Costa Rica 2017

By: Jessica Stephens

I live by my own quote “Live beyond your dreams”. The meaning is that you may think of an idea in your head of what you want to do in life and you set goal to achieve that status. But, instead of thinking the normal way of changing yourself you think of those around you and start to help them out in achieving their goals. All the while building character yourself. I was always an imaginative kid when I was younger and dreamed of one day helping out in my community and becoming a hero. The idea is to think of a plan that is simple however go beyond your limits and push the boundaries to live outside your comfort zone which takes effort but, in the end you’ll make a change. I was always afraid of pushing any boundary out of fear. I took the opportunity to experience a once in a life time opportunity to help out the indigenous peoples in another country. By going on this GCELE experience I learned of several ways the indigenous peoples in Costa Rica are helping to improve the barriers they face in their communities.

There is an old saying “if someone hands you a lemon you make lemonade”. Well, I believe not only could you make lemonade, but you can set up a lemonade stand and than expand it into an international chain of lemonade stands and eventually sell it for billions of dollars and enjoy the good life after that. The break down is that you think you made the most of it by making the lemonade from a lemon, but when there’s so much more to be made of the situation you are going way further than anyone else thinks you could go. It is about mentality and that kind of goes back to my quote of being something more than ordinary and being unique by thinking of not just yourself but others.

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My own experience as an indigenous person and what I have experienced while in Costa Rica shows that there are various challenges facing the indigenous peoples. One key point about the indigenous peoples is that no matter what obstacle stands in their way the people work amongst themselves within the community. In Costa Rica this included communicating with the non-indigenous peoples to help in the effort. It takes a lot of communication and devotion, as well as critical analysis to spot and think of ways to help improve any situation and being patient comes along with it. I myself have a goal within the next few years to visit my fathers community in Northern Ontario where he was born and possibly work within the community like I did in Costa Rica, to help identify and solve some of the barriers that are affecting them.

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Indigenous peoples may not get to experience some of life’s opportunities as others living outside of reserves do. Experiences like going to university or college and this is mainly due the remoteness of some of the indigenous communities. This is a major problem in Costa Rica as there is the geographical barrier of physical mountains which make it hard to physically get around. While in Costa Rica I noticed how much longer it took to get to places when we travelling because of the roads winding roads around mountains, and rivers. One remote community we had to travel to would be the Bre-Bre community. To get to this community we had to take a boat and walked at least 3 hours up steep mountains and hills in the rainforest. It was noted that many school children would have to walk at least 6 or more hours one way to get to school and than have to walk back at the end of the day. Several other problems that are connected to location include ones ability to access services and resources, as Diana our presenter pointed out. One solution in helping to improve this would be having the universities find ways to communicate within each indigenous community and enable students to receive the same access as others like the ability to attend college or university.

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