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Ten days of culturally immersed service learning not only teaches students about Costa Rica, but themselves.

Ten days of culturally immersed service learning not only teaches students about Costa Rica, but themselves.

The Latin American Studies International Service Learning Program is open to all students who will be in the 11th and 12th grade. Up to 20 students will be chosen, with 5 alternates. In addition to Academics and Workforce requirements, we are most interested in building a team of students who offer diverse talents and are highly motivated to participate fully in the service learning experience in an underdeveloped community.

Students abroad are encouraged to journal their experience.  
Here are some of their entries of their experiences and self discoveries:

La Carpio

We arrived in La Carpio around nine a.m. for day two of our service work in the small community. We were met by friendly greetings from those we were assisting with the paving of an alleyway. Upon putting our bags down, we immediately jumped into action to start shoveling the gravel/sand mix, transporting the buckets full of the mix to the mixer, dumping water, the gravel/sand, and a bag of cement into the mixer, and then using wheelbarrows to move the completed mixture onto the soon-to-be paved alley. The sight was something of an assembly line where each person had a job to fulfill at a certain time, and everything moved seamlessly.

It was quite enjoyable, actually, to watch the progress we were making on a project we had just started the day before. To know that we — students who all had our own cliques and little to no interactions before this trip — were capable of cooperation to the best of our abilities. Despite the heat and dust particles, the completion of the alley and the smiles it produced made the strenuous work all the more worthwhile. I can certainly say that the warm salutations we received from various members of the community, even those not around during our work, has made our time in La Carpio an unforgettable experience. And, the mini party thrown by our hosts had been all the more sweet after a day in the sun.
– by Destiny T.


La Carpio

La Caprio is a shanty town outside of San Jose. It was built on top of a garbage dump that people moved there to find a better life. Even though La Carpio is seen as a very bad and dangerous community, they are trying to show people that it is good. We are paving the roads, because without paved roads in front of people’s houses they will not be able to own their homes. We are doing something that will change their lives.

– by Jasmine S.

Service Work in Rainforest

Our first full day in the rainforest was dedicated to service work. As a team we split up into 2 groups because there were two different jobs that needed to be done. 12 students went to replace water pipelines. The other 8 students made cement to lay their compost on. I personally was with the students who replaced the water pipe line. I think the work in the rainforest was harder than La Carpio because of the humidity. There was also no shade where I was working, while in La Carpio there was a lot more shade but we were still able to work.

When we arrived at the worksite, I just saw a road with clay/dirt mixture along the right. As a team were told to dig up the dirt and clay to find the pipeline. We had to be very careful not to break the pipeline because water would come flying out and turn the dirt to mud and make the job harder to move the dirt. Once we found the pipeline, we had to follow it and dig until the end.

Our friend Jaido who was using the pickaxe broke the pipeline and water came flying out. This then made it harder for the people working on that part because the dirt became really heavy and hard to move. Once we were able to see the pipeline all the water with room underneath it. It was cut and replaced with a new one. Blue cement glue was used to stick them together. As this point everyone was very tired but we had one more thing to do and that was to cover the pipes with the dirt and clay we just dug up. We didn’t take very long but it felt like a couple of hours. We cleaned the tools and headed towards Miguel’s farm to enjoy the rest of the day.

Our second day in the rainforest was also dedicated to service work. The students that worked with the water pipelines were going to paint today. The students that worked with the cement were told to work at the green house. The teachers needed two students from the pipe line group to move to the greenhouse so both groups were even. Destiny and I volunteered to stay even though we both wanted to paint. Our task for the day was to take dirt from behind the greenhouse and wheelbarrow it into the greenhouse. They needed dirt inside the greenhouse so they plant crops inside for the community. After this job we headed back to our cabins to get ready for soccer with the Costa Ricans later!

The hike into the Rain Forest afforded amazing vistas.
– by Krysta E.