나는 한국말을 해요 (I speak Korean)

Ok, maybe that’s a little white lie. I don’t really speak Korean – you can thank good old Google Translate for the post title – but I’m on my way! My interest was piqued back in first year when my phonology lecturer mentioned the language, since it has a unique alphabet in which the shapes of the written letters actually represent the shape your mouth makes when you sound them out! Isn’t that amazing?!

Thanks to wright-house.com for a great article on why Korean looks the way it does.

Well, call me a language freak, but I just had to learn more. It took me a while (read: two years) to take the plunge, but when my friend Kim posted this on my Timeline yesterday (girl, you know me so well…), I decided. I have so much time on my hands and it’s driving me nuts, so today I finally started making use of the university’s language centre: I trammed it in to the centre, grabbed a bagel and a lemonade for good measure, then showed up at the library and got Korein’! Continue reading

Europe’s Green Capital

So I’ve left behind the wild, lush landscape of the Costa Rican rainforest and arrived in Strasbourg, France, to find a completely different kind of green.

Costa Rica is one of those countries the climate change debate focuses on – it’s the epitome of natural diversity and everywhere you turn there is some species or habitat that could be gone in 20 years’ time. Or 10 years’ time. From the rainforests I hiked through to the sloth sanctuary my mum and I visited, everything there seems at once so wild and so fragile. The conservation efforts we see there are direct, tackling the specific problems the land faces: protected areas are being designated, turtle-watching programmes are being set up to monitor and protect the species, and the people at Aviarios sloth sanctuary provide education for locals as well as caring for the animals.

Places like the Manuel Antonio National Park have to concentrate on the effects of climate change.

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REMOC: Behind the Seams

This one was actually made by Ana's daughter Meli - it must be a family tradition!

I don’t know what I was expecting when Ana Teresa invited me to take a look at her studio. On the one hand, I’d seen the quality of the products on the shelves in REMOC, and thus knew that the craftswomen were not amateurs; but I also knew that many of them didn’t have high incomes or hours to invest in their business – one of the challenges of the trade, for them, is that they are making a living while maintaining a home for their families and fulfilling their duties as a wife and mother. So, despite knowing that the work they produce is ‘serious’, I was still impressed when Ana ushered me through a door I’d thought led to a garage, and I found myself in a real, fully equipped artisan’s workshop. Continue reading

How To Volunteer In Costa Rica

Ok, finally I will start from the beginning.

I study French and Spanish at the University of Edinburgh, and as such, I have to spend my Junior Honours year abroad: one semester in a Spanish-speaking country and one in a French-speaking country. Ever the romantic, I chose Costa Rica, with its rainforests and volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, democracy and peace. There is no Costa Rican army. And they all say ‘Pura Vida’, all the time.

I'd say 'Pura Vida' all the time if I lived here too.

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The United Nations Meet Las Defensoras Populares

As a new face here at Raxa Collective, I thought I’d take a minute to introduce you to all to the organisation I’m volunteering for here in Costa Rica. It’s called MUSADE, which stands for Mujeres Unidas en Salud y Desarrollo, and its function is to provide support for women who have suffered intra-familiar violence. MUSADE has a lot of great programs going on, but today I’d like to talk to you about some exciting news for our Defensoras Populares.

This banner was made to commemorate MUSADE's 25th anniversary this coming Tuesday.

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Sledding a Volcano

One volcano-related assumption which I’ve had to let go of since arriving in Central America is that a volcano is a volcano.

Anyone who grows up in Scotland knows that mountains are not just ‘mountains’. There are mountains, but there are also ranges, hills, Bens, and Munroes. There are the kind that, although tall, the fitter of us can walk up without much in the way of equipment; there are others which may be smaller but are impassable unless you really know what you’re doing.

I wasn't expecting it to be so blue...

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