¡Pura vida! From the moment I stepped foot onto Costa Rican soil, I could feel the pride that “los Ticos” have for their country and their eagerness to share it with others. With universal healthcare, social security and a solid public elementary as well as university system, la gente costaricense has a lot to be proud of. It has been really interesting comparing and contrasting systems in the United States with systems here in Costa Rica. For example, people use designated clinics and hospitals in their neighborhood, which is different from the US health care system yet similar to the public school districting system. In Costa Rica, citizens older than 65 are called “ciudadanos de oro” or golden citizens and receive discounts in a variety of commercial locations, and public transportation in addition to their pension, like the US retirement system. We have been able to see first hand how important interdisciplinary teams are in schools, government agencies, NGOs and nursing homes and the role that social workers play in each. We have also had the chance to learn about the immigration and refugee populations in Costa Rica, visiting schools and non-profits that work with them in order to learn about the challenges they face. One of my favorite visits was to the UNHCR ACNUR, United Nations Agency for Refugees office in San Jose. Their comprehensive integration initiative for refugees in Costa Rica is not only inspiring, but also a model for the rest of the world. The agency also offers coaching and micro loans to refugees in the country, as well as works collaboratively with their neighbor, Panama, to register the indigenous Chiriticos in both countries. Being in San Jose has been an incredible and eye opening experience thus far and has allowed me to reflect on the inner workings of not only systems in the United States, but our role as social worker within said systems. I am looking forward to what the next week brings and furthering my learning and critical thinking.
- Refugee Work in Costa Rica
- Familia in Costa Rica