About the Author: Jennifer J. Nehez serves as the Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy San Jose in Costa Rica.
U.S. Embassy San Jose, the Binational Center (Centro Cultural Costariccense-Notreamericano), and the American Colony committee invited all 204 of Costa Rica's Access scholars to the Fourth of July picnic celebration. The students had a fun day full of activities including a water balloon toss, sack races, volleyball, square dance lessons, and typical American food and music. The Access Scholars participated in the official ceremony with the U.S. Marines, the "Star Spangled Banner," the Pledge of Allegiance, and listened to remarks from U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Anne Slaughter Andrew and other dignitaries. Students had the opportunity to meet their fellow scholars from other schools and interact with Ambassador Andrew and embassy staff to practice their English, as well as view a sampling of U.S. culture.
The 204 scholars were chosen from different schools from around the country. As of today, the schools that are participating in this great program are: Colegio La Aurora, Liceo de Alajuelita, Colegio Salvador Umana Castro Ipis, Colegio Pocora de Guapiles, Liceo de Chacarita Puntarenas, Liceo de Pavas, Liceo de Aserri, Liceo Nuestra Sra De Los Angeles, and Liceo Nuevo de Limon.
Ambassador Andrew has identified English language training as a key goal for the embassy's engagement with Costa Rica over the next several years. She recognizes that English-language fluency broadens a young person's opportunities in employment and higher education, increases their ability to participate successfully in the socio-economic development of Costa Rica, and increases their ability to compete for and participate in future U.S. exchange and study programs.
The English Access Microscholarship Program provides English language instruction to qualified Costa Rican high school students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds during a two-year program. The intensive English course is geared toward improving their academic skills and their ability to find jobs after graduating.