Name: Marissa Cusick
School: West Chester University
Program: Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems, Costa Rica
We are in our final week of Summer Session 1 in Atenas, Costa Rica. While some prepare to leave and return home and others prepare for a five day break until their next session, everyone is working hard to finish their independent projects.
Last week we stayed in the Monteverde area, exploring and studying its natural beauty. For one group, time was spent in Santa Elena, the closest town to the cloud forest. Their research was conducted in Selvetura park where they worked extensively with hummingbirds. At night, they had the chance to explore the town of Santa Elena, sampling its restaurants and bars, and getting to see reptile and amphibian exhibits. Another group stayed at the San Gerardo Biological Station in the forest, not far from Santa Elena. Their projects ranged from carbon sequestration to more specific ecological topics such as fungi richness and climbing plant diversity. The station offered breathtaking views of Arenal Volcano and the lake at its foot, offering a tranquil place to complete studies.
This week is full of many different emotions for all of the students: relief, contentedness, frustration, happiness, and perhaps sadness for some. Everyone will be moving on to another chapter of their summer, never forgetting their experiences here. We have learned a lot here in our short time about ourselves, each other, and especially the environmental issues in Costa Rica.
I hope that many of us can continue living in such a sustainable way as we have here at the Center in the future. The United States offers many conveniences and comforts that we had little or no access to while we were here, but that affect the environment in a negative way. If we continue with the new habits we have adopted, maybe we can lessen our strain on Earth and leave a less permanent footprint. I wish luck to everyone in their bright and sustainable futures. Pura Vida!