The Carbonera School Journal
February: After a 2 month vacation, the 7th of February the children arrived at the school, wondering who would be their teacher for this year. They were very happy when they saw a familiar face arriving. Yes, for the third time Grace will be the teacher for the Carbonera School. We immediately started well this year, planning a general maintenance and some other projects we would like to see done this year.
Unfortunately there are less students this year. Part reason is because we had 4 six-graders who aren’t attending anymore and the other reason is that a new private school was opened this year. La Nueva Hoja started this month with 23 children. Being it a bilingual private school, it offers a great education program, we think, though not affordable for most locals. Fortunately the founders contact donators who pay tuition money for some local children. Lapa Rios decided to give the opportunity to 2 children of staff members to also be included in this school. We hope they will learn and appreciate this opportunity as much as possible and that this new school will do a great job with these kids.
March: The lessons and Carbonera School is running again. We ended up with 12 students. There are 2 new children, who moved here from Guanacaste. Their dad is working with the farmer next to the school. We see Jeffrey, started first grade, and his sister Elida, second grade, are fitting into the group.
The hard work this month was painting the school, by hand, and repairing broken facilities. Lapa Rios guest donations totally supported this School Association renewal. The children helped clean and some parents also helped our maintenance staff with the hard labor. When finished, the school looked like new again. Marijke and Grace cleaned the empty classroom and are planning to make a small library with a reading area, as well as organize an art corner where we can take our guests to see what happens with all the wonderfull materials sent or donated. Former guests Kim & Robert Lacayo have been amazing, sending a whole bilingual art program that she made about all the countries of the world. The children now learn how make the dragons of Japan, how to work with leather and other art classes with worldwide information.
April: We are impressed by the donations we are receiving in the last few weeks! It is incredible how many great supplies we can offer the Osa children. Of course since classes started we have continued taking our guests to the school and published the need of specific supplies. Marijke spoke with the children and their true wish is to have some instruments and learn how to play music. We do have a CD-player but it has been hard to find english songs. After communicating this on tours and website we have received several instrumental donations and have up to 20 cd’s by now. Of course also other hard-needes suplies as pencils, pens, paper etc are still arriving. That is why we decided to expand this year.
Because our guests really want to assist education and its development we are able to help much more than just the Carbonera children. So during this month Marijke went to visit other rural schools to see what they most need, if any needed supplies. We were amazed to find out that there are local schools where children must sit by turns! Or the teacher still has no blackboard. Seeing this, the School Association decided to use some of the contributions donated for more then just the Carbonera School. Next month the School Association will help out 5 more rural schools with desk chairs, blackborads, closets, tables, fans, etc. This all due to the donations we receive abundantly from so many guests who come here. Thank you once again in name of the children of the Peninsula de Osa!
September: After two months of working as a sustainability coordinator at Lapa Rios, I finally feel ready to begin taking on the task of writing the monthly school updates for Carbonera School. It’s been a lot of work getting started with the school and while I feel as though we’ve made significant progress, I still know that we’ve still got a lot of work to go...
When I first visited Carbonera School, I was absolutely appalled to learn that the teacher was only attending classes an average of three days a week. I truly cannot understand how anyone could be so unfair and irresponsible, especially with children who are only trying to learn. I was also completely disgusted by the unused room; here was a room filled with books, art supplies and games that were just wasting away.
My first big accomplishment was actually cleaning the unused room. A guest and I spent four and a half hours at work scrubbing the floors, cleaning out desks and wiping down all of the books. I had never seen such huge bugs in my life!
Next, we actually got someone to paint the inside of the room. Pat, one of Katie’s mother’s friends, just happened to be in Lapa Rios to help Katie’s mother paint some of the walls at Lapa Rios. She volunteered to paint the inside of the classroom and now it looks absolutely incredible.
We’ve also managed to plan events for three weekends in a row (September was an extremely busy month). On September 8th, we invited the children of Carbonera School to Lapa Rios to celebrate Día de Los Niños (a Costa Rican holiday that celebrates the importance of children). Ifi and I took them on a tour of the forest and we enjoyed lunch and a day at the pool! The week of September 15th, we made faroles (lanterns) in order to celebrate Independence Day. The children let us borrow the faroles to display on the Lapa Rios tables. They were absolutely beautiful and so fun for our guests. Lastly, on September 22nd, we hosted the second annual Matapalo and Carbonera School Beach Clean-Up (along with a few students from neighboring schools Sandalo and La Nueva Hoja). RANA, an environmental organization based in Puerto Jimenez High School, assisted with the days activities. We collected almost 20 huge bags of trash and recycled a huge portion of it. I’m so proud of our students for being so active and involved...
Ifi and I have started teaching at the school for about an hour a day (although this past week, the students did not have school...at all). We’re working on trying to get students to come regularly (even if their teacher doesn’t show up) and also attempting to get more staff involved. It’s been a busy few months, but I’m glad to see that we’re making some progress.
October: This month has been slow and frustrating. One day our teacher shows up, the next she doesn’t. While we’ve managed to organize a few activities, weeks have gone by with no classes. Many of the children claim to be studying for exams to enter Puerto Jimenez High School. I’m worried that many of them won’t pass…
On a brighter note, we’ve involved a few members of the Lapa Rios staff to volunteer their time. One of our employees Ivan, for example, spent the day teaching soccer (something he thoroughly enjoys). Jorge has been pressuring the parents to ask for a new teacher the following year…hopefully this will improve the situation.
November: A similar situation has continued from the previous month. Our teacher has only been showing up about three days a week (if that). We´ve been putting a lot of pressure on the teacher and members of our community, but the same behavior continues. I just found out that two of our students, Jeffrey and Elida, will not be returning next year. This means that next year we will probably only have about 5 students returning to classes (as we have 5 students that will be graduating). Next month, our students will be taking a test to see if they are eligible for entering high school..we´ll see how this goes.
December: I am completely shocked! All of our students have passed the test to enter high school! I don´t know how it happened, but it did. Our next step is to assure that those students will actually continue their studies, that they won´t simply give up. We will be talking to all of the students, letting them know of the importance of continuing in their studies. We will also need to have a chat with the children´s families and parents, as many of them do not see the importance in continuing their education.
As the year ends and a new year begins, I can only hope that a new teacher is sent to Carbonera. We will continue to put the pressure on our community to ask for a new teacher and will hopefully make some progress.
February: The students have started their classes again. Four students graduated at the end of last year, three of which are now attending high school. Lapa Rios is currently paying for the taxi transportation to and from Puerto Jimenez for those students who are going to Puerto Jimenez, while Jose´s parents have decided not to let him participate. It is still truly amazing to me how these parents still do not see the value in educating their children despite all of the work that we have done. I hope that Nelson, Jogebeth and Kimberly are able to perform well in school, although I have strong feeling that they will have a truly difficult time keeping up.
Grace, our teacher from last year, has returned. I could not believe the news when Rafa told me. This year, however, we are keeping careful record of how many days she misses class so that in the case that she continues her absences, we will at least have the necessary “proof” that the superintendent needs. Grace came to class the first day, yet had not stopped by earlier to clean the classrooms (which were absolutely filthy). The first few days of class were spent cleaning and fixing, things that probably should have been done BEFORE the students arrived.
On a better note, we have two new students attending class this year: Pedro and Karen. They are both extremely sweet and very excited to learn. I´ve also noticed that they are both extremely talented artists as well…
This year, we’ve teaching classes three days per week. On Tuesdays I will teach English classes, on Wednesday Manuel (one of our receptionists) will teach music classes and on Thursdays one of the guides will be teaching biology classes. We are all very excited to be teaching and can only hope that the three hours a week that we spend with the kids will make a difference.
March: Classes have continued to go well. The students have been attending most days of the week (with the exception of a few) and are absolutely loving their English, Biology and music classes. It´s so important for these kids to have extra focus on these subjects, as I know they are barely receiving the basics in their normal classes. I am always so impressed by their hardwork, enthusiasm and willingness to try something new.
Grace has gone to San Jose for a week to get training on teaching computer skills to the students. While I think that it is absolutely imperative that our students get this training, I wonder how Grace will even begin (seeing as how she can barely handle the basics). We´ll see how this continues to develop…
May: Things seem to really be improving at Carbonera. Classes seem to be taking place more regularly; the students are now attending classes five times a week (improvement, I know). It’s nice to finally know that the students are getting what they actually need. I hope the students and parents are beginning to understand what they can actually receive if they actually ask and demand what they deserve…
On a sad note, three of our students (Jonathon, Anna Yance and Merlin) have left Carbonera to attend school in Bamboo, a village right outside Puerto Jimenez. I am so sad that I will not be seeing them on Tuesdays anymore, but am happy to know that they are close by.
And in terms of English classes, the kids are really improving. It’s amazing to see how quickly they soak up the information..new words and pronunciation…so quickly (especially when they learn while playing games…they LOVE charades)! I’m so happy to see their improvement and feel so much more optimistic about the situation in general!
July: Things at Carbonera seem to be improving. In general, I’m sensing a little bit more involvement in Grace, our teacher. I’ve started to come to the school twice a week for English classes and, in general, the classroom feels a bit more lively, full of paintings, art projects, etc. It is so nice to see her coming FIVE days a week; I honestly never thought I’d see the day.
The kids’ English is improving immensely! Guests and fellow English-speaking members of the community have been commenting on how good their English has become.
On another note, we’ve started to involve more kids from Carbonera School in our dance troupe. Jeffrey, Elida, Pedro, Franklin and Karen are now all participating! They absolutely love learning the dances and are so excited for Tuesdays to come around. The next step is to make sure that the parents of the children come up to the hotel to see their children dancing. I talked with the mother of Jeffrey and Elida and suggested that she come up one night to see her children dance. She responded in a slightly unsure manner that she would try to come with the kids’ grandmother. I’m not sure what the issue is here: is she embarrassed to be in front of gringo, Lapa Rios guests? Does she not have interest in seeing her children dance? I’m going to keep pressuring the kids to ask their parents to come up to the hotel and see where it goes…
Lapa Rios, Box 025216-SJO706, Miami, FL 33102
100% of your gift helps continue building the Osa Peninsula rural schools.
Lapa Rios, phone: (506) 2735-5130, fax: (506) 2735-5179 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org September 2005.
February: Two and a half weeks have gone by since school has started; we still have the same teacher (Grace) and nine students are currently attending classes. This year we are writing down a control of the teacher's assistance to assure that she doesn't repeat her behavior from the following years. At the moment, she has showed up every single day: a great start! This year we have had many changes in Lapa Rios: we have a new manager and new sustainability coordinator (me, Margoth Flores Rodriguez). Both of us have read the school journal, but now we are going to have the chance to experience the trials and tribulations first hand.
We have many plans for this year. This year, we are going to volunteer our time at the school at least twice at week. Ifi (one of our guides) is going Tuesdays to teach ecology and I`m going on Thursdays to teach English. We met with the teacher a few times and gave them a donation with some supplies that they need (such as scissors and construction paper) . There is a lot to do this year, but we truly believe with our hard work, we will be able to see changes in the Carbonera School. At the moment I see that Grace is very enthusiastic and willing to do her best. I can only hope this continues for the rest of the year…
April: We lost two kids this month! Pedro and Karen moved to Sandalo ( a town outside of Puerto Jimenez). They were such good students, so polite and responsible. Additionally, they were such great members of the typical dances. We will miss them dearly.
This month was full of activities for our kids. We were hosting some German journalists who were filming a documentary on ecotourism in Costa Rica, and they did a large segment on the Carbonera School. As a result, the kids were filmed in their classroom and then also on a tour in the rainforest with Edwin. Additionally, we have just started a vivero in the school, which is made up of 126 fruit, nut and wood trees.
On another note, we have had a number of guests who have been extremely interested in supporting the Carbonera School. Just the other day, we had nine people visiting the school! Additionally, the kids have been lucky enough to have received a number of donations. It is always so amazing to me to see how generous our guests are. We have noticed, however, that the schools just south of Puerto Jimenez are in need of some serious help. In the next few months, we may focus on helping them.
May: One more kid has left our school! Andrey, a student who has been with us for the past two years, moved to another area in the Osa Peninsula and, as a result, was forced to switch schools. We are now only left with seven children attending the Carbonera School.
This past month has been extremely rainy. For three days the kids did not have classes because one of the rivers was too high for them to cross. It appears as though we are going to have a very rough rainy season this year.
Recently, we just start working to achieve the Blue Flag project in the school (which is an effort for the cleaner beaches, communities and school). We have already done some work, such as working on the recycling project and the vivero (greenhouse), but we still have a lot to do (mostly in terms of maintenance). We just start checking the solar panel system, only to find that it is not working properly and that we need to buy new batteries. Yet on a more positive note, we are going to start building an orchard soon. I am so excited! We are going to start producing cucumber, small tomatoes, cilantro, sweet pepper and more, all of which will be really great for the children´s lunches.
This month we had an unexpected situation: one of our guests sent a package to Elida (the only girl in the school). It was so nice to see her excited face when she received the package; she was so happy. The gift was a great touch, and more at this time of the year because she was very sad that her friend Karen left to another school.
June: This month we have one more kid in first grade: Dixon. He is seven years old and very smart; we are so happy to have him with us. On a sadder note, however, another one of our students, Dassner, has left school. While attending Carbonera, he was living with his father and missing quite a few classes (oftentimes for a week at a time). He is now living with his mother and attending a different school in the area. We hope he is doing well.
This month, we have been very busy with environmental education classes. We are working on our garden and have planted radish, cilantro, celery and cucumbers. The best of all this is to see the kids working hard for their garden. Even Greis, our teacher, has shown a great deal of interest. We’re loving it!
The last week, the Ashkin family (who stayed in Lapa Rios for nine days) visited the school almost everyday! They helped us in our garden, in our English class and the art class as well, even helping the kids in a face painting activity! We had a great time with them, and are truly missing them this week.
The Blue Flag project is coming along as well. We have a lot to do, mostly in terms of maintenance (such as fixing solar panels), which is very costly. In an effort to raise funds, we decided to organize a Domingo Deportivo (which consisted of a full day of soccer matches with drinks and food). And I was so disappointed, as practically nobody attended the event except the players! Additionally, the students from Carbonera School were given a free visit to the dentist (which is usually so expensive) and they didn´t show up! I just can´t understand it. I guess I just need to keep on promoting these events and continually reminding myself that this is all a process (and oftentimes a slow one at that). I can only hope that the next activity turns out better.
July: On July 25th we celebrated the Guanacaste Annexation to Costa Rica, and it was really special because the children at Carbonera were wearing typical dresses and costumes. They also bought traditional dishes that they parents prepared in their houses, sang some traditional bombas (rhymes), planted some fruit trees around the properties and raised the flag in front of the school while singing the national hymn. It was a very special day, and we were so excited to have guests attend with us as well.
Our garden is also growing really well. We have already small cucumbers and radishes appearing in our garden; it is so nice to see the children’s´ faces as they watch their plants grow.
We are, however, struggling with the solar panels at the school. We sent the 6 batteries to recharge them in town, but found that we were unable to use five. As a result, a local mechanic (whose name is Pollo Loco) lent us some batteries that will work for the time being. We do eventually, however, need to buy a new set of batteries (which will cost us more than $2,500). One of the parents in particular is working really hard for these and Lapa Rios will surely contribute.