We could all learn a lot from the people of Costa Rica.
I’m a little biased now, having just come back from the greatest tour ever with the students of the Etowah Youth Orchestras. I spent nine days touring Costa Rica with 37 members of the EYO. It was an incredible experience. The food was fantastic. The wildlife was remarkable. The scenery took your breath away.
We learned much about the country and its people. Our guide was first-rate – she knew everything there is to know about the culture and the ecosystem of this beautiful country.
But our biggest lesson was one we took directly from the people we came in contact with over the course of our journey. We learned about community.
We didn’t just learn the generic definitions of what a community is. We learned what it means to be a community. And it’s not something that you can put down in words. As trite as it may sound, you have to be there and experience it and feel it to know what community really means. We felt it while we were there.
The EYO performed four times – in a private school in San Jose for the school’s students; in the main cathedral in the center of San Ramon; at a resort for travelers from near and far in Jaco; and in the town square, right across the street from the cathedral, on Sunday morning following mass in Orotina. Each audience was a little different. But each brought us a new sense of what it means to be a community.
In San Jose, our students had lunch with the like-aged students in the school’s band after the exchange performance. But then they jumped rope and signed countless autographs for the younger students, who all wanted their attention. In Jaco, the lively crowd sang and cheered and whistled and called out for more. In Orotina, the Assistant Mayor served as the narrator for one of the pieces of music, led the applause, and then directed us to a line where lunch was being served for our group. We ate and mingled. We felt like we were an important part of the community. We felt like we WERE a part of the community.
If four little towns in Costa Rica can make a group of students and parents from Alabama feel like they are at home, and can make them feel like their performance is the biggest thing to happen in their town since who knows when, then why can’t we do that more often here, at home?