Monday, February 17, 2014

Intern Voice - Keeping up with the Costa Ricans - part 1

Written by Melissa Colleluori - GVI Manuel Antonio Community Intern
This week on Keeping up with the Costa Ricans…
Jess and I made a lovely start to our 6-month Costa Rican adventure.  First, by meeting the staff and getting to know everyone, by heading to the beach to see a sublime sunset. Then we got to visit the school of El Cocal where we will be teaching and then we started summer school so Jess and I had fun planning new and exciting activities for the kids of Boca Vieja!
Another part of our new life in Costa Rica is just exploring the surroundings: by going to the beach, the waterfall, the pub quiz night and even finding little hidden gems around the house for example these cute hats!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

GVI Manuel Antonio Monthly Achievement Report January 2014


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Staff Voice - Off And Running

Written by Clint Ballinger - GVI Manuel Antonio Community Coordinator
After being away for a few weeks over Christmas and some days of preparation, getting the new volunteers here and settled in, the day finally arrived for the first day of “summer school”. The normal school schedule does not start until February, but of course we want to keep the kids active and learning, and keep the volunteers busy as well. 
 As we arrived on the first day of summer school, the new volunteers may have been nervous, and I had never run a summer school either. Furthermore, we were working in a different school and neighborhood than where we usually work, so I didn’t know most of the kids.
When we arrived, there were 10 or more kids, so we were happy kids had voluntarily shown up during their vacations. We had a nice calm “get to know each other” activity planned, making one page biographies writing their names and favorite things in English and drawing them as well.
The kids were so happy to see us, focused on the exercise, and lovely with the new volunteers. It was a nice moment for everyone, a peaceful morning hour laughing with the kids, learning their names, favorite colors, favorite animals etc, and teaching them a little English along the way (not to mention the new volunteers began to learn some simple Spanish straight away as well). A moment that had all of us a little stressed turned out to be relaxing and rewarding. We then moved on to some sports, and the new week and new year is off and running.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Volunteer Voice - Connecting through differences

Written by Zachary Ortwine - GVI Manuel Antonio Community Volunteer
I have been volunteering in Costa Rica for five weeks now and it has been quite an adventure! The volunteer project focuses on a small community called El Cocal, which is located right outside of Quepos. The children of El Cocal come from a diverse background, and each day of volunteering is unique. One of my favorite projects over the past five weeks was Columbus Day.

Columbus Day was a lot of fun and the children and audience got to learn about different cultures through skits and speeches. Some of my favorite costumes were the homemade (and very good) Native American style outfits in the picture shown. The children learned about Native American history and taught the audience of family and friends with performances and speeches. It is kind of rare to get as much community participation as we had for Columbus Day, so it was really exciting to see parents talking together and watching their kids’ performances. In the end, the GVI volunteers also performed a skit to display the volunteers’ cultures and perspective as foreigners to El Cocal. Many of the kids found parts of our skit to be funny and informative, and it was a great way to connect with the children and have some conversation topics.

Many of the kids in El Cocal come from poorer and sometimes troubled backgrounds. It means a lot to the volunteers and the kids to develop relationships, show them attention, and to gain their respect. Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate, due to my limited knowledge of Spanish, but over time and by interacting with the kids it has been rewarding to gain their trust and respect. I have also enjoyed learning Spanish and using it daily, and I know that it will be useful in future endeavors. Community projects are a real treat and I have had a wonderful time getting to know the kids and community of El Cocal. I look forward to spending my next three weeks volunteering and getting to know the kids better, and providing positive guidance in their lives. 


Friday, January 24, 2014

Volunteer Voice - Life's Great Ironies

Written by Jess McGrath - GVI Manuel Antonio Community Intern

The GVI team have been busy this week with holiday activities in Boca Vieja, spending our days at the community centre managing holiday sport, English and craft activities. At night, the group are usually home doing their Spanish homework, cooking, cleaning, juggling, debating the correct way to cut tomatoes and practising Michael Jacksons moon walk. 

Today, having temporarily lost half our GVI crew to a stomach bug, Liz, Clint and myself set off for the El Cocal community with high hopes of getting some much needed work done. When we arrived to find the electricity was out for the day, our plans to clean out the storage shed were quickly replaced with the setting up of the school basketball hoop (ie - attached one pole to another with pieces of wire), a bit of painting and a walk along the dirt strip that is the main street of El Cocal in search of some kids to tell about our upcoming soccer tournament. Instead we found a couple of boys who were more interested in challenging us to a game of ultimate frisbee. As we spent the next hour playing on the beach, I couldn't help but notice the giant houses that line the hillside of  neighbouring Manuel Antonio, with their ‘million dollar’ view of the El Cocal beach. Just one of life's great ironies I suppose…

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Staff Voice - Corona Cocalena

Written by Kristin Cleaveland - GVI Manuel Antonio Staff Member

In mid -November, GVI partnered with a local body boarding organization to set up our very first body boarding competition in El Cocal.  After lots of planning and making sure every detail was correct, Saturday came and we were ready for the competition.  The only question we had: “Were the kids actually going to show up?”  There were mixed feelings, but we went in bright and early anyway (arriving at 6:30 am). We headed into what seemed to be a very quiet community.  We walked to the beach, still worried the day wouldn’t go as planned.  What we saw almost made me cry right then! In the water were about 20 kids, practising for the competition while the rest were eagerly waiting on shore for our instructions.   

Competitors congratulating their friend and opponent
The rest of the day went smoothly and it was obvious how happy the kids were and how much fun they were having.  As round results were announced, winners cheered and got prepped for their next ‘hit’ while others patted them on the back and gave them advice.  It was an amazing sight to see the change in attitude the children had.  The same children who we have trouble dealing with in school and who don’t generally work well with other kids were listening to everything they had to do, complimenting the other contestants, and most of all, enjoying themselves.  I didn’t hear one kid tell someone else they were better than them, which is usually heard about 10 times in a short class period.  The competition was a huge success and I can’t wait to see how the next one compares!

Celebrating after a very successful event


Saturday, January 4, 2014

New year, new web home...

To all our GVI friends & family out there...

Happy New Year!!!  

We hope you've all enjoyed the holidays, at home with loved ones, on the road experiencing new cultures, out volunteering at GVI projects around the world, or wherever this blog finds you.

Here in Costa Rica, to get ready for the new year, we've been reflecting on all the great things from 2013...

In Jalova, from training sessions with our partners at the Ministry of Environment, environmental education for local children & adults, working hand in hand with our partners at PANTHERA to make our jaguar study even better -- and getting it in the news! -- to volunteers helping hatchlings to the sea, patrolling the beaches & working up close with sea turtles, Jalova olympics, holiday feasts, starting our new monkey survey, jaguar cubs on camera, great green macaws, and even agami heron sightings, 2013 has been a great year.

GVI volunteers helping local kids with our environmental puzzles at Tortufest (local annual turtle festival) 

GVI Staff Marcelle helping a local student learn to identify a jaguar 
Quepos' 2013 highlights included our first-ever Under 18s volunteers; an incredible construction project to improve the school and provide a play area for the kids; a recycling program and helping the school win the Blue Flag Environmental Award for another year; volunteers participating in school events doing everything from singing & dancing to playing the cups; an incredibly successful bodyboard tournament fundraiser, and the inauguration of our new GVI classroom and library within the school -- 100% built, painted, decorated and filled with supplies by GVI volunteers & supporters.  We can't wait to start using it next year for our literacy, math, tutoring & art programs!

Merry Christmas from children at El Cocal school in the new GVI classroom!
Remembering all the successes and fun of 2013, we want to thank all of you out there who have followed us, supported us, volunteered with us and otherwise made GVI's Costa Rica programs so fantastic!  We are looking forward to building on all of these events and adding even more to make 2014 our best and most impactful year yet!  And.. even more exciting... we'll be sharing it all with you very soon on a brand-new, soon-to-be-announced platform --- keep your eyes peeled as we say goodbye to our old home here on Blogspot and move into our new updated version for 2014!

Feliz año nuevo from Team GVI Costa Rica!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Monthly Achievement Report Jalova- November 2013


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Staff Voice: Every cloud has a silver lining

Written by – Heather Gilbert, Field staff

Agami herons are cool. Like, really cool. They have a beak around three times the length of their head, and the plumage on their necks is glorious silver. They live throughout Central and parts of South America and can usually be found on the edges of swampy streams and lakes within tropical forest. Fortunately for us, we live in Central America within a tropical forest with many canals and streams (and swamps in rainy season!). So seeing an Agami heron should be fairly easy right? Wrong. For starters, the Agami heron is a nocturnal forager and we rarely get the chance to be on the canals after nightfall. Then there’s the issue of their scarcity. So few Agami herons are seen each year the IUCN has categorised them as Vulnerable to extinction.  They are threatened primarily by accelerating deforestation in certain areas of their range, such as the Amazon basin. Due to the very rare nature of this bird, our partners MINAE (the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment) have expressed an interest in learning more about this little-studied species and its population in Tortuguero National Park.

With that in mind, a few months ago we began the now infamous “Agami Hunt 2013”.  With a little help from our excellent boat driver Jorge, we have been surveying various parts of a nearby canal where the last known Agami sighting occurred. Sadly, while Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Grey-necked Woodrails and Bare-throated Tiger Herons were plentiful, the Agami remained hidden to us. Being the canal bird project leader, my desire to see an Agami heron was great, and only grew with each passing survey.

Then two weeks ago, it finally happened. We almost had to cancel the survey due to heavy rain but half an hour before the survey the rain stopped, and the stars came out. It was a particularly quiet night on the canals however, the rain seemingly sending all the birds into hiding. We had been out for just over an hour and were all getting restless and, let’s be honest, slightly tired. Then out of the blue, intern Dionthé said the classic “bird!”, and then “Agami!”. It took a few moments to grasp what she had said, and a couple more to confirm that the silvery blur in front of us was indeed an Agami heron. It’s safe to say I was more than a little excited by this sighting. I grappled for my camera and managed to get a few shots and then settled down with my binoculars to simply watch and admire this beautiful bird in its natural habitat.

Agamia agami


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thanks for a great Thanksgiving!

Coming from Denmark Thanksgiving is not a known celebration for me or for any Europeans. But the 28th November we celebrated the American Thanksgiving thanks to our enthusiastic Americans! This was my first Thanksgiving ever and it was going to be in the jungle, well why not?! I was so excited to be on duty with the experts. That stormy rainy morning I was up with Dionthé making apple fritters stuffed with apple saucy goodness for breakfast with scrambled eggs too. Best breakfast ever! 

Staff and volunteers enjoy a very big breakfast!

Due to the fact it was raining heavily and very stormy too the surveys were cancelled, so the whole Jalova family stayed in the kitchen with us. Duty team, Dionthé, Alex and I cooked and we cooked A LOT! With the help of Ryan too we made mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, wild rice, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy… and the turkey?? This was my task and I understood it’s the most important role. NO pressure! Since I couldn’t get a Great Tinamou or a Great Curassow for the meal I made lentil burgers with a lot of chicken stock and shaped them like turkey legs. Success! Looked like huge nuggets though. 

The amazing Thanksgiving team looking proud with their delicious spread of food

Everyone ate all day and ate till it hurt. For desert we had real pumpkin pie for brief done perfectly with the jungle oven. Dionthé also made chocolate fudge and chocolate marshmallow fudge after dinner. SUGAR OVERLOAD but sooo good! Best food day ever! Thank you for a wonderful filling day Jalova!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Intern Voice: Leading the way to blood and gore....

Two of our six month interns recently completed their leadership projects on base, and the results were frightful! Here two other interns describe the dastardly events…

So we had Alex’s leadership project the night after Halloween – a fright night of bone chilling thrills and fun-filled Halloween mayhem! The night kicked off with everyone showing off their horrifically inventive costumes – a gang of zombie pirates, a black cat, an apocalypse survivor, a witch doctor and some random construction workers thrown into the mix… oh and a zebra.
It was also chicken night so we ate our fried chicken by candlelight in the kitchen surrounded by spiders and bats in scary webs of mosquito net, monstrous coconut heads and a disturbing figure hanging from the rafters – this probably would have been scarier if we hadn’t named him Julio…
After dinner it was a trip through the haunted house – the atmosphere was tense as we waited for our turn to face the horrors within, I’m sure the screaming could be heard for miles – not that there was anyone around to hear us! A teenage mutant ninja turtle collected us and led us to the entrance where we faced our darkest fears…
Fun ensued for those who survived as we went on to play such games as murder and lime bobbing (very wet!) whilst eating ‘worm’ infested jungle flapjacks. We finished the night around the fire pit which was a perfect ending to a great night – thanks Alex!
-Written by Kat, six month intern

Interns and volunteers show off their jungle-style Halloween costumes

One quiet Friday our peaceful afternoon was interrupted by a cry for war by Dionthé. It was up to us, the Five Nation Army (or volunteers) to defend our beloved flag from the experienced Staff. This battle would be the first of many to go down in history known as the Jalova Wars! The battle continued on the beach, our hands and feet racing across scorching hot sand, refusing to give up to the opposition.
As the battlefield moved to the Coconut Plantation, coconuts were flying through the air in an intense game of bocci/boules, each team attempt to knock out the competition. With victory on the horizon, the final battle was the fiercest of them all with both sides leaping through the mud trying to leave the contenders in their wake. In a close competition with both teams determined to win, the staff rose triumphant from the mud to claim victory. Their flag now hangs for all to see in the kitchen, a gentle reminder to the Five Nation Army to never let history repeat itself.

-Written by Sarah, six month intern

Both teams fly their flags high after an gripping (and muddy) afternoon of games


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Monthly Achievment Report Jalova- October 2013