Photos by Katie Brown – www.bkb-photography.com
On the morning of July 8th, a group of volleyball players from the Triangle Volleyball Club, embarked on a journey of a lifetime to Ciudad Neily, Costa Rica. It did not take long for the members of the group to begin making memories.
The group was welcomed by Haley Caldwell, the Peace Corps volunteer living in the community and thousands of soccer fans at the airport. It did not take long for everyone to figure out that they happened to arrive at the same time as the Costa Rican soccer team.
There was nowhere for the vans to go so the volleyball players embraced the moment and joined in on the celebration. After a few hours of celebrating alongside the host-nationals the vans were ready to venture down south.
After a long day of traveling the group arrived at their home for the week just before midnight. The house was walking distance to the court and in the middle of the neighborhood. It had been graciously donated to the group for the week by a community member. With work starting bright and early the next day, the group did not hesitate jumping into their beds and calling it a night. The group rose shortly after sunrise to start working on the court.
The group worked on the court for a grueling five days and they never once complained. The players were
dedicated to their different tasks including building wooden grids, leveling the ground,hauling wheel-barrels, and laying the concrete. With the partnership of the community and the group headway was made quickly. It did not take long for everyone to be dripping sweat and have blisters covering their hands,
When the group was not working on the court they were usually found playing volleyball with the kids in the neighborhood, talking with the community members, learning local dances, eating delicious food prepared my women in the community, or completing their daily challenges.
The group had an opportunity to spend the day hanging out with the community where they had a volleyball tournament, taught drills to the middle school volleyball team, danced in the rain and had the opportunity to enhance the relationships that were already being built.
Due to some unforeseen obstacles the group was unable to finish the court in five days. However, as the group was enjoying a day sightseeing and playing at the beach in Uvita, they received pictures from the community of the completed court. Approximately 20 community members united to finish pouring the remaining grids. Even though the group was not able to complete the court themselves, they were able to see the true impact of their visit when the community was able to unify and complete the court.
The night before the group left the community the local high school volleyball coach and his family hosted a BBQ to celebrate all the hard work of the group as well as the community. The night was full of camera flashes, chips and salsa, more dancing, and emotional goodbyes. The group was also able to thank the community for their commitment to the court and their wonderful hospitality.
It was an emotional morning when the group departed Ciudad Neily and said a final good-bye to all of the amazing people that had become friends with throughout the week. The relationships that were built in the six days will forever change the lives of the group, as well as the community members. There are not enough words to express the gratitude the group had towards the individuals who built the court alongside them, the women who provided their meals, and all the kids who cheered the group along. The experience will leave countless memories for the group and the community.
“What I learned from the community was how full their lives are and can be even with just a small percentage of the resources we have in the States. The simpler approach to life can allow you to go deeper and appreciate what’s really important in life – relationships. Less distraction, more interaction.” – Sarah Schall“What I learned from the community… I learned that being present and fully engaged can bring the utmost gratitude, and I learned that good work can be done even in situations where communication is difficult or perhaps impossible. I learned that patience and perseverance can be demonstrated across cultures and from young to old. I learned that things don’t always have to be perfect or ideal as long as there is a positive direction toward which people can move together.” – Jeremy Young“This trip has changed me because I have become more aware of how othe rpeople live in the world and how thankful I am.” – Madelin Hernandez“My favorite memories from this trip were when I engaged in conversation with the locals, played with the children, and worked alongside the community members. Watching how everyone came together for a common purpose was really inspirational. The kids were amazing and I live spending time with them.” – Mia Fradenburg“What I learned about the world: language is no boundary. We were able to work together (most of the time) and build relationships despite our communication difficulties. I truly love everyone I have met and wish I never had to leave.” – Sydney Hinds