Reverse Exchange in Costa Rica- Part One
This is the first part of a multi part series written by Landforce Executive Director Ilyssa Manspeizer about her reverse exchange with Costa Rican nonprofit Nueva Oportunidad. Be on the lookout for more blog posts about the trip coming soon.
July 11th, 2019
In September 2018 Landforce had the great pleasure of hosting Lauren Díaz Arias, Executive Director of Nueva Opportunidad in Costa Rica. Lauren, a dynamic, energetic, and thoughtful leader, was visiting Pittsburgh as part of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative through the State Department and Global Pittsburgh. Nueva Oportunidad is a Costa Rican nonprofit that aims to support people’s reentry from prison back into their communities. It was moving and powerful to learn that people the world over are engaging in similar work as we are at Landforce.
Today, I am on a flight to Costa Rica as part of a reverse exchange where I will visit with Lauren, her colleagues, their partner organizations, and her clients to learn more about their model and to discuss the Landforce model in more detail. Funding for the reverse exchange program has been provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs via Meridian International Center as the implementing partner. This trip will take me to San Jose, Costa Rica’s largest city, with a population of 340,000 (just a little larger than Pittsburgh’s 302,000) and a reputation as a crowded, traffic-heavy city. It will also bring me to Monteverde, a fabled place of cloud forests and conservation.
In San Jose I will shadow Nueva Oportunidad as they carry out their programming in the jails, supporting inmates’ re-entry by teaching them micro-enterprise skills, reinforcing soft skills, and helping them to dream about a future beyond prison. In Monteverde, I will explore how eco-tourism has changed the area and what the implications are for long-term economic development and conservation. This will clearly only be a taste of two extremely complicated issues. There is so much to learn. I hope you will join me on my journey.
Funding for the reverse exchange program has been provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs via Meridian International Center as the implementing partner