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Greg Anderson

By Charlie Berghammer

How exciting to begin the year by sharing the story of a recently migrated expat to Costa Rica who knew from the start that his coming to Costa Rica was more than just to live a comfortable lifestyle in the tropics.  His story is that of many of us who have come looking for ways to INTEGRATE into our local Costa Rican communities.  What Greg Anderson and many others have discovered is that the catalyst for this integration can come through engagement in local community service.

For those who are new to the column, here below are the principles of this ideal to citizen action.

1. Inspire Change. Provide information highlighting some of our communities biggest challenges, raise awareness and motivate others to take action.

2. Build Community. Connect people with others who share the same vision for change and help them create networks to put plans into motion.

3. Facilitate Action. Offer tools for community members and visitors to our area to make commitments to act and track their progress and results.

4. Strengthen Engagement. Encourage citizen action throughout our local area and Costa Rica by the cultivation of partnerships with other world organizations like Sister Cities International to address our specific needs.

Greg Anderson came to Costa Rica for the first time in 1995.  Though he has continued to return from Tampa, Florida each year, 2009 was the year he decided the time was right to make the commitment to live full time in Costa Rica.  The investment he had made several years ago at Finca Zacatona in Matapalo would finally become his home base.

For Greg, a 24 year veteran of building homes in Kansas City, the idea of retirement was a difficult if not impossible one.  He quickly discovered that the Pura Vida rhythm of life in his new retirement status was not one easy to adapt to. Greg made immediate plans to become involved in his local community by teaching his passion of Martial arts.  There was one problem however to achieving this lofty goal….how to learn enough Spanish vocabulary related to Karate in a short enough time to be an effective teacher.

Here below, Greg shares his experience of cultural integration through his local community service of teaching Karate.

My first experience in karate was taught in the English language in Kansas City, Missouri in the year 1969. All my other instructors over the years have taught in broken English, Japanese, Korean or Chinese. We all seemed to be able to understand one another through watching and then doing the technique demonstrated. Much of the communication was through grunts and slaps on the head. I always thought this was very funny, but it did not keep us from learning.

My short vacations to Costa Rica were quite different than living in the community and actually becoming a friend of the community because of my lack of ability to speak the Spanish language. My Spanish is no more than the travelers Spanish to get a room, order food or shop for groceries. It has been very hard to express myself in more complex conversations other than the ordinary polite greetings and to intently listen to groups of people talking very fast and trying to decipher what they are saying. With time and more study my Spanish will improve and I will get over this hurdle.

As for the Karate classes, I offer the classes as a free class to teach respect, discipline, exercise and basic Karate techniques and self defense and to give the young people a place to go and something to do that is worthwhile. I was surprised to see how much interest there was. I have been blessed with the assistance of Bethany in Portalon and also Bobby and Shelly of Matapalo for there help in translation of the more difficult concepts that are taught. The students are very helpful and correct my Spanish without laughing too much. It has been a delightful experience and I would hope that all the students continue in either my class or any other Karate class due to the life long benefits produced through martial arts programs.

The classes are on Monday at 4 for children 7 through 12 at the salon by the soccer field in Portalon, Thursday at 4 for children and parents at Dos Palmas on the beach in Mata Palo, Friday at 4 at the salon in Portalon for ages 10 to 16 and Saturday at El Coquito at 2 in the afternoon for all ages. All classes are 1 hour and consist of 30 minuits of exercise. Wear loose fitting clothes and a T shirt if possible. Tennis shoes are ok and bare feet but one cannot work out in sandals. Call 2787 5005 for more information.

Thanks to Greg for realizing the importance of integrating into our local communities as an active participant and for doing so through serving others in community education.  He is setting a great example by doing his part in Making a Difference!

2 Responses to “Greg Anderson”

  1. Garland Bowers said:

    If you are the Greg Anderson I think you are, reply back. I have thought of you many times. I have missed a good friend too long.

  2. Judy Laytham said:

    Our friend, Garland, and my husband and I just found each other after a lot of years. We’d also like to track down Greg. These two guys not only built us a great house back in Kansas City, but built a great circle of friends that we’ll always cherish. Can you put us in touch with Greg?