Studying is hard. School is long and homework can be a drag. Which is why doing all of it in the tropical mountains of Costa Rica can make it pretty cool. I think for any student, it’s sometimes hard to put what you’re learning into perspective, and The School for Field Studies has the unique opportunity to help young adults expand their understanding of other cultures. The students are allowed specific experiences in their area of study to focus in on and dissect, not just in a class or lab, but there where the problems or answers are right at their feet.
While on a crocodile tour on the Tarcoles River, we hopped off the boat and into the mangrove forest. We were surrounded by this unique and essential part of the environment. Students got to witness firsthand the complex root systems the mangroves use to survive in their environment. And in these highly specialized learning experiences, the students are able to not only learn from the professors and environment but each other as well. While we, ironically, didn’t see any crocodiles on our tour, a student was so enthusiastic to bird watch that the whole group easily joined in to help him, shouting and pointing at any living thing in the air that they could spot. It’s this kind of passion that makes the cultural benefit of learning in another country so impactful.
These are young adults with a desire to learn about faraway places and whether they know it when they first arrive or never realize it, they learn best from the people who live here, just trying to live their lives as best as they can. As our students go from farm to park, or park to farm, they get the tours and talks from those that live there. And with their classes they’re able to dive deep into the topics that they’ve been exposed to. Where normal collegiate experiences can talk broadly about areas of study, our students are allowed to participate and learn in such a way that lets them feel like a part of that community’s search for solutions.
El Campana de Reciclaje is a bi-monthly event in the local community where they collect recycling to be processed. This is an event where we volunteer. Like all societies, Costa Rica wants to be as supportive to its people as possible and while recycling can be a bit of a hassle, this community event made it easier for citizens to partake in the public service of recycling. This is the kind of experience that nurtures problem solving and civic duty, something anyone can take back to their homes and hopefully implement in their own ways.
Costa Rica is postured for its bravery to implement renewable resources to its society. Our students get to learn what makes the country such a success in this area, and where the system still needs work, and they get to be passionate about making those solutions possible.