I think one thing that was really surprising to me that I learned from our community partners was how their experiences were honestly a lot more nuanced than what I had previously thought. Before going on this experience, I learned about how an organization called “Payments with Environmental Services Program” in Costa Rica is paying people to protect hectares of forest that they owned in order to sequester more carbon and keep the rainforests healthy. But from talking to my community partner hosts in Costa Rica, I found out how that money isn’t very substantial to them, and how that contract restricts their usage of the land they own so they can’t build on it or use it for farming and pasture, many of the things that our hosts rely on to support themselves and their families.
“Academia and the news can have one perspective on a solution, which might not be wrong, but its actual implementation and effects on the community can have several, much more human-centered point of views, that might offer different perspectives.”
– Caelan Koch, Stanford Softball
This was eye-opening for me because it made me realize that that kind of initiative, which is seen as a model for the rest of the world to follow and does seem to do a lot of good, isn’t a fit for everyone. In Costa Rica, our hosts were taking care of the beaches, forests, and wildlife while utilizing the natural resources that they needed. These conversations made me realize how important it is to talk to the people being affected by these issues. I have come to see how academia and the news can have one perspective on a solution, which might not be wrong, but its actual implementation and effects on the community can have several, much more human-centered point of views, that might offer different perspectives.
This experience also helped me to reflect on my own values. I think my time with ACE made me realize how important empathy, a willingness to listen, and a sense of humor are to me personally and how they can connect us with people who may have different backgrounds, faiths, or circumstances than our own. Being a part of the Casa Tucan family for three weeks made me come away with the knowledge that there are good people all around the world who care just as much if not more about the same issues that you do, and how kindness really is key to make an impact and to connect through language barriers.