Earth Charter Workshop with Rural Elementary School in Costa Rica

Ticufres is a small, rural school outside of Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica. The two-room building serves students from grades 1 – 6, all of whom learn together with one single teacher who is also the principal. On the morning of November 5th, the children rushed inside from recess when Mr. Johnny announced that the workshop was beginning.

The workshop consisted of games and activities designed to keep the kids talking, moving, laughing, and running, while practicing respect and care for nature and life. Games were followed by short discussions on how to be respectful and when it is hard to be respectful. Students pointed to times when they are disrespected, wrongly accused, misunderstood, or scolded as times when it is hard to be respectful to others. The facilitators talked about how strong we are to show respect in those cases, and how we can be leaders by showing respect even when it’s hard.

The kids were then enlisted to re-write a story about a very disrespectful little girl named Sara, dramatically acted out by Sarah. In the first story, Sara litters, stomps on plants and insects, wastes water and electricity, steals from her sister, pushes her classmates, and dirties her home. In the second version, with students pausing and interrupting to suggest alternative actions, Sara recycles her candy wrapper, turns off the TV and faucet when they aren´t being used, and treats animals, plants, her family, and her and classmates with respect. The discussion afterward centered on how our decisions affect our feelings and relationships. Students reflected that when we act with love and respect, we feel happy and the people around us are happier too.

In collaboration with the Earth Charter, the University for Peace, and Tierra Verde (a local eco-tourism company), Mr. Johnny has opened the doors of Ticufres for workshops on recycling, environmental conservation, cooperation, nonviolent communication, and conflict transformation. Although low on resources, students are learning skills and values for building peace and living sustainably as laid out in the vision and framework of the Earth Charter.

To design or facilitate workshops in schools near you, visit our virtual library for Earth Charter educational resources. /invent/