Xavier and Servite High School students learned “Teamwork is everything” in La Esperanza, Costa Rica

July 2019

Our 8 days spent with the community of La Esperanza building a court was filled with so many remarkable transformations.   Not only did we collectively transform a muddy field into a permanent multi-use court — we also became part of the community and part of the Costa Rican “Pura Vida” approach to living.  Within a couple days our group was on a first name basis with the warm, welcoming people of La Esperanza — and quickly grew to appreciate the simple but full lives they lead. In the end – we could all see that while our language, culture, and surroundings are quite different, life for all of us is made up of work and play and learning — and of cherished relationships, which may last a lifetime or perhaps only a week. – Robert, chaperone

I am by no means a storyteller. Whenever I try to recount something from my personal history, it often becomes fantasy-like despite the truth that it holds to my narrative. However, I know with these experiences, no matter the truth I write, it will always seem more like fantasy than reality to me. This trip was one full of marvels great and small, and the events and unlikely happenings that occurred will never cease to amaze me. This was not my first trip taken through Courts For Kids, and I dearly hope it will not be my last. Costa Rica was certainly a unique experience, and I have become increasingly aware of how these trips all provide an individual reality to grow in. Each set of individuals meet inevitably mix in different ways. The eager workers who learn how to enjoy life as it is. The reluctant teen who discovers the little things in life. The worried soul who finds rest after working amongst perfect strangers. Each person will get different things from these trips, no matter the amount of effort put in. The work provides an uneven ratio of effort given to experience taken. I know this for a perfect fact. The community we met and formed through the duration of this trip proved no matter the distance, no matter the unfamiliar nature of the meeting, no matter the language (or accent) barrier, human nature provides a path to community and friendship. I do not enjoy setting expectations before trips and had virtually no idea what I was in for this time around other than the devastating promise of hard work and abs.

Our group arrived in the San José late at night, and I was immediately stricken at the sight of gold on the ground, and lightning in the sky. There could not have been a grander entrance. This grand opening proved to be a sharp contrast to the following morning. Meeting the California boys was awkward at best. As most all early morning teen meetings go, few words were exchanged, and many an awkward handshake ensued. Little did we know, in a weeks time, we would all be sobbing in front of a Starbucks together. As the week progressed, I learned many small things about teenage boys. Their incredible work ethic, intelligence, kindness, devotion to cards, and fear of bugs. I became the bug remover extraordinaire. The number of shrieks I heard from both Xavier and Servite boys in the face of bugs will forever and always amuse me. The work, though difficult and time-consuming, is not the most prominent thing in my memories. Horribly cliche as it sounds, the connections made on the trip are the most valuable things I gained.

Second to only the company, the cultural and learning experiences were also extremely important for me as a highschooler. I have been studying Spanish for 7 years, and going full immersion like this proved how much and how little I really knew. Working with the local community gave me plenty of opportunities to work on Spanish; working with the boys from California allowed me to explore the true oddities of regional dialect. The amount of time spent on explaining Midwestern bubblers, cheese, vowels, and lack of entertainment proved to be entertainment enough to fill the working hours. I love learning more about other cultures, and this trip never fails to sate my need for learning. Food, language, lifestyles, clothing, habits, chores, jobs, economies, government; all of this was explored and seen in its truest forms. The level of immersion experienced is a golden opportunity for any age. -Lydia, Xavier High School student

“This trip has showed to me how versatile I can be when need to be. It has showed to me how mentally strong I am and how much I am able to persevere and look for the positive in each scenario. With the help of this newly discovered skills, as well as the extraordinary humor and positive ‘pura vida’ of my team mates and colleagues, positive moral was preserved… and I had so much fun!” – Morgan

“The community taught me that it is better to care for everyone. They all care for each other like a large happy family. I learned that if everyone is cared for then the town will grow.” – Nolan

“This trip really helped me to open my eyes and to realize the living situations in different parts of the world. Realizing this helped me to put others and the needs of others before my own. It has most definitely changed me for the better.” – Rebecca

“I have learned from the community that we might have different life situations, but at the end we are the same. Our goals in life are similar, our dreams and our concerns are the same.” – Laura

“What I learned from the community is that teamwork is everything. Without teamwork the court would have never finished.” – Jacob

“This trip has changed me for the better. Now I feel like I have experienced something great. Now I will not take my home, family of friends for granted. Clearly, this trip has made me a better person and has showed me what is important in life.” – Luke