I am currently serving with the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) in San José, Costa Rica, where I teach English at two schools — Hogar Escuela Barrio Cuba and Hogar Escuela Heredia. Both schools are run by The Episcopal Church, and are located in impoverished neighborhoods. They offer children of low-income families a safe place to learn, play and grow. Not only am I teaching eight different groups of children ages 4 to12, I am also creating a functional curriculum for them to learn English in an educational (but fun!) way. Along with teaching, I am assisting Bishop Hector Monterroso with translation work
for his grants and sermons.
This year has been a period of huge personal growth, both spiritually and emotionally. I feel that I have matured and gained more confidence in my abilities. My jitters regarding public speaking are now gone, and I actually think my public speaking in Spanish might be better than in English! This year has given me a lot of confidence that I definitely lacked, and has improved my ability to be plucky and efficient when it seemed like the odds were against me – like doing a two-person job all by myself in a second language!
While The Episcopal Church has always been a part of my life and has always been important to me, I have never been particularly “spiritual.” I am very stub-born in general, and I often shy away from asking for help. This job has required me to not only ask for help, but also to seek that help from God when I need it. I have felt so much joy and confidence, but also a great deal of stress and frustration. Some of my students come from backgrounds of violence and poverty, and the emotional toll that comes with that can be very difficult. There is also a mountain of behavioral issues, along with a heavy workload of creating a whole curriculum for multiple ages by myself. All that can be very draining.
I have relied on my faith to get me through the tough times, knowing that I have a higher power looking out for me. Every day I see God in the faces of my students and at the schools where I work. I know that without this chance for a better life and education, these children might never have the opportunities that could change their lives. I am looking for job possibilities in the Washington area for when I return home, and I think that this experience has prepared me well for anything that could come my way career-wise back in the States. Not only is my Spanish better, but this job has given me patience, perseverance and the confidence that I lacked. I have learned to take the initiative and to trust my-self, even though many times throughout the year I had no idea what I was doing! No matter what I end up doing when I get back home, I have grown and learned from this experience and, in the process, become an adult. Now I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable, and have learned that it’s OK to ask for help (from God!) when you need it.
Written By: Kate Snow, who served as a Young Adult Service Corps Missionary from August 2015-July 2016 in Costa Rica and is a member of Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Alexandria, VA.