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Costa Rica Literacy Project Report

Report: How a Joint Rotary-Peace Corps Literacy Project Came to Fruition in Costa Rica


The Barboursville WV Rotary Club is sponsoring a literacy project with Dickerson Literacy Initiatives, the Belen Rotary Club of Costa Rica in collaboration with the Costa Rica Ministry of Education English Regional Advisor of the Coto School District and Peace Corps Volunteers. In addition to the Rotary Clubs of Barboursville and Belen, participating Rotary Clubs include the Rotary Club of Oxford Mississippi, the Oxford-Ole Miss Rotary Club, the Uptown York Rotary Club of York, PA and the Rotary Club of Hilliard, Ohio.




The purpose of the project is to support literacy, encourage a love of reading and to provide much needed books for elementary and high schools in the Coto School District. The English books align with the new English curriculum and support the national English and Bi-lingual initiative. Peace Corps Volunteers, working with the ministry of Education, helped to develop the new English curriculum. Peace Corps strategically placed volunteers in select schools and communities to support the national English initiative and most of the books donated as a part of this project were given to schools assigned a Peace Corps Volunteer. The Regional English Advisor, Meryln Jimeniz, also selected schools where English teachers were excelling in English instruction. 


For more about Meryln’s thoughts on the project, take a look at the article published by Peace Corps Costa Rica about her collaboration with Peace Corps. 



The project was initiated with the request of PCV Riley Imlay who heard about Rotary sponsored literacy projects from his Peace Corps Regional Advisor, Ed Hayes. The BriBri community of Salitre where Ed served as a PCV was the beneficiary of a Rotary sponsored Literacy project. Riley received an application form for the project from the Peace Corps Costa Rica office and sent it to Carl Dickerson who reached out to the Barboursville Rotary Club in Riley’s hometown. Rotarian Bret Hensley, past president of the Barboursville Club, knew Riley and his family. Bret enthusiastically embraced the project. Riley visited the Barboursville Rotary Club when he was home for the holidays to share about his Peace Corps experience. RPCV Ginny Jaskot, a member of the Barboursville Club and the current District Governor Shari Messinger, also a member of the Barboursville Club, offered support of the project. 

Once commitment for the project was established, Ed Hayes, the PC Regional Advisor, informed PCV in the San Vito area about the project and invited them to apply for inclusion on behalf of their schools and communities. Seven PCV submitted applications and the schools in their communities are benefiting from the project. 

Additional Participating PCVs and Rotary Clubs:

  • Leta Rowan, a 2019 graduate of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. (Note: Carl Dickerson met with the leadership of both Oxford Rotary Clubs including the current DG, Jonathan Mattox. He shared with them about Leta and the upcoming project, was invited to present a program about the Rotary-Peace Corps Memorandum of Understanding and this specific project to a special combined meeting of both Rotary Clubs, and both Oxford Rotary Clubs committed to participate in the project.)

  • Tom Seryak, from Columbus, Ohio. 

  • The Hilliard Rotary Club, in a suburb of Columbus

  • The Uptown York Rotary Club in York, PA (the hometown of RPCV Ed Hayes)

  • PCV Hugh Mclvor (a previous member of the Rotary Club of Kilsyth in Scotland, prior to moving to the United States) (Note: When Hugh learned of the project he wrote to the members of his former Rotary Club in Scotland to share with them how Rotary was sponsoring a literacy project that will benefit the school in his community. Carl connected Hugh to the Rotary Club in his home town of Greenwich, Connecticut which has invited him to make a presentation to the Club. 

 Leta Rowan, Tom Seryak, Ed Hayes, and Hugh Mclvor have all been invited by the Rotary Club in their hometowns to make presentations about their experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer and the impact the Rotary sponsored project will have on the school in their community.

Even though the Peace Corps Volunteers have returned to the US as a result of the pandemic, each one has committed to staying connected with the school in their Costa Rica community through the completion of the project. 



A pallet of 1139 books was shipped to Costa Rica in support of the literacy project. Dickerson Literacy Initiatives consulted directly with Merlyn Jimenez to approve each title, making sure each title aligned with the curriculum and supported the reading level. Dickerson Literacy Initiatives coordinated shipping the books with the Belen Rotary Club in Costa Rica. The Belen Rotary Club received the shipment, cleared the books through customs and stored the books until Meryln picked them up and transported them to the Ministry Of Education in San Vito. They will be distributed once the schools reopen.


Follow Up:

A trip to Costa Rica was planned for April 18-26 and had to be canceled. Eight Rotarians had planned to visit the Peace Corps Volunteers in their site and to deliver and present the books to the schools with the Belen Rotarians. The plan is to continue the project in the Coto District through obtained sponsorship. The schools will continue receiving books along with new schools assigned Peace Corps Volunteers. 


Carl Dickerson has been coordinating and assisting Rotary Clubs with local and international literacy projects for over 25 years. If Rotary Clubs would like to sponsor or participate in an international or local literacy project, or would like assistance with their literacy project, please contact Carl Dickerson, Dickerson Literacy Initiatives.