“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” By Langston Hughes
The education activities of the Copey Learning Center are suspended this week as the community celebrates Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week. This is one of the most important Catholic festivities celebrated in Costa Rica. Families typically gather with their loved ones and partake in religious celebrations. Catholic churches in every town organize masses and colorful processions, specifically on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Various reports from Costa Rica indicate Covid-19 has resurged in some areas of the country and restrictions are being extended. Some of the week’s celebrations may be cancelled or significantly curtailed.
Where Are They Now…?
Mariana Rodriguez has been known to “Friends” almost since “Friends of Copey” began. As a young student attending the Copey Learning Center, she was a successful Spelling Bee participant. We were big fans when she made it to the Spelling Bee’s National Championship level in 2016 and 2017.
During my last trip to Copey in November 2017, I was greeted at the San Jose airport by Mariana, her sister and her father. Immediately, it was apparent that Mariana would be the English/Spanish translator between her father and me during the two hour drive from San Jose to Copey. She was very proficient in English even at that young age of 12 or 13 years old.
Mariana has been a student to watch because of her intelligence, academic accomplishments, ambition, and devotion to learning. It was no surprise to “Friends” when she was selected in 2019 to be a Pathway Project recipient, younger than all prior recipients.
During Mariana’s visit in 2019 to the United States, she was a joy to be around. She was poised, confident, courteous, and equipped to measure up to other older students she encountered during her studies while attending the Emory & Henry College’s Young Scholars Program. She was always positive and an excellent representative of Copey Learning Center and her community.
In 2020, she participated again in the Young Scholars Program from Copey on-line.
Just as the Pathway Project students learn from the travel experience to the United States, we “Friends” also learn much from them. We learn another culture, see some of our differences while we also see all the things we have in common. When the Pathway Project students return home to take on the role of “education ambassadors” and “role models” for younger students, “Friends” are left understanding better how valuable this project is. We are just as much “education ambassadors” and “role models” as the students we have come to know.
Mariana is still in high school and you can read how positive she is about her life…her future. This is part of our mission. Not to only help support education but to inspire “dreaming” of a future of promise. Is there anything more worthy we could be doing? She sent this note to us:
Before COVID-19, I formed part of a folklore dance group in which I had many great experiences showing this beautiful art around the country. Sadly, I took a break from it during this pandemic but I hope to re-enter it during this new year.
Also, I was able to participate in the Emory & Henry College’s Online Summer-Scholars Program in 2020 which was a great opportunity to keep learning and practicing the language.
I often remind “Friends” that we continue to look for ways to enhance and extend our support for the Copey Learning Center. In short, we never sleep and the doors of opportunity do not go unanswered. We are on the doorstep of new developments and you should not bring your journey with “Friends” to a close. You should be part of the ongoing and future success. We are on the march!