Latin American Technical Education Foundation  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEF HISTORY

In 1995 Dr. Robert Summers met his son John in Costa Rica to persuade him to give up on his idea of building a hotel or diving shop on the Caribbean coast of the country. John who had traveled the world as a professional snow-boarder had found his paradise. Dr. Summers (whose friends and students know him as Dr. Bob) was not making any progress in changing John's mind. The country was beautiful, the people were friendly and living was cheap. And besides the surf was great.  Why would anyone want to return to Huntsville, Utah?  Dr. Bob was clearly losing the battle.  (Note:  John doesn't want anyone to think that Huntsville is not a great place.  In fact...)

After much discussion, it occurred to Dr. Bob that what the people needed more than a hotel was a school. Not just any school, but a technical vocational school.  John agreed and the idea of the Instituto Tecnico del Caribe was born. Bob and his wife JoAnne had actually discussed the idea of a technical school some time before this but the time wasn't right until now.

Bob and JoAnne's retirement investment was transformed into a plot of jungle land complete with banana weeds, howler monkeys, and toucan birds. During the summers when he is not teaching at Weber State University he is in Costa Rica where he has built a house and prepared his land for the future school.  

 

John doesn't have much time for snow-boarding anymore. He now lives in Costa Rica and spends most of his time working on the school.  That is when he isn't helping his wife Sharon take care of their new baby Camila.

 

Bob and JoAnne have managed to create an impressive machine shop on his property in Costa Rica. Each time they travel to Costa Rica their suitcases are heavy with tools and materials to be used in the school. 

 

Steve and Mary Parker visited the project during the summer of 1999. Their son Trevor and Bob's nephew, Scott also came to help prepare the future school and to have some fun. Although the trip was intended to help Bob and JoAnne build a shelter to use as a home there was also some time to enjoy some of the incredible beauty of Costa Rica.

During the summer of 2000, Bob and JoAnne learned that Costa Rica would not allow them to build the school on the land they had acquired. The land was on the side of a hill and was not stable enough for a school building. At the time they were extremely discouraged because they thought they might have to abandon their dream of building a school in Costa Rica, but almost immediately their neighbor informed them of another nearby piece of land that was available. It required another mortgage on their home in Huntsville, Utah, but the land was even better than the original. So the dream is continuing.

Building a school in the jungle brings with it several challenges. There are scorpions and venomous snakes that don't exist in Huntsville, Utah. During their stay in Costa Rica, the Summers have run into coral snakes, crocodiles, and "terciopelos".  Terciopelo translates loosely into "smooth skin" in English.  The snake is actually a type of "Fer-de-Lance" and is extremely poisonous. The local Costa Ricans call it the "two-step" snake because that is how far a person can go after being bitten.

The people of Costa Rica have welcomed our small team to their country and have been eager to participate in the construction of the Instituto Tecnico del Caribe.  Some, such as Carlos Rodriguez, have even joined us to help build our future school.


Last modified: January 03, 2014