La Paz Community School
Our mission is to educate the culturally diverse youth of Guanacaste through experiential learning and enrichment that integrates the local community and environment, while preparing students to become thoughtful, contributing citizens in the global community.
Here is review from a past volunteer:
"I arrived in Costa Rica in the middle of October '11. Incredibly nervous. A little bit unprepared depsite months of research. I was expecting tropical sun and hadn't even packed proper shoes. It rained constantly the first two weeks. I was relying on seven years of Spanish studies - which may sound a lot - but I couldn't even probably understand my host mom's question aboout my age when I first arrived. I blamed it on her accent, which was way different from the Spain-Spanish I'd been taught in school (but it was probably mostly me). To make matters worse I contracted some kind of bug on the plane, and had to leave early my first day at La Paz Community School. I kind of felt like the Swedish failure. My host mom fried me an egg for dinner (I don't particularly like eggs or, like, eat them AT ALL) and I thought 'OMG what if I NEVER adapt?". A thought that was proven completely absurd the next day. I had the best time all of my five months spent at La Paz.
I was placed with the Kinder-group (12-16 kids, aged 5-6) and fell in love. Nowadays I have the picture that one of the kids drew me up on my wall. It depicts me, Miss. Geneva and the whole class smiling under a beautiful Scarlet Macaw. Not a single day has gone by since I left when I haven't thought about "my" kids. Since the kids were young our days mostly consisted of learning the alphabet, numbers and simple spelling and math. Some kids could read, most could not. We listened to music and saw movies (I have a horribly funny memory of watching an informational film about seales where the seales got brutally eaten by polar bears-we threw ourselves at the TV) but mostly we read, sang songs (that are now completely stuck in my head) and did practical things with the kids. We talked about recycling, origin and hygiene. It was beautiful hearing the kids' thoughts about things like the environment and responsibility for the world around us. They were unaffected and wise and I really loved the experience of being able to talk to them about important things -like why we really shouldn't throw plastic bottles in the ocean and what actually happens if we do- and hear their wise opinions and thoughts. I think the La Paz-kids will grow up to be future world leaders, hyper-aware on their impact on the world and the consequences of their actions. And it's all because of the admirable philosophy of La Paz School, a philosophy that I wasn't fully aware of before I got there, but that completely agreed with my moral and values. I feel incredibly lucky for that.
I always felt like I had complete support from the staff of La Paz. They arranged eveything beautifully for me. I lived in Potrero, a small village by the ocean (I recommend it!) with a host family arranged by the school. My host family gave me a lift every day to school, as their son was a student there, and picked me up at the end of each school day. As I got more comfortable with my host family, I was able to borrow their car to drive myself around (I have no problem driving with a stick) and that was awesome because it allowed me to take driving trips with my host mom (she didn't have a license). We drove to see the sea turtles lay their eggs or just across the bay to Flamingo to visit the pharmacy. But the roads were really horrible and I was a bit nervous driving around without insurance, so you might want to give that a thought.
The soul of La Paz is the kids and the teachers. Maybe mostly the teachers because I think the kids are really influenced by the calm and incredibly talanted people that work at La Paz. I never saw any bullying at La Paz, despite of (or maybe because of) its diversity and interesting mix of nationalities and personalities. I was just fresh out of high school when I left for La Paz and I had never seen such an inspiring environment for learning. Of course there were conflicts at La Paz, at least we did a lot of conflict management in Kindergarden (there were a lot of hard feelings about a particular white toy car) but the teachers always had an eye on things, always had a handle on the situation and everything was always resolved through communication.
I can't strongly enough emphasis my positive opinion on La Paz, its kids and its teachers. Guanacaste is also one of the most beautiful places on the earth and that doesn't hurt, either. I arrived as a pale, 18-year old Swedish high school graduate and left a little bit wiser, a little bit older and a lot more tan. I strongly recommend anyone who likes kids, who appreciates the opportunity to learn a lot and who shares the beliefs and values of La Paz to volunteer with them.
Ah, now writing this made me miss them like crazy.
Teaching Assistants (Volunteer Opportunity)
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