The Board of Directors held a recent retreat and discussed status of all current and proposed programs and projects, with the intention of developing an annual plan to focus on areas where emphasis is most desired. By program, these include the following:
High School Exchange: no major changes detailed. The program continues as it has for 52 years (since 1965), by sending Oregon students for two summer months and receiving Costa Rican students in December and January. Students attend school with host family students, and typically stay in two different homes during their two month stays.
Adult Exchange: several changes are anticipated in this program. Program leadership is changing hands, and will now have two leaders, one for hosting Ticos here in Oregon (Northbound) and one for traveling to Costa Rica (Southbound). There will also be an emphasis on outreach to recruit other Oregon subcommittee towns, and currently Salem and possibly Medford have been defined. Otherwise, the program continues as it has for 31 years (since 1986), by offering Tico adults homestay experiences for a week in each of four separate Oregon towns, and then offering Oregon adult members homestays for a week in each of four separate towns in Costa Rica. The goal of the program is to develop long-term friendly relationships and renewed cultural understandings between persons of both countries.
English Teaching: there are no major changes anticipated in this program, with the exception that OPOA members will also participate in English teaching programs in Guadalajara, Mexico and in the country of Columbia, in support of the Partners International English education program. Also, Oregon has committed to another 2 years of teaching English in the town of Tilaran, Costa Rica. At the request of Partners sub-committee members in Tilaran, the total commitment of 3 years sends teaching teams for two weeks each to this town for an annual 3-month period (January, February and March); both school age students and adults are taught in this program. Otherwise, the English Teaching program continues as it has for the past 10 years (since 2007). Volunteers with the Jump Start program work with underserved adolescents in Costa Rica, with an emphasis on setting goals and improving study skills before the teens get to high school.
Solar Panels: An additional grant ($15,000) has been received (2016/2017) to repair, replace and update the existing panels which supply lighting and refrigeration, so that needed medicines can be stored in this remote village on the Yorkin River which borders Panama. New panels will also be installed to provide lighting to the local school. The Costa Rica Chapter is contributing additional funds and support, and the Yorkin community members themselves are supporting the project with in-kind contributions of housing, transportation and labor.
Outreach/Marketing: several changes are anticipated in this program. An effort to re-build the Salem sub-committee is planned, with a two-day outreach campaign at Salem’s WorldBeat Festival, June 24th and 25th. The goal is for Salem to have a viable hosting and planning committee by the summer of 2018. Additionally, targeted recruitment of retired teachers is planned via presentations at OEA meetings and publications. A major change in the way OPOA conducts marketing of its programs is with the newly updated website, oregonpartners.net. Volunteers are rebuilding this site with updated information in a ‘dynamic content’ format, to attract more online traffic. Volunteers are also developing new marketing materials (brochures, business cards, banners, media kits, etc.). Otherwise, each Oregon sub-committee (Astoria/Cannon Beach, Hood River, Bend and Portland) are planning individual area outreach efforts as pertinent to each area, with the goal of recruiting new members as ambassadors for the teaching, hosting and traveling programs.