Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Preparing for the Youth Leadership and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Disability Rights Program

I'm having very busy week getting ready for my adventure to Costa Rica. I am making a list of all my needs so that Ryan, my personal assistant, can know my needs and feel comfortable with them. Although I have known Ryan for many years, this will be his first time working with me as my personal assistant. And, this will be my first time having an assistant other than my parents for an extended period of time.

I've been filling out a lot of paperwork from Mobility International. One aspect of the paperwork has been a very thorough assessment of my needs. MIUSA has a questionnaire with eight categories of disability (including an "other" category). Each category has its own questionnaire with highly specific and appropriate questions for each category of disability. In my years in the school system, I've never seen such an on target questionnaire.

I've also had a good experience working with the MIUSA staff. They seem prepared, flexible, and willing to work with me so that we can be creative problem solvers for the new situations that we will encounter.

I'll be traveling with 11 other 18-24 year olds who seem like very interesting people. I look for to meeting them and sharing this great experience with them.

Here's what the itinerary looks like:
Day One: Orientation in Houston
Day Two: Fly to Costa Rica. Spanish language and sign language lessons. Stay in youth hostel.
Day Three: More language lessons and group activities. Meet and stay with host family.
Day Four: Breakfast with host family. Language lessons. Explore San Jose. Dinner with host family.
Day Five: Free day with host family.
Day Six: Tour of rehabilitation center. Workshops. Dinner with host family.
Day Seven: Adaptive sports day. Dinner with host family.
Day Eight: Visit disability organizations. Dinner with host family.
Day Nine: Excursion to Volcan Poas. Community service activity. Dinner with host family.
Day Ten: Disability Rights Workshop. Visit University of Coast Rica. Dinner with host family.
Day Eleven: Free day with host family. Farewell fiesta with host families at Instituto Helen Keller.
Day Twelve: Travel to Parque Nacional Carara and stay in dormitory.
Day Thirteen: Trail restoration project and park discussion.
Day Fourteen: Trail restoration project and park discussion.
Day Fifteen: Travel to San Jose and stay in hostel.
Day Sixteen: Return to Houston with group, and then return home.

I plan on taking many pictures and sharing my experiences with my readers while I am in Costa Rica. Hopefully, I’ll have occasional internet access so you can follow me on my journey.

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