What does the word community mean to you? Community gives me a sense of closeness with the people who surround me. They could be members of a church community, the people who live around you, or an organization. When you become a part of a community, you take on the role of looking out for your fellow brother or sister with the mindset that everything you do not only benefits you, but the others around you. Typically, Americans try to do things with their own best interest in mind. In Costa Rica, I have seen a very different attitude when it comes to doing things for others. I’ve noticed that Costa Ricans look at the big picture and how their actions can benefit the entire community.
On Day 3 of our Costa Rican adventure we had the pleasure of visiting a local farm run by a man named Chrisley. He and his family produce fresh cheese that is used at a lot of the local markets. Even though Chrisley had his own milk cows, he bought milk produced from other families. He also sold cheese on credit to five families who worked as middle men between him and the markets. Chrisley did this to ensure that everyone in his community could make a living and support themselves.
Francisco our tour guide at the A&M Soltis Center and native of San Jose, gave insight on what’s happening in the Costa Rican urban areas. Some families in cities do not have the means of supporting themselves and therefore rely on their children to become street beggars. Families in the cities do not have the pleasure of or having a constant supply of their own food. These families must work to buy food and sometimes it is hard to find employment, so they go without eating.
In my hometown of Austin, we are facing our own food crisis called “food deserts.” The FDA defines food deserts as impoverished areas going without fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods. According to an article in “Speak Up Austin,” Ted W stated that places such as east and south Austin are facing this crisis. Residents in these areas do not have easy access to fresh foods, so they eat processed and fast foods. Residents who do have the means to get fresh produce and meats have to drive out of their way to get them. Ted W wrote that “Big businesses are unwilling to expand closer to customers because it will lower the business at the stores they travel to.” However, this leads to people going without or making unhealthy choices.
The trip to Costa Rica has really opened my eyes, not only to the things that are going on around the world, but what is going on in my own community. I think it’s important to gain awareness on trips like this to reflect and figure out a way to make an impact at home in Texas.