I spent this past summer in rural Costa Rica as an Art Program Aide Intern with La Asociación CREAR. This non-governmental organization focuses on providing free supplemental education to rural school-aged children in the communities of Playa Sámara and El Torito. For two months, I assisted the art teacher in developing lesson plans, preparing materials, and leading classes with the mission of fostering creativity among the children.
CREAR is an essential part of the children’s education because schools in these communities are poorly funded and understaffed, hindering the educational prospects and potential of these children. The children in these communities go to school for an average of three to four hours a day, and school is often canceled throughout the week. CREAR attempts to fill this educational gap in the communities by providing free art and English classes throughout the week and additional activities, such as Camp and expositions, throughout the year. For many of the children attending CREAR, classes with the La Asociación are one of the few places where they can feel completely safe and engage in ways that will empower them and their community.
The only predictable part of my day as an Art Program Aide was biking to and from Playa Sámara and El Torito to teach classes. In addition to teaching art classes every day, during the two months I was with CREAR, we also hosted La Exposición de Arte y Inglés and Camp. La Exposición was an opportunity for students to showcase all they learned and had been working on throughout the year in CREAR’s art and English classes. This was a community-wide event, and the families and friends of all of the students were invited. Hosting this event took weeks of preparation as we converted our classroom spaces into an art gallery and stage for the children to present their art and perform a song they learned in English classes.
The other major event hosted by CREAR while I was there, was their bi-annual Camp. For two weeks during the school break, CREAR hosts a free week long camp in each community for the children. The children participate in events such as movie night, surf lessons, cooking classes, hiking, and game day. Through Camp, the children are exposed to experiences and activities that without Camp they would not have. The planning, coordinating, and execution of the activities for Camp was time-intensive and required the entire team at CREAR.
Without the generous funding and informative leadership seminar that Social Science Scholars provided me with, interning with an organization abroad would have been unimaginable. I am so thankful for the summer experience of living and working in rural Costa Rica. Through this trip, I was able to directly impact the communities of Playa Samara and El Torito by engaging the children in lessons that contribute to their personal growth. Interning with La Asociacion CREAR has also provided me with an intercultural experience that has allowed me to view the world through a new perspective. Following this experience, I hope to continue my involvement in opportunities that empower and uplift communities.
Mónica García Vega is a 2019 Social Sciences Scholar majoring in international affairs. Mónica is interested in gender equality, political institutions, and inter-governmental institutions. Following graduation Mónica plans to join the Peace Corps and enroll in graduate school.