Yuma County Rotarian takes Dictionary Project to Costa Rica

June 17, 2007 – 9:02PM

Dr. Richard Geyer’s last visit to Costa Rica meant more to him than just another great fishing trip. The retired Somerton dentist and his fellow Dictionary Project volunteers donated 48 dictionaries to fourth- and fifth-graders at Escuela Brasilito in Direccion Regional de Santa Cruz.

Geyer said he travels to Costa Rica to fish on occasion. Once while there, he met the school’s principal, Nidia Guadamuz.

She said her students were in need of English dictionaries for their classes. Geyer had worked with area Rotary during the past year to put 3,000 dictionaries into the hands of public, private and charter school students in Yuma.

So he took his efforts outside the border.

“The Rotary program itself is expanding internationally,” he said.

He and other volunteers visited Costa Rica on May 24 to present the dictionaries. He got to walk through the school, meet the teachers and speak to the children through an interpreter.

The Dictionary Project is a national nonprofit organization. Its goal is to “assist all children in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers,” according to its mission statement.

The dictionaries provided through it are specifically geared to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade age groups.

Geyer said they’re designed for children who are beginning to put more complex sentences together and starting to read on a higher level.

But they aren’t just a listing of words. Geyer said the project’s founder wanted to give kids a reason to read them.

Dictionary Project books also include copies of the U.S. Constitution, Encyclopedia listings, information on the planets, weights and measures and more.

Rotary clubs in the Yuma, Somerton and San Luis, Ariz., area are active sponsors of the Dictionary Project. Geyer also gets support from the community.

Geyer said they will continue to expand the project internationally. He and the other volunteers plan to deliver 30 Spanish-to-English dictionaries to a school in Mexico in the coming weeks.

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