The Bribri Indigenous Community

Sergio Cueto
November 10, 2014

Though the last two weeks at EARTH University were quite busy, during our free time, we would stop by the university’s river and rope swing into the water. It was refreshing and cooling, especially during the hot humid days. One of my favorite field trips while I was at EARTH, was visiting the Bribri Indigenous Community in Talamanca, Limón. Once we arrived to the site, we were introduced to Bernarda who is one of the founders of the Stibraupa Organization in the community. Bernarda had mentioned that the Bribri community had been suffering from major social, economic, and health issues. The children in the community did not have access to an education. The Bribri language was on the verge of becoming extinct because individuals were speaking it less. Bernarda also told us that many of the men had to find employment outside their communities in local banana plantations. The problem was that the men were being exposed to chemicals and pesticides resulting in severe health problems. Some of the men were even dying by the age of 50.

Once Bernarda noticed all of this she realized the community needed to be reunited with its roots, culture, and relationship to the land. The community established tourism as a way of generating more income. The tourism allows individuals to learn about the Bribri community and culture. There are now several schools available in the community, where children learn Bribri as well as Spanish. I admire Bernarda for the initiative she took upon herself to help her community. I admire her even more because as a woman she overcame challenges dealing with gender. Many of the men in the community believed that women could not be leaders. She even mentioned that other women wanted to stop organizing because they too felt they couldn’t be leaders. All of this changed when Bernarda started educating the men as well as the women. I have always believed that education is a powerful tool that creates positive change and this was an amazing example of it. The last field trip we had was a tour of finca María José in la comunidad Argentina. We also got the opportunity to experience homestays with families that were farm owners. The goal was to see the agro-tourism each farm implemented. I am very thankful for this experience because it made me think about everything I have back at home and how much of it I use. It also made me think about implementing more eco-friendly changes into my life. And lastly, it made me think about living my life in a much simpler manner that doesn’t involve a lot of consumerism or living life in excess. I truly appreciate everything I learned in these communities.

Madison rope swinging into EARTH'S river. The other group getting ready to go to the Bribri community. Sage and I on our way to the Bribri community on our canoe. The river view on our way to the Bribri community. A picture of myself learning how to make a traditional roof in the Bribri community. Cacao for our hot chocolate at the Bribri community. Group picture after having chocolate covered bananas at the Bribri community. One of the Bribri community members showing us medicinal plants. Drying cacao seeds at my homestay in la comunidad Argentina. A plant filter system used to clean water at finca María José. Fresh ginger from finca María José. White Orchids from finca María José. An eco-friendly car project EARTH students made at finca María José. A biodigester used to provide natural gas at finca María José. Our last group picture at EARTH University in front of our dorms.

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Sergio Cueto

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Sergio Cueto and I was born in the city of Juarez, Chihuahua located in Mexico. I came to Chicago when I was two years old and currently reside in the Logan Square neighborhood of the city. I am an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in Latin American and Latino Studies with a minor in Sociology. I am also a volunteer for the Chicago Latino Film Festival. I love photography, films, reading, writing, video games, and spending time with friends and family.</span></div>

2014 Fall
Home University:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Latin American Studies
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