Today we set out for our first service project with local elementary students. We left our hotel in Arenal in the morning and went to the “Escuela Agua Azul” (Blue Water) elementary school. Escuela is a one-room schoolhouse, which had about twenty students who ranged from 1st to 6th grade all taught by a single teacher, Miguel.
After a few greetings and a few of our famous songs, we began cleaning up the school. Grant, Peter, Taylor, and I had to repair and dig out the drainage system from the kitchen that had been clogged by the heavy rains. We did this to prevent the school from having stagnant water and children being exposed to diseases.
The trench followed along the side of one of the playgrounds and was supposed to empty the black water into a ditch at the edge of the property. Using shovels and despite all the discussions about how to dig the ditch amongst us four, we eventually finished the job in a little over two hours.
Other groups worked on various clean up jobs around the school. Everyone pitched in in several work groups ranging from hauling trash, washing windows, arranging bookshelves, etc. Luckily the weather held and we could do our exterior work uninterrupted. We worked until noon and we were all proud of our jobs. We then planted plantains in the garden with the children.
Afterwards, we played games with some of the students that were on break. Although I was enjoying the game, my interest instantly switched to a sixth grader named Sergio who approached Peter and me with a baseball and a glove. Peter and I taught Sergio, along with his buddy Gabriel, how to throw a baseball. Despite the early confusion on how to throw the ball with your body, the boys’ throwing improved significantly.
We concluded our time at the school with an organized soccer game across the street. In the end, all the girl students loved Donald, all the boy students loved Molly, and the rest of us were exhausted from the intense soccer game. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will get another chance to help teach a Costa Rican student how to throw a baseball again.
I’m glad I can go to bed tonight knowing that I’ve made a slight impact in a few lives and I’m eternally grateful that I’ve got to have this experience. Despite that, I still want a trophy for my win in the soccer game. –Michael