As if we didn’t act like little kids enough around the Center – a recent morning warm-up game was a heated rendition of the elementary school classic “Heads Up, Seven Up” – our outreach project with a local scout group reminded us of the power of childish wonder. The tornado of high pitched voices, packed snacks, and too-cute-to-believe smiles that hopped off the bus immediately injected an overwhelming happiness into our experience that our daily discussions about inevitable extinctions, pick-your-poison economics, and well-informed futility had somehow failed to provide.
We’ve had a hard enough time understanding sympathetic, slow-speaking Costa Rican adults, so I wasn’t terribly optimistic about Spanish conversation with the energetic kids. I should have known that a few simple phrases (the universal saying “Pura Vida” got some serious mileage) and matching their excitement said more than enough. The universal language of “kid” swapped out complicated conjugation for smiles and high fives.
With the ice sufficiently broken by a ridiculous song and dance (think “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, but in Spanish), the scouts traveled through different student-led stations around the Center. They planted their own seeds, played group games on the soccer field, and toured the butterfly garden and the farm. By the last station, they were all sweaty and exhausted from trekking across the campus, but their enthusiasm and interest in the beauty of the Center never faded.
Just a few weeks ago, we had been in their shoes; we were wide-eyed kids in a vast new world. At some point, though, we stopped saying “the Center’s,” and started saying “ours.” I realized that my excitement in sharing experiences with the kids that day was because I felt like I was showing them more than just the Center for Sustainable Development Studies; I was showing them my new home.