After having spent two full days in Costa Rica, I am starting to become more accustomed to the Costa Rican culture. My knowledge of the history of Costa Rica was definitely expanded today after the presentation with Joaquin Lizano. However, this also had me starting to wonder about some of the aspects of the history and how they shape the way Costa Rica is today. I want to know to know if certain topics that came into the culture were put into effect the way they were initially meant to be and how Costa Ricans feel about these topics today. The key points that stood out to me that I want to learn more about include why the education is mandatory and how Ticos feel about the education they receive, why on face value Costa Rica is perceived to be a pace setter in sustainability and if that is what happens on a day to day basis, and finally why does Costa Rica not have an army and how does that make native Costa Ricans feel about their country.
The education system in Costa Rica is mandatory for all and was put in place mainly to have more social mobility for the lower-class citizens. This process took another step forward when Rafael Calderon established the first public university, Universidad de Costa Rica. This was a very affordable option for the Costa Ricans to go and receive a more enhanced education. Even if one could not afford the University, scholarships were put in place to ensure that anyone that was qualified could and would receive the furthered education. I talked to my host abuela about the education in Costa Rica and got her thoughts on it. She was a teacher for thirty years at a public University and said the schools in rural areas are not as strong mainly due to a lack of teachers and resources. But, she said that in more populated areas the schools are strong and prepare the students for University education. She also commented that the cost for schooling is very affordable for Costa Ricans and provides them with a strong education to prepare them for their future. I feel that the system in Costa Rica is a well thought out approach that can provide as many students possible with a great opportunity to gain an education and possibly create a better life for themselves.
Sustainability has been a focal point surrounding outsider’s perceptions of Costa Rica. The fact that they are trying to become carbon neutral by 2021, have a payment for environmental suitability program put in place, and rank among the world’s best in sustainability give the impression that Costa Rica cares a great deal about being a very green nation. I have experienced two different sides to this. On the one hand, my host abuela discussed with my roommate and I to be conscious about having lights on, keeping devices plugged in, and not taking too long of showers. I feel that this is more due to the fact that she expressed that electricity and water are very expensive here than a want to be green. On the flip side, I have noticed and heard about a major littering problem in Costa Rica. This seems odd to me for a country that prides itself on its sustainability. After talking to my host abuela more on the matter, she seemed quite passionate about keeping Costa Rica as green as possible and not using excess energy where it is unnecessary. I feel that most Ticos are conscious about how much energy they are using and will try to preserve wherever is possible.
The army of Costa Rica was abolished by Jose Figueres in 1948 after the Civil War. The lack of an army brings into question whether the country is safe or not. However, I have come to learn that the police force in Costa Rica is in abundance and very well trained. I personally feel that a national army is necessary and eases my worries about international relations with my country. Although, I do feel that for Costa Rica, the lack of a national army allows the country to unify and adopt the state of mind that there is no need for an army. I also asked my host abuela her thoughts on the army. She expressed that she felt not having an army was somewhat worrisome due to the circumstance if another country attacks, they have no way to defend themselves. However, she does feel that not having a national army is a good example that other countries can hopefully adopt. Regarding the police, I feel that the considerable police force does the job that is needed to keep order and not turn Costa Rica into a chaos state. She said that the police here are necessary but usually do not have many problems to combat. I feel that in general, Costa Rica is a very safe and protected country internally, but if a problem were to arise with another nation, they could have difficulties defending themselves.