Scholar Kristin on Cultural Outreach

All content is © Copyright 2012 McLean County Diversity Project

Learning how to adapt to life in Costa Rica will be a challenge, but will teach me to overcome stigma, look past race, and set goals for myself to become more knowledgeable. Going to Costa Rica is a huge opportunity. I'm talking a once in a lifetime chance.

When Jeff asked if anyone was interested in going to Costa Rica, I was shocked because I didn't think I would ever get this opportunity, but I was also very excited. At the same time, I was also very frightened about going because we will be staying with different families that we haven't even met yet for two weeks. Then there is the language barrier that we will have to overcome.

But I know that getting out of your comfort zone is part of the Diversity Project. So I decided to challenge myself and do just that. That's when I decided to go to Costa Rica and make the best out of the wonderful opportunity that has come before me.

I know that Costa Rican students will have a different lifestyle than we, but how different could it be? How do their schools function? What kind of extra-curricular activities does the school provide?  What holidays do they celebrate? What do we take for granted in the United States and should be so much more thankful for? I am hoping to communicate with them and find out the answers to all of my questions so that I can be more educated about different cultures while gaining a broader perspective on the world. It will be a great eye-opening experience.

As I am currently taking only my second year of Spanish, I know that it will be a struggle to fully communicate with the family and the community. But my desire is to improve and to grow in my Spanish speaking, listening, and reading skills. In my years of taking Spanish, I never learned about the Latin-American lifestyle. So I will be going into this trip completely open-minded and adventurous.

I will make the best of the experience and will be ready on my toes, anxious to try new things. As the Chinese proverb says, "Give your children two things: roots and wings."  - roots representing basic moral values and wings representing the ability to grow.

I know that the three other scholars and I will be learning a lot, so we feel that we should give something back in return. In return, we will speak in front of the school bodies in Spanish and talk about what the mission of the McLean County Diversity Project is, why we are in it, and the different interactions and trips we take each year and what they mean to us.

We intend to spread the importance of diversity with whomever we interact and share our knowledge to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity for all aspects of this project’s mission. Integrating diversity within all areas will give me a lifelong learning experience.

Traveling to Costa Rica through a symbiotic exchange program will be awesome, and the fact that we will have a chance to be on the other end when our new friends from Costa Rica come to stay with us later this year will be pretty cool. We will be able to provide them with their own opportunity to grow and learn about our ‘way of life’.

Under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Rojas and the Diversity Project, this trip will inspire me to continue to learn and strive as a lifelong learner. As we become more globally aware, I know that diversity is giving me the opportunity to do the greater good for humanity.
For this, I am grateful.
- Veteran Scholar Kristin


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