Today is our last day in Costa Rica. Our last week has been spent in Playa Samara volunteering for an organization called CREAR, a local nonprofit that is dedicated to helping educate children. When we arrived at CREAR, we met two directors and their three interns from different parts of the world. There, we assisted children with art projects, taught them some simple English, and played many games, one including “Pato Pato Ganso” (Duck Duck Goose).
Two Girls at CREAR play with Kelsey
Our overall experience has been extraordinary. We have had many opportunities to learn about their culture, as well as many leadership skills, which will be useful for our future. We met many successful and inspirational leaders who will be remembered when we travel back to the United States and for many years moving forward. Kelsey Sabia and Shauni Powers
Photos by: Dance class, Kelsey Sabia. Group Photo: Krista of UGA, Mountain view Sarah Rabbitt, Samara Sunset Lee Crocker
A biology professor from another college shows us a bat at UGA. Photo by Paul Kristof
Last night I went on a night hike with a UGA-CR naturalist, Jackson, and Paul. We all wanted to see some cool animals in the night, but for the night, at UGA-CR, it was really cool and windy. One of the first things that we saw were leaf cutter ants, and there were so many of them that were carrying leaves and other food. A little bit after that we saw a red eye moth and two wolf spiders. The second one was bigger than the first one we saw. Another spider that we saw was a tarantula that the guide told us could be found behind a rock for a year, but the scary thing was all the babies were not there. Once I heard that I was thinking that the babies were some place near the night hike. Towards the end of the hike we had to turn off our flash lights to see this fungus that glows because it takes the energy from the sun. When our eyes got adjusted to the night, we could see that it glows at night. Finally at the end of the hike we all got to see bats and it is hard to see them during the night because they fly so fast.
Reflection by Tommy Silva
Jackson Martin: My experience with my host family was incredible. When Alex and I first walked up to the house we were amazed by the incredible view from the front porch. The father, William, showed us around his farm where he grows coffee and plantains, among many other crops. I tried to ask him some questions about leadership on his farm with some broken Spanish, and I wasn’t able to get much information. It was amazing how the family is using every piece of available land for farming. William and Denaris also have jobs with maintenance at UGA-CR to supplement their income. We got to spend a lot of time with the daughter Kimberly, who spoke English and was willing to act as translator. Kimberly told us that she is related to everyone in the neighborhood and told us that her cousin Daniela is the daughter of her uncle on her dad’s side and her aunt on her mom’s side. She said Daniela is basically her sister because they have same two last names. This is consistent with what Fabricio (the Director of UGA-CR) told us about his staff all being related to one another. On Saturday there was an assembly or town meeting where there was a discussion about the town roads. I was told that the meeting was run very smoothly without much conflict. My host mom took care in preparing each meal, and you could count on there being rice and beans involved in different ways.
Alex Sacchini: At the homestay it was difficult to understand what my Costa Rican parents were saying, but Kimberly, our Costa Rican sister was there to help translate, so it was easy to know what they were saying. When Kimberly wasn’t there, I was able to communicate with my parents by using hand signs.
On the second day of the homestay, our classmates, who were having homestays in the same village, brought their Costa Rican brothers and sisters over for some ice cream, and they also spoke fluent English. William, my homestay father brought ice cream from the store to sell to us and to supplement the family’s income. My group all hung out as Kimberly was taking ice cream orders from us and we enjoyed our time together. After eating the ice cream, we headed out to play soccer, or “football” in Costa Rican, with the kids, and we had a lot of fun.
Ashlee and her CR Sister Photo by Ashlee Charette
Ashlee and Kelsey’s Home Photo by Ashlee Charette
View from the Porch By Ashlee Charette
Hammock on the Porch By Ashlee Charette
Kelsey’s Costa Rican mom tends to the family cattle. Photo by Kelsey Sabia
Our days have been very full with cultural activities, lectures, and class time. On Friday, after dropping off the student’s bags at their homestays, we headed down the steep, windy, dirt road from UGA (our university campus) to the Monteverde Friends School. Here we got a tour of the school and learned about the Quakers; their fundamental values based on simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality (or the acronym, “SPICE”). This visit tied in nicely with the course objectives.
(Co-leader of the Monteverde Friends School, Debbie Galusha, speaks to Students.)
After the obligatory stop at the Quaker Cheese Factory for ice cream, we headed to the nearby touristy town of Santa Elena for lunch and a visit to the many souvenir shops. The rest of the afternoon was spent hiking through the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest where we split into two groups with two experienced guides and their fancy telescopes. Within twenty minutes our guides spotted the elusive Quetzal! People come from all over the world to see this resplendent bird and never see it, so we were quite lucky. In addition, we saw howler monkeys, the mottled owl, a toucanet, several cuati, an olingo, and a tarantula. Our guides were incredulous that we got to see so much!
The students were dropped off at their homestays on the way back, and the Program Directors had a quiet night at UGA. A great day was had by all. By Susan Frishberg
Toucanett by Ashlee Charette
Photos: Left Oringo Right Male Quetzal By Shauni Powers
Our time in Costa Rica has been an amazing experience. We are at UGA in Monteverde. We spent our first night at UGA, which was interesting due to having a scorpion in our room. In order to get rid of it, Jackson and Tommy went to get security to remove the species. We woke up the next morning to a full day of activities. Our group took a tour of UGA’s sustainable operations, which includes farming, dairy farming, a biodigester, recycling, composting, and energy use. This process is very effective to this community. Their team work and collaboration is strong and efficient which helps them reach their goals. The UGA team works together to focus on the tasks, clarify their plans, and switch roles if needed. I found this tour very interesting because this is a new way to deal with the environment that the States has not adapted in our culture.
After lunch we took a short hike to a local family home. There we were taught how to make donuts and empanadas. In true Costa Rican culture, a family welcomed us into their home and allowed us to spend a little bit of time with their family.
On our way back to campus it was beginning to rain and we saw the most marvelous rainbow we had ever seen. It was as if we could reach out and touch it. It was amazing!
The days have been very full and wonderful. Paul Kristof, Kelsey Sabia, and Ashlee Charette
Photos by Kelsey Sabia
Today we went to a well-run TV station called Teletica located on a busy avenue in San Jose. The group decided to walk the two miles to the TV station from our hotel. The station was conveniently located on one of the main streets and we had to cross through a park to get to it with some beautiful views of the green mountains of San Jose. On our walk we got a little lost, but the group came together with a little help from some “ticos” or Costa Rican locals who pointed us in the right direction. At the TV station we were greeted with a somewhat confused staff. After some explaining of why we were there, we were presented with a staff member who spoke English and who was more than willing to give us a tour of the station. We were granted access into the station and taken right to where live TV was being filmed in their studio. We were then taken on a behind the scenes tour of everything that makes the TV station possible from make-up stations to final editors. We saw that there are a great deal of people required to run a TV station of that quality. Our host graciously invited us to have lunch with them in the station’s cafeteria where we ate another delicious traditional Costa Rican meal consisting of rice and beans. As we were leaving the TV station the owner stepped out-side and greeted us. She was very excited that we had come to visit her station. She was told that our next move was to try and take a bus to the market near our hotel. She offered instead to our excitement to have her company drive us on a tour of San Jose with two of her staff members. When we left the station we were treated again by the Teletica staff to ice cream before they took us on a tour through San Jose. The tour lead to an old theatre on the main drag of San Jose where we stopped and took a quick look. After the tour they dropped us off at a bustling market near our hotel where we walked through venders selling meat and traditional Costa Rican souvenirs. What started out to be a somewhat uncertain plan to visit a TV station turned out to be an exciting adventure filled with genuine Costa Rican hospitality. We look forward to the next few days of our journey that will bring us to the University of Georgia Costa Rica campus in San Luis. Jackson Martin
By Arabella Devine
The very first item on our agenda was a taste of one of Costa Rica’s most globally-vital features–its biodiversity. We headed over to INBioParque on Susan’s good friend Ronny’s bus. Instead of a biological experience, we had something of a cultural one. INBioParque was shut! It turned out that the place was (without warning) shut down for a month due to a change in administration. It was all fine in the end, of course. In fact, the alternative we went to, a huge, busy, buzzing zoo, was perhaps even better, according to Susan.
It’s our first day in Costa Rica, but more importantly, it is Tommy’s 21st. He was very insistent that, for him, birthdays are ‘just like any other day,’ but of course we were having none of it. After our rice and beans at Casona de Maiz he spotted a cluster of waitresses conspiring alongside a man with a guitar and instantly knew what was going on. 🎶¡Cumpleaño feliz! 🎶
Once we had sufficiently embarrassed him, we began our first Leadership & Small Group Communication lesson, a brief primer on Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Effective Leadership. In true Landmark fashion, we were learning in teams and on our feet, making and presenting visuals encapsulating each practice. END
Photo Above by Paul Kristoff