Day 6 Costa Rica 1-20-2017: The Beach & San Jose

A great final day in Costa Rica. We awoke to the welcoming, sweet morning air and made our way to the beach for a hour of fun. How nice it was to be in the sea again soaking in the sun and enjoying the warmth of the sea water. Everyone was enjoyable the time with each other. Afterwards, we return to our area to each lunch,  pack our stuff, and make the three-hour trek to San Jose. Once in San Jose, we gathered after dinner for our final reflection led by Mr. Vasquez. We shared thoughts about St. Philippine Duchesne who had to travel from France to a new land at age 49 and start all over again. She left behind family, friends, and everything to begin anew. Costa Rica is a our chance to begin anew by leaving behind those things that keep up from being who we truly are – anxieties, fears, assumptions, etc. It was a beautiful day and a great way to end a fantastic experience. We’ll be back in SFO very late Saturday night . . . See you there 😉


Day 5 Costa Rica 1-19-17: Hitting the Rapids, Turtle Conservation, Talent Show

Sydney Caba
Helping turn over sand for the turtle nests was quite gratifying. Sea turtles are some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet and I was excited about getting to do something to help them survive. They face so many challenges in the wild, once they hatch they could eaten by predators or mislead by lights on a resort instead of ending up in the ocean where they belong. The least we can do is ensure that more than one in ten of them that hatch will survive the first challenges of life.

The Talent Show on our last day before we head north to San Jose…



Day 4 Costa Rica 1-18-17: Salsa & Student Reflections

Harris Rutherford
Last night was the most active out of all of them. Almost everyone, around 100 kids at one point, were on the dance floor. At first we were doing the salsa with each other trading off partners after every song, I danced with Juan for a while. But there was still a bit of hesitancy between the everyone. But then they started playing songs that we have all heard and suddenly there wasn’t little groups on the floor just one big circle in the middle with everyone one on the dance floor apart of it. It just shows our class coming closer and closer together and how things we wouldn’t normally think of as connections can really make a difference.

Last night showed the true community aspect of convent and Stuart hall. As the whole class danced together, there was so much love and friendship that everybody felt included. Everyone was so happy that it was such a bonding experience. This moment that I spent with all of my peers will stay in my heart forever and all of my classmates hearts. There are very few moments like these where we can spend such a special time with the whole class and as we graduate and go our separate ways all of us will remember this night. This night represents the love, friendship and such strong community that not only our class has for each other but for the whole

My group and I went to the school yesterday. At the school I played soccer with the kids there and had a great time. While observing these kids for an hour or two, I saw something that I hope will change how I approach situations in the future. This thing I saw in the kids was their joy. These kids, despite not living in the best conditions, were making the best out of what they had. I believe that this links to the 3rd goal of the Schools of the Sacred Heart. This goal, a social awareness that impels action, makes us come out of Stuart Hall and Convent as different people and volunteering at the school was a perfect example of that.

Nick Ong
Yesterday, I rode a horse named Osa. Osa means “female bear” in Spanish. She certainly was a bear of an animal. She really enjoyed being in the front of the pack, perhaps due to superiority issues. As she made her way to the front, she tried to step around and slipped into a ditch. Osa went absolutely insane, thrashing and jumping around. I held on like she was a mechanical bull. I saw three hands shoot out and pull me out of the ditch before Osa could hurt me. I was hesitant to get back on, but I found the courage and determination to continue riding. Once we reached the waterfall, a couple of my friends convinced me to jump from the highest point of the waterfall. I remember climbing up and reaching the top. As I stared out at my surroundings, I realized how high I actually was and started to regret climbing up for the jump. I breathed and took a leap of faith. Jumping off that waterfall was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’d ever done. Last night was also crazy, as almost everyone in sophomore class hit the dance floor. Costa Rica has really been a connecting experience for the entire sophomore class, girls and boys. Pura Vida from Costa Rica to San Francisco. 🏖

Skyler Dela Cruz
In the afternoon, the Stuart group had a chance to go to the beach. The beach showed the true beauty of the coast of Costa Rica. I enjoyed it very much. Last night, we all learned to salsa and danced throughout the whole night. I feel that this party took people out of their comfort zones and brought people closer together. I truly felt the dance and party filled environment to expand away from my comfort zone and begin to dance and talk with other people. Spending more time with the people you don’t know and encouraging the people who like to be separated truly was a blast. In the morning, we reflect on being or doing something today that you wanted to be, I wanted to be the engager. Being able to do on Thursday showed another side of me that I really enjoy being. Rafting was very fulfilling experience that strengthen a bond between our raft. We were all in sync with each other, but we had to add a new person to our raft causing adjustment which we handled very well.

Day 4 Costa Rica 1-18-17: Horses, Waterfalls, Great Food, and more…

Kate Etter
Today we went horseback riding and jumping off a 35ft waterfall. The ride on the horses there was super amazing! We got to trot and gallop starting from the beginning along with going through a few rivers. The landscape was gorgeous, very green and lush. Jumping off the waterfall was extremely fun. The climb up through the water was a bit difficult but in the end it was super rewording. Defiantly a highlight of the trip.

Eric Mai
This trip has completely flipped what I think is terrifying and what I think is fun. Never before have I ridden a horse, gone surfing, or jumped off a waterfall, but on this trip I decided to venture into what I refused to do before, the things I feared. Was awesome.

Joshua Widjanarko
Today was of the best days here in Costa Rica. At the waterfall, I jumped of the highest ledge three times. It was such an adrenaline rush, and I had a blast doing it.Also, I watched Mr.Vasquez jump after much prodding. This may be one of the defining moments of the trip. We also went horseback riding, where we saw amazing views. It felt like a once in a life time experiences.


Day 3 Costa Rica Tuesday 1-17-17: Service, Zip Lining, Surfing and more

Another amazing day in Costa Rica… All the students rotated to engage in service, zip lining, horseback riding/waterfalls. Afterwards some went to the beach and others to try out surfing in the wonderfully warm waters of the pacific ocean.

Today while serving at the Escuela Puerto Nuevo, we had the opportunity to meet local families, play games with children, clear away tree branches, and offer school supplies to the children. It was an amazing community who were very welcoming and grateful. After the school service, a group of us headed to the beach for surfing. The ocean water was wonderfully warm and the surf instructors were fantastic (Tico Surf School – see link for amazing photos of our group). In the evening we had a local dance group come and preform for us as well as local artist, pottery star Gerardo Selva, who showed his pottery technique and made available some of his work for sale. Another amazing day in Costa Rica!

Day 3 Costa Rica Tuesday 1-17-17: Student Reflections

Laura Mogannam
Yesterday my group went zip lining. For the first part, we went on a walk and looked at the animals in the forest. We saw two sloths and a toucan! My favorite zip line was the one where we went backwards. It was hard to not look back at where I was going, but it was extremely exhilarating. It was cool to be so high up from the ground and see all of the trees above me. The highest zip line we went on was 140 ft up in the air and it was very scary, but I would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat.

Mason Cooney
After my group returned from zip lining, Mr. O’conner took a group of us to town. It was  about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and there was a market, a big fruit stand, a clothing/swimsuit store, and an ice cream place. They were all super close to each other. A few of us got coconuts at the fruit stand and the guys working there cut them open with a machete and stuck a straw in so we could drink them. It was so cool! And delicious! Worth bought a few avocados and said they were the best avocados she’s ever had. I’m hoping we can go to town again after our activities because it was amazing to see how different things are in Costa Rica. Day bought a pineapple and they cut it for her for free. That would never happen in the city – you would either buy a whole pineapple or get charged extra for pre-cut pineapple. It was all delicious and we gave them a lot of business so it was a win win.

Amelia Estes
Yesterday, I went zip lining with my group. It was really fun and gave me a huge adrenaline rush. At first, I was a little cautious because I am not great with heights and my leader kept scaring me. Once I let go of that fear, it was super fun. After we got back, my friends and I hung out by the pool. We learned how to salsa dance and we had a fun time. Today, we went to help out a school and we gave the students school supplies. I would do it all over again because I made two new friends and they stared taking pictures of us and it made me feel like I helped the girls have a better day.

Day 2 Costa Rica, Monday 1-16-17: Our First Rotation Day

Our community was divided into three groups: BARAT, DUCHESNE, and STUART and began our rotations, heading to Hacienda Baru and zip lining while learning about animal conservation, horseback riding to Nahuayaca Waterfalls, and the final group engaging in Community Service with a local school.  Some snapshots:



Student Reflections:

I loved going to the school and really seeing the change you’re making and interacting with the kids regardless of the language barrier.
It was amazing to see all of us interact with the kids and also engaging with one another.
By taking the time to actually hangout and socialize with the children we were giving supplies to, I think we all got to really experience the feeling of what it means to give back.
Nik Fisher
I’ve never been to a place where students and kids bonded so much. Students stepped up to help other students understand what they were saying in order to play with the kids. Letting them use the cameras was heart warming to me because I never know what it was and was curios to see what it is and what it does. It was by far the best service I’ve done so far this year.
I’ve been in something like this, but this an entirely different thing. Playing with the kids was fun and an amazing experience both for the kids and us. Being able to speak some Spanish and see beautiful nature is great. Some of the things here at Costa Rica can’t be seen in San Francisco so I am very blessed to be a part of this.

Day 2 Costa Rica, Monday 1-16-17: Student Reflections

Theo Ennis
We arrived at the hotel in the mid afternoon, it was like seeing paradise. We had been on a bus for about 5 hours and had been traveling since 10 at night. We, the Avianca group, arrived many hours before the United group and got to enjoy the many luxuries that came with the hotel. A pool, beds, space to walk around. After United got here (many hours later) we ate a beans and rice based dinner, a welcome change over rancheritos and airplane food, and did a community building exercise that involved not talking to each other. Overall rating 11/10

Worth Taylor
After a long day of traveling, the United group excitingly arrived at the beautiful hotel! I was so lucky to get to sit next to my friends on the plane and the bus as well which made the traveling not so bad. As I write this, we are on our way to the zip line which I am really looking forward to. I have gone on zip lines in the past, but I have heard so much about the zip lines in Costa Rica so I cannot wait to see what we have in store. The trip so far has been great and the tropical feeling is so nice!! Update: We have just finished our zip lining adventure and it was even more fun than I could have imagined! I loved the hiking part since I was able to get in some great exercise after a long travel day of sitting yesterday. Overall it was a ton of fun and great way to start the first day.

Joshua Widjanarko
After many hours of card gambling (with pretzels) ,riddles,and sleeping,  The United group finally arrived at Costa Rica. It pitch black, but you could still here the sound of the forest around us. As I’m typing, we are headed to our first activity, zip lining. I am so excited to try it. The most memorable thing was probably the beans and rice. All the beans and rice. Update: Well, I found a sloth. It was so cool. While we were zip lining , there were so many different types of life . Zip lining was amazing.

Isis Boivin
So basically this is an amazing adventure. Yesterday’s travels were very exhausting, so adjusting to the time was not difficult. Today I went zip lining! It was quite a hike up but it was TOTALLY worth it. Seeing the canopies from up above was mesmerizing, we even got go backwards.  The breeze felt refreshing because of the extreme humidity. We saw lots of amazing animals, 2 sloths, 5 monkeys, and a toucan. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Terence Leung
I never rode a plane before and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was lucky to be able to sit near my friends on the plane. After my first flight, my favorite part of flying was the takeoff. I am excited to ride some horses and do some zip lining. Zip lining was AMAZING! It was really fun going through the trees and seeing all the animals. We saw sloths, toucans, and agouti(second largest rodent in Costa Rica).

Angelina Orefice
I, personally, have not been zip lining before today, because I wasn’t in the right place or I was too young. This experience in Hacienda Baru is one that I will never forget. It was very hot and humid, especially as we were climbing up, but the breeze and the view we experienced on the line made it more than worth it. We saw leaf cutter ants, three sloths, one two toed and two three toed, and a toucan. The guides here are very nice and funny, and I would be happy to come here again.

Day 1 Costa Rica, Sunday 1/15/17: On the Ground

Our two flights arrived safely in Costa Rica and everyone boarded buses to Dominical. On the way we stopped at a local market for snacks – coconut milk, watermelon, passion fruit, plantain chips, and other goodies. We also had a chance to walk over a bridge and peer down at the crocodiles, which was pretty awesome. When we arrive in Dominical, we settled into our rooms for the night.