By Ms. Cunningham, Social Studies Teacher
I love watching the reactions of students as they start to make sense of their new surroundings. I hear constant comparisons between San Jose and Pittsburgh. As we are in the capital city, they are seeing many similarities still. Things will be different in a few days when we head for the countryside ;-) We have been letting students just write their initial reactions for the first few days, but now we will begin to push them to really reflect on this experience from a cross-cultural perspective.
We had a really satisfying morning of work in La Carpio, a squatter community in San Jose with very little support from the city or national government. Nobody in La Carpio owns their own land yet - in order to get land titles to their property, they need to band together and make certain improvements such as paved roads, sidewalks, and sanitation drains. The city gives them some support to buy materials, but not enough. And the city gives them no help with the labor. That's where we come in -- we spent the morning leveling the dirt road, mixing cement, and spreading it out. We'll go back tomorrow morning to finish our work. We saw all the portions of road laid by City High groups in years past -- you can really see the contributions we have made to this community in the past five years of our previous work here.
Its great to be back on this trip after four years -- I last came to Costa Rica with City High in 2007. Its amazing to see how technology has become more accessible in the past few years-- in the city our hotel has wireless and most people we see -- even in La Carpio -- have cell phones. I don't remember this level of technology infrastructure 4 years ago. Nonetheless, the school that we visited yesterday only had 2 computer labs (about 25 desktops each) for a school with over 1200 students. They were very grateful for the 4 laptops we donated to their school. It was a nice gift from our technology-f0cused school!
OK, dinner time in San Jose :-)