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“This is what can happen when people believe in people offering small gestures of assistance.” -- Molly Smith, Director of Student Affairs THIS JANUARY, 10 CIVIC-MINDED STUDENTS FROM GRADES NINE THROUGH 12 SPENT THEIR MINITERM ON A SERVICE TRIP IN LA CARPIO, COSTA RICA. This was the third time

Canterbury students have visited the area to help the residents--especially the children--improve local conditions. Molly Smith, Canterbury’s Director of Student Affairs and the Interact Club sponsor, has chaperoned this trip for two of the past three years and has watched with pride as year after year, students have dug in to make a difference. “In the 2013 miniterm, students spent most of their time pouring cement floors for residents’ shacks, which previously were just dirt,” she says. “It was important work because during the dry months all the dust on their floors caused breathing issues, and during wet months it was muddy and bred parasites.” Students also made water bottle skylights. They cut a hole in the roof and glued the bottles like a piece of flashing. The light refracted through the water and really lit up the rooms, which were once so dark and gloomy. In previous years, students built bunk beds which, for some of the local kids, was their first time ever sleeping in a bed. This year, when senior Amelia Goldstein considered miniterm, the Costa Rica trip seemed like the obvious fit. “I’ve always wanted to go somewhere to help other people and this seemed like the perfect trip.” She was right. When Canterbury students fly to Costa Rica they land in San Jose, the capital city. They stay with host families in a suburb called Heredia, an upper-middle class area. It’s a vast contrast from La Carpio, where students work for five of the seven days of the trip. It’s apparent as soon as they arrive there that it’s a hard knock life in La Carpio. “La Carpio is essentially a squatters area, right by the dump,” says Smith. “The area is made up mostly of Nicaraguan refugees. They live in that area where they cobble together corrugated metal to make homes.” Smith says the refugees have come to Costa Rica because their children have access to education and have access to free health care there until age 18. “They say [La Carpio] is paradise compared to Nicara-

18 | WINTER 2015

gua. Still, people dump garbage right in the river there,” says Smith. “There are a lot of health and safety issues.” There are also a lot of single moms and women who start having children in their teens--some because of rape, some because they don’t know another way. Oftentimes, by the time kids are nine or 10 years old, they’re taking care of their younger brothers and sisters, becoming full time care givers. “When we’re in La Carpio, we eat lunch in a pre-school nearby, and the kids would be waiting for us while we eat,” says Smith. “We would give them food and they would share it with their little siblings. You see people who aren’t eating every day, but they’re happy to be alive. They’re kids.” With so much need in La Carpio, this year’s volunteers were anxious to find out their assignment. Gayle Nystrom is the Executive Director of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF), which she founded in 1991 (www.CRHF.org/about-us), and one of the trip’s organizers. Gayle first came to Costa Rica in the 1970s as a member of the Peace Corps. She ended up deciding to live there permanently, and has become integral in arranging organizations, schools and mission groups to come to La Carpio to start projects. The goal of having the groups start new projects is that, when they leave, the people of La Carpio can be employed to finish and maintain them. To preserve the economy, Gayle even ensures local materials are used, asking American companies not to ship down materials for building projects so everything can remain local. So what were our students assigned to do this year? “We painted houses and we painted a fence for a garden we also planted,” says Goldstein. “We picked up a lot of trash. We hung out with the kids a lot, we colored with them and did puzzles and read books. We took them to the community pool which was the most fun.” The volunteers also made house plant holders to beautify the residents’ simple homes by collecting old plastic bottles, cutting a hole in them and using wire hangers as a hook. They put together hygiene kits--small shampoo, hand sanitizer and soaps--that they passed out throughout the area. continued on page 20

Profile for Canterbury School of Florida

CSFeatures Winter 2015  

CSFeatures is designed to give past, current and future Canterbury families and friends a snapshot of what our students, faculty, parent vol...

CSFeatures Winter 2015  

CSFeatures is designed to give past, current and future Canterbury families and friends a snapshot of what our students, faculty, parent vol...