Golfito, Costa Rica is a small port town on the Pacific side of the country, near the Panama border. It is full of rich, natural beauty, and is located in front of a large expanse of rainforest that is home to many species of tropical plants and animals. It is situated on the Golfo Dulce, a picturesque gulf, stretching up between the Osa Peninsula and mainland Costa Rica.
Golfito was once the center of operations for the United Fruit Company. During this time, Golfito thrived as a town; some 30,000 laborers migrated to the area for work, including plantation workers, dockworkers, machinists and carpenters. However, the company eventually closed operations in Golfito in 1985, leaving many unemployed with no other industry to fall back on.
Since then the community of Golfito has struggled economically, with few opportunities for employment, despite the presence of the Duty Free shopping zone meant to attract local tourists. The highest paying jobs are in the hotels and sport fishing facilities of Golfito and the surrounding towns on the Osa Peninsula, where speaking English is both necessary and profitable.
Currently, English is taught at the primary and secondary schools, but without the opportunity to continue language training, most in Golfito do not continue to develop their English speaking ability. One way for the people of Golfito to improve their lives and their economy is to increase the skills that will allow them to become more employable in the more profitable industries in the area.
The Shannon L. Martin English Center plans to serve the community in this way.