No Problem

“No problem,” replied my host father Don Pedro.  As I continued to get to know him and his family through fluent Spangilsh, I realized that this phrase is a staple of his vocabulary.  It also accurately describes my research experience over these past few days in San Jose, Costa Rica.   My research seeks to examine attitudes towards the environment in immigrant and non-immigrant populations in San Jose.  I will collect quantitative data through questionnaires of both populations and hopefully gather qualitative data through interviews with immigrants living in Costa Rica.  I am collaborating with Dr. Roberto Rodriguez of the Universidad de Iberoamerica (UNIBE, and Gail Nystrom of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF,

Researchers of all types have experienced feelings of being overwhelmed at the beginning of a project.  The feelings of worry are the same whether you are shocked at the number of gels you are going to have to run, apprehensive about the accuracy of your lit review or worried you won’t find a large enough population to test.  As I talked with Don Pedro the night of July 11, his optimism and repetition of “no problem” starkly contrasted with my uneasy mindset.  I thought my worry was justified because while I had established a general plan of action with Don Roberto and Gail before landing, I hadn’t solidified any details nor set up an initial meeting with either of them.   My fears started to decrease as I began work in country.  I set up a meeting at UNIBE for 12 the next day and a phone conference with Gail for the evening.

Because my meeting wasn’t until noon on the 12th, I had more time to get to speak with Don Pedro.  I learned that many of my logistical concerns such as transportation into the city central and finding a phone were “no problem.”  While our meeting didn’t get started until around 12:40 (la hora tica as Don Roberto called it), it was immensely encouraging and successful.   He reiterated his positive reaction to the research and put me in contact with a UNIBE student Paola who could assist me with logistics.  After talking with Paola later that day, many of the nitty gritty logistical problems such as printing and translation, were essentially taken care of.  We also scheduled a meeting on Monday (when the schools return from their vacations) with the principal of a local school that we want to use as our non immigrant population.  It was “no problem.”

My conversation with Gail proved equally encouraging.  We initially planned to use her population as an “immigrant” population in my study.  Another possibility opened as she described the program she had recently implemented.  She began working with the immigrant children in her guarderias on the importance of recycling and the interaction between the environment and community health.  Her enthusiasm for my project stems partly from a desire to assess the success of her intervention.  I agreed and we planned to add a population of children that are not in her program so we can have baseline data for both and possibly reassess to determine the impact.  I ended the phone conversation with promises to continue coordination and translation over the weekend with the goal of completing a large chunk of the data collection on Tuesday.  Again—“no problem.”


  1. elrudebusch says:

    I definitely can relate to feeling a bit overwhelmed before beginning a new project. I’ll have to remember to try out this mantra–“no problem”–next time I’m feeling stressed. Good luck with your project and I look forward to continuing reading about it!

  2. cynthia stewart says:

    It sounds like you have a lot of help and creative people who will contribute to your success.