Katherine, CRTC 2009
I traveled to Costa Rica with Far Corners Community Musical Theatre this summer. Even though this was my first time away from home on my own, by the end of the trip I wished I could have stayed for the entire year. I cannot say enough about what this experience has meant to me, though I have tried in college application essays, phone calls to my friends, and now this excerpt. The closest I can get is life changing. However, since you are reading this, you probably want to know why.
The effect of the home stay is not to be over looked. My family taught me about tico (Costa Rican) slang and customs. They were the ones who really got me interested in learning more about Latin American culture. I cannot think of all I would have missed had I stayed with a group of others from the United States. One of the highlights was getting to go see relatives; we ate chicharrones (fried pork) and corn that we had just picked from the nearby field. It was unlike anything I’d ever done before.
Another valuable experience for me was all the time spent rehearsing for the musical Urinetown. The show turned out well and I got excellent instruction in musical theatre.
Rehearsing with local teens was fantastic. Musical practices gave me a chance to hang out with Costa Ricans outside of my host family. This was so much fun, and they were all very accepting and willing to deal with my errors in Spanish grammar. A number of people I met are in the United States on foreign exchange this year and I am planning to visit them.
Having connections to a town in a different country is beneficial; I learned about a different type of community and the function of society in a different culture. My trip made me realize that there is more than one way of living and since coming back, I have been more interested in other cultures. I am more sensitive to foreigners in the United States because I know what it is like to not always understand the language and to misunderstand cultural gestures.
This trip actually made me re-define my life goals. I have always been around Spanish, but going to Costa Rica made me realize that I want to have a career relating to the language and/or culture of Latin America. There are many things I could have done this summer, but I cannot think of anything better than what I did.
Hannah, CRTC 2012
I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Monteverde, Costa Rica last summer with Far Corners Community Musical Theater. For one month, I stayed with a host family while rehearsing for a musical with about 20 other kids at the local Centro Commercial as a teen volunteer. I was excited to be able to live in an entirely different culture and improve my Spanish skills, especially to perform a musical in a different language! We had rehearsals six days a week from around 9 AM to 6 PM on average, but for me, mornings during the first week instead consisted of Spanish immersion classes. Sundays were our days off, and there were opportunities for group recreational activities like horseback riding and canopy tours in the rain forest.
These local activities were wonderful and allowed us to visit some beautiful places, but my favorite days were just the ordinary rehearsal days, learning the amazing songs and choreography for the musical Once On This Island, or En Esta Isla. The instructors had modified
the script so that everyone had lines and solos. Each participant got their own chance to shine. In addition to rehearsals, there were weekly improvisation nights and movie nights that gave everyone the chance to just have fun and spend time together.
One thing about the trip that really surprised me was how fast I made connections. After my first day of Spanish class and rehearsal, I felt like I already had about five new best friends. And the number only grew as time passed. By the third day, I felt like I’d known these people all
my life. Everything about being with them felt so natural. My “mama Tica”—my host mother—and I quickly became like sisters, and I loved having her 7 year old daughter show me everything from her many pets, to where to pick fruits in her grandfather’s farm, to a “secret” shortcut from the house to rehearsal. We did crafts, read books, and she even helped me write a card (or five!) when one of the cast members had a birthday during the trip. And the food… it was wonderful! I know it may sound cliché, but my favorite dish was the classic gallo pinto, a simple rice and beans dish—or as I liked to call it, “rice and beans and magic!”
On the last night of the trip, the entire cast had a party, and afterward, we went to a nearby field to just sit and look up at the stars (another thing I loved about Monteverde—just how many stars were visible!). One of the younger girls asked me which I loved better, the US or
Monteverde. In a moment of extreme sentimentality, I answered: Monteverde. When some of the other kids gave me a questioning look, I added, “Mi vida es en los Estados Unidos, pero ahora mi corazon es en Monteverde!” [Translation: “My life is in the United States, but now my heart is in Monteverde!”]