Election Result Not What You Wanted? Plan Your Great Escape!
“So Bob, how are your Spanish skills?”
“Samantha, let’s just say that I can now misspell in two languages!”
So began my first ‘Great Escape’ interview with Mr. Robert Abdul, Program Director and Founder of HelpPeopleLearnEnglish.com. Wanting to teach kids better language skills than he himself can manage, Bob, 51 years old from Chicago, IL, is currently on an extended 30th trip to our Costa Rica. His company produces laminated ‘Time to Count’ classroom charts, colour printed on both sides. These are donated to school children in Costa Rica’s Pacific Region, running from Puntarenas to Dominical.
Having never been one to stay at home, he worked as an Operations Representative for Thomson Vacations in his twenties. Bob is now living in Costa Rica, directing both his English programme and JacoBeachTours.com. Having initially lived in paradise lands such as Hawaii, the Bahamas and Aruba, he decided to quit after four years in order to pursue a different sort of dream. This plan sounded a bit bonkers to me, so I decided to ask him why.
Teachers Very Grateful for Bob’s Support
“As a Representative for Thomson, I used extra luggage weight to carry dictionaries and clothes to schools in Jamaica”, Bob tells me. Realising that he wanted more than just the comforts of a career in tourism, he continues: “Things changed when I saw the unforgettable events that happen when you ship a container load of classroom supplies to Costa Rica.” Bob’s first trip to Costa Rica was 14 years ago.
Bob has taken a different life path to many of his friends. He is relaxed and in high spirits, proudly sporting his Chicago Cubs hat. I asked him what he found most rewarding: “Samantha, a student from Parrita once greeted me when I was visiting Quepos. The student said: ‘You do not remember me, but if it were not for you, I would not be able to speak English today.’ It is moments like that mean everything.”
Niño “Roberto” Learning World Geography with Bob’s Chart
Bob’s life in Costa Rica is not one he could have created at home. He came here for the immense beauty and friendly people, who have an eagerness to make a real go of learning English. “Sure, I would be making a living back in the U.S., perhaps working in customer service in the Walt Disney Area,” he asserts. ”But there is no challenge: you are coming to see a duck and a mouse!”, Bob chuckles loudly, cracking a huge grin. “Costa Rica is mountains, waterfalls and sport fishing. Costa Rica is adventure.”
Bob Chilling Out in Green Costa Rica
The HelpPeopleLearnEnglish.com goal is to sell 500 charts by Dec. 1, 2008. Those wanting to help can visit Bob’s website to purchase a discounted Restaurant.com voucher, which will donate one chart. “The classroom charts make learning English a fun activity and give kids the inspiration to find out much more”, says Bob. Each chart will be shared between three children, reaching out to 1500 Costa Rican kids.
See the second installment next Monday of ‘Costa Rica Expat: The Great Escape!’
|Written by Claire Saylor|
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Filed under: Expat Interviews on November 11th, 2008