Hard to believe, but my semester in Costa Rica has already come to a close. We were busy up until the very end. Definitely a good thing, but makes the transition even stranger.
For the last couple of weeks, we were busy conducting research projects. Ours was on the nutritional status of highly-mobile and non-mobile children of the indigenous Ngobe group. We looked at BMIs, household food security, and dietary diversity of these kids. Unfortunately, what we found wasn’t exactly uplifting: the vast majority of kids come from households with some degree of food insecurity, and lack of resources to improve the situation. We presented our results to the community in a poster session. Our work isn’t going to be scientifically published, but it is going to be used by local doctors. They hope to present our findings to the Costa Rican government to encourage them to bring in help to the indigenous community. Costa Rica has a program for disadvantaged areas, where they provide subsidized food for children ages 18 months to 6 years, when they are at highest risk for malnutrition. Using our data, which suggests that children under age 7 are the most severely underweight, the doctor hopes to convince Costa Rica’s social security to bring in the subsidized food program. At around age 7, the kids enter school and receive lunch there, which explains why malnutrition isn’t as severe in this age group.
Once our research was presented and our papers written, we spent the last couple of days just enjoying the little time we had left. There was a farewell banquet, speeches, and of course, lots of tears. Before we knew it, we were off in our separate directions, headed back to the US. I’m definitely planning on keeping in touch with a lot of the kids from my group. It’s impossible to live with people for 15 weeks straight, have this amazing experience together, and then just say goodbye for good. But for now, it’s back to the US! And adjusting to life here. I’m so excited to be home! But I know I will miss Costa Rica too. I will definitely make a point of going there again. As my host mom told me when I was leaving our homestays, “I know you’re one of the ones who will come back to see us!” She was right.