I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when the shift happened but at some point in the past couple months my host family became my family. I realized this because more than just feeling an incredible adoration for my family, I would get into small arguments with my sister, cuddle with my mom on the couch and joke around with my siblings and their boyfriends. Bonds like that are the reason I have fallen in love with Monteverde and the Creativa.
My experience here has been nothing short of incredible. I have had the privilege to work with an experienced, strong teacher and a set of creative, dedicated students. Every day we do something new, from writing recipes and then making them for fractions class to taking hikes through the cloud forest to camping for the night in the colegio. I have been able to work with students one on one, both students who are advanced and who are behind. I have also been able to lead small groups of students and teach my own day of classes, a big feat for me at 19 years old. I have learned so much about teaching here but also I have learned about the lines of caring and discipline. I have gone from having the point of view of a good student not truly understanding learning problems to rooting for the students who are behind and doing everything in my power to help them succeed. It is those students, the ones who need extra help but work so hard that taught me the most. It is such a rewarding feeling for your student to receive a 96 on an exam after failing every other exam that year. Another great part is the freedom you have working in this school. If you want to be on a committee, you are more than welcome. I have spent countless hours with another intern reorganizing, shelving and labeling books in the library. We did not realize what an undertaking it would be, since there was no librarian, but it tops the list on one of the experiences I will remember for a long time.
My other favorite part of working at the Creativa is the relationships you form with the staff here. Not only with my lead teacher, who has become more than just a mentor but a good friend as well, but also with Dixia, the incredible cleaning woman, Milton, who always pretends there are insects on my back and Isaura, our hysterical Spanish teacher. These people as well as the other teacher and interns have turned this internship into something spectacular.
Life outside of school is another experience altogether. I live with a single mom and three of her daughters, while her other three children live out of the house now but still in Monteverde. Ma is literally one of the strongest, most caring people I have ever met. She somehow manages to work, cook incredible food and spend time with us. We have had many a nice talk about our lives over coffee and her delicious bread. She made me feel comfortable from the moment I entered the house and she will stay in my heart as a mother forever. My sisters are sisters to me now. They are all very smart, funny, generous and friendly. But they also fight and get on my nerves just like regular sisters, which I see as a blessing more than anything else because it’s so similar to my relationships with my siblings at home. My favorite afternoons are those rainy ones, cuddled under blankets with my sisters, watching Spanish talk shows and giggling. Our house is always filled with other people as well: grown up siblings, grandchildren and boyfriends. There have been maybe 10 hours of silence in my house since I have lived there.
Living in Monteverde itself is a trip. The weather is constantly changing, going from boiling hot in the morning to a downpour in the afternoon. Mist is constantly rolling through the town, which is relatively small. I say relatively because my town is smaller and I have found that if you are willing to walk, there is always something to do. From the reserves (which are free) to dancing at Mata ‘e Caña to card games and potlucks, I am almost never bored here.
I came here unsure of what to expect in terms of work, friends and family and am leaving with more than I could have ever imagined. I have an incredible set of friends and mentors, a new family and a group of fourth graders who have stolen my heart forever.