Singleton and Thomson recap Courts for Kids trip to Costa Rica

May 29, 2018

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From Nick Singleton and Tanner Thomson:

As some of you may know, we recently got back from a week-long service trip to Costa Rica. Marquette Athletics partnered with an organization called 'Courts for Kids' to help send about 16 Marquette student-athletes down to Juanilama, Costa Rica and build a sports court for the community. Working alongside the Peace Corps representative down there, the community decided that their biggest need they wanted to fulfill was building a sports court. Our specific goal was to work with the community to build this court, but it quickly became much more than simply building a concrete basketball court.

First of all, the challenges we had to face as a newly formed team were bigger than one would think. At the beginning, we weren’t all that close with each other and you could tell people wanted to sit back and let others make all the decisions. Depending on the person's personality others would try and take over without asking anyone else what they thought. That's not the only challenge we faced.

We ran into issues with the building process because we couldn't work in the rain and all anyone wanted to do was try and get the task done. And when it rains it Costa Rica it rains for hours. We got over this issue by all running around dancing and messing around in it. We all laughed for about two hours straight and used this obstacle as a way to grow closer as a group.

Our second problem was that when we were working, it was miserably hot and the work was some of the hardest work anyone had ever done. We got through this by simply doing the little things like cheering each other on or singing along to the songs, or spraying each other with water to cool off. Our issues were resolved naturally over time after doing activities together and spending every waking hour together. It’s probably hard to believe since the trip was only eight days, but the group came together so fast and grew closer through all the work we were doing. Everyone quickly came to understand and recognize their role on our team based on their personalities and what they wanted to get out of the trip and were able to execute their role to the absolute best of their ability.

Markus Howard was our hype man, always bringing juice to the group. Abby Hess and Selena Lott were able to communicate and bond with the kids of Juanilama in a way that brought the whole group closer to the community. We and Matt Heldt were responsible for doing a lot of the heavy lifting, providing positivity, and figuring out ways to help others any way we could. Everyone had a role and by recognizing and executing our specific roles we were able to find the most efficient and effective way to work on what we were trying to accomplish. It just goes to show that you can do anything if you commit yourself to a common goal and sacrifice everything for the people around you no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may be. It is important to remember to have fun and keep things positive as well because negativity helps no one.

This trip was an incredible experience that taught us a lot that we would not have learned without fully entrenching ourselves in a community so different than our own. A couple things stood out about the culture and community that we were living in. We learned that joy and happiness does not depend on anything material, but rather is a mindset and comes from an appreciation for what you have, who you know, and where you are. They don’t have a lot but they appreciate and love everything they have and everyone they know.

Along with this, the community taught us that everything matters. Every piece of the pig that we slaughtered and ate matters. Every conversation you have matters. Every second of work matters. Every interaction matters, no time is wasted, and every experience is precious. After all the obstacles that we faced during the trip, we ended up not being able to complete the court in the time that we were there. By ourselves we were never going to be able to finish because of these challenges. That is clear now. The only way we would be able to finish was with the help of the community. We said all along that we were working with the community to build the court, not for it.

After we left, the community came together and decided to finish what we started because if a group of college kids could accomplish what we did, they felt that they could finish the rest. We inspired them to finish the court and provide something to their community that will have an everlasting impact. We made new friendships, strengthened old ones, and learned so much about how to live life from a perspective that is completely different than any we experience every day. I don’t want to speak for the whole group, but I would not change anything for the world because everything happens for a reason and it all matters.

This trip was an amazing experience and very rewarding for everyone who went.

Here are some fun highlights of the trip:

  • Playing the card game spoons at el casa de Jorge with the guys
  • Not using our phones for social media for a week was very eye opening
  • Swimming under a waterfall and sitting in hot springs straight from a volcano
  • Teaching the kids of the community how to play lacrosse
  • Seeing people come out of their comfort zones and truly have a great time
  • The village cooking a 500lb pig
  • Dancing with the community and trying to learn Costa Rican dances
  • Playing in the rain and attempting to build an irrigation system around the court so it didn’t flood it and ruin our progress
  • Watching a chicken’s head get cut off
  • Rice and beans for every single meal…
  • Late night runs to the local shop (“the sto” -Matt Heldt) to buy Coca Cola, Fresca, knock-off Doritos, and pork rinds
  • Orange Tang (a drink similar to Sunny-D)
  • Daily group Bible devotionals
  • Watching Tanner try to speak Spanish

 

 

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