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San Jose Through the Eyes of a Child

looks far more exciting than it does to an american expat, and that perhaps is how it should look to us all…

Each month the girls at the Peace through Yoga Foundation’s Center for Girls take a field trip or excursión to enhance student learning and get the girls excited about education beyond the classroom. This month was the much-anticipated trip to San Jose, the nation’s capital, a trip the girls have worked hard to earn all year. I was fortunate enough to begin working with the ladies just in time to chaperone. I have to be honest. I was not exactly excited about getting to know San Jose, at least not beyond getting to spend time with the girls. When I envision ideal jaunts around the country, I picture the variety of animals in Manuel Antonio, the majestic Arenal Volcano, and the beaches in the Oso Peninsula. However, upon seeing the joy on the faces of our students as our mini bus approached the city, I realized I have quite a bit to learn about joy and appreciation.

If you could create a recording of our time in the city the words most commonly uttered by the girls were, “Que Lindo,” how beautiful, and “Wow.” These ladies were in awe of every. single. detail; from the lights to the tall buildings. We began our time in the capital by checking in at the Back Packers Hostel. Our location set the stag for an amazing trip. The courtyard was impressive for a hostel, lush gardens surrounding lawn chairs, hammocks, and a swimming pool! The girls were more than excited to share dorm rooms together and could not stop buzzing about getting to swim in the pool.

The first night we ate in the courtyard and got ready to go to what for most of the girls was their first time in a movie theater. The movie theater was situated in a very modern and swanky neighborhood of San Jose. It was impossible not to notice the stark difference between our group from rural Limón Providence and the opulence of the mall. I believe if we had done nothing else for the entire trip but walk around the mall the girls would still have been overjoyed. However, we were in the mall to see Trolls, a musical comedy about the wondrous world of the overly optimistic trolls. For any adults that have happened to sit through this movie, I know how much you must love your children! Despite the cosmic swirl of colors and ridiculous content, I am happy I was there to see the joy on the faces of our girls as they experienced “The Big Screen.”

The highlight of the trip, and a place I recommend visiting if you are ever in San Jose, is the children’s museum. We spent over 4 hours in the museum and the girls were still happy and learning! Not only is the content of the museum well done, each topic is organized by room, and each room comes with a guide to teach the children everything from banana exportation, to the human body, to electricity. The museum is interactive, all encompassing, and housed in a former jail that looks like a castle! I believe children’s museums worldwide could learn quite a bit from visiting this truly impressive locale.

After visiting the museum, the girls went back to the hostel to prepare for our special dinner at Café Mundo, followed by swimming in the pool with a blow up shark toy we brought from the US. The next day the girls visited the park and ate lunch at a restaurant where they could watch the airplanes take off. None of the girls had traveled in a plane and many quickly made future plans to do so!

We arrived home to Hone Creek Sunday evening tired and happy. This trip brings to mind the perhaps overused quote, which has never seemed more appropriate,

“see the world as if for the first time; see it through the eyes of a child, and you will suddenly find that you are free.”

However, watching the sheer joy and genuine excitement on the faces of these little girls for the entire weekend was truly a lesson in freedom. We are all always free to see the world as new, to be in love with every minute of our lives, to find excitement in the mundane, and to travel inside our own countries and hearts and discover new worlds.

Meghan Stepnowski

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