This is “Mom”. Otherwise known as Ariana Rodriguez. She is the brains behind the My Cultural School project and our inspiring leader. From the first day that we all met, til now as our volunteer experience is winding down, she has guided us along the way and been a friendly ear. She looks out for us. Hence the nickname “Mom”. (I didn’t come up with it though. That was all Igor.)
For a while now, I’ve had this idea about interviewing someone for my blog. The others in my group, of which I also count Mom, have had such an impact on my experience here. We’re practically together all the time–volunteering, exploring, getting better acquainted. As such, I’m curious and eager to hear someone else’s perspective of our time here in Costa Rica and I hope you, my lovely readers, will find it interesting as well. Given Ariana’s unique role in the My Cultural School project, I decided that she’d be the perfect person to interview. So please keep reading and enjoy the pictures along the way 🙂
1) Tell me about yourself.
I’m a 21 year old costarrican, I study International Relations, this is my last year of bachelors, and I’m a bit frightened because of it haha all my primary and secondary school I went to the Conservatorio de Castella, which is a school that combines both academic and artistic education, I absolutely loved it, because of it I play the flute, and studied music for about three years. Until I decided to drop it at the beginning of this year, because I realized that wasn’t something that I wanted for my future, and decided to focus just on my International Relations degree.
Since I finished secondary school I felt that something was missing, didn’t really know why, I didn’t felt like I was doing much with my life, even though I was studying two different things. I didn’t find yet why a really wanted to dedicate my life too.
But then I entered a beautiful organization about 1 year and a half ago, AIESEC, and I somehow got a real purpose, the one that I was looking for without realizing it: “Do my best to make the world a better place, each day at the time.” Maybe it sounds cheesy or common, but is the one that I want for me. And is the one that makes me give my 100% in everything I do.
2) So, how did you get involved in AIESEC and what led you to this project?
And what led me to the project is that since I entered the organization I was working in the Incoming Global Community Development Program (iGCDP), meaning I’ve always been part of the creating projects for foreign volunteers area of AIESEC. The organization is about evolving and challenging yourself, so after a few member roles I went trough in 7 months in the organization I decided to apply for the leadership role of Project Manager.
I chose to be in charge of the social/cultural project because is the focus I liked the most, and because I’ve already worked in environmental and educational projects before and wanted to do something different. Besides, for me, in the social project is the one when you can get creative and manage it yourself from scratch, so that got my attention.
When they told me I could in fact be in charge of the social project, the first thing that came to mind was working in a school. This is because I’m convinced that everything in society starts and depends on education. Education is the way to start changing the world.
And I wanted to do the project in Heredia, because AIESEC UCR has never work there before, and I wanted to leave my personal print and make the impact in the province that I love with all my heart.
Then, I started conversations with the Barva School, and started planning the project with the social-infrastructural/ intercultural focus, and here we are!
3) Any thoughts on the progress of the project thus far?
A few actually!! Haha
I think is being absolutely amazing, I mean 5 weeks of pure learning. It hasn’t been like I anticipated it would be, and that’s the beauty of it. We’ve faced so many different challenges and I thing that’s what has made us grow and develop.
Besides, I’ve enjoyed so much to watch all of you share your different cultures with the kids. And actually have the opportunity to leave your personal print in the school through the mural painting, and all the presentations. And not just that, is really amazing to witness how much you guys have develop! That’s absolutely the best part! To thing that I’m actually making a little positive change in your lives.
4) What do you hope the end results of the project will be? Would you consider doing another project at Escuela Pedro Murilla or a similar project at a different school?
I just hope as end results that you realize how much you’ve impact yourselves and the people around you. And that this past weeks means as much to you as have been to me. I want you to remembered the reason why you came here in the first place, and be satisfied with the results once you compare it with the initial expectations.
I would consider doing another project in a school, but not the Pedro Murillo. I think they have been very nice and has helped us a lot, and they have been giving the opportunities to do all the expositions, and the staff is very kind, but they have been very irresponsible with the materials, and schedule and more. And besides, the idea is to keep impacting another places, and create a whole chain of wonderful projects through out the country.
5) What has this experience taught you, if anything?
First, to realize that you can’t have the control over everything that’s happening as hard as you try. But the important thing there is to realize that things not resulting the way you expect them to be, doesn’t mean you’re not doing your work well, it’s just means that sometimes there just things you can’t have control over.
Because of it, I learn how to be very solution oriented, to not just let problems go by, but actually do something about it. Is so important to start seeing problems as opportunities! At the end of the day is your attitude towards difficulties the thing that is gonna make the difference.
Another thing is that is so important to give the people the chance to really own the project, and not just being me giving instructions. I really enjoyed the empowerment I witness in all of you, and the fact that you were so open to this, to generate ideas and solutions to make things better for everyone. At the end of the day is you guys who make this project what it is.
6) Honesty time. What did you think of me when we first met? Has your opinion changed?
I though of you as a very shy but kind person, and honestly I was a bit worried about how where you going to manage the communication with Sylvia haha
It hasn’t change, because I still think of you as very shy and kind haha but I’ve had the chance to get to know you a little bit better now, and I can just keep adding nice adjectives. I think of you a very genuine, honest, person, that maybe sometimes doesn’t want to speak up, but has a lot of amazing ideas. I think of you of a reserve person, because I had no idea of the impact we where making on you until I read the blog (love it by the way), so maybe your personality is not so open, but is absolutely amazing the things you have to share to the world, your way of seeing things is very interesting. I think of you as a very nice person, willing to help when needed, and you have a lot to give, and I realize that you want to enjoy life, and keep making great actions to impact the world, so never stop! Keep doing it!
7) If you could go anywhere and spend six weeks volunteering, where would you go?
I would go ( and planning to) to Brasil, because if I’m going to spent 6 weeks on another country I absolutely want to get out of my comfort zone, and being in a county which I don’t speak the language (yet) is gonna be really good for that. Also, I’ve had the chance to get to know a few brazilians in my life haha and they’re all absolutely amazing, love the culture!!
8) What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Professionally I see myself working in one of the UN specialize organizations (UNICEF, UNESCO, etc). And personally I see myself in a never stop learning journey, I love to get involve in new projects and new ideas. I especially see myself traveling the world (which is one of my dreams) and try to keep leaving my print of good actions everywhere I go.
9) What would you like people to know about Costa Rica?
I would like people to know, that in Costa Rica is more than just beaches and mountains, we have very good, honest, talented and capable people, that just want to keep developing and improving themselves every single day. We are people thirsty for success, and we have an awesome attitude while pursuing that: the Pura Vida!!
10) This one’s a freebie. You can tell me anything you’d like to share (about AIESEC UCR, My Cultural School, travel plans, anything.)
So much to say! Haha
I would just like to finish this interview thanking you for being here in the country, I can’t tell how much it means to me the great work that you’re doing, and the attitude you’ve had, that inspite all the problems, you’ve kept yourself focus, and haven’t lose the purpose. I hope that through these past weeks you’ve had the chance to grow as a person, and keep sharing your writing! Is amazing!!
I have to say that this has been one of my favorite blog entries to write. When I came up with this concept, I had no idea how or if it would work out. Now I can say, that the final result has exceeded my expectations. Because of this interview, I’ve learned so much more about Ariana and also changed my own perspective on certain aspects of this experience.
I’m happy to have met her and shared these past 5 weeks together. I haven’t travelled much in the world, but I’ve met so many amazing people here. I’m convinced that more than anything else, they are the reason for the great time I’ve been having. Ariana is, of course, one of those amazing people.
Thanks for reading. Til next time, ciao 🙂