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Local News: Costa Rica exchange program visits Astoria

A group of visitors from Costa Rica is in Astoria this week. They are part of an organization with deep roots both locally and in Central America. Coast Community Radio’s Jacob Lewin reports.

Script follows, Listen Below [3:17]

[rising bus sounds…]

When eleven Costa Ricans arrived at the Astoria transit center on Sunday, they were greeted like family by their local hosts:

“ Hola, good to see you…….”

They’re members of Oregon’s chapter of Partners of the America, a 50 year old group inspired by President John Kennedy. Every year a group of adults from Oregon stays with Costa Ricans in their

homes and then the ticos, as they’re called, come here, hosted this year by families in Astoria, Brownsmead, and Knappa. Every year Oregon high school students participate in exchanges. Ned Heavenrich is president of the chapter:

Ned Heavenrich: “CR is a pretty amazing place. They’re doing some fantastic things down there politically, environmentally and their culture is just a delight. They’re just a lovely people.”

Heavenrich says when you live with a family, you see the world through their eyes and for him it’s

been life-changing.

Ned Heavenrich: “We’re kind of a very active, do-it culture and for them, they have a much more laid-back approach to life down there and that has been a wonderful thing to experience.” :14

[Trolley bell…]

The ticos are seeing the sights, riding the trolley:

Conductor: “Welcome aboard, how are you today?”

Eduardo Vargas says Oregonians and Costa Ricans have similar values, including the importance of family and love of Nature:

Eduardo Vargas: “My first time I was here I knew a beautiful place with wonderful friends. A friendly change in my life.”

Visitor Eva Madrigal says as with ticos, people in Astoria are affectionate with their families, joyful and expressive.

Eva Madrigal “Son unidas, cariñosas, y muy alegres y expresivos como nosotros.”

The relationship is more than just social and it’s changing. Years ago, Oregonians donated

wheelchairs. Ticos have come here to offer programs in forestry and fishing. They’ve gotten firefighter training. There are art and music exchanges—the local band Brownsmead Flats played Costa Rica in

2015—and more.

Ned Heavenrich: “We got a grant to get some solar panels installed in an indigenous community on the Panama border.”

Eva Madrigal says having electricity means kids in those villages can study at night and clinics have opened and libraries are open after dark:

Eva Madrigal: “Ahora tiene electricidad. La gente puede estudiar de noche. La medicina es mejo, verdad,porque tiene clínicas, también bibliotecas.”

And Astorian John Fenton… a wife out of the program.

John Fenton: “That’s the reason we’re together, so now we live in Astoria, but spend some of our winters in Costa Rica.”

From here the group is off to Hood River, Bend and Portland.

For Coast Community Radio, I’m Jacob Lewin.

[Ambient sound fades…]