In January 2012, eight members of Rock Canyon Key Club hustled to tape the last box shut, zip their suitcases, buy more bug spray, and board the plane to Costa Rica. Eight months before the anticipated day of departure, these same eight kids sat trembling outside of a professors room eager to hear if they were selected to be on the Escuela Verde team. Escuela Verde is a bilingual elementary school in a Uvita, Costa Rica that is run by two women that have dedicated their lives to helping the tican children in the area. One by one the team members walked into the classroom. I will never forget the feeling when Mr. Sapienza looked me in the eyes and said congratulations you are on the team.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
From that day forward, meetings were held before school and on weekends to organize fundraisers, create posters, call businesses, and put together a house auction. Our goal was to raise money to buy textbooks for the school, along with basic supplies we often take for granted because they are in big bins at Target. The team bonded as the year went on– we were very successful.
After raising over $11,000 the team spent countless weekends and days off school doing exactly the opposite– sitting in school. "You guys are crazy," people would say, "why are you spending your free time like this"? And the answer was simple. It was for the children. With over twenty boxes in hand and $8,000 in scholarship money the team boarded a plane for Costa Rica to meet the children and teachers we had worked so hard for. It sounds traditional– a group of students traveling to help a school, but the unique thing about this experience is we became family with the directors of the school. We stayed next door to them and played with their fearless children (who laughed at us when we scurried and jumped away from the gigantic bugs). One day they took us on a hike so we could get the full Costa Rica experience. And boy oh boy i have never seen anything like it. I saw spiders the size of my head, and locusts the size of my foot.
Aside from the afternoon adventures our days were filled with spending the mornings at the school cataloging over 1,000 donated books in the library so that children could check them out. It triggered tears to see the books I read when I was little. We hosted a children's camp to teach them english and show them the toys and books we brought them. A lot of the children could not understand exactly what we were saying but our hugs were understood by them all. Every hour spent raising money was worth the screams of happiness the children let out when playing with the balloons and reading new books.
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