This post features student writing.
Hello everyone! We are writing to you from Gate 3 of the Liberia Airport. This has been a fantastic week for everyone involved. We have learned to speak Spanish with local Costa Ricans, tried comida tipica (typical Costa Rican food) such as casado and empanadas, went ziplining over the cloud forest, tried our hand at playing fútbol, taught local kids to speak English, learned to build a sidewalk and speed bump, and painted a cemetery!
Yesterday for our last day, we woke up extra early to begin our final work day. We perfected the cemetery walls and continued laying new cement for the sidewalk, and we even got to build a speed bump with the help of Don Luis! In the afternoon we also were fortunate enough to go to the local Pozo Azul school and play with some of the children with supplies we had bought earlier. The kids loved playing with the playdough, painting, making bracelets, learning English (and teaching us Spanish!), playing tag and catch, and so much more, and overall it was a blast for everyone. At night we had our despedida (going away party) party, where we invited some of the locals to enjoy pizza and delicious cake with us. We were so sad to say goodbye to all the friends we had made but we were glad to spend one final night with them. In the morning we enjoyed our last authentic breakfast, said goodbye, and headed off to the airport! While we are excited to come home, we are devastated to leave Costa Rica and all hope to return soon.
We wanted to try to summarize some of the lessons we have learned this week. Being a Jewish-minded trip, we focused a lot on Jewish values. One of these is our sense of community. This week, living in Pozo Azul, we saw how even the smallest of places can have the mightiest hearts. Everyone in Pozo Azul takes care of each other and welcomed us with open arms even though we weren’t technically a part of their community. We will definitely take this lesson back to Chicago with us as we remember to care for our Temple Jeremiah family and welcome new people into our community as well. We also learned how to be a community among ourselves even though at first we didn’t all know each other too well. By having conversations and creating memories, we were able to find commonalities between us that allowed us to create personal connections and care for each other deeply. We will come back home with a heightened sense of our Temple Jeremiah community, the community we’ve created among the twelve of us, and the community we are now a part of here in Pozo Azul. We also focused a lot on the Jewish value of performing mitzvot. We were able to perform several mitzvot this week by painting the cemetery, building new sidewalks, bringing school supplies for the local school, and creating a speed bump. It is important for us to realize that Pozo Azul is not a community in dire need of our help and that our mitzvot are not saving a poor community, but instead giving them some greatly appreciated assistance in the daily tasks they do. Pozo Azul is a very independent and happy community and they were so grateful for the work we did for them and we are grateful in turn for everything they gave us. We will all greatly miss the community and all the people in it when we leave!
Thank you for keeping up with us this past week! We hope that our blog allowed you to get a taste of what we experienced here in Costa Rica. We can’t wait to answer all your questions and show you all our pictures and mementos when we land tonight! See you soon!
— Sloane S. & Jordana B.