Day 5: Junior Costa Rica Trip

Tony Farrell Chaperone Blog Post

Each day in the “Ballena” group we discussed the intention of the activity on the bus home and provided context for the work. On our ride back from the school our students learned that, while school is free for Costa Ricans, most students in the rural areas we visited do not have access to school supplies, and the students need school supplies to attend. Our students reflected on the impact of sharing the kinds of supplies that they can readily get at Target. On the way back from Hacienda Baru, we encouraged them to reflect on the story of Dr. Jack Ewing, who came from a family of ranchers and hunters and studied agriculture at Colorado State. He bought land in Costa Rica, cut down the jungle, and raised cattle. Somewhere along the line he felt, each time he was trying to remove the body of a rare animal caught in his barbed wire, that perhaps there was another way he could make a living with the land. Thus was the beginning of one of the first eco-tourism spots in Central America. We encouraged the students to think about that voice they might be hearing to follow their calling, and not just the expectations that they carry. Finally, at the trip to the waterfall on horseback, we talked about the fears that some of the students carried about the day. I asked if any of them knew of the fears of the others, and for the most part, they did not. It was a great opportunity to reiterate that age-old wisdom that “everyone you meet is battling something you know nothing about. Be kind.” It’s been a great week.

See the full photo album here.

Day 2: Junior Costa Rica Trip

Update from the Chaperones
The students were finally able to get a much needed night of sleep on Friday night. On Saturday morning, they were separated into three groups for morning activities. The first group went to Hacienda Baru, a wildlife refuge. They hiked, were taught about the biodiversity of plants and animals in the surrounding area and ziplined through the canopy. The second group went to La Escuela Platanillo (an elementary school) to dig out & prepare their garden, and pass out school supplies. The students had the pleasure of playing soccer with the elementary school children after their work was completed.  The third group went on horseback through the jungle to Nauyaca Falls and ‘cooled off’ with a swim in the river. 

In the afternoon, students had the option to take a surf lesson, do the medicinal plant walk with our head guide Carlos or take salsa dancing classes. At night, the students were entertained with a local Costa Rican band. The students are exhausted and heading to their rooms. It’s been an absolute pleasure to see the joy on our students’ faces over the last couple days.

We are gearing up for a fun filled Sunday of white water rafting followed by another afternoon of service. We will be working with a turtle rehabilitation sanctuary to reverse the trend of the turtle population in the local area. The students will also participate in a locally organized beach clean-up.

Student Reflection by Sophia Wu

Hi everyone!  I’m Sophia Wu and today my morning activity was horseback riding and swimming which included jumping off a 20 ft waterfall!  I started out the morning getting on the bus with my activity group and we arrived at the site where half the group would ride horses, and the other half would ride in the back of trucks.  I ended up riding in the truck on the way there with friends and after about a 20 minute drive, we arrived at the falls.  I had the opportunity to take some amazing photos and see stunning sites I never could’ve imagined.  

I also had the opportunity to jump off the waterfall which was a complete adrenaline rush and a once in a lifetime experience.  After swimming we headed to a restaurant to eat lunch where we had the lovely company of peacocks and monkeys. I rode a horse named Sancho on the way back and arrived safely back in the bus.  I had some free time later that afternoon to read and hang out by the pool before I went on a medicinal walk with my group where we learned about the different plants used for medicine here in Costa Rica.         

To end off the night, we had live music and danced the night away.  Not only did I realize that this class trip was all about bonding, but it was also a chance to reconnect with nature, be surrounded by a new culture and lifestyle, and become a member of the global community 

Student Reflection by Spencer Pirie

First day at base camp was one to remember. My group and I had an early wake up call which I wasn’t fond of, though, by the time I finished my waffles, eggs, and bacon, I was ready for the bus ride to Hacienda Beru. There we took a short hike up to a zip line course. We spent two hours flying over the jungle hoping to get a sight of some wildlife. It took some time but eventually we saw a monkey and a lizard. Communication with the instructors was difficult, but forced me to work on my Spanish skills. The whole experience has me pumped for the rest of the week and I feel I’ve grown my mind, body, and spirit. 

Student Reflection by Leo Liao

Our service trip to the school was definitely a memorable one. It was an amazing experience getting to meet some of the kids that went to school here in Costa Rica, including finding out that we actually had fun in many of the same ways! Me, Nichols, Ewan, and Mr. Ferrell spent a long time in the hot and humid air tilling and digging out a few plots for growing some plants for the school. Then, we played some soccer and got smashed at foosball by one of the staff at the school. It was an enlightening experience being in a place like a school and feeling how they would feel (somewhat) in the hot air that we’re completely not used to. It also made me feel like the fries I ate during lunch was fine because I spent the calories working

Student Reflection by Clara Bonomi 

Today I had the opportunity to visit a local school and spend some time with the students there. We handed out school supplies, played soccer with them, helped repaint some walls, and gardened as well. Overall, there were many great moments for me but one that really stood out was when one of the older girls in the group approached me and asked me for some help with her English pronunciation. Looking back, it wasn’t a super heartfelt moment, but it really gave me a sense of fulfillment. Helping someone figure out how to speak my language was genuinely so amazing and even though it was a small moment, I felt so honored and it is definitely an exchange I will remember and cherish for a long time.

See the full photo album here.