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Monday, April 2, 2018

SDSU Students Teach, Explore in Costa Rica

Liberal Studies students in Costa Rica
While most students took a break to hit the hot spots during Spring Break, 22 San Diego State University students decided to spend their vacation teaching children and exploring the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

The group of students, all Liberal Studies undergraduates who intend to pursue a teaching credential, spent eight days in the Central American country, known for its rugged terrain, volcanoes and rainforests and its beautiful coastlines on the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean.

The students spent most of their time in the central highlands in the northern part of Costa Rica and spent time in Poás, Sarapiquí and La Fortuna. They stayed with local families for a couple of nights in the rural community of Javillos and conducted a service learning project in Proyecto Asis, a wildlife rescue center.

“I enjoyed the trip a lot!” said Dr. Karen Lafferty, a lecturer in the College of Education’s School of Teacher Education and the faculty leader of the trip. “Study abroad provides students with a broader perspective on the world and encourages them to learn about new cultures and ways of life.”

During their stay, students got to teach and work with local students and community residents.

Students designed and carried out lessons for local elementary school children, including an Easter egg hunt, which is not typical in Costa Rica, but that the children really enjoyed.

“Many students were humbled by the life circumstances they saw in their travels and felt grateful for what they have in the United States,” said Lafferty, who along with the students, also visited an organic farm, kayaked on Lake Arenal and visited a butterfly farm. “It is also important for them to experience—even for 8 days—what it's like to encounter unfamiliar situations and struggle with communication. This is after all, the experience of many elementary school students when they arrive to the United States.”

If you’re contemplating your own trip to Costa Rica next spring, Lafferty strongly recommends it.
“I would heartily recommend the Costa Rica trip to students who love working with children, have an interest in animals and want an active study abroad experience,” Lafferty concluded.

More information about the Costa Rica and other study abroad programs, visit the SDSU International Student Center study abroad website.