By Sarah Fujimoto
The fresh air hits my face as I trek down the street, the gravel below my shoes crunching with each step reminds me of my arriving destination, the elementary school.
As I near, a familiar scene is unveiled. Laughing and smiling children running in the front of the school, uniforms amok with puddled and muddy rainwater. The stray dogs of the village run around and appear to be the source of the children’s laughter.
As I approach the building, numerous faces light up and stare. I attempt my Spanish and greet them with a smile. Within seconds the classroom comes to order and the children are in front of me standing behind their desks. I begin to greet the students in front of me while the others continue to stand, it is then at this time that I realize they continue to stand to show respect.
The recovery from the earthquake in this area has resulted in the students being in, for this time, one schoolhouse for all grades. There are about 35 students that fill the room, grades distinguished by rows and areas of the one room.
These children are beautiful, filled with life, pain, and hope. Their respect, attention, and use of art materials amazes me. They listen and they use and don’t destroy the materials in front of them. I asked them to draw and then share about where they were when the earthquake happened.
One thing I realized this day was that there is a freedom in these children that is so unique. Seeing boys play outside after school, moms chatting to the side as their sons jump into puddles with their galoshes is smiled upon. Getting dirty is okay here, and as I see boys later in the day running trucks down a mountain of mud, its another confirmation that children get to explore here. I am reminded of many memories of children being reminded to be clean, controlled, and restricted. Boundaries not in place, instead replaced with restrictions, two completely different things.
There is a freedom in Costa Rica, an enjoyment of life that I appreciate, both among children and adults. Where does this come from? Can I take it back with me?
Sarah enjoys creating new things and old alike while traveling to new places. She enjoys art and restoration, a good cup of tea, and puppies.