Organizational History

Following are highlights of the fifty (50) years that Oregon-Costa Rica Partners of the Americas has been in existence.  Looking back, a lot has happened!  This page will be updated continually to ensure more recent events and activities are documented, so stop back often!  (Note: The picture above is of the farewell dinner at Namaste Restaurant for the September, 2016 Tico Week in Portland.)


  • The first meeting was held on July 28, 1965 as part of the “Partner of the Alliance” organization.
  • Oregon’s first High School Student Exchange was held in 1965!
  • Costa Rican President and Mrs. José Figueres visited Oregon and were received by then-Governor Tom McCall.
  • Milwaukie High School Circus toured six Latin American countries.
  • U of O coach Steve Belko conducted a basketball clinic in Costa Rica.
  • Joe Meyers, of OSU, initiated the Agriculture Program, which focused on fishing, rabbits, poultry and horticulture.
  • Oregon’s Dr. Reike was elected to serve on Executive Board of the North America Partners of the Alliance.
  • Lewis and Clark College established a North-South cooperative educational consortium.
  • Willamette University students spent a quarter in Costa Rica.


  • House Joint Resolution 33 was passed to officially encourage the Oregon-Costa Rica Partners.
  • 28 Oregon square dancers toured and performed in Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rican painter Rafa Fernandez visited Oregon.
  • Bill Webber (delegate to President Carter’s Caribbean-Central Action Committee) traveled with Gov. and Mrs. Atiyeh to Costa Rica and attended the conference there.
  • President Carazo visited Oregon, shared his UN proposal to establish an international University of Peace in Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rican Vice President Fait and other business leaders visited Oregon to foster business ties.
  • Dr. James Mauerer began work on establishing a hearing aid bank in association with a Partners-
  • A special education committee focused its efforts on vocational basic skills training for Costa Rican students.
  • Women working with Costa Rican development projects focused on nutrition, food technology and gardening.
  • Emergency Preparedness programs presented by Oregonians in Costa Rica addressed daily hazards such as beach safety and ambulance services, as well how to prepare for natural disasters.


  • Agriculture projects: rabbit production, family community garden project and supplied seeds to rural families
  • Oregonian members of ‘Women in Development’ and ‘Small Business Development’ helped to train 200 Costa Rican women in the arts of leather tooling and the science of solar dehydration as ways to improve their lifestyles.
  • Special education projects were conducted in Costa Rica, including 1)autism education, 2)an ACOPANE sheltered workshop program gave Costa Ricans a boat for use in remote village ambulance services as well as emergency transportation to Puerto Jimenez, and 3)provided disaster alarms to Costa Rican schools for children with special needs
  • The Oregon-Costa Rica Sister School Program initiated.
  • An Oregon Youth Development committee initiated employment/career internships for youth between the ages of 16-25 in both Costa Rica and Oregon
  • Oregon’s Arts and Culture Committee sponsored an exhibit of woodblock artist Francisco Amighetti, as well as 17 Oregon jewelers in Costa Rica.
  • The Arts and Culture Committee also sponsored workshops in weaving, textiles, tapestry-making, quilting, and jewelry making.
  • The OSU symphonic band played in Costa Rica to celebrate its 30th year anniversary.
  • Casita hearing clinic: A $5000 grant from NAPA was used to install a donated sound-proof hearing booth and train CR audiometrists to use and maintain the equipment.
  • Physicians : OR Cleft lip and palate physicians worked with Costa Rican physicians at OHSU for a month, studying infectious diseases; and an Oregon doctor/nurse team worked with Costa Rican cancer specialists to develop a support network for families of cancer patients. Also, a neo-natologist spent 3 month in Costa Rica as a consulting physician there.
  • Silver Threads in Action sponsored a recreation program for adults in Costa Rican day care centers.
  • The first Retired Persons Exchange was held.
  • Oregon’s Natural Resources committee 1)trained 8 Costa Rican fishermen at Clatsop Community College, 2)developed long term forest management and fire suppression training for Costa Ricas, 3)provided an outdoor education school in Costa Rica, 4)gave opportunities for Costa Rican youth to participate in Oregon’s Conservation Corp summer outdoor work program.
  • Education: 12 ESL teachers studied teaching techniques at Lewis and Clark, a librarian from Costa Rica visited Oregon to develop plans for building a library the blind.
  • Attorneys traveled both directions to work on legal counsel for handicapped people and to develop a sister relationship between Willamette Law School and the University of Costa Rica.
  • Oregon and Costa Rica soccer teams competed in both countries.
  • The Peace Committee established
  • Oregon Partner members Jan Powell and Joann Geddes were selected as Kellogg Fellows.
  • The 1993 Partner’s international convention was held in Costa Rica.
  • Oregon-Costa Rica Citizen Participation Committee received $15,000 grant to strengthen local government and leadership training, and received a $280,000 USAID grant to help strengthen local government, with help from OR-CR Partners.


  • Oregon Partners members Jeffry Gottfried, Julie Purdy and Elizabeth Gill were elected Kellogg Fellows.
  • Oregon Partners members assisted in the development of an ear mold Laboratory at the Casita Audiology Clinic in Costa Rica.
  • An Oregon citizen participation committee coordinated two exchanges: northbound leaders received leadership and capacity building training and southbound leaders received knowledge about prioritizing local needs, citizen empowerment and accountability.
  • Oregon displayed an exhibit of Pre-Colombian art from Costa Rica.
  • Los Trombones de Costa Rica musical group performed in Oregon.
  • The OSU band performed in Costa Rica.
  • The Sister School Exchange program merged with the High School Student Exchange.
  • Reconditioned wheelchairs were collected and shipped to Costa Rica.
  • Oregon teachers conducted a book drive to facilitate dual language instruction as well as general literacy in Costa Rica and Oregon.
  • Costa Rica and Oregon boards held a Joint meeting to develop a 5-year strategic plan.
  • 10 computers were donated to Oregon-Costa Rica Partners, along with use training to improve communication between chapters.
  • Oregon’s Tigard soccer team played 5 games in Costa Rica.
  • Oregon participated in the Central American Regional Meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica.


  • Both the High School Student Exchange and Retired Persons Exchange continue to send people in both directions.
  • Solar Panels are installed in a remote village along the Panama/Costa Rican coastline, named Yorkin. This was via a generous grant from an anonymous Partners member.
  • Funds were sent in response to earthquakes in the Costa Rican towns of Chinchona and Nicoya.
  • Oregon members contributed financial support and books to the new library in Nicoya.
  • Casita was refurbished, funds sent for new roof, and a mural was painted on the outside wall by Oregon/Costa Rican muralist Esteban Camacho
  • Rachel Tess worked with University of San Jose dancers
  • An art exhibit was held in Oregon by Jade Azul artists from Costa Rica.
  • Wheel chairs were collected and sent to Wheels for Humanity to be refurbished and then forwarded to Alajuela Lions Club for distribution to needy families.
  • Oregon artists traveled to Costa Rica to live and work with artists, exhibiting jointly in Oregon after the visit.
  • Volunteer English teachers taught the Costa Rican Partners for 5 years.
  • Volunteer English teachers began teaching in the Jump Start program.
  • A Sister School program developed between Juniper school in Oregon and Nuestra Senora de Lourdes school in Costa Rica.
  • A veterinarian exchange program was explored by both Costa Rica and Oregon.


  • Oregon sponsored an indigenous Costa Rican Artequitirrisi native, Kattia Hernandez, to come to Oregon to demonstrate her family’s hand weaving craft to Oregon Partners members.
  • An Oregon band from Astoria, Brownsmead Flats, traveled to Costa Rica and played in eight (8) separate events across the country in a week, concluding at the 50th Partners anniversary celebration in San Jose.
  • Oregon Partners hosted the Partners’ international conference, and held a farewell award celebration at the World Forestry Center in Portland.


3 thoughts on “Organizational History

  1. While I am of Mexican ancestry and now retired, I have been involved in Oregon government and Latino matters for decades. Below is the website link to my SOU Trustee bio. I just wish to offer up any assistance I can provide and to hopefully participate in some future activities.


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