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Mi Novio

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I went to Costa Rica for three weeks on a service. Most of our time in Costa Rica was spent helping local schools, which consisted of little worn down, one room school houses. The service was both construction and interacting with the little Tico children. We dug countless holes, taught the children English, and played endless games of soccer with them. The big group divided up into six small groups. Each week we were assigned to work with a school, mine was El Bosque. The children at the school were any age from seven to fifteen, and were the nicest, happiest, and friendliest kids I have ever met.

A common theme throughout all the children at the school was to find one of us to claim as their ‘novio’ or ‘novia.’ Ollie wasn’t the cutest one in the bunch but he so nice. At first language created quite a large barrier but I picked up on some Spanish phrases and by the end of my time there I felt like I could communicate with all the children pretty well. They were all very patient with us, and tried to pick up some English words. Ollie told his friends to tell me that I was his ‘novia’, he was too embarrassed to look at me without running away, but his friends thought it was so funny. By the end of the trip he finally became comfortable around me and turned out to be a very loud and talkative kid.

We had the opportunity to teach them English, which was a challenge in itself because none of us knew how to speak Spanish. I remember it as if it were yesterday; I worked with Ollie and a girl name Shirley. They were learning the basic what is your name, how old are you, type questions. Ollie signaled to me to write my name in his journal, since neither of us knew how to say it in each others’ languages. After I did that he took is journal and wrote ‘y Ollie’, which means and Ollie, underneath my name, and drew a heart around it. This is when I fell in love with all the school children. My heart was warmed when I saw this, and it made me want to stay in Costa Rica all summer to spend time with these kids.

In Costa Rica the Tico children cannot get enough soccer. Anytime they had a spare moment they were always calling ‘Futbol! Futbol!’ Of course the game would turn into Americans verses the Tico children, we would get killed every time. Since we were in Costa Rica during the summer, it was their raining season, and it rained! I don’t think I saw the sun for three weeks. One day it was raining so hard I couldn’t even see five feet in front of me. The rain, of course, never stopped these carefree children. They insisted that we play soccer. Since they have no money, their field was completely mud, no grass to be seen. We began trying to play soccer in the monsoon rain and mud, but it quickly turned into a mud fight. If someone was running for the ball they couldn’t stop running without falling because of the mud. The children began to slide tackle everyone and soon mud was being thrown around right and left. The little children would tackle me then Ollie would run up and rub mud in my hair and say ‘Shampoo’. It was my favorite time of the whole trip, how often does anyone get the chance to roll around in the mud. This was also the same day that Ollie learned how to say beautiful in English, the one thing that he knew how to say. He couldn’t stop saying it. The kids loved it; they would have a smile on their face the entire time. It was sad each day when it was time to go home because no one wanted to leave these children.

The Tico children had a major impact on me because they were always so happy, nothing could bring them down. When they had a soccer ball, they always wanted to play, no matter what the conditions were. During English class they were so eager to learn, despite the terrible conditions their schools were in. Although none of us could speak Spanish, the little children learned to work with us. They would try and guess what we meant and teach us how to say different things. I will never forget any of the children, especially Ollie. When the time had come that we had to say bye to the Tico children at El Bosque, I was so upset. Everyone immediately began to cry, even the young children. I was so amazed by all the children’s attitudes on life. They were so happy and carefree; one would never know the dire poverty that they live in. They have such a positive outlook on life, it makes me realize how much I take for granted. Although I know that Ollie promised me that he wouldn’t have anymore ‘novias’ for the rest of the summer, I still hope they don’t forget us either. I hold them close to my heart and wish that they weren’t so far away so I could go back to visit them again.





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