Scholar Wesley on Cultural Outreach

McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael

McLean County Diversity Project   c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz   PO Box 58   Downs, IL  61736

All content is © Copyright 2012 McLean County Diversity Project

Costa Rica was one of the best and will be one the most memorable
experiences in my life. I’ve learned many things during my time in Costa
Rica, but there are a couple of lessons that I think are particularly important.
Cherish your ability to communicate
Attempting to communicate with others while in Costa Rica was a valuable
but difficult experience. When we landed in Costa Rica, the first things I
noticed were the airport signs and how they all were in Spanish. I was
immediately shocked.
I had learned a lot of airport vocabulary in my Spanish class but I was
surprised to find out that it was harder than I thought it would be to read
those signs. It didn’t help that when we got to the village of Venecia, I didn’t
understand the first thing my host brothers said to me. I was completely at a
loss of what do to. I didn’t even know how to express my confusion!
I continued to struggle for the first three days, and through these rough days
I just wished everyone spoke English. It was hard for me to communicate
simple ideas and questions, such as: "Can you pass me the butter?" or
"Do you have a computer that I can use?"  I had to think about every word
I was going to say 10 minutes before I spoke. Needless to say,
communicating with others gave me a hard time in Costa Rica.
But learning to communicate with others taught me a lot. I learned how to try
different methods and ways to accomplish my communication goals, like
rephrasing and using hand gestures. I learned to never give up because
there is always a way.
While striving to communicate with my host family and experiencing Costa
Rican students at school trying to speak English; I learned that the only way
to truly become good at something isn’t just practicing it over and over
again; you need to utilize that skill in real life experiences. You never know
how easy or hard something is until you are forced to rely on that skill for
Recognize the opportunities and diversity in America
I met a lot of interesting people in the Costa Rican school and I made a lot
of new friends - friends that I will remember for the rest of my life. These
people tended to ask me a lot of questions about America. I quickly
realized that these questions weren’t the typical, "What is going to school
or "How’s the food?"
Rather, I was getting a lot of questions like, "What’s a hipster?" and "Are
all African-Americans really good at sports?" 
I soon realized that most
Costa Ricans had never seen people of African-American or Asian
Even though technology is up-to-date in Costa Rica, I found that the Costa
Rican youth are pretty sheltered in their community. Fortunately, here in
America, we have lots of options and diversity of all kinds.
I heard many stories of Costa Rican students dreaming of coming to the
US in search of opportunities. As I listened to their aspirations, it hit me
that Americans really do have every advantage and resource at our
disposal, and it’s only right that we utilize them to the fullest.
Take advantage of the bountiful resources available, work hard, and
appreciate all your capabilities. Because realizing your life’s fullest p
otential depends on it.
I once wrote that I had no expectations for Costa Rica because I didn’t
know what to expect. But now I realize that even if I had expectations for
Costa Rica, they would have been blown away.
I can’t wait to show my host-brothers what the American experience has to
offer them when they come to visit in January. Just like Costa Rica offered 
to me.
- Wesley, Veteran Scholar
McLean County Diversity Project



McLean County Diversity Project   c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz   16043 Dorado Road Bloomington, IL 61705