Comte is a small town 30 kilometers from the Panamanian border and 450 kilometers south of the Costa Rican capital. It has a population of less than 600 people most of who rely on the African palm tree for their daily income. In recent years the price per ton on African palm fruit has gone down and bacteria has been attacking and killing many of the trees, no cure has been found to kill the bacteria. The uncertainties in the crop have left people in the community anxious to find a different source of income in order to secure their financial future. Here is where talk of education and tourism arises.
Costa Rica has a booming tourism industry and there are many employment opportunities for people and in order to secure a job in tourism English is almost always a requirement. JumpStart will give those students who have received no English or little English in elementary school a “jump start” when they enter high school. JumpStart is a month long English intensive camp with a “high school ready component” for 20 students from 5 different elementary schools in the area. These students will be taught by a Peace Corps Volunteer as well as a MEP (ministry of public education) English teacher. Both facilitators will receive training in San Jose in order to successfully carry out the month long camp. In order to enroll each student many people helped the PCV and MEP teacher; students’ parents, principals from each school, 6th grade teachers and school district supervisor. Not only did these individuals assist in the enrollment process they also contributed with donating materials needed for the camp. Community businesses and the local public bus company also contributed to the camp.
In order to fully fund and carry out a camp requires the help of many people. Without the contribution of the community and other outside individuals these 20 students would not have the opportunity to learn English and pave a path for a better future. With a solid base in English these students will feel more confident and excel in the classroom. They will have a better chance to complete high school and pursue a higher education. An education that would allow them to help their families.