Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Nice work

Reading about your learning adventures.

Amaro returned to the school yesterday and was very enthusiastic about the training and your fine work. Maria and Daphne had a similarly rich experience in Ecuador with the Lucero family and have set up several interesting opportunities for next summer.

I look forward to your return to hear first hand about the training. Travel safely and learn a lot.


Nick Covino

Monday, August 6, 2007

Back in Boston!

Dear all:

I’m back after an incredible immersion experience in Costa Rica with our first group of 6 MSPP students (Jeanine Baillie, Juan Rodriguez, Aimee Asgarian, Zack Blumkin, George Soto, and Christina Massari) sponsored by the Lucero Latino Mental Health training program.

I spent the first two wks there and they’re now on their 4th of a total of 5 wks. The program exceeded my expectations—the language instruction, although intense (i.e., 6 hrs x day), has been of excellent quality provided by very qualified instructors. The school’s setting is idyllic--a natural outdoors tropical setting—and the staff feels like one big Latino family. We’ve also begun the establishment of a very exciting mental health volunteer program with our two native speakers, Juan and George. The two of them have been carrying out some very intensive and challenging clinical work at 3 adolescent women’s shelters (victims of abuse), a local medical clinic, a drug addiction facility, and a school in an impoverished neighborhood. The learning thus far has been invaluable, especially to appreciate the very creative work of very well qualified professionals with very limited resources (although, ironically, Costa Rica is probably the most stable Latin American economy).

In addition to the hardwork, the students have also been having some fun and exploring the natural beauty of Costa Rica in the weekends.

So, many thanks to everyone who contributed to the development and realization of this unique training opportunity for our students!


Amaro Laria, PhD


Lucero Latino Mental Health Training Program


Monday, July 23, 2007

Worlds colliding

Hi all,
I have had a wonderful experience thus far in Costa Rica. Pura Vida! I have learnt a lot about the language and the culture, and had enough time to reflect on my role in Latino Mental Health in the U.S. This immersion experince will be, and already is, an invaluable component to my growth as an empathic individual and as a cultrually sensitive clinician. The distance that separates the lands and the cultures is minimal to the humanity that unites us. I believe my privilege compells me to learn more and to ask more questions. The school and home experince here is rich with opportunities to ask important questions and to learn more about our similarities and differences. I would recommend this program and experience in a heartbeat.

I am very honored to be here, and am certainly enjoying our weekend trips!!! I was in heaven in the coffee plantation and it is still hard to believe that just yesterday i was riding the rapids down a dangerious rio in the middle of a tropical jungle. Next weekend we are going to the beach...it's hard not to enjoy the perks of being in the Latino Mental Health Program at MSPP!!!

Ok, well that is it for me for now. I have to head home as my mama Tica will be waiting for me :)
Hope all is good with you guys in Boston.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Our First Week!!

Hello All! We now have finished the first of our five week trip. Things have gone very well so far. Everyone has gotten along well with their families and we have met some great friends (other students and workers at El Rancho also). Today the five of us (Jorge, Juan, Jeanine, Christina and Zack) went to a coffee plantation to check out how coffee is processed from a fruit to a drink. It was fairly interesting but a solid experience overall. Tomorrow we are heading to the Rio Pacure where it has been said the most scenic white water rafting in Central America occurs. The town we live in, Guacima, is considered semi-rural, but even Christina, who is from rural upstate NY, considers Guacima a very rural place. School is pretty intense starting at 8 am and going until 3:30 pm with a two hour break. Meanwhile, the sites the other members are volunteering at seem to be very exciting. We are all adjusting well and are learning about a culture much different from our own. We decided to attach a quick excerpt from an email recently written by one of our members, Zack. We hope you enjoy!

"In addition to the children we have four dogs, three horses, one cow, one parakeet and about a billion chickens and roosters. To give you an example of how crazy things are check this out. I came home this afternoon and left the door open by accident. My Mami Tica (tica/tico = person from Costa Rica) screamed for me to get into the kitchen. I walked into the kitchen and the cow was standing next to the oven and sink. We both started laughing so hard that we startled the cow and he tried to run out of the house. Since the floor is tile, the cows' hooves had some traction trouble, which only made the situation more hilarious. Finally we directed him out of the house as my Mami Tica told me the next time I left the door open she was going to smack me."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Aqui estamos! We got here! (Amaro)

Aqui estamos en Rancho de Español en La Guacima, Alajuela, Costa Rica. Este es nuestro segundo dia en Costa Rica. Ya hemos conocido a nuestras familias, tuvimos nuestro primer dia de clases de español, y aprendimos una expresion muy tipica que describe muy bien la actitud de los "Ticos": "Pura Vida!" La gente son muy amables y simpaticas, y la vida es muchisimo mas calmada que en los Estados Unidos...

Here we are at Rancho de Español in La Guacima, Alajuela, Costa Rica. This is our second day in Costa Rica. We have already met our families, we had our first day of Spanish lessons, and we learned a very typical expression that describes well the attitude of most "Ticos": "Pura Vida" (which means "Pure Life"). People here are very polite and friendly, and life much more relaxed than in the USA...


Friday, July 13, 2007


We (a group of MSPP students) are off to Costa Rica for our first summer immersion program.

We will be studying Spanish, living with Costa Rican families, and volunteering at local mental health facilities.