Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Copyright Mary B. Thorman All rights reserved

I have gotten several "comments/complaints" from people in the USA regarding the use of the word "peon" when referring to the man who is my regular agricultural worker.  It has finally dawned on me, that the word peon used in English has a negative connotation!  I suppose it implies a low-level, poorly paid, worker or something akin to slave labor.  In Spanish, however, it is the proper word used for relatively unskilled laborer (ex. tree surgeon, lawn care worker, shelves stocker for a supermarket). Costa Rica has strict labor laws that offer more protection than those in the USA.  I have to submit a form every month to a government agency showing all my employees and the official description or the job title for each employee, whether they are full-time, part-time, or occasional, how much they are paid, etc.  I am given a list of official job titles from which to select.  Three of them involve the word "peon."  Peon agricola is an agricultural worker.  A fancy landscaping artist is still a peon agricola as far as the government of Costa Rica is concerned.  My agricultural worker refers to himself proudly as a peon.  There is no negative connotation here to the word peon.

Before making judgments based your own culture and language regarding a different culture and language, do some research.

My PEON is a wonderful man.  He is like a son to me.  I gave him land and a house for himself, his wife, and their children who are like my own grandkids.  Thus he is not only my peon, but my neighbor, and my adopted son.

In this day and age and in this country, peon is a thoroughly legitimate term of employment.

Thank you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Costa Rica's Got Talent

Young inventors gain honors at Intel's engineering exposition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 209

Some 56 students or teams of students from ninth to 12th year brought their creations to the
ExpoINGENIERÍA which is run by the Intel Corp.

The five top projects have the chance to compete in January to attend the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in the United States.

The top creation was by three students from the
Colegio Técnico Profesional Don Bosco: Melina Jiménez Porras, Angie Marín Acuña and Maylín Valverde Torres. They developed a system for ambulances so that the emergency technician can consult with physicians while en route with a patient. This is an informational software system that uses a cell phone. Information can be exchanged between the hospital and the ambulance.

The winner in the electrical engineering category was
José Miguel González of the same school who developed a machine that prints in braille.

In the electromechanical category, 
Luis Gerardo León Vega of the Colegio José María Gutiérrez in Guanacaste was the winner for an intelligent device or robot that can help persons with disabilities. The robot can interpret facial movements or eye movements as commands.

Two students from the
Colegio Vocacional Monseñor Sanabria, de Desamparados, Picado Ureña and Bryan Herrera Piñar, took the mechanical engineering category with a device that can be used in a gasoline station that captures the evaporated fuel from the air and condenses it for reuse. The device has an environmental benefit as well as a financial one.

In the final top category, the winners were Ana Victoria Solís García and Karen Zúñiga Calvo of the Colegio Técnico Profesional Don Bosco, who created a tiara-like device that is worn on the head.  Head movements can control a computer like a desktop mouse.

There were a host of other winners in various categories.