During the days leading up to Easter, a group of 7 juniors traveled to Costa Rica to do service. They left early in the morning on Saturday, March 29 and did not return until Easter Sunday night.
During the trip, the Malvern representatives worked with the Maleku people, an indigenous tribe near the town of Guatuso.
Mr. Ron Algeo, Head of the Upper School, chaperoned the trip, along with Mr. Joe Miele.
On the first day of the trip, the Malvern group helped to clear away any debris on the walking paths in the rainforest.
“The rainforest is very important to [the Maleku],” said Algeo. “Their whole tribe and history is based on a cohabitation with the rainforest there. They refer to it as their supermarket or doctors office.”
Algeo noted that the members of the Maleku tribe get their food from the rainforest, and there are a lot of medicinal plants grown there. The students got to try putting a plant that makes anesthesia in their mouth. When they chewed it, their mouths went numb.
The next thing the group did was build a greenhouse. The greenhouse would help to grow the forest, which had been slightly depleted by people who were not part of the tribe. The well-being of the rainforest allowed plants and trees to be big enough to plant and not be taken over by animals or weeds. To help, students dug an irrigation system for the greenhouse in which they grew a lot of the plants.
The trip wasn’t all service, however. Students enjoyed a day of leisure when they all went ziplining and to a resort with hot springs.
“It was just our day to have fun,” said Alex Sorenson ‘16. “Probably the most fun part was playing soccer with the guys [in the tribe], because they’re all really sick at soccer. We just kind of went along.”
Throughout this trip, Algeo and the students were able to really get to know and connect with the adults and children of the tribe. Getting to learn some of their language and a lot about their culture was a great experience for them.
Sorensen said that getting to know the Costa Rican people was the most impactful part of the trip. “They’re always smiling, even with just a simple life,” he said. “It taught us that you don’t need much to be happy.”
The Malvern group ended up doing about 25 hours of labor during the 10 days of the trip, according to Sorenson.
“I am thrilled with his year’s trip,” Said Mr. Larry Legner, Director of Christian service. “The boys were great the chaperones were wonderful. The chaperones can’t speak enough good about the boys. They thought they were wonderful and did everything they were asked to do.”
Legner noted that the juniors accomplished a lot. “The thing is, with planting trees and building greenhouses (etc.), you don’t see the benefit of that for ten to twenty years, but they started something in building the greenhouse where these seedlings can grow so that they don’t get stomped on.”
According to Legner, Malvern has been doing the Costa Rica trip for three years. He selected Costa Rica because he wanted a specific kind of trip where they were actually working with people in need; not just going in and “painting a wall”.
With only 600 Maleku people left in the world, the juniors worked very hard to help rebuild their rainforest, after many countries have come in and destroyed it.