Inside a Model State | Sarah Jampol | History

Sarah Jampol (she/they), HistoryFemale presenting person with wavy brown hair and glasses smiling, sitting on a short concrete wall in front of a mound of moss with large yellow and gray bamboo growing up from it.
Thesis Paper

Inside a Model State
This project was an extension of my Senior Thesis about the establishment of Costa Rica as a “model state” in Latin America by the United States. This part of the project focused mainly on researching the Costa Rica’s history of peace and democracy from their perspective and looking at the impact of key figures such as former presidents José Figueres Ferrer and Oscar Arias.

What Form will your Final Project Take?
Thesis Paper

Who was supporting you in with work?
Aaron Jakes

How has this project has been impactful or transformative — for you personally or for those this work has impacted:
Throughout my research in the states I have seen it mentioned time and time again that Costa Ricans are a peaceful people and proud of it. It seemed mainly like an exaggerated sentiment to further appeal to outsiders but I was blown away by the truth of it while I was there. Most everyone I spoke with described Costa Rica as a peaceful country, almost like it was their slogan—which they do have—pura vida. What caught me the most off guard however was a man walking down the street with a shirt on proudly displaying the words “No Military Since 1948.” It was not only useful for my research, but as someone inclined to defund the US military, it made me smile.

What would you do differently? How would you advise a student who is going to do something similar?
I think if I was to advise someone using a grant to do research abroad like I did, I would suggest establishing a timeline of things to do before the trip. I ended up booking the flights, hotels, and archive appointments in the same week and it made the experience leading up to it much more stressful than it needed to be. And with that, one thing I am grateful that I did was ask prior questions to the archive before the appointment so I could anticipate how much time I would have and what I could do in that time with the materials.

Plaque on cement and brick wall inside the National Museum of Costa Rica. On the plaque is a quote in Spanish by former President José Figueres which loosely translates to “Weapons provide victory but only laws can provide freedom” and the historical significance of this wall.

Short summary
My experience in the archive was something I will never forget as I was told by the only member of the staff that spoke any English that everyone was very apologetic about the fact that none of the materials in the archive were in English. Even before arriving I had anticipated hours of translations ahead when I sat down in front of a stack of materials I had selected ahead of time and come to find that every single item I had chosen was in English. In that moment whether anyone else knew it or not, and even whether or not these materials would be useful for my research, I had felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I ended up finding plenty that I look forward to using further along in my paper but at that point I don’t think I would have cared either way. I also had the opportunity to walk through the National Museum with Costa Rican members of my fiancé’s family which made the experience much more special and led to me to collect information I would have otherwise walked past.

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