Posts filed under ‘Casa Luz’

10 Things I Learned By Working With Kids

.:{My 3 year old teachers}:.

1) It’s important to have a routine with youngsters. When they are accustomed to a certain schedule, everything goes so much smoother and they don’t misbehave (as much).

2) If a kid is acting up, instead of punishing them, first try to see if something is actually wrong or is frustrating the kid. So many times at Casa Luz I simply watched the kids, to try to understand what was going through their heads, and realized that a lot of the times it was something simple that they were mad about but didn’t know how to communicate it other than crying and screaming. The mother’s didn’t realize this and would get mad at the kid for screaming, which would frustrate the kid more, cause more screaming, and the cycle continues.

3) Kids are so much smarter than you think.

4) They  love to learn and are super curious. The more you incorporate knowledge into your time with them, the more interested they will be.

5) Kids absolutely love love LOVE music and dancing. We as human innately love rhythm. If you need to get a room of children to pay attention, put on a song or just sounds in general (like a cd of noises-water running, glass breaking, a dog barking, a phone ringing), they love it.

6) Instead of just saying no- explain why you are saying no.

7) You are their example. They are constantly observing you. What you do and say, they WILL repeat.

.8) Remember, if they are 3 and under, that toy you are giving them, will inevitably end up in their mouth and the mouths of every other kid in the vicinity.

9) Life is beautiful

10) Bubbles are awesome


June 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm 1 comment

Casa Luz : Part 2

.:{Sin Palabras}:.

There aren’t words for my volunteer experience in Costa Rica. I guess that’s why I haven’t written much on my blog about Casa Luz. It’s an experience. Something I feel like a blog can’t really capture.

  • It’s the hugs and “Kelsey!” screams I am greeted with by the little kids everyday.
  • It’s the craziness that is Fanny who I work with in the kitchen.
  • It’s the moments when the moms actually open up and talk to me after months of being guarded.
  • It’s the feeling of being completely out of my comfort zone when I walked into Casa Luz the first day, and now walking in feeling confident and relaxed.
  • It’s the ability to be able to carry on a conversation with the workers when I couldn’t even understand them at first.
  • It’s connecting with the girls.
  • It’s having a terror-child actually calm down and listen to you when you talk to them (or at least pretend to).
  • It’s the skills I have learned when it comes to dealing with children.
  • It’s dancing with the kids at the end of the day, and seeing their faces light up with the first note of the “Hi-Five” song.
  • It’s the feeling of feeling needed.
  • It’s the smiles.
  • It’s the tears.
  • It’s the daily “hola’s” and “hasta luego’s.”
  • It’s a moment when you feel like what you are doing is worth while.

Although my experience at Casa Luz is completely different from anything I thought it would be, I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to work there for the last 4 months. It’s these moments that I am going to remember forever.

June 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm Leave a comment

Casa Luz : Volunteering

.:{Embracing Little Victories}:.

After about a month, I am finally writing a blog post about my volunteer work at Casa Luz. Why did I wait so long? In the beginning, I had mixed feelings about my work with the young girls and their kids, and wanted to feel out the place before I shared my experience with others. I didn’t want to say one thing, only to realize that I really meant another. That being said, here has been my experience thus far.

In the beginning, I was pretty disappointed with my volunteer placement. From AIDE’s website, my work at Casa Luz sounded more… valuable, than what I was experiencing. My first day, I showed up in the kids daycare where I basically just ran around after the kids, attempting to keep them under control in my wobbly-worded spanish, not knowing what the rules/expectations were of the kids or of myself. Besides my initial interview with the director, I had no real orientation or introduction to Casa Luz, the staff, or the habits of the house. I definitely felt like I had been thrown into the water, with no idea how to swim. But as I am here for 4 months, the reality of the situation was, Sink or Swim, and I was not ready to sink—I had to keep myself afloat—so I came to work each day telling myself that if I wanted my volunteer work to be worthwhile, I had to try. Every accomplishment starts first with the decision to try. And now a month later, I am feeling the little victories of my efforts.

  • The moms who were initially reserved about talking with me, probably because I was new, shy, and the fact that we didn’t understand one another, are now asking me and the other volunteer questions like, “How do you say “muchacho guapo” in English?” Which is now why we often hear the girls referring to themselves or others as “hotties.”
  • I actually know how to talk to the kids now, and can understand most of their toddler spanish jibberish.
  • Me and the other volunteer finally have a set schedule that is reasonable and makes sense. When I first started my hours were a little random, and I felt like I was either not needed because I was working at the same time as many others, I was being taken advantage of, or I was unsure of my schedule. Now, after the lovely cook talked with us and the volunteer coordinators, one of us volunteers works in the mornings to early afternoon and the other from the early afternoon to late afternoon.
  • Although he had to leave Casa Luz last Friday, my daily “animal noise”/”keep him occupied and distracted” time with one of the kids in the house was finally paying off as he started out only knowing how to sound like a horse, cow and dog, and afterwards knew how to “talk” like a dog, horse, cow, cat, pig, elephant, rooster and duck.
  • And although I still feel like I am doing more “babysitting” than anything else… and that am doing work that is much different from what I expected/originally wanted, I am happy with my placement. With every learned animal noise, laugh from a kid, smile from one of the moms, moment cleaning dishes, jumping dance in the daycare, and spoonful of food eaten (who knew toddlers would hate eating so much-oh how their world will change), I know that in my own small way I am making a difference in the world and that’s all that really matters.

March 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm 2 comments

My Second Week in Costa Rica

.:{Solo Bueno}:.

My second week in Costa Rica is officially complete.

Me with one of my spanish teachers-Carlos-after I finished my classes I received a nice little certificate.

I am now finished with my language classes—which I must admit, I am going to miss. I have heard about other people not liking the classes because they are a little intense and last for 4 hours/day, but I loved them. Not only did I get to learn Spanish, but I also had the opportunity to learn about life in Costa Rica from the locals. Everyday I had the chance to ask about a subject whether it was how to get around La Guacima or the relationships between CR men and women. All of the language teachers are super nice and I think that anyone doing this same program should definitely consider taking the classes.

In addition to loving the classes, this week was particularly fun because there was another group of students at El Rancho Espanol taking classes. Everyone in the group was from Wisconsin and was probably around their mid-40‘s and above. One lady from the group was living with my same family for the week and she was spectacular. So fun and friendly, and even though she didn’t know a whole lot of Spanish (but she did learn a lot in her short time here), she always made an effort to speak with the family. Since, she didn’t speak too much Spanish I got to plan the role of interpreter between her and the family which was really fun and made me realize that I have already learned quite a bit of Spanish in my short time here.

Making Pineapple Empanadas with the teacher and the group from Wisconsin

Everyone else in the group was super nice as well (I am definitely going to miss them). We all took salsa dancing lessons together, and a cooking class as well where we made Pineapple Empanadas. I absolutely LOVED the salsa dancing lessons, and am definitely going out dancing with either my family here or some of the instructors from El Rancho.

Since the other group was here, I was also able to tag along with them to eat at two of the main restaurants here in Guacima: Anthony’s and a Pizzeria. Anthony’s has typical CR food and the Pizzeria may be the best Pizza that I have had in a while. Who would have thought I would find excellent italian food in Costa Rica?

I also spent a full week volunteering at Casa Luz, and a full Saturday as well (my first full day there as I was only doing half days before because of my classes). I have mixed feelings about my work at Casa Luz, so that blog post is soon to come. But I absolutely love the little kids there (they are beyond cute) and although I haven’t had much interaction with the mothers, I can tell that they are some pretty strong and amazing girls.

Hope that everyone is doing well!  I will be writing a post soon about my trip alone to San Jose as well, so stay on the look out for that. As always, keep me posted on your adventures!



March 2, 2010 at 10:43 am 2 comments

Where I Work

.:{Casa Luz}:.

In today’s rounds of updates, here is the first. Instead of leaving on Feb 1st for Costa Rica, I am now going to be leaving on Feb 14th. At first, I was a little dismayed with the change, but I am actually really happy about this now because it gives me more time with my friends and family, and more time to practice mi español.

Along with an altered departure, my work in Costa Rica has also changed. Instead of volunteering in a home for young girls, I will be working in a home for adolescent mothers and their children who come from extreme poverty and have been abused/exploited. Although my new location is a little more intense, I am really excited about the switch. The home is called Casa Luz, and is located in La Guácima, Costa Rica. La Guácima is a little town in Costa Rica’s Alajuela province and is about 10 miles northwest of the capital—San Jose.

So, the countdown is now under 3 weeks! Check out my next post: LaVida Idealist for more exciting updates!

January 25, 2010 at 11:11 pm 1 comment


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