Community Living

Posted: March 2, 2016

Over the past few weeks our students have eased in to the rhythm of life abroad. From their first days at the Center becoming acquainted with their new “home” and the academic program, getting to know each other with icebreaker activities, to field trips and community outreaches, life has slowly become a more normal routine of living in community.


Students participating in Saturn’s Rings, a community building activity, during their first field trip.


Student Thacher Hoch reaching for his goals with the help of the rest of the group!

The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica provides the opportunity for students to be active participants in intentional living, learning how to consciously create and thrive in a community with others. Students are involved in daily pandilla groups — chore groups that help with preparing meals alongside the cooks, early morning farm work, cleaning bathrooms, and washing dishes. Although not all of the chores are enjoyable at times, they tend to be one of the aspects that students appreciate most when they finish their semester. They have been able to spend three and a half months working alongside their peers.


Dishwashing pandilla group after lunch

Additionally, students are active leaders in sustainable living. At the beginning of the semester the students discuss and create a sustainable living agreement. This highlights conscious living habits that include conserving water by taking “military showers,” sharing laundry loads and air drying clothes to conserve energy, and composting leftover food for producing compost for the vegetable gardens and feed for the Center’s pigs.


Student Stefanie Farrington contributing to the compost bins for the gardens and pig feed.

Students also learn about the possibilities of positive community interaction by participating in community outreach activities, whether that be with the local Boys Scouts group playing games and exploring the forest, working alongside a small local farm and sustainable tourism endeavor, or spending a morning practicing Spanish and teaching English with local Costa Ricans who are learning English from a free government language program.

All in all, the students’ experience abroad becomes an enriching mosaic of learning how to live together while working towards an ethic of earth-care and people-care.


Students Zia O’Neill, Stefanie Farrington, and Skarlen Valentin repairing a road on a farm during an outreach activity.


Planting cabbage seedlings during a recent visit to a family-owned organic vegetable farm

→ Sustainable Development Studies Semester Program in Costa Rica