Long ago (1988) I moved to Berkeley and started sending a monthly "newsletter" to my Boston friends. When I returned to Boston (1993), I continued the tradition for about five more years (or until I had kids). Looking back, I realize that I was actually blogging. Each newsletter contained anywhere from a few to several blog posts. Having been silent for the past decade or so, I've decided to resume these activities. Don't expect anything profound -- I tend to focus on what I find entertaining or amusing and perhaps sometimes informative. We shall see!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why I'm going to Costa Rica

I'm sure many of you have been to Costa Rica, and you'll feel no need to read this. You know it's a beautiful country and a lovely vacation destination, so why should you read my drivel? You should read it, because I am not going on vacation. I am going to Costa Rica for a service trip organized by The Meadowbrook School of Weston, who has established a longterm relationship with several communities in Costa Rica. We will spend half our time in Limon at the PANI Transitional Home, where we will refurbish two rooms (that adjoin the learning center that the team refurbished last summer), one as a computer room with air conditioning and the second as a small storage room, paint a mural, plant flowerbeds, and build a wall/fence so that when the children play, their ball doesn't roll away into the nearby ditch. We will then spend the rest of the time working with the Melleruk school, where we will build a retaining wall, construct a playground, create a school garden, and do some electrical installation to follow up on the amazing solar panel project completed last summer.

So that's the what, but why? In short, I am going both because I am grateful for how much a brief trip to Costa Rica helped both my children grow up, and because I want to be part of what Meadowbrook is doing in Costa Rica.

For the past seven or eight years, Meadowbrook has taken their 8th graders to Costa Rica for a trip that combines some vacationy fun with lessons in sustainability and an introduction to the circumstances of those much less fortunate than themselves. And the kids come back older, in a shockingly visible way. One look in my son's eyes upon his return from Costa Rica and I knew that something truly transformative had happened. You can catch a glimpse of the experience through a few of the videos below:

A beautifully narrated eight minute video that takes you through the entire trip

A gut-wrenching five minute video of a visit to the PANI Transitional Home in Limon

A short two and a half minute video of this year's 8th graders building a retaining wall at the Melleruk School

So, this will be the equivalent of my summer vacation this year -- I can't wait. And you can be part of this too by helping us achieve our fundraising goal, so we can do everything we've set out to do. Alternately, we will be bringing gently used clothes, toys, shoes, books, in addition to new ones, so if you have things to contribute, let me know!

Each of the 26 teenage volunteers and 4 parents are paying their own way, and the school will be sending six teachers along as well. Together, we are determined to raise an additional $15,000 to fund the projects and bring more books, clothes, and toys to the children in the PANI transitional home.