This Week in Costa Rica

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This Week in Costa Rica is a weekly, online radio program and podcast by US expat, Dan Stevens

THIS WAS A DOOR OPENING, NOT ONE CLOSING

My first gig as an English teacher was in May, 2006.  It was a Monday afternoon group in a company called Baxter Americas Services.  I had just been hired the Friday prior and given access to my lesson plans and schedule online.  I saw that this was a group of 4 intermediate students about midway through their current program.  That morning, I was to take the 3 busses to our office in Santa Ana and get an overview of the lesson plan layout, class summary, and tips and tricks for having a successful session.  This “training” was brief, to be kind.  

I was handed a manila folder, a copy of the activities and guide, and offered the chance to travel with my manager and some teachers back to San Jose (all in the span of 5mins).  Though I didn’t live in San Jose (not that anyone asked), I accepted considering the 6 hours to kill before I had class.  As with many preliminary entries to this blog, that 6 hour gap is something else I had to get very used to.  We jumped on the bus and I got off at the stop following Sabana Sur.  Armed with a small brief case full of mystery lessons, way overdressed, and completely lost, I proceeded to look for Baxter Americas Services office buildings.  

I found my way to Parque de la Merced as it was an area I became familiar with.  I then began asking bus drivers if they knew where Baxter was.  After 3 or 4 drivers, one finally knew and offered me the trip.  I took it.  During the ride I noticed we were heading back towards my town.  In fact, this office park (Global Park) that had Baxter in it was only a few kilometers south of my house!  I then took the cab all the way home and relaxed for a few hours. 

Later that day, after a short bus ride and a 2k walk, I arrived in the lobby of Baxter.  I sat listening to my iPod and eagerly awaited my 4:30 start.  When it was time I headed into the room, set up my class, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After 90 minutes, and several inquiries at reception, I realized that no one was coming.  I packed my brief case in a defeated fashion and made my way to the lobby.  Therein were my boss, manager, and 2 teachers coming from their classes!  They greeted me and asked how it went.   I said that no one came, to which they replied, “Yep, that sounds like them!”  When I asked how they got to the facility, they told me they took the private (free) company shuttle from inlingua to Baxter.  My manager then queried, “Why didn’t you ride with us?”

Well, I was never offered the ride, told about the shuttle, given directions, I wasn’t really even prepared for my class.  This was the beginning of my opportunity not only to eventually take over my manager’s position, but to try and change what I would next learn is a story told by nearly every ESL teacher on the first day of work in Costa Rica.  This was a door opening, not one closing.  This was a chance to make the positive change many of us seek when we venture south.

 

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