I have always recognized butterflies to be symbolic for transformation. Throughout the years, through positive and negative times, butterflies have fluttered into my presence to remind me that I am constantly going through changes and challenges, therefore always learning, and consistently transforming. This week, while working outside to create outdoor classrooms and build garden structures, I was again blessed with the transformative cycles within myself and blessed to see it manifested within our small school campus.
Jose Luis, the Outdoor Education Specialist for Ninos del Sol, Costa Rica, and I had spent the majority of our first week of teacher orientation outside in the hot, humid air, constructing an amphitheater. This amphitheater was to be used for school assembly, plays, open houses, and as an outdoor classroom for students. Upon looking at the site for the first time, I had a hard time envisioning this soon to be amphitheater, and an even harder time envisioning how in the world it was going to be constructed. It was a partially dug up dirt lot in the back of our school, with a rusted out baby blue '71 Volkswagon van parked for over a year, unwilling to start.
Due to the many remodel projects finished from inside our school, we had loads of material ("waste") that we were to utilize for the project. I was unable to comprehend how much we were going to apply these materials into the construction of the theater. But through my doubts, Jose Luis proves to be a remarkable craftsman. He is eager to share his vast knowledge of carpentry and sustainability with me. In just a few short days, what started as doubt has turned to excitement. We are actually building our theater with just dirt and waste materials!
One of the themes of our school (there is no waste in nature) focuses heavily on reduce, reuse and recycle. Jose Luis and I had plenty of materials to use, and not once did we buy anything new. These materials consisted of construction waste like cement, a fallen Guanacaste tree, mismatched nails, and lots of dirt. We used the cement waste and dirt to fill in the stage, which is surrounded by ceiling laminate and supported by stumps. Today, the amphitheater looks just as it should; an amphitheater built by an eco school - our eco school!
As it was nearly finished, Miranda Abbott Wittman, founder of Ninos del Sol, came outside to give us a cup of refreshing cold juice. We sat under the trimmed lemon trees gazing at our project with pride. As we drank in the product of our hard work, I felt an abundance of love flow upon us, like the gentle breeze. Sitting beside me, Jose Luis points out a beautiful butterfly flapping its bright wings from the sky down into the amphitheater.
“Look!” he exclaims in broken English. “Mariposa! Beautiful.”
“Si,” I reply. “Muy bonita!” I tell him as best I can--due to the language barrier--that to me, a butterfly is a symbol of transformation.
His eyes light up. “Ey! Si, a message!”
I smile, my heart bursting from its seams, and say “Yes, a message from Mother Earth telling us she is happy with what we are doing here!” Jose Luis’ face is bright as he shines a vibrant smile in response to the Earth’s gratitude.
School opens in a few days, and the anticipation from the teachers is creating an invigorating energy throughout campus. Projects will continue to happen, and with the success of this one and the amount of passion the rest of the staff is putting into their work, we all have no doubt that the school will live up to its principles and create an atmosphere that is environmentally conscious and mindful towards its students and community.