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Kate's Blog Take Over

Kate Kelly, one of the three students studying abroad from MSU and living in the Hone Creek Community has taken over the forum! Kate's mission is to share her blog posts from the past several months regarding life and times of a student and community member in rural Límon, Costa Rica.

February 20, 2019

Today was my second full day in Hone Creek. The transition from Santa Ana to here has been a big one, but I am starting to become more comfortable in this environment and love the town. Doña Emilia is the sweetest lady, and I love staying with her. Katlyn, Margaret and I spent the morning on the beach in Puerto Viejo enjoying the sun and the sea. We drank smoothies and enjoyed the view at La Parada, and then headed back to Doña Emilia’s. We had lunch with her and then the girls came over to her house. We all introduced ourselves and got to know each other a bit, and then went and found stones to paint. We all decorated our rocks with names of different plants to go in the school’s future garden. The girls also planted little plants in decorated tins, and everything turned out beautiful! The stones will look so good in the garden. We walked the girls home afterwards, and after dinner the three of us walked to a local pulperia to buy some chocolate. When we got back, we sat on the porch with Doña Emilia and we all enjoyed our goods and talked for a while. I feel that even after two days here my Spanish is improving! This is going to be a great two months.

Friday, February 22, 2019

It rained all through the night last night, which is actually one of the first times I've seen rain in my two months here in Costa Rica. After breakfast, Katlyn, Margaret, and I went into Puerto Viejo so that we could have access to WiFi and work on a few things. We found a little ice cream shop close to the beach where we got smoothies to drink while we worked. After we had finished, we found an amazing boutique called Wanderlust that had the cutest things, so we stopped in and spent a little too much money there. No regrets! When we got back to Hone Creek, We had lunch with Doña Emilia's sister Carmen, who was staying with us for the weekend with Emilia is out of town. When we finished lunch, we met Patricia and the girls at the school, where the topic of the day was Time. I drew a big clock on the board and wrote out all of the different times of day (one o'clock, two o'clock, etc...), and Katlyn drew different hands on the clock and had the girls tell her what time it was in English. After going around the room a couple of times, Patricia gave the girls a practice sheet to work on time, and the three of us helped the girls understand and complete the worksheets. Helping the girls to learn and understand English was thrilling for me, I felt completely in my element. When I'm done with school, I would love nothing more than to teach English as a second language in another country, and this gave me a taste of that and it was delicious. I could feel the girls warming up to us, and when we were done with the schoolwork we played together outside. The girls are so full of excitement and life, they just fill you right up with happiness. When it got to be 4:00 and it was time to go, we walked the girls home, dragging coconuts that they had pulled from the ground behind us. I am so excited that I am starting to form relationships with the girls and am so looking forward to watching them grow each day that we meet!

February 27, 2019

Another rainy day here in Hone Creek! This cool, rainy weather is a complete 180 from the straight heat and nonstop sweating of my first week here. Doña Emilia made us eggs and a tortilla for breakfast, and then Margaret, Katlyn and I did some work until lunchtime, with a break for galleta o’clock of course. After lunch, we went around town to pick up the girls for class. I almost got us lost looking for one of the girl’s houses, but right when they started to lose faith in me she came out the front door. Phew! After rounding up all of our sheep, we went back to Emilia’s house where we were having class today in the ranchera. We started with worksheets where the girls practiced hearing and understanding times of day and drawing a clock to match the time that we told them. It took a little while, but with some help they really started to understand it. It was so cool to watch as they understood a little more each time with our help and eventually became confident enough to do it on their own. After the worksheets we had a little recess where we kicked around a soccer ball and chatted with the girls, and when we reconvened we did an activity where the girls wrote three things they believed, three things they thought, and three things they knew. Most of the girls took it seriously and reading their responses was so interesting because it really helped get inside their head and see the world as they do. After that, we used construction paper, scissors, and glue to create beautiful flowers that we then labeled the parts of in both Spanish and English, to help them with the garden activity they will be doing with Emilia on Friday. That brought us right to the end of class, so when the flowers were done we walked the girls back to their homes. When we got back, Katlyn and I went for a nice run, and then we worked on our research with Margaret until dinner. After dinner, we planned our weekend activity we have scheduled with the Girls for Success Club, the older graduates of the Program, on Sunday. I am very excited to meet these girls and get to know them, as our research here for the next few weeks is focused on helping to engage them more with the Program and their community.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Today was probably the best day here yet for me. Katlyn, Margaret and I went to Puerto Viejo in the morning to do some work with internet. We went to the bakery and I had another one of their delicious blackberry, strawberry and lime smoothies. While we were working, a man from Argentina came up to us and showed us some jewelry that he made to finance his travels through Central America. He was really nice, and his pieces were beautiful so we each bought a different colored butterfly anklet from him. We came home to a delicious lunch and when we finished it was time to pick up the girls for school. We brought them back to Doña Emilia’s ranchera, where we helped her to a gardening workshop with them. We helped make compost, fertilizer, and even planted our own little matitas with soil that we dug up ourselves. The girls were having a great time making their potted plants look cute with all of the different flora in Doña’s yard, and at the end they looked great. We walked the girls home and said our goodbyes and walked home. Some of us went for a little walk and then at 5:45 we all walked to the soccer field because I wanted to play with some of the women in the community. It cost a thousand colones to play (around $2) and while I was a little nervous, I went out there and played my best. After I got comfortable with the women and playing with them, I started having the time of my life. It was so fun, my team won, I had three assists and a goal! At the end I was hot, tired, and sweaty, but in the best mood of my life. We stayed a little after and watched the men play for a while, and then walked home. After dinner, Emilia’s son and his family came over and we listened to music and played cards for a while. It was a perfect end to a great day.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

We woke up bright and early today to meet up with different members of the community at the school to clean up the front yard. We had to do this for the soccer field that engineering students from our university will be coming to build this next week. We started with little things, like moving rocks and picking weeds, but when more people started to show up we started cutting down trees! There was a huge heap of natural matter in the back corner of the yard, and we started shoveling it into the back of a pick-up truck. We found some odd stuff in that pile, included but not limited to: five brooms without handles, a two-liter pop bottle filled with water, a shoe, a corresponding sock, a bed frame, a broken china teapot, and a satellite dish. After the truck made a few trips, the mountain was no more, and the yard was transformed! The kids and I also worked on painting the bucket and tire that contained plants in front of the school, and by the end of that project, a lot of us had turned pink as well. I met a lot of the girls’ parents and siblings, as well as the kids that live next door to the school. They were all really sweet, I’m so glad that I got to know them better. We got back to Doña’s to eat lunch at around 12:50, so we had to eat quickly as the older girls from the Girls for Success Club would be arriving at 1:00. We had three girls show up, and we did some icebreakers to get to know them a little bit. We talked for a little while about their interests and future plans, then gave them a survey we had made up to help us with our research. When they finished that, we talked about their responses for a little, then had ice cream with Emilia. It was so nice to finally meet some of the girls in the club that we are researching, and we have already started planning another get together for Saturday!

Thursday, March 7, 2019 T

oday was a day of celebration! Over the past week, a group of engineering students from Michigan State University have been working hard to transform the yard of the Girls for Success classroom. Last week, the yard was just a patch of grass and trees overrun with ants. Today, you can walk through the new fence to find a beautiful pebbled path leading you to a huge trampoline and soon-to-be soccer field. Today, we rewarded all of their hard work with a party complete with music, pizza, ice cream, soccer-playing, and trampoline-jumping! All of the girls came to celebrate with us, and we had such a good time all hanging out. They even convinced me to take a turn on the trampoline with them! Vincent, our professor and the Peace through Yoga Foundation’s Vice President of Development delivered a few special words to the girls, talking about how excited he is for the future of each one of the girls. It was very touching. After all of the festivities, we said our goodbyes to the engineering students and walked the girls home. We ran into one of the girl’s moms on our way home and talked to her for a while, and then some of the girls a little further down the way. I am starting to feel like a part of the community. I love being able to walk down the street and greet people by name, and the best part is that my time here isn’t even halfway over yet. Everyone here is so friendly and welcoming, I am excited to see how much further I can develop my relationships here over my next 5 weeks in Hone Creek.

Monday, March 18, 2019

I am so glad to be back in Hone Creek after a week in San Jose! I missed the town, my family, and especially the girls. My first day back was an exciting one, after lunch we met Patricia and the girls at the classroom and were greeted by screams and hugs. It was so heartwarming, and I felt very loved. In class, the girls learned kitchen vocab. We practiced saying the vocab words, did a quick reading activity, then played a game where Margaret and I wrote the vocab words in English on the board, said one of them in Spanish out loud, and two girls raced to touch the word we said and repeat it in English to win a point. We all had a lot of fun with that, and then had recess where we had our snacks, jumped on our beautiful new trampoline, and even met a kitten. After class, we walked the girls home, then went back to Doña Emilia’s where Katlyn and I went for a quick run. Last Friday was Joanna’s (Emilia’s son’s girlfriend) birthday, and we had told her that we would throw her a party when we got back to celebrate. Emilia and Katlyn had gone shopping earlier in the day to buy balloons and cake, and at around six we started setting up the Ranchero for the event. We decorated the space with balloons, candy, and music, and Emilia made a delicious dinner for everyone. Joanna and her friend -who also happened to be a birthday girl- were so surprised and excited when they walked into the Ranchero. We had such a good time eating, talking, and dancing, I couldn’t think of a better welcome back to Hone Creek.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Today started off with a very chill morning, after breakfast Katlyn and I washed and hung our clothes to dry. My little host brothers came and hung out with me while I was finishing up my laundry which was nice, they are starting to feel like real brothers to me. We spent the rest of the morning writing up questions for our interviews with the parents of girls in the GFS program that we will be holding to help with our research. After lunch, we gathered the girlies up and walked them to the classroom. We had a quick English lesson, and then we worked with Doña Emilia to start our little garden along the fence outside. We planted different matas in the soil we laid down and labeled each plant with the rocks that we painted the first week we were here. When we finished that, we had our recess, where I joined some of the girls in jumping on the trampoline. We had a lot of fun taking pictures of each other jumping in mid-air. When class was over and it was time to take the girls home, they all took turns with our phone cameras becoming little photographers along the way. A lot of their photos turned out beautiful, I was super impressed! When everyone was home and we arrived back to Emilia’s, we hiked up to one of the graduate girls’ houses to interview their mom. We got a lot of valuable information from her and the program, and it got us really excited to develop the mentorship club further and get the community more involved in it! We walked home and when we were almost there, a man on the street with a guitar stopped us and sang us a little serenade. It was so nice and a great end to the day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

After breakfast this morning, we took a trip up to Puerto Viejo to meet up with Patricia and figure out our plans for the week. There we met Dylan, Patricia’s friend who would be joining us in the classroom this week to film a little documentary on the program and the girls. Back in Hone Creek, we met the girls, Patricia and Dylan, and he filmed us walking to school and going into the classroom. We taught the girls cooking vocabulary, and Dylan took lots of pictures and videos. We found out that it was Francini’s birthday that day, and when I asked her what her special plans were she said she had none, so I promised her that I would not let that be the case. At the end of class, we walked over to Doña Emilia’s where two more of Patricia’s friends were attending a chocolate workshop given by Emilia. We got to try some of the homemade chocolate and it was d e l i c i o u s. Class ended after that, and Margaret, Katlyn and I hung out with Doña Emilia and our little brothers for a while, chatting and eating more chocolate. Katlyn and I got ready to go for a run, but before we left our little bro Ryan showed us his old house and goat, Toby. That was cool, I didn’t think I was going to pet a goat today. We left for a run and saw a couple of monkeys swinging around in the tree right above us, which is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. We ran to the pulperia in Carbon 1, where Emilia told us to go when she heard that Katlyn’s ankle was swelling up. The man there rubbed her ankle into oblivion, and I was laughing the whole time watching Katlyn try not to scream. We ran back home and then the two of us biked to the supermarket to buy a cake and frosting for Francini. We frosted the cake on our bike seat in her yard, and then called her name and when she came out we sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She was so happy, and seeing her face light up when she saw us made me feel so happy and warm and in that moment I couldn’t be more content with my life. We watched Francini walk back into her house with the cake then rode our bikes home. For dinner, Emilia took us to her favorite local soda, where I ate yummy chicken fajitas and watched Costa Rica beat Jamaica in a soccer game.

Friday, March 28, 2019

This morning Margaret and I had to get up extra early and be at a restaurant with WiFi by 8:00 am to enroll in our classes for next year. It was a long and difficult process, but eventually we got our schedules set for the coming year. We spent the rest of the morning working on things including our lesson plan for that afternoon. When lunchtime came around, we went home and ate, then picked the girls up and brought them to the classroom. We started the lesson with our “Today is, Yesterday was, Tomorrow will be” exercise, and then reviewed the food and kitchen vocabulary from the week before. We played a quick round of the game where the girls race against each other to touch the correct vocabulary word on the board, and then started with our activity. We had made construction paper fruits and veggies and put them next to some gathered kitchen supplies and gave each girl different tasks on what to do with them. For example, I would tell Whitney to put the grapes and the apple in the blender, and then tell Krystal to chop the cucumber with the knife (ruler) and put it in the bowl. The girls had a lot of fun with that game and wanted more and more tasks, near the end I started having a hard time coming up with them. At one point the lettuce was in a cup with a spoon outside on the porch. When we were finished with the activity, we had recess for a half hour. The girls then came back inside and did a coloring activity with Margaret that expressed what they wanted to accomplish with the graduated girls in the Mentorship Club, and a little while later Patricia came with a cake to celebrate Francini’s birthday that had been on Tuesday. We spent the rest of the time enjoying our cake and each other’s company.

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