Get to know CINCEL, where you’ll learn Spanish and cultural adaptation as you begin your missionary journey in Latin America and the Caribbean.
CINCEL operates inside a cream-colored two-story structure in Los Yoses Sur, a neighborhood on the southwest side of the city of San José. After turning left on Calle 33a, you will make your way up the short street past a playground on the right lush with palm trees, mango trees, and other tropical plants, and arrive at the upper end of the cul-de-sac. The black gate painted with colorful silhouettes of children at play indicates that you have reached your destination. Before entering the campus, you’ll be warmly greeted by a security guard in uniform.
After passing through the black metal door, you’ll walk up the length of the verdant corridor between two rows of hanging baskets overhead, each heartily overflowing their greenery, while on either side of the walkway, you’ll stroll by flourishing periwinkle blue hydrangea, red Hawaiian Ti plants, and purple and white Brunfelsia shrubs. The building on the left is home to a non-profit, while the building on the right is the one that welcomes you to a fruitful season of learning. You’ll enter by the double wooden doors and step into the foyer where the beige-speckled tile floor shines brightly even on cloudy days. Across the foyer, the eight-foot sheer curtains hung on the slightly opened windows over the stairwell will further draw you in with their soft and gentle swaying.
Take a few steps and you’ll have a choice to turn left, right, or go straight leading to the stairs. If you choose left, you’ll first pass by the pale-yellow kitchen where laughter and light conversation of our staff fill the air during break and lunchtime, then you’ll enter the chapel where the brightness of daylight spills in via eight large windows, four on the left and four on the right. The Costa Rica, the United States, and the Christian flags salute you from the far-left corner, each dressed in uniform colors of red, white, and blue. As you turn to the right, your gaze will land on a five-by-three-foot painting of a sculptor whose hands hold a chisel, or cincel, in one hand and a hammer in the other, and whose spectacled eyes gaze with a loving expectation on the object he is forming.
If from the foyer you choose right, you will enter a long hallway lined with classrooms on the left. This hallway leads to the library, but first, you’ll pass by an open area on the right that hosts two offices, a bulletin board for announcements, and the students’ favorite object of hope: the wall of mail cubbies labeled with their names. The classrooms, sunny and inviting with their large windows and brightly painted accent walls, each include six to eight chairs surrounding a table or two. Each profesora teaches from her classroom which she arranges and decorates to her liking with family photos, student prayer cards, and other kitsch. The biggest classroom sits at the end of the hall on the right, adjacent to the entrance to the library, and is used for larger classes or audio-visual needs.
Next, you’ll enter the library, a trapezium-shaped room that boasts of being the favored space of the students. As you step onto the luminous parquet floor that reflects light from ten large windows, you immediately capture the magnificence of the library with its two-story vaulted ceiling encompassed by walls covered ten feet high with bookshelves that contain more than twenty-thousand titles. Above the bookshelves are flags, mounted and framed, that represent Latin American and Caribbean countries. Two separate seating areas complete with area rugs, couches, love seats, armchairs, and coffee tables invite students to relax with a book or have a chat with a friend. For study purposes, two carved colonial-style café tables with matching chairs are placed on either end of the library, with a similarly styled eight-foot glass-topped table with six chairs placed in the middle, upon which both coffee cups rest and tears land as verbs are conjugated and subjunctive tenses are practiced.
Back in the foyer, the stairs lead downstairs where you’ll find several additional classrooms, the restrooms, the janitor’s closet, and an exit to a parking area, adjoining apartments, and the Kinder room. This latter room is where babies, toddlers, and preschoolers spend their days while their parents are in class. Although its cleanliness and array of colors, toys, small tables, chairs, and cribs attract both parent and child, it is the loving care of Carolina that offers the trust and confidence they truly covet. Sounds of singing, laughter, and new Spanish words being practiced often float out of that room and up to the main hallway, bringing a smile to everyone.
Soon, you will know and experience Cincel in person as you study Spanish and learn cultural adaptation.
by Ilona Hadinger