San Vito is a mountain town located along the Talamanca mountain range in the Southeast region of Costa Rica. The area of Coto Brus has a cultural as rich and lush as its natural beauty yet it trails behind the rest of the country economical because its still largely dependent on agriculture while other regions prosper from tourism. This area lacks the infrastructure to bring in large amounts of tourist and it was only 50 years ago that this part of the country was nearly uninhabitable and inaccessible from the capital. Regardless of these factors Coto Brus continues to flourish as a tightly knit community and San Vito, its capital city bloomed from 45 inhabitants in 1952 to over 15,000 current day. The development of this region was largely sponsored by Italian colonist that settled in the area after World War II. Among the earliest settlers was the priest Umberto Melloni who helped installed the first automatic telephone in all of Costa Rica in the heart of the Coto Brus region, San Vito.
San Vito is the anchor for all of Coto Brus by being the most densely populated district of the region and by keeping the legacy of its Italian settlers alive through the practice of Italian in schools and at its cultural center. One High School, proudly named CTP Umberto Melloni sent six students to compete in the Coto regional Spelling Bee. Of the forty participants competing at the junior and senior high school level, five students from Umberto Melloni placed and two of these students have qualified to compete at the national level. This is an impressive feat considering they have never competed in a Spelling Bee, let alone a competition conducted entirely in English. These students from San Vito come from parents who are farmers and shop attendants and when they compete at the national level its not only for themselves, they are competing for the pride of all of Coto. So this is where they need help. This opportunity to compete in a competition across country might have never taken place without the help of funds from the Ministery of Public Education. Likewise, the Peace Corps is working hard to provide this underdeveloped region with more opportunities for economic growth, one of these opportunities is called Jumpstart.
Jumpstart is a 4 week intensive English camp for students that have not received proper English instruction prior to entering High School. This camp will enable students to be prepared to learn at the technical High School level without being left behind. Umberto Melloni High School has three specialties which look for students with a strong proficiency in English. These specialties have the highest graduation rates and high rates of students continuing their studies in institutions of higher learning, therefore it would be imperative to give 6th graders with few resources the confidence to secure spots in these selective specialties. It is already evident throughout many Costa Rican communities that academic success hinges on competency in English. Please help twenty transitioning 6th grade students from three rural towns in San Vito have a fighting chance at academic success through sponsoring its local Jumpstart camp today.
Below: PCV Nateara pictured with some of her students after competing in an English Spelling Bee