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  • LASP - Latin American Studies Program
    and children outside working in the dump were suffocating because of the burning garbage and terrible fumes and smells We stopped and talked to a man who told us that he too is a Christian and daily receives blessings from God in the form of half eaten food and garbage to sell We were forced to seriously reconsider the word blessing and all of our material wealth as we went to a mall after the dump to talk about what we had seen heard smelled and felt It was a tough but a growing experience Homestays in Nicaragua Imagine yourself waking up to the sound of wood being chopped and your neighbor s rooster crowing You roll over and your clock tells you that it s 5 30 am As you lay in bed you notice smoke above your head tickling the clay tiles that make up the roof Though your instinct tells you that the house is on fire you soon realize that the smoke is only coming from the open fire in the next room where your Nicaraguan mother is cooking a typical breakfast of gallo pinto eggs and tortillas Thus begins a normal day in the campo of Northern Nicaragua Staying in the home of a family in Pasmata Nicaragua was like nothing I could have imagined In my community there was one church and one general store Nearly everyone in the town worked in a nearby tobacco field including children as young as ten who would work from 6 in the morning until 11 and then go to school for the rest of the day I spent everyday amazed at the contrast between old and new A clay and open fire stove a shiny blue pickup truck A rusty pipe that brings running water for only two hours out of the day a soap opera on TV Washing clothes on a cement slab by the river Conversations about airplanes Though I could see poverty everywhere in Nicaragua from the barefooted school kids to the houses without electricity or water I also experienced an abundance of generosity In the church services that were held every night no one refrained from giving an offering even if there were only pennies to give We were showered with food wherever we went Three plates full for each lunch and dinner Oranges galore as a snack before a hike a bag for the walk home and 10 pounds for the long bus ride back to Costa Rica Bags and bags full of breads and other baked goods for the long trip back as well Never before have I felt so loved and accepted so quickly into a community as I did in Pasmata Nicaragua This is the beauty of the worldwide body of Christ The truth is that we are all part of one community Though we live very different lives we are all unified as members of the body of Christ Everyday people would ask me when I would be

    Original URL path: http://www.lasp.co.cr/updates/thesecondmonthofLASP.html (2015-12-28)
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  • LASP - Latin American Studies Program
    they are going what they are doing or for how long General ideas usually make it through the language barrier but details often get lost We are learning the humility to ask questions instead of just nodding our heads and saying si si si when we don t quite know what s going on Though breaking through the culture barrier is frustrating at times we are having a great time learning and living here in Costa Rica How much Spanish we do not know even after so many years of classes What we may not have been taught in our history classes We are learning about current events like the Central American Free Trade Agreement CAFTA and getting involved in local elections which just happened on Super Bowl Sunday February 5 It was incredible to take part in elections and learn about the issues and the 14 candidates We were able to go to the polling places with our families and learn how elections work here and how different democracy can look in different countries and different contexts Also our classes place a huge emphasis on learning through experience and getting out into the culture to learn about therefore we spend a lot of time around the city getting to know the people and the places in order to better understand the country in which we are living How to change money and convert prices in your head and use HUGE coins How to talk to people around town to ask for directions or interview them for papers and investigations How to eat rice and beans a few times a day and enjoy it How to call a taxi and tell the driver where you want to go and what route to take How to get on and off a

    Original URL path: http://www.lasp.co.cr/updates/how_to_survive_as_a_gringo.htm (2015-12-28)
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  • LASP - Latin American Studies Program
    Christian colleges nationwide Seven males have decided to brave the odds to study with forty females for an entire semester So far they have responded patiently to our frequent requests to be our Kodak moment photographers We also represent a variety of majors most popular of which are biology Spanish and social work Our different interests have put us in unique positions within the group Musicians have decided to lead our weekly worship service organizers of the social club plan group activities and writers update the website with current happenings A women s prayer group has also started meeting weekly as a way to uplift each other and worship God together In a few weeks we will be divided into our concentrations where we will be studying issues that pertain to our individual interests Within the whole group 9 students are in the Environmental Science concentration 14 are in the Advanced Language and Literature Concentration and the remaining 26 are part of the Latin American Studies Concentration Our Tican families have been a blessing and the source of many entertaining stories Not only are we engaging in relationships with them and other Costa Rican friends but we re also creating

    Original URL path: http://www.lasp.co.cr/updates/who_we_are.htm (2015-12-28)
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  • LASP - Latin American Studies Program
    continued with a chance to explore San Jose in groups to figure out public transportation the location of important public services the street layouts and safe route to ILE Instituto de Lengua Española where we began our Spanish language classes with a placement test Friday family members escorted their students to the LASP office for more orientation and an introduction to individual concentrations This program includes concentrations in Latin America studies advanced language and literature studies and environmental science After the two and a half days with their families students were set free for their first weekend of adventures living in Costa Rican households Classes began on Monday Approximately three mornings a week the entire group meets at the LASP office for core seminar The core seminar covers a wide range of topics and issues that explore different aspects of religious economic and political influences in Latin America Classes are generally conferencias or lectures including question and answer sessions with different members of the LASP staff and or a variety of experts and politicians in different fields from around San Jose We also take occasional field trips to important historical or government sites In the afternoons we study grammar and

    Original URL path: http://www.lasp.co.cr/updates/welcome_to_lasp.htm (2015-12-28)
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  • LASP - Latin American Studies Program
    A Reflection on a Semester Spent in Latin America By Amy Foster Bewildered and teary eyed fifty students exhaustedly dragged their heavy suitcases to the small rooms they would share with strangers during their first night in Central America From all over the US they had packed up their lives left behind their families and friends and had walked with uncertain hope onto the plane that would take them into an unfamiliar and distant world Welcoming them to Costa Rica were angry street protests swarming with loud horns makeshift roadblocks frustrated teenagers and fear Into what reality had they just stepped Long conferencias in depth investigaciones challenging conversations and late night homework None of us expected to change the ways that we embrace almost every aspect of life after living in Central America for three months But then again we had no idea how narrow our views of the world were and how much of the rest of the story we had yet to learn Our passionate teachers and guest lecturers patiently poured out to us as much of their knowledge as we were willing to absorb and consider Frequently we balked at some of the questions their words threw in front of us and we often wanted to shrivel up inside our small but familiar truths However the realities we were exposed to from our readings teachers guest speakers group projects and trips to Nicaragua Cuba and Guatemala abruptly opened our eyes to a much larger complex and inter dependent world We were forced to recognize that people affect one another directly and indirectly in how they live and spend their time and money injustices exist continue and the victims have faces and that Christians have a responsibility to care about others with their thoughts words and actions Gallo pinto constant background noise warm hospitality and miscommunication Living with host families in Costa Rica and also during our trips to Nicaragua and Cuba we got a crash course in Latin Living 101 The impacts that having long talks with family members enjoying delicious meals together watching soccer games late into the night and learning about their family dynamics had on us were immeasurable and will be continually realized for the rest of our lives We were privileged to hear their stories feel some of their pain participate in important family occasions and be touched by their unselfish love However these blessings also came with the challenges of living in a very different culture The sometimes unavoidable frustration that came with miscommunication differing interpersonal relational patterns and clashing ideas of common courtesies occasionally led to tears homesickness and feelings of alienation It was amazing to watch how small moments of awkwardness could often demand patience and deepen an appreciation for our homes and families in the US Yet these small issues also frequently surfaced the amazing compassion that our host families had for us How can anyone condense a semester of unanticipated challenges unforeseen adventures unanswered questions and unforgettable life

    Original URL path: http://www.lasp.co.cr/updates/others_updates.htm (2015-12-28)
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  • LASP - Latin American Studies Program
    was wrapped in a purple and red cloth blanket that kept his little body warm while the gray sky threatened to rain down on us I talked with his mom and she told me that they still hadn t decided on a name yet and asked me what names I thought would be good to give to her son The face painting turned into the children painting butterflies and hearts onto our student s faces after their little cheeks were already full of color These gringos and Ecuadorians laughed and shared touched and smiled hugged and communicated in some language that is beyond words in English or Spanish Mostly what they shared is love love that is best described as the love of Jesus Our students were able to serve for one afternoon and do it in small meaningful ways They held hands of people most would never consider touching They hugged kids who most would want to give a bath to before holding them They looked men in the eye smiled and treated them as equal human beings We didn t take anyone out of the dump with us but for one afternoon these people were treated as more than the poorest of the poor or as just mere scavengers At the end of the day when we left none of us noticed the smell we brought back to campus with us because it had become a part of us Whenever I ve had the opportunity to experience something like that it always makes me think I am reminded of the poverty in my own country the amount of money spent on one pair of jeans the ridiculous things I complain about like my computer freezing up What keeps me up most at night though is understanding the responsibility I now have by knowing about a place like the Quito dump So what does that mean for me personally even on a small level It means I am responsible for the amount of money I spend on myself every week eating out or going to movies It means I take the time to listen to and help one of my girls here with an eating disorder It means I care about others more than I care about the contents of my closet The more God shows and teaches you the more you will be held to account for because if you know and do nothing who are you really serving first It s hard to feel responsible for something you don t know about or haven t seen or read about But now that you have read you are responsible I don t mean to preach because this is something I struggle with everyday It s just something that has been on my heart recently As corny as it sounds this is why I feel called to change the world because I know Now if you know me at all you also know I love movies music and books

    Original URL path: http://www.lasp.co.cr/newsletters/reflection_by_a_LASP_alum.html (2015-12-28)
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