Back home!

We made it back to the States.  Our time in Costa Rica really flew by!  It’s really hard to think of how to summarize our trip; it was filled with so many wonderful experiences!  All of us will have plenty of stories to share, pictures to show, and memories to cherish.  I think we’re all a little sad to have to disband our study abroad group, but it’s comforting to know that we all have a set of new friends.  A few students have already mentioned that we should get together for a reunion!    Thank you to those who followed the details of our trip on the blog.  Here’s one more picture for you…our final sunset in Costa Rica!

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Flying home tomorrow

Today is our last full day in Costa Rica.  We’ll be flying home tomorrow, Friday Jan 20.  We are sad to leave but also looking forward to being home and reuniting with family and friends.

Our flight is leaving from Liberia at 2:05 PM (CST) and arriving in Newark at 8:05 PM (EST).  Our flight number is United 1446.  There is a shuttle that will take students from Newark back to Landmark for those who wish to take it.

One more photo from CEPIA

Here’s one more photo from CEPIA that I just received today.  It’s of Matt and me after we finished volunteering in the library at CEPIA.  Matt and I helped videotape students reading aloud and then had the students watch the video of themselves reading.  We worked with about a dozen students on Tuesday.  Sheila, a volunteer from Canada and a retired reading specialist, will continue to work with more children throughout the next two weeks.  Sheila took this photo for us.

Photos from CEPIA

Leticia, the head of CEPIA, gave us permission to post photos of our time at CEPIA as long as they weren’t focused on specific children.  So here are a few photos from our time at CEPIA.  We spent Monday learning about the mission of CEPIA as well as helping plan for Tuesday’s activities.  On Tuesday,  we helped with our assigned activities.  The first two photos below show everyone gathering together for a mindful exercise at the start of the day.  The third photo shows us gathering again for some reflection at the end of the day.  The fourth photo shows the shaded playground at the school and the final photo shows Mike Irish listening to Leticia and a volunteer from Slovakia (I think) discussing some planning.

Volunteering at CEPIA

Yesterday our group volunteered from 8:30-12:00 at a 2-week camp for 5-12 year old kids from the village of Huacas run by an organization called CEPIA.  We helped with the different activities that were planned for the day, which included dance, English, soccer, and arts and crafts.  We also joined the mindful and reflection circles at the start and end of the day.  Many of the students who are attending the camp are from families struggling with poverty.  The camp is one of CEPIA’s many programs to help those families.  CEPIA stands for Culture, Education, and Psychology for Infants and Adolescents.  It is a non-profit organization which has several locations across Costa Rica.  You can read more about their programs at http://www.cepiacostarica.org/en/ and you can also find them on Facebook.  We weren’t allowed to take photos while we were working with the children yesterday, but we all had an amazing experience working with the students.

Service Project at La Finca de Bella

Mike Irish shared this photo with me today.  It’s from when we were at La Finca de Bella.  This is an “after” photo…unfortunately, we forgot to take the “before” photo!  Our group weeded this whole section of garden (it’s bigger than it looks and it was covered in really large weeds!).  We did it to help Elisa, who owns a 6 acre area within La Finca de Bella.  Unfortunately, Elisa lost her husband to cancer a couple of years ago and is working hard to raise her three kids while she maintains the farm.  The weeding would have taken her a couple of days to do.  With everyone helping, our group was able to accomplish it in an hour.  Elisa was going to let us off the hook when we showed up at her farm.  It was rainy and windy and she didn’t think it was a very good day for us to work- but we insisted in helping!  In the picture, we are showing our muddy hands after we finished our work.

Surfing photos

The members of our group had a chance to do a 2 hour surf lesson when we first arrived on the coast.  We were all beginners, thought there seemed to be a correlation between those who skiied and those who could balance on the board.  The photos below were taken by Aurora from Iguana Surf Shop at Tamarindo Beach.