The Adventure Begins...

San Pedro Travel Blog

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My homestay brother walking down the driveway to my new home

I have only been here 4 days and it is already strange to be writing in English. I did not realize it was possible to immerse myself in a language to such a great extent. Not only have I been speaking and writing only in Spanish, but I also have been thinking in Spanish as well. Yesterday I assisted a colleague from work with a presentation and a 4 hour course for female entrepreneurs called a "Charla" regarding microfinance and the sustainability of businesses in the face of competition. I took a page of notes then began to read back over what I had written. I was shocked to find that I started writing in English and a third of the way down the page, I had subconciously switched to Spanish without even noticing.

Other than the language, a lot has changed for me.

Pretty nature
My living situation, for example, is VERY different. The landscape and surroundings are the main difference. The house is immersed in nature- gorgeous flowers, tropical plants, trees -and lots of beautiful, soothing sounds and animals- toucans, parrots, etc. The people here get a very early start to their day waking up around 5 AM. At first, I was a bit weary to be up at such an early hour, but then I quickly discovered that I can watch the sun rise over the mountain tops every morning and the hour on the clock quickly became unimportant. The first night I was here I experienced my first earthquake (a 6.2!). We were all sitting around the dinner table after 9 PM and the ground began shaking, the animals started going nuts, and things began falling off the shelves.
As much as I do feel at home with my new family, I will admit that this was a clear indicator that I am, in fact, not in the United States any more...

In regard to my work, I have been focusing on 2 tasks:

1) Research

For the research component, I have been assigned the task of creating a survey/a system with which to measure people's satisfaction with the microfinance organization I work for. I need to create documents for investors, loan recipients, potential recipients, and employees. The goal is to figure out what the organization should stop doing, keep doing, and start doing. With this information, the organization intends to alter its processes based on various levels of satisfaction in order to best serve their customers, employees, and followers.

A pretty view from the sidewalk
Right now I am doing a lot of reading (in Spanish of course!), but within the next few weeks, I will begin to create and type documents for this project.

2) Classes/Group Work

For this component, I have been asked to shadow women who teach courses for this organization. The courses focus on entrepreneurship- how to start a business, the necessary resources, etc, in the first two weeks. After those two weeks, the courses shift to loans, microlending, how to apply, etc. The next four weeks consist of the generation of paper-work and business plans, the distribution of loans, and courses that are specific to the women's chosen trade. For example, my second day here, I sat in on a class for a group of women who are starting a massage studio. The group was in their 5th week of classes and they were learning about the powers of a healing massage, practicing certain techniques using various videos, and learning about the importance of aesthetics in a massage parlor. Yesterday I traveled to Cartago with another woman. While in Cartago, I helped with a four hour course for women in their second week of classes. This class focused on idea generation. Some women were focused on the sale of merchandise such as jewelry or clothing, but most were focused on agriculture. It is truly intriguing to see the ways in which the businesses vary by area.

All in all, I really look forward to all that I have to learn here. I have already exceeded my own expectations and I know that in this tranquil environment, I can do it again and again.

vances says:
Have you started dreaming in Spanish yet?
Posted on: Jul 10, 2010
migueltrotamundos says:
hey! i was there, Cartago, twice, Irazu volcano is beautiful, a friend of mine is from there and now we met in Vasco´s land! it´s a small world.
It´s interesant your work as you describe it. I also dedicated to solidarity economy, compatible with susteintable development in communities in Mexico.
Posted on: Jun 07, 2010
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My homestay brother walking down t…
My homestay brother walking down …
Pretty nature
Pretty nature
A pretty view from the sidewalk
A pretty view from the sidewalk
San Pedro
photo by: lgarey