Over the course of two weeks I spent in Costa Rica, I gained many valuable experiences and learned a lot. One of the group visits while we were in Costa Rica was to the community called La Carpio. La Carpio is a poor neighborhood located just outside San José (the capital of Costa Rica). The purpose of our visit to this community was to learn more about the community and visit the organization SIFAIS. SIFAIS is an organization that offers free classes, such as music, dance, art, or job training, along with other opportunities to help improve and provide more opportunities for the community. SIFAIS only has three employees and depends heavily on the many volunteers from the community. Originally, this organization was founded by one of the members of the community who saw a need and then worked with the community in order to create this organization. One thing that stood out when the founder was talking about the community is that poverty is not about a lack of resources but it is about the spirit of the community. It was evident from what I saw and heard that the heart and spirit of the community was strong.
I also noticed a strong sense of community during another site visit we made to the one of the schools called Granadilla that has 600 students, most of whom live in neighborhoods with very limited resources. At this school their focus is integration and collaboration. The social workers, psychologists and teachers all work together as a team to do what is best for the children. As a team they then formed good relationships with the community and worked with them to do what is best for the kids and for the community. The one thing that stood out was when one of the social workers stated she thought poverty did not exist in the United States. This surprised me, because I know that there is poverty in the United States, but I had never thought that other people outside of the United States might think otherwise. While, poverty looks different in the United States, than in Costa Rica or any other country it still exists and there are many people with lack to necessary resources. One thing that remains the same in any country is the existence of communities no matter the economic situation, and the important spirit and heart within that community. It is important for social workers and other helping professions to remember to work with the community not for the community and to first learn about the community and its needs. These examples of strong communities and the attitudes of those working with the communities is something I will take with me into my profession as a future social worker.