate into our communities and do something besides taking long walks, eating, emotional eating, reading, and misinterpreting everything our host families say.

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As a Community Economic Development (CED) Volunteer, those first few months can be especially tough because we’re constantly battling the assumption that we are here to teach English.

I repeat, we are not here to teach English. Unless it’s to, for example, adults, and seen as an employability and community development building skill.

Even that’s a stretch for me… (psssst I don’t like teaching English). Continue reading

Hiking Cerro Chirripó

Last week I stood on the top of Cerro Chirripó, the highest point in Costa Rica.

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It. was. incredible.

At 12,530 feet, Chirripó is the highest mountain in Costa Rica, the 5th highest peak in Central America, and the 37th most prominent peak in the world.

Just a few behind Mount Everest…

Well more than a few but they’re on the same list which, yeah…I know.

Cerro Chirripó is located in Chirripó National Park in the southern region of Costa Rica. The main trailhead to the park is located in a small town called San Geraldo de Rivas, just 1.5 hours from the city of San Isidro and about 7-8 hours from my site.

I swear everything is 7-8 hours from my site.

For the past six months, I, along with a group of seven other volunteers, have been planning, anticipating, and training vigorously (ha just kiddin’) in preparation for our hike up Chirripó.

Between reserving park permits for eight people, overnight lodging at the bottom and top of the mountain, and pulling together the few pieces of cold-weather clothing I brought to this country, this three-day overnight trip took a bit of planning.

But that didn’t stop us, even though the days leading up to our departure were wet, rainy, and cold.

Our basic itinerary went something like this:
Day 1: Stay at the bottom of the mountain near the park entrance at Casa Mariposa
Day 2: Begin hike at 5:00am and arrive at Crestones Base Camp (11,155ft), 3.4 miles from the summit of mountain, at 12:30pm.
Day 3: Begin hike at 3:00am to arrive at the summit for sunrise at 5:00am. Leave Crestones Base Camp at 8:30am and arrive back at Casa Mariposa at 1pm. Continue reading

Celebrating One Year as a PCV

This month, I celebrate the completion of my first year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica.

It’s true what they say in the Peace Corps, that days pass by slowly but the months fly by.

How is it rainy season again already?

Reaching this point in my service is not only rewarding, but it brings me a sense of stability and comfort.

Before I left for the Peace Corps, 27 months felt like forever. But to really integrate into a new culture and community and work on sustainable long-term projects, all while learning a new language, it’s hardly enough time.

Now, different from a year ago, and even different from six months ago, I finally feel grounded; like I’ve found my place in my community and have a greater understanding for my host country and how things work (ahem, coffee is priority and meetings start at least an hour late).

In the whirlwind of all this, over the past six months I’ve experienced the ups and downs of working at a grass-roots level, transitioned in my role as a PCV, and even had some time to travel around the country (and Nicaragua!). Continue reading