First world problems to third world problems

La semana pasado nosotros visitemos La Carpio. La Carpio es un área con mucho pobreza en San José. Aproximadamente 85% de las personas que viven en La Carpio son nicaragüense y hay muchas inmigrantes indocumentados. Yo nunca he visto un lugar como La Carpio en mi vida. Estaba pensando sobre mi privilegio y como yo aprovecho que yo tengo y como muchas personas en los Estados Unidos hacen el mismo. En el pasado, la ciudad de San José no reconoció La Carpio como un área de la ciudad, entonces las personas que estaban viviendo allá no imagetenían electricidad o agua corriente. Familias, niños y bebés estaba viviendo allá sin electricidad. Como es posible para un ciudad no reconocer un área donde más de 200,000 personas estaba viviendo?

In his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Paolo Friere explains that in order for oppressed populations to be liberated, social workers need to work with the populations, not for them. In La Carpio, there is a Montessori school for the children to attend. In the United States, we know that Montessori schools are very prestigious and advanced, but also come with a hefty price tag. The Montessori school in La Carpio is free for the children, and their mothers contribute by cleaning, cooking and volunteering in the school. By giving the mothers the opportunity to contribute to their children’s education, even though it’s not in monetary value, gives them a sense of pride. I believe this is a great example of working with the oppressed population. The Montessori school is not simply giving the children information for them to memorize, but instead they help the students advance academically through music classes, karate classes, technology and much more. The school is also in the process of constructing a new building where they will have more room for classes, therefore more students can attend. The students also have the opportunity to help construct the new building.

While visiting La Carpio, I couldn’t help but think of how many times I’ve complained about not having wi-fi, or thinking it was the end of the world when my internet was running slow and Netflix wasn’t working. Some of our problems in the United States seem so small when you look through the lense of someone less privileged than you. As social workers, we need to not only recognize our privileges but also self-reflect to understand how these factors have shaped our life and our practice. By traveling to Costa Rica and learning about the ways others live their lives, I hope to come back to the United States and incorporate that knowledge into my practice and my thought process.

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