My KaTO Experience

By Kari Bean


Syska graciously sponsored Will and I to travel to Costa Rica to assist in the construction of a new school designed over the summer by the KaTO students. Since I was the Syska representative for the new partnership with KaTO, I was thrilled be able to go see the design put into action firsthand. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with: Will (Engineer with Syska), Kyle (Director of KaTO), Tom (structural engineer with Walter P Moore), and each of the KaTO students, Jillian, Maggie, Alyssa, Christina, Sung, Keun, Mauricio and Tyler. We all became a family by the end of the trip and each person’s skills were vital to the success of the project.

Life in Costa Rica was not easy at first – it was hard work and took some adjustment. We were disconnected from the outside world with limited phone service, no AC, close / humid living quarters, limited electricity and long walks to get everywhere. Soon, none of those things mattered, and I grew an appreciation for water, bug spray, sunscreen, cold showers, new friends and the beauty that surrounded us. While being there, I understood and embraced the meaning of the Costa Rican saying “Pura Vida,” which translates to pure life. What it meant to me, was learning to live a simple, peaceful life and appreciating nature and those around you. I enjoyed speaking Spanish, playing with the children, watching sunsets / sunrises, swimming in the ocean and sitting by the night fire watching the stars that sat above the slightly florescent waves of the ocean. Above all, I am proud to have been part of something special, bringing a new school to a community in need. Thank you KaTO for a trip of a lifetime! Pura Vida!