Daniel Vando, who resides in Birmania de Upala, gets up at 4 am every Saturday to be in the tourism classes on time at 8 am. He receives classes on rural communitarian tourism at the Costa Rican Technical College (in Spanish Instituto Tecnológico de Rica) located in Santa Clara de San Carlos.
The young boy, aged 23, travels to the center of the Upala canton by bus. Once he arrives to the canton, he takes a taxi to the institute.
Overnighting on a holiday or free day is not a problem anymore. He feels proud, enthusiastic, motivated to take his sustainable tourism course.
He is one of the beneficiaries of the Generando Competencia program which allows deaf people to study about sustainable tourism in northern Huertar.
The program allows 20 students, who live in Upala Los Chiles, San Carlos and Sarapiqui, to study and work in the sustainable tourism field. The project itself has been applied to reduce the unemployment rate in the country since 2013.
The students’ age ranges from 13 to 30 years and go to class from 8 am to 5 pm.
The program lasts one year and started in October last year and will reportedly end the next month.
The program counts on sign language specialists to teach the sustainable tourism course. Altogether, two interpreters translate the information to help the students.
Classes on torism, cooking and beverages are taken by the young attendants.
Stephanie Lara, who is the project coordinator, says that this is the first course for young deaf people. The institute counts on two sing language interpreters and an educational psychologist to make sure the students adjust to the course methodology.
“We can understand our teachers thanks to the sign language specialists. We have to thank the CPJ for the provision of food, tours and material. I hope to reach my goals and a job. I put my goals in God’s hands.” – Antonio perez, 21 years old.
The program consists in incorporating young deaf people to the job market as tourist guides, waiters and waitresses, park guards, housekeepers and bellboys.
Aside from that, the students are granted a scholarship and provided a food bonus.
Besides the sustainable tourism training, the students are receiving a comprehensive training in other fields.
In the first bloc, they received workshops on leadership, motivation, conflict management and communication.
During the second term, they received classes on rural tourism, hotel industry, food and drinks.
They also worked on the graphic promotion on sustainable tourism. They elaborated posters, edited photos and recorded videos.
In the third bloc of the content, the students learned about the reproduction of butterflies, solid debris management and medicinal plants in the ecotourism field.
In the last part of the content, they are given classes on the geographical location of plants, their use and how their properties can be applied in the health field.
They are currently being trained in hydroponic watering. Aside from that, they are also receiving classes on business management in the last period of the course.
To join this course, the students must know sign language, have finished school, and must be around 15 and 30 years old.