Part III – Sparks of Possibilities!

“Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.”                      By  Henry David Thoreau     

 
Today, June 26, we are all back home safely and we can all look back over the past couple weeks and be astonished that so much has happened. It was all good! Angela, Ana Yancy, Fatima, and Ariana all returned home to Copey on Saturday evening. Their two-week visit to the US and to our college campus was filled with many breath-taking experiences.

I promised more photos. Most of these are covering time during the second week when the Young Scholars Institute and Leadership Program was held on campus. Both Angela and Ana Yancy participated as teachers and counselors while Fatima and Ariana attended classes.

Photos of Angela and Ana Yancy conducting classes with many US students. Also, Fatima and Ariana performed their cultural dance for all the students. And, of course, just more fun things like standing in Virginia and Tennessee at the same time, and visiting the Country Music Capital located in Bristol, Tennessee.  More photos to follow.Emory Group 3  Emory Group 5

emory group 6

Campus

Bristol 2

Emory Group

Bristol    Emory Group 2

Once back home, Fatima and Ariana will instantly become the latest local celebrities and role models for other students to follow. Similar to Noelia and Celeste in 2016, we will have two more outstanding ambassadors inspiring more students to take education seriously.

As “Friends of Copey”, we have been successful.

Each of the four guests represented the country of Costa Rica and the Copey community in grand fashion. As “Friends” we are certainly encouraged to continue the “Pathway Project” as we look forward to the next two students coming our way in 2018.

In closing, several times over the past couple weeks I heard how really wonderful this “Pathway Project” is. Many seem to think this is something very special. My reply is simply that we do not have to be rich and famous or have some special intelligence or be gifted. For the most part, we just believe in possibilities. We believe that if enough people can cause “sparks of possibilities” to start…we then can move on to “probabilities”. This project began simply as a possibility…today it is a fantastic reality.

 

 

Part II- Sparks of Possibilities

As promised, today I am sharing some of the very special photos showing some of the 1st time experiences of Adriana and Fatima…even some for Ana Yancey. We are having a great time and you have to be present to experience the first time reactions to many new things.  These are only a few photos and more will be shared later.

Airplanewhite house 1

WashingtonNatural Bridge

bowlingTennesseeCampusThere has been a wide range of activities since their arrival to the US. The time spent in Washington, D.C. included visits to the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian. They attended the Kennedy Center to watch the New York Ballet perform and that was very special. Traveling down Interstate 81 included the stop at the Natural Bridge, Planetarium, and the caverns. Since arriving on campus, their time has been spent attending the reception, shopping, bowling, rock climbing, the trampoline, time at the lake swimming and boat paddling, attending a live concert, and eating at different restaurants. Later today, they will go hiking. This has been a fun-filled week with endless excitement.

I will be saying goodbye to them this evening and on Monday I travel to eastern Virginia to visit my aunts. Angela, Ana Yancey, Fatima, and Adriana will still be on campus next week attending the Young Scholars Institute and Leadership Program.

http://www.ehc.edu/academics/summer-programs-and-camps/summer-scholars/.  

Voted Best Summer Camp by Virginia Living Magazine

The Emory & Henry Summer Scholars program is a one-week residential academic program for rising middle and high school students inclined toward academic adventure. For rising 6th – 9th graders, the traditional Summer Scholars program offers a unique mix of learning activities designed to broaden academic interests and expose students to a college-like setting. The Leadership Program, for rising 10th-12th graders, provides the same academic adventure while building the student’s leadership skills. 

They will depart one week from today and will leave behind many new friends and will take home many memories and a treasure chest of stories to share.  Once again “Friends of Copey”…you helped make this all happen!

 

 

 

“Friends…Bring the Gift of Joy”

“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy.”         By Chuck Swindoll

“So far my experience in Costa Rica has been nothing but enjoyable and an enormous blessing” are the words written by Melody after spending her first week at the Copey Learning Center as a Emory & Henry College student volunteer. She is obviously experiencing the joy and sense of satisfaction both Casey and Xavier shared with us last year when they were volunteers at the Center. Melody has a student Blog set up to periodically document her experience in Costa Rica.  She and I both invite you to check in on her at times and learn about her experiences.  http://melodyincostarica2017.weebly.com/

Angela and her husband traveled back to the US last week to attend Angela’s graduation. She has received her Masters Degree and is sharing this wonderful educational achievement with her husband and family. She will then return to Copey to get ready to take on the “Pathway Project” and lead our guests to the US on June 10th.US Flag.2

Wondering how the “Pathway Project” fundraising campaign is going? The official end date for this campaign was May 20th. Last week I reported in my Post we had raised 38.9% of our goal. The same day, the amount jumped to 70.4%.  At the official close of the campaign…. Drum Roll Please!

 

We are now at 83.9% or $435.00 short of our goal. However, my sources inform me there are still funds not yet accounted for. Consequently, it is full steam ahead and we look forward to another successful experience.

Tracking 5.

As you recall, about 20 selected college friends and affiliates were called on to help raise the funds to support the “Pathway Project” in 2017.

As of today, there has been about a 60% response rate. This is noteworthy as far as fundraising goes. And, I am deeply appreciative for the obvious generosity demonstrated in support of this project.  Those who have responded to date…Thank You!

I hope everyone among the “Friends” clearly understands the significance of the “Pathway Project”.

The “Pathway Project” is providing life-changing experiences for two more young students. Fatima and Adriana are soon to leave their rural community to travel to America. They will bring with them the thoughts and prayers of their families, their friends, and their community. They will have experiences while in America most in their community may never experience. Many Copey moms and dads do not speak any English and most likely have not ever been to North America. It is impossible for us to imagine what it must feel like for these moms and dads seeing children from their community leaving for America. Under these circumstances, it could only happen with the “Pathway Project” and the involvement of “Friends”.

fatima

Fatima

Last year, when Noelia and Celeste returned home from America, they returned home as inspirational and motivational leaders. Noelia and Celeste shared their experiences with other students and have been very helpful preparing Fatima and Adriana for their trip.

Dr. Gaia and many others on the E&H College campus have done a remarkable job getting everything set up and in place for their arrival. The students will have a week of recreation including hiking and biking, visiting interesting sites, concerts, and many other activities.

Their second week will be attending the Summer Scholars Institute and Leadership Program on campus. They will meet many American students their age and spend their time sharing and learning. Just as the students last year, Fatima and Adriana will return home living proof that great things can happen to you when you really work at being excellent students.

usa-student-selectee

Adriana

The “Pathway Project” is all this and certainly more. Such experiences cause students to dream and to hope. In fact, we believe the entire Copey community is being transformed by this project.

 

By calling on selected donors to support this, it also serves as an invitation to share in the excitement and success of a very worthwhile, extraordinary, amazing, productive, and successful experience.

Please make plans to join in on the time Angela, Ana Yancy, Fatima, and Adriana will be on campus at E&H College. They are expected to arrive June 12th and depart on June 24th. I will be with them during the week of June 12th.

Based on last year’s experience, you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

Give To What you Believe in…Believe In What You Give!

“Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have…give I to thee!”                   Peter   Acts 3:6

As I mentioned last week, things are very busy and this week is no exception. Based on my understanding, all of the current volunteer staff at the Learning Center have completed their commitment and are moving on. This break in the volunteer support is naturally a disruption in teaching services but an unavoidable one while being

Daniel

Daniel at work

dependent on volunteers.

We thank Daniel, Lashawn, and Katie who are now moving on to other challenges. As with all volunteers at the Learning Center, the time spent in the Copey community and with the Learning Center students provides life-long memories and sense of accomplishments.

Katie and Lashawn

Katie and Lashawn

The good news is that Melody, our Emory & Henry College volunteer is now at the Learning Center to provide some much-needed assistance. I am waiting to hear about other potential volunteers who may be also on site.

Coming to America

The special fundraiser to help cover the expenses for the four travelers; Fatima, Adriana, Ana Yancy, and Angela is officially underway. We got off to a great start last week by

Tracking

receiving donations representing about 32% of our goal. What is unique about this specific fundraiser is that primarily only E&H College affiliated “Friends” requested to support the “Pathway Project”.

In 2016, only 23 requests were sent to only former graduates or other E&H College affiliated supporters. The goal was to have the very first “Pathway Project” completely funded by E&H College folks. These college “Friends” responded in great style and exceeded the goal by almost 60%. This spoke very highly of both the quality and worthiness of the “Pathway Project” and the great generosity of those connected to my college.

This year, the official request was sent again to 100% E&H College affiliated “Friends” and as anticipated, positive responses are arriving. In addition, a dear friend and brother in Honolulu has made a donation to the travel fund. So, this year we expect to have a mostly E&H funded “Pathway Project”. We have only two weeks left for the campaign and I trust we will have similar success as last year.

For the record, the “Pathway Project” is unique and not duplicated by any programs I am familiar with involving international students or exchange student programs. We are reaching deep into a rural community with very limited resources to provide another two high school students an academic related trip to an American college campus. The short and long-term impact on the lives of these students, their families, and the community are beyond measuring.

Next week, I will provide the second of four updates on our fundraising progress. So please keep a watchful eye.

The New Learning Center Update

As we all know, the official start of Stage 2 has not begun. It will start soon and likely in July. There are things going on behind the scenes even now. In keeping with my promise to continue providing some updates on this emerging project, consider the following.

At times I look back on old Posts. What I sometimes find is very surprising to me. First, the reality that we have come this far (many but not all of us) without much more than the identity of being “Friends”. I also find that we truly do move along with a lot of faith and dedication. I am surprised to see some of the quotes I selected and the titles of some of my Posts. Both of these seem to come at a time when I am really inspired or feeling very emotional.

I wrote a Post titled “Are You a Possiblitarian” on February 28, 2016. I never had used that term “Possiblitarian” before and I am not certain where it actually came from. However, it has remained with me along with the words that followed:Copey Learning Center Exterior Perspective View 001 (2).jpg                “My Friends, we are surely “Possiblitarians”. I enjoy the positive messages Dr. Norman Vincent Peale provided over the years. He encouraged “raising our sights and see possibilities-always see them for they’re always there.” 

The Learning Center along with “Friends” represent the thinking and imagination of “Possiblitarians”. You being a “Friend”, qualifies you as such.”

Who in their right mind would believe that a New Learning Center could be built in a small and rural town such as Copey, Costa Rica? The location, the distance, the financing, and a host of other obstacles all provide plenty reasons to take on far less demanding projects. The question regarding who would entertain such a project is a great question. The only possible answer is…a band of “Possiblitarians”.  You know…those people who dare to raise their sights and see possibilities! 

Back on February 28, 2016, I asked if you were a “Possiblitarian”? So far, the evidence based on our accomplishments suggest we are. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Oh…To Reach Beyond!

“Vision – It reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be. Imagination gives you the picture. Vision gives you the impulse to make the picture your own.”        by Robert Collier

Greetings my “Friends”. Wow…we are truly moving into the very active time of the year for us and for the Learning Center. In addition to the daily educational efforts being performed by some very talented volunteers at the Learning Center, there are a number of other activities under way which are exciting as well.

This is the week Melody will board the plane heading to San Jose where she will be met

town of copey

The Copey Community

by members of the Learning Center and transported to Copey. Upon arrival in Copey, she will be introduced to her new host family who will provide her both food and shelter for about 5 weeks. She will also meet the staff and the children as well as the community. Last week, we kicked off the official fund-raising efforts to support the travel costs for Fatima, Adriana, Ana Yancy, and Angela. I have called on my friends who are affiliated with Emory & Henry College to support this activity.

The Learning Center is experiencing newer and broader interest from within the Seidycountry. I am providing the Copey Learning Center’s Facebook link. There, you will find a couple Costa Rican television interviews (April 19th and April 4th) with Seidy Rodriguez. Seidy is the founder of the Learning Center. These television productions discuss the success of the Learning Center and reaches a very broad audience within the country. Look for Canal Altavision Video reference for the dates listed above.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/CopeyLC/posts/?ref=page_internal

To put this in perspective, a small rural community of 500 is now attracting the interest of television producers because of the work being done at the Learning Center. It is produced in Spanish so you will need to have your Spanish speaking skills up to date to get the full effect. However, please…please take the time to find out one way or another the message being provided. THIS is very important and will be very useful in our efforts to obtain funding for a new facility. You seldom have an opportunity to hear a member of the Copey community speak… this a great opportunity.

The New Learning Center Update

My intentions are to provide some information about the New Learning Center in several of the upcoming Posts. This week I want to share the vision we have for this new facility as we prepare to move this forward.

Under the current Learning Center concept, it is primarily an educational resource for the Copey community. Its vision is to help students learn English while fostering concepts in conservation, restoration, and recycling. This is aimed mostly at young students although some adults are also learning English.

The new and emerging vision of the New Learning Center plans to continue the original vision while it expands its interests in other related social and environmental areas. Subject to some modifications as we move along, the New Learning Center has 5 classrooms included in the current design. In conjunction with teaching English, we believe some space can be devoted to the development of a cultural resource center serving as a key destination point for neighbors around the region, throughout the country, and tourists visiting Costa Rica.

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There is interest having a facility that could accommodate “distant learning” opportunities using classroom space for students being taught post secondary courses by off-sight professors and instructors using Skype type technology.

Finally, the New Learning Center’s additional classroom space may also provide local economic opportunities as it attempts to develop interest in being the site for incubation initiatives related to “sustainable living” and “eco-tourism” concepts.

Once built, we all can envision that over time, the New Learning Center will have evolved into a multi-purpose facility serving the educational needs of a local and regional student population while becoming one of the key cultural centers for the region and maybe the country. And, the new facility is serving the Copey community by providing economic development opportunities while becoming the “Center of Excellence” for new “sustainable living” technologies.

Certainly, this is a “BIG” vision but each part is worthy of both consideration and effort. From my experience, Copey is a very special community with some extraordinary people willing to do the “BIG” stuff. As “Friends of Copey”, we should be all in on this one. Thanks to all.

 

 

If No Struggle…No Progress!

“If you are on the RIGHT path…it will always be going uphill.”    by Henry B . Eyring

The “Pathway Project”

Nearly four years ago when conversations began about the vision of one or more Copey students traveling to Emory & Henry College (E&H College), the vision did not have a name. When the idea began to take shape, the hurdles crossed, and various parts and pieces were being put in place, the work involved seemed to be a process of making a “pathway” to or from someplace not traveled before. As Dr. Gaia and I came closer to seeing this become reality, it dawned on us to also consider E&H College students going to Copey. I have come to refer to this two-way journey as the “Pathway Project” since we have Copey students traveling to our college and college students traveling to Copey.

pathway images

“A Pathway to Success”

On May 14, Melody Lipford will be landing in San Jose, Costa Rica. She is this year’s E&H College student volunteering at the Copey Learning Center and will represent the 4th volunteer “Friends” has been closely involved in. Melody has already been interfacing with Ana Yancy and Angela over the past several weeks as part her preparation for rural living in Costa Rica and becoming part of the Copey community.

Based on prior experiences, we know Melody will have an extraordinary experience in

melody-lipford

Melody

the Copey community.  The “Pathway Project’s” maiden journey last year involved our college students Xavier and Casey. Both were very welcomed by the Copey community and were treated with the genuine warmth and receptivity the way only Copey students can provide. Similar to last year, we will monitor Melody’s “pathway” experience as much as possible to share with “Friends”.

On June 11th, Melody will return with our Learning Center guests; students Fatima and Adriana together with Executive Director Ana Yancy. Angela, who chaperoned our Copey students last year, will again travel from Copey to lead the way. Being a very experienced Washington, D.C. tour guide, she is already making plans for each of them to attend the New York City Ballet performance once they arrive in our nation’s capital. Then the journey down Interstate 81 will include probable stops at the Natural Bridge and the Luray Caverns coupled with other tourist attractions. It is safe to say that before the Copey guests even reach the entry of the E&H College campus, they will already have a suitcase full of lifetime memories to take home. We can all be proud of the development and use of the “Pathway Project”. I give the credit to Dr. Gaia and her colleagues for putting in the time and effort to make this work.

The New Learning Center Update

We are continuing to gather and assemble the necessary information needed to submitIMG_1434 (2)our first formal application for the new “Learning Center”. Unfortunately, due to other current commitments, 100% of our time can not be devoted to this effort until mid summer. However, some work is being done almost daily and this slow process is complying with the time-table we decided on. So we are not behind. From our vantage point, this new Learning Center is an extremely important goal and our efforts should reflect the quality and dedication it deserves. This will without doubt become one of “Friends of Copey’s” biggest “partnership” efforts ever. Keep praying!

Similar to the “Pathway Project”, we will stay committed and devoted to this vision and in time “pathways” to success will open up. My Dad often said to me…“if it was easy, everybody (anybody) would be doing it.”  I am looking forward to this time next year and excited about the things I will be writing to you about then. We have been blessed, we are blessed, and there still are blessing yet to be had.  Stay connected.

 

 

Fearless Faith..!

“People get ready…there’s a train a comin. All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin”                        by Curtis Mayfield 

Spring time moves along and this weekend we celebrated Easter. In Copey, this last week was the celebration of  Holy Week or “Semana Santa”. Schools were closed and the country spent the week celebrating with parades and other festivities.

For most Costa Rican families, they gather and enjoy special meals, comply with the Catholic practice of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Instead, seafood is traditionally consumed including ceviche, rice and shrimp, fried fish and a variety of desserts.

One of the more disturbing facts about Holy Week in Costa Rica is the death rate among young people who find various ways of celebrating that turn tragic. As of today, I do not have the most recent statistics look but over the past couple years, weekend fatalities exceeded 20 or more deaths related to drinking and partying by young people around the beaches.

The New Learning Center Decision

As promised, the deliberation regarding the decision to move forward from Stage 1 to Stage 2 is completed. I hope I speak on behalf of many “Friends of Copey” today as I announce our decision to move forward. Stage 2 is an even more important stage because this reflects a major commitment to finalize a funding request package and begin seeking interested donors to help pay for this project. Today’s schedule looks like the following:  First, there is a preliminary approval needed before we can officially start this project. If approved, the official start date for seeking donations will begin in August/September 2017. If funding efforts are successful by early 2018, ground breaking will be planned for late 2018 or early 2019. IMG_1309 (6)Over the next few weeks, I will provide more detailed reports on our initials steps, on the building design, projected costs, planned usage of the facility, and fundraising efforts. “Friends of Copey” will encounter significant challenges regarding our “faith”. Looking back over the four plus years we have supported the Copey Learning Center, so much has been achieved mostly because we applied our “faith” in the use of our efforts. As “Friends” we first believe it can be done…then we witness it being done.IMG_1434 (2)

“God, give me (us) grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”  The Serenity Prayer

We have an opportunity to build a new facility in a small community which will have the potential to educate children in ways not even imaginable a few years ago. We have the secondary opportunity to educate and improve the lives of adults residing in Copey. And, we have the opportunity to develop a regional resource center that will serve others outside of the community of Copey. If successful, one day the Copey community will have a multi-purpose educational, cultural, and economic development center the community will proudly own and operate.

I would like to close this Post with a quote I recently came across…I think it speaks to us about the “why” for some of the decisions we have made as “Friends”.

“There was some very important work needed to be done. ANYBODY could have done it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got concerned because it was EVERYBODY’S job. But, EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it, but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY would not do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done!

As “Friends” let’s not be “anybody, nobody, or even just a somebody or just anybody”, let’s be “Friends of Copey”.  Thanks to all!