Part of our new responsibility in the “Grupo Ambiente Saludable”, is creating a group of high school students called “Jovenes Ecologicos” (Ecological Youth). We are going to be facilitating projects that these students want to carry out to improve the environment. We will give them the power choose what kind of ecological projects they want to do, and we will be there to help them. The big idea of this “Ambiente Saludable” movement is to attract tourists to Aguabuea if the community can gain the “Bandera Azul” (Blue Flag) certification. The region of Coto Brus is one of the least popular destinations for tourists in Costa Rica, but this is probably going to change soon.
Today, we interviewed 23 “Jovenes Ecologicos” to pick 15 tourists guides that we will train to encourage ecological literacy. It was hard to choose. The students ranged from 8th-10th grade. We judged them on their use of English, their enthusiasm, and their knowledge of the area. Some of the students speak very well, and it was easy to pick them. Some of them were shy and quiet, and it was hard to figure out if they were just terrified by the inquisition-like questioning we inflicted upon them. We were a panel of judges (Eliot, Brendan, Jacob, Trina), and the students (one by one) sat across from our panel in an otherwise empty class room while we drilled them. We asked them: 1) Tell us about yourself. 2) Why do you want to be a guide? 3)What is your favorite place in Aguabuena?
After eating lunch in the cafeteria (beans, rice, eggs, cheese, salad, and a tortilla), we met with the principal and the secretary to announce the winners. All the potential guides were waiting outside the office for the announcement. We had a mix up between a girl named Adriana and one named Andreina. We had to retest them. Even though Andreina had a higher grade average, we chose Adriana. We were given all of the students grades and GPAs, although I made it clear to the principal that that was not a deciding fact for us.
Tomorrow we have our first meeting with the elected Guides.