April 25, 2011

Eastern University – IDEV 2011 descends upon Vara Blanca

Written by Ben Bunyon
ADE and Eastern University in Pennsylvania have established an excellent partnership that links students in Eastern’s master’s program in international development (IDEV for short) with the communities of San Rafael and Vara Blanca in Costa Rica. Much of the reason for this partnership is that Tomás, Frances and Ben were all students in the program.  A group of students from Eastern’s program has come to visit each year for the past three years since the Cinchona earthquake in 2009.


From March 4-12 a group of twenty students and one professor from Eastern’s IDEV program joined ADE in Costa Rica. The group stayed in the ADE Center in San Rafael and each of the visitors also took turns staying for three nights in the homes of families in our community. 

While they were here, the students went on a sobering visit to Cinchona, the small village that was destroyed by the 2009 earthquake. They also took turns each day leading dialogues with our ADE Bilingual High School students that touched on various aspects of community development. Our high school students then led groups of the Eastern students in conducting a census of the town of Vara Blanca.  

Devotions and prayer at Cinchona, epicenter
of the earthquake

Development Dialogue about the concept of "community"

Development Dialogue about community assets

Knocking on doors for the community census

Inputting the census data


ADE also organized meetings with a number of community leaders and organizations such as the Vara Blanca police, the pastor of the local Protestant church, a local strawberry farmer, representatives from the regional department of health, a representative from USAID, a missionary who assisted in Cinchona soon after the earthquake, and a discussion panel of local residents.  The students spent time praying with, and for, each person they met.
 
Meeting with the director of the
Vara Blanca Elementary School



Meeting at USAID in San Jose


This group of students was a great blessing to the ADE staff and to the community.  Their faith and their joy in being together were evident to all, reminding us of John 13:35 – all will know that you are Jesus’ disciples by your love for one another.  The community members, church members and high school students here were also a great blessing and inspiration to the Eastern students as they opened their homes, showed love and hospitality, and modeled the great faith of a people who have little but possess much. 

Hanging out at the ADE Center

Chapel in the rain forest at the end of a morning hike

Eastern and ADE students at Poás Volcano