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  • Katlyn Taylor

Katlyn's Blog Take-Over

Hello my name is Katlyn Taylor, I am currently a Senior at Michigan State University studying Social Work. I dream and aspire to make a difference in the world helping others reveal their best self. I chose to engage in this study abroad here in Costa Rica to begin my journey on learning and becoming fluent in Spanish. This is something I have always wanted so I could broaden the amount of people I can reach and help in this world. The fact that the learning of Spanish was paired with learning how to engage and research a community I was even more thrilled. I have been blessed on this journey more than I ever could imagine and have been changed by my experience here in Costa Rica and especially here in Hone Creek with these sweet girls! I am excited to share just a little glimpse of what my time looked like here with them.

Adjusting can be hard.

I entered this new country two months ago and now I have relocated to a complete different side of the country.

Something that has made the relocation a little bit better was the warm welcomes from the girls at Girls For Success.

Upon meeting the girls, I knew they were going to be the best part of my relocation.

They after-all were the reason I am here.

The last two days we have spent our time painting rocks, teaching the girls to garden and we even discussed family dynamics and painted our very own family trees.

The girls are full of joy, laughter, and friendships.

Being around the girls who are full of life, full of gratitude, and full of happiness.

The energy generates, suddenly you’re finding gratitude in the small things, feeling happiness, reminiscing on your own childhood.

Adjusting can be hard but it is a lot easier when you have warm welcomes from wonderful girls that you get to work with for the next two months.

February 23, 2019 `Comfortability`

The girls became more comfortable with us by the end of the week.It was Friday, and we were working on how to tell time in English. You could tell the girls had established some trust within us and we're really starting to us for guidance. Friday’s class had to of been my favorite class yet. The girls were so interested and appreciative of the opportunity to be learning English.There was little to no horseplay.However, they are ages 7 through 12 so there was indeed some goofiness. Overall, they were very eager to learn and invested in the material being presented to them. This again made me realize a gratitude within myself.We should all be that eager to learn new information.Being grateful to have the opportunity to gain more knowledge. During recess the girls we’re simply full of giggles and life. Afterwards, we started our daily walk around town to drop each of the girls off.But, before we could even get on the road the girls start pulling on these green leaf like things that were sticking straight out of the ground. To my surprise, they were connected to a coconut … underground.To be quite honest I still do not really know what the heck that was but these girls were so excited about taking them home, they were carrying and dragging them all around the town until we reached their house. It had to be one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. These little girls are already changing my life. I can not imagine six more weeks with them. I know the time is going to fly by, and I am sure they are teaching me more than they know.

February 27th, 2019

My first week on the Caribbean Coast was the hottest week they had in years, at least that’s what the locals said.

However, the last five days have been rain all day, every day.

In the night it seems to be the absolute worst, and the days consist of mist or a constant light rain.

Monday was the worst day in terms of rain, and our program coordinator had a family emergency and had to go be with her family in San Jose.

That left us to implement the lesson plans for the week, with the help of Doña Emilia.

This was scary yet very exciting.

I felt like we had made true connections with the girls the week prior so I knew it was going to be okay.

At the same time we had also only been here in Hone Creek for a week.

We worked with the girls on improving their skills on how to read a clock properly in English.

We also did a worksheet where they had to write three things they “believe” in, three things they “think”, and three things the “know”.

This really made me also self reflect and think about what I believe in, what I think and what I know.

Once again, I walked away from the class with the girls learning a lot about myself and also about them.

I was also, feeling very excited for their futures because many of them were very self aware.

Much more aware than I ever was at that age.

March 4, 2019

The sense of community here in Hone Creek is honestly quite astounding.

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early to be at the school by eight in the morning to begin cleaning the yard around the school, removing trees and a lot of brush.

Michigan State Engineering students were coming the very next day to begin their work on building a soccer field and park area for the girls.

By nine in the morning there was about 10-15 people there with their kids, working together all for the greater good of these girls and their resources.

It was so beautiful.

Everyone was there for about five hours.

There was dancing, dirt and a lot of sweat.

But it was a beautiful example of a community coming together and expecting nothing in return but rather spending their Sunday helping provide a better space for the young girls in the community.

I was blessed to have watched such a powerful thing happen.

And I was even more blessed to be apart of it.

We are all very excited to see what the Engineering students do this week

March 8, 2019

International Women’s Day.

I have never been apart of any March, let alone a Women’s March.

However, it was Día de la Muejer in Costa Rica.

The main reason we choose to do our research in the community of Hone Creek was to help the younger girls of the community and ultimately help empower them.

Therefore, when we were in Puerto Viejo doing research and learned there would be a women’s march for all the injustices they face, especially here in Costa Rica where the Machismo culture is very strong. We had to go.

At first, it was a bit comical because I couldn’t understand what we were chanting and I was just trying to make it look like I knew what I was saying.

However, by the end I understood what we were saying and how powerful of a message we were portraying to this community.

In commencement, a women read off all the names and ages of the women just this year that had been killed in Costa Rica due to violence from a partner.

This was one of the most powerful events I have ever attended or been apart of.

This message was not only powerful for the community but also it did something to me personally. This event made me feel more passionate not only for the injustices of women worldwide. But especially here in Costa Rica where the femicide rates are unbelievable.

March 8, 2019

A hard week indeed.

We had students from the College of Engineering from Michigan State University here this week.

They were coming to revamp and upgrade the yard at the girls school.

I was sick with perhaps a virus or food poisoning so our first day I only made it about half way through helping.

We also have had a super busy week with research and formulating our project.

We are so excited with the way things are looking and the changes we may be able to bring to this program!

Yesterday we had our celebration and spent the afternoon celebrating with the girls.

My heart was so full seeing them so happy with the way their school yard had turned out.

They were so grateful for everything.

The Engineering students had brought them all Michigan State University pencils and pens, all the girls carried them around like they were prized possessions, some would not even set them down.

This filled my heart with so much gratitude. seeing these girls be so appreciative and value something as small as a pen and pencil.

These girls bring me so much joy and happiness, it will be hard to leave them.

March 9, 2019

Today we met with the mentorship girls for our second time.

However, it was our first time meeting several of them.

At first, of course it was a bit awkward and tense.

We started with some name games, chips and juice.

Then we gave the girls our survey to learn a bit more about them, their interest, and how we can maybe help them and implement their program better.

After that is when the fun came, we played some games with water balloons and then had a free for all fight.

This is when the girls had really warmed up!

It was so much fun.

We ended with some questions, conversations and helado!

I had a great time getting to know the girls better and grew even more excited to try and better implement a program to help each and every single on of these young women become successful.

March 18, 2019

We had a one week debrief back Santa Ana, our “headquarters” so to say.

And while there I first, realized just how much I had put my Spanish to use while living in Hone Creek and working with the girls.

Second, I realized just how different the Caribbean Coast is compared to the Central Valley.

Third, I realized how much I was learning about myself.

This trip has been so full of growth it’s almost been uncomfortable.

I have certainly gained more awareness of the environment and the need to protect it.

I have also really developed more of my feminist views. Of course, I have always been pro-women and feminist equality. However, working with these sweet girls and learning the culture that Costa Rica tends to have with the oppression of women has made me have such a desire of feminism inside myself.

I have also spent so much time thinking, being in the middle of nature, connecting with the world around me, I really have learned quite a lot about the parts deepest inside me and who I truly am.

This trip has been full of growth and working with the girls at Girls For Success has developed me in ways that I can never thank them enough for.

March 18, 2019

We had a one week debrief back Santa Ana, our “headquarters” so to say.

And while there I first, realized just how much I had put my Spanish to use while living in Hone Creek and working with the girls.

Second, I realized just how different the Caribbean Coast is compared to the Central Valley.

Third, I realized how much I was learning about myself.

This trip has been so full of growth it’s almost been uncomfortable.

I have certainly gained more awareness of the environment and the need to protect it.

I have also really developed more of my feminist views. Of course, I have always been pro-women and feminist equality. However, working with these sweet girls and learning the culture that Costa Rica tends to have with the oppression of women has made me have such a desire of feminism inside myself.

I have also spent so much time thinking, being in the middle of nature, connecting with the world around me, I really have learned quite a lot about the parts deepest inside me and who I truly am.

This trip has been full of growth and working with the girls at Girls For Success has developed me in ways that I can never thank them enough for.

March 22, 2019

While it was quite rainy and gloomy all week..

Class still had high energy, lots of learning and a lot of interaction.

We learned vocabulary words, we played games to study the vocabulary, and we also did some arts and crafts. It was a fun week for all of us!

I loved being able to teach the girls while learning at the same time.

One day there was no water so the girls did not have their primary school. It really made me so happy to see that all the girls decided to come to English class! They all came with their snacks and were so full of energy.. It truly filled my heart.

During this week I learned more about the need for more programs in Costa Rica in general but especially in the Talamanca region. As there is high rates in drug use, and teen pregnancy. I am feeling a true connection to Costa Rica at this point in my trip and would love to be able to come here and help with the youth in this region.

I love the girl’s in Girls For Success, I love the youth and all the people here.

March 28, 2019

This week we had a photographer/videographer in the classroom with us, he is going to be making a documentary for the Girls for Success Program.

It was a lot of fun having him there but we did not allow that to distract us in the classroom.

In fact, I would say we even had some of our best classes yet.

The girls were so engaged, learning so much material and ACTUALLY getting it.

I love helping the girls understand the material but even better I loved being able to learn alongside them.

These girls have changed my life without a doubt..

The way I feel here in Hone Creek,

I feel right at home.

My heart has been moved and changed so much.

March 29, 2019

For several years now I have always known I would start a program for teens.

I always said I don’t know where and I don’t know when but I will create a program for troubled youth.Youth in need of guidance and positivity in their lives.

After a few short weeks here in Hone Creek, seeing just how necessary the Girls For Success Program was for these girls and how much it truly was impacting their lives for the better..

I also saw the crucial need for a program for the other youth and teenagers here in the Limón Province, especially in the cities surrounding Puerto Viejo a frequently visited tourist town.

Many of the youth in the nearby cities are being seen engaging in drugs and ending up pregnant at very young ages.

I have really felt an attachment to not only the girls in Girls for Success but also the culture, the people, and the serious need for helping the children here.

There are many people and programs helping youth in the United States but here in all of Costa Rica but especially in the Limón province there is a serious lack of positive engagement for youth and teens.

I have really felt like I have found a part of my calling, something I have always dreamed of doing, now making more sense and becoming more clear.

This program has changed me more than I believe I even know. I am beyond excited and blessed to see where God takes me and how these final two weeks with these sweet girls goes.

I am feeling like I never want to go, but I know it is also necessary.

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