So governments are very frustrating, but sometimes – usually hundreds of years ago – they really hit the nail on the head. Did you know that Nov. 10 is the Day of the Costa Rican Primary School? Me, neither, but it’s the day when, in 1869, Costa Rica declared primary school to be free and obligatory.
To put this in context, Costa Rica had only been an independent nation for 48 years at that point, and given everything I’ve learned about Costa Rican history, I think this must have been a terribly ambitious declaration. Maybe, like a certain U.S. declaration, the rub was in actually creating access for everyone to this universal right – but at least the declaration makes that quest legally necessary. Costa Rica’s commitment to education has shaped the country’s history for generations, and is one of the reasons I am proud to call this place my home.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Costa Rican elementary schools, but certainly one of my happiest excuses to do so is JumpStart Costa Rica, the academic vacation camps I co-founded and that today are implemented by Peace Corps Volunteers. (There will be a whopping 21 camps this coming January, funded by the Costa USA Foundation, where I now work!) Thanks to the incredible photojournalist Mónica Quesada for these images, taken at camps in elementary schools in San Isidro de León Cortés and (last photo) in Rincón Grande de Pavas, 2014.
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter).