On Sept. 18, Cannon Beach played host to a group of eight Costa Rican visitors and their North Coast hosts as part of an adult cultural exchange program called Partners of the Americas. Every year the Costa Ricans, who call themselves ‘Ticos,’ travel to Oregon and visit various parts of the state, spending about five days in each area.

During their recent stint at the coast, the Ticos stayed with host families in the Astoria area and spent their days touring locations including the Astoria Column, Fort Columbia and the North Head Lighthouse in Washington.

Cannon Beach is a favorite annual destination for the Ticos. This year’s visit included bird watching with bird enthusiast Susan Boac at the lagoon trail, a visit to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen and tours of several galleries and shops. The day was highlighted by a luncheon hosted by Susan Neuwirth, locally known as ‘Cranky Sue,’ at her apartment in front of Haystack Rock. Many community members attended the luncheon, talking with the Ticos and joining a sing-along. “I want to thank all our Oregon friends for sharing their time with us,’ said Edwin Araya of Tilaran, Costa Rica. ‘It is a pleasure to join together and share a meal and form new friendships. We hope to see you in Costa Rica.”

Partners of the Americas, a volunteer group, was formed during the John F. Kennedy administration as a means of strengthening connections between the U.S. and countries to the south. Oregon is partnered with Costa Rica. Every year a group of Costa Ricans visits Oregon for a month in the autumn and a group of Oregonians visits Costa Rica during the winter. Coordinator for Cannon Beach, Jeanie McLaughlin, said “I really believe in the mission of fostering understanding and building relationships.” She has been involved with the program for more than 10 years. North Coast coordinator Cheryl Gramson-Capellen went to Costa Rica in 2010 and has been part of the program for six years. She enjoys making friends and learning about a different culture. “What I like about Partners of the Americas is how personal the experience is; we stay in each others homes and spend time together. I’ve learned we can enjoy each other even without a common language.”

For more information about Partners of the Americas, visit www.oregonpartners.net

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