(Perhaps a big strangely, Thursday was the only day it rained here in El INVU throughout the entire two-week trip. The weather struck an appropriately different tone for this bittersweet closing day of our practicum experience.)
At 3:15 PM Thursday afternoon, just as our TESOL group was about to begin our final group reflection and project presentation session, news reached us at Central Espiral Maná that there was a rare Scarlet Macaw sighting in the nearby town of San Isidro. Within four minutes, our group had quickly piled into three vehicles and were already en route. Ten minutes later, we were standing on a dirt road in full awe of the macaws -- large red, yellow, and blue parrots native to South America. A group of six or seven magnificent macaws were perched in trees bordering the road, and we eagerly snapped photos, admired the birds, and had a moment to connect with nature.
As Director Mary Scholl noted, "This experience is a great metaphor for teaching. When you are presented with teachable moments, you need to seize the opportunity." And we did indeed seize the opportunity to see the macaws with gusto. What a lovely gift for us to receive on our last full day in Costa Rica.
Following several reflective group activities, we each presented final projects that attempted to encapsulate the essence of all our individual learnings. Mason and Mike both performed songs on guitar (Mason an acoustic composition and Mike a rendition of "I Will Survive" with cleverly rewritten lyrics). Caitlin, Courtney, and Stefanie shared uniquely creative poster-based presentations. Louisa crafted an intricate paper swan from 110 - 130 separate slips of paper, with an individual learning or memory written on each paper. Haley wrote an original fable featuring teacher-rabbits and learner-fish who collaborated to "put together pieces of fire." Daniel shared a series of thoughtful lists. Devin enthusiastically narrated a mind map. Adeline read a heartfelt email she drafted to Emma, one of teacher-trainers. Ben spun an oral story set ten years in the future -- "looking ahead and looking back" at the same time. Ariel wrapped up our evening of sharing with a lovely poem.
Total time in Costa Rica: 13 days
Total teaching days: 7 days
Total length of the Thursday group processing monster-seminar: 3 hours 45 minutes
Some words that we've used to describe our experiences and our feelings on this final day:
12 students from Marlboro College came to our school to teach English to local children and young adults. Their project is to teach "Environmental English" so that at the end of the 8 day course the students can take a hike and talk about nature (in English) and do activities on the trail that help them develop their awareness of tropical river ecology. Our town, San Isidro de Peñas Blancas has created the River walk to raise awareness of environmental issues affecting our area.