Student Presentations, Reflections, and Special Treats – Megan Lafayette

We kicked off our last full day in Las Juntas with our usual breakfast at Chayito’s, complete with delicious avocado slices and fresh fruit juice. After breakfast we had a brief break before starting class at Carlos and Elieth’s house at 9:30. There, we heard from all the student research groups, who were reporting on their research findings. The public health group started off the morning with a presentation on Costa Rica’s publicly funded health clinics and the perceptions of their efficacy by residents of Las Juntas. Next came the agriculture group, which shared with the class the differences between the small, forest-looking family farms in Las Juntas compared with the large factory farms we are used to in the USA. Then the education research group talked about the four pillars of the education system in Costa Rica: how to know, how to make, how to live together, and how to be.

Their presentation was followed by a visit from Ana, a local artisan who makes jewelry out of scrap mining materials. She had brought a handful of unique and beautiful pieces for students to purchase as souvenirs. From there we took a break from class and walked down the block for our very last meal

With Estaban at Yipi’s in Las Juntas

at Chayito’s. A large group of students then went to Yipi for a last smoothy or ice cream cone from Estaban, the store’s kind and hospitable owner whom we visited nearly everyday in our time in Las Juntas. Knowing that we were leaving Las Juntas the following morning, Estaban sent us off by sharing some fresh watermelon free of charge and indulging us in a selfie.

After the lunch break, it was back to Carlos and Elieth’s porch to hear presentations from the women in business and water groups.The students studying women in business previewed us to a five minute clip of their documentary, for which they conducted interviews with local women who find fulfillment by running their own businesses. Finally, the water group reported on their testings and confirmed to us that drinking the tap water in Las Juntas for the last two weeks was nothing to worry about.

After research presentations, we convened as a group to have a reflective conversation about our experience in Las Juntas. We discussed stereotypes and biases, our role as Americans in the international system, community and environmental sustainability, and what it means to be developed or developing (still unsure if the US is a developed country or just a developing one with iPhones and fast food). From there we had some down time before our final dinner together to say goodbye to this beautiful town that made us feel at home.

Thank you again for everything! Have a lovely summer.