Day 5: The Place and the People

By Audrey Pinard, Grade 10
What an incredible trip! I have had such an adventurous day white water rafting! We had such a hilarious tour guide for the rapids who helped us spray other rafts with water, and every time we successfully made it across a segment of rough water, we tapped our paddles together above our heads and cheered. One of my favorite moments from today was when our raft was competing with another raft full of boys who constantly were trying to get ahead of us. We splashed them and paddled with all our might, and when it was clear that we had beaten them, we all hugged and smiled because of our epic teamwork!

My favorite part of the Costa Rica trip has been the new connections I’ve made with people. -Oliver Whalen

By Oliver Whalen, Grade 10
My favorite part of the Costa Rica trip has been the new connections I’ve made with people. Throughout the week, the sophomore class is split into different groups for different aspects of the trip. Your travel group is different from your activity group which is different from the people sleeping in your room. Because of this, I ended up having great conversations with people I didn’t normally talk to. I also got to speak to some locals during our service and while walking around the town of Dominical. Getting to know someone you’ve never had much contact with before is really rewarding. While there are many cool experiences and activities during the Costa Rica trip, what I’ll remember most are the new friends and connections I’ve made.

Pompeii and Naples

Today was a great start to the trip! However, the jetlag is setting in!

We started off the day with a healthy dose of a sugary Italian breakfast and then headed on our way to Herculaneum – the first, and lesser known, city to be hit by the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius.

After that, we headed to the city of Naples and had pizza and pasta at a really great traditional Italian restaurant.

We then proceeded to walk around the city of Naples for around 30 mins before meeting at the Naples National Archaeological Museum where they had amazing sculptures, mosaics and pieces of architecture from early Rome.

After that, we took our bus back to the hotel and had the decision to nap or to go explore before dinner. Dinner was yet again at another traditional Italian restaurant.

Here’s what one of our schoolmates had to say about the experience at Herculaneum:

Travis Evans: Today for our first experience, we went to and explored the ancient city Herculaneum. This city was built by the Greeks when they moved here, and it became a boat town. However, because of natural causes, the sea is now about a mile or so away from the city. Many people may not know that this city, along with Pompeii, was destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius. Because of how close Herculaneum is to Mt. Vesuvius, this city (unlike Pompeii) was destroyed by boiling-hot mud that ranged from 500-900 degrees Fahrenheit. A fun fact that we learned is that the mud moved at around 100 mph. Because of how swift the mud was moving, much of the city stayed intact. The wood didn’t even have time to burn up! Next, we went to the Napoli’s museum. Here we got to see original depictions of Hercules and many other sculptures. Overall, it was a great and tiring day.

We made it!

Today was a very difficult and long day for everyone. We started off at SFO with a 45 minute delayed flight, which led to the missing of our connecting flight in Frankfurt Germany. After a 10 hour flight, we landed in Germany, we explored the Frankfurt airport for 4 hours until our rebooked flight departed. After this hour and a half flight, we finally touched down in Rome Italy. From this airport we took a lengthy bus ride to our hotel in Pompeii. Along the way on this bus ride, we stopped for pizza. Once we arrived at our hotel, we given a briefing on what is to come on this trip.

We are all super tired and we will continue to update the blog throughout the week.

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

Kate Etter, Isis Bovin, Worth Taylor, and Day El-Wattar
So far, our group for daily activities has been wonderful. We have all had such a good time spending the days together since we don’t have many classes together on a typical school day. Although it has been quite humid, we have handled it admirably! We went to the beach after doing community service at the school yesterday. The water was so warm and refreshing to be in with the hot weather. Some people got to experience surfing and others played on the beach while drinking coconut water out of fresh coconuts. Last night for our activity we had traditional local Costa Rican dancers come and preform for us which was the highlight of our day. It was so fun to be so immersed in the culture. The dancers even chose members from the audience to dance with them and Worth got chosen and did not hesitate to join in in the fun dance. Another part of our evening was the mar key that was set up for us with Costa Rican clothes, t-shirts, coffee, pottery, and necklaces. It was so fun to see tons of the traditional Costa Rican goodies which were so detailed and beautiful!

Roman DegliAntoni
After our service at the small school, we were offered surf lessons from the locals. I hadn’t surfed in such a long time making me nervous to jump right in and get started. After 10 minutes of lessons on the beach I felt like a pro already soon enough I would be shredding the gnar. When the first wave hit I got up like a pro with perfect form I had to hang it loses with the Shaka Brah hand symbol. The sunset in the background and the warm water made for an amazing afternoon at the beach.

Spencer O’Brien-Steele
Some really good things have come out of the first days. When visiting a foreign country there will always be time to try new things and step out of your comfort zone, which many of us have done already. Yesterday, I tried surfing for the first time, and it was awesome. I got up and rode the wave on my first attempt. I thought I was already a pro. But I epically failed the next two times. However, I realized some of the mistakes I was making and rode most of the waves from then on. I also ate termites a few days ago, which was kind of disgusting at first, but they weren’t too bad. I have also realized that sometimes you need some alone time when surrounded by 100 of your classmates, and that instead of trying to be liked by others, just try to do what you want, not what others want, and the rest will follow. Peace out from Costa Rica✌🏼

Terence Leung
This trip so far has opened my eyes to many things. I have seen new animals and done new things. Today, I rode a horse for the first time. I was really nervous about the idea of even sitting on a horse. I was given a horse named “Little Bean”(Frijolito). He was an awesome horse. After riding today, I would definitely ride a horse again.

Day 3 Costa Rica, Monday 1-17-17: Our Second Rotation Day

Our rotation at Nahuayaca Waterfalls began with half the group riding in an enclosed pick-up truck bed down to saddle up the horses and ride down to the waterfall.  The second group was driven down to the mouth of the waterfall and would ride the horses back.  The property belongs to Don Lulu whose family supports an approach to eco-tourism that provides not just a thrilling adventure on spirited horses but also an opportunity to experience first hand the “Tico/Tica” (term for Costa Rican person) commitment to the environment.  Once at the falls, the group spent some time swimming and considering whether they wanted to take the leap off the 35 foot ledge.  Don Lulu’s team was amazing at helping each person make their way safely up the face of the rocks.  Here are some photos of the day:
It was an amazing day. Climbing up the waterfall and jumping off was a first time experience. Not doing this everyday only made me smile. Riding horses was the first time I did something like that. My horse was named Speedy and he was very aggressive. He wanted to be in front the entire time and hated everyone who passed him. He especially like to go fast which was very fun. It kind of represented me in sports especially when I run.
The WaterFall

BARAT: Puerto Nuevo School

Our rotation to Puerto Nuevo school began with some adjustments, since our initial job of painting the interior of the one-room school was changed due to the Principal’s more urgent need to address some large trees whose branches hung over nearly half of the tiny school’s compound.  The trees, providing some much needed shade for the school, also provided a haven for snakes-including boa constrictors-some of which would made their way onto the school yard.  The local families, knowing of our upcoming visit, pitched in to hire two locals to cut the trees back.  One of our primary tasks was to help haul the felled limbs out of the school grounds, across the soccer field and onto a composting pile near a stream.  The work was arduous, but given the gravity of the situation, our group made the extra effort to work together and make it happen.  While hauled tree branches, others added a coat of paint to the bathroom, while yet another group engaged the local children in games while they waited to receive the school supplies we brought.

Our work with the kids

School supplies


DUCHESNE at Hacienda Barú

Post Dominical

So what happens when the pool, pool table, expansive hotel grounds, smoothie bar and other hotel amenities are gone?  COmmUNITY!!


We continued our tradition of daily “acknowledgments”:  an opportunity to thank individuals who helped make our day a bit better.

Acknowledgments 1

Reflection was also a significant part of our experience:  Question: “what did I learn about a) Myself? b) My Class?  c) My School Community?

And some words about no cell phones into Day 7:



Day 2 – All about service

What a day!  We are on the second day of our rotation.  For today’s blog, the focus is on our visits to local elementary schools Escuela Barú and Escuela de Platanillo.  (Our third rotation school was Escuela Puerto Nuevo, a tiny one room, one teacher school with a total of 14 students- an updated set of photos are below.)  We arrived mid morning and immediately got to know the Costa Rican students through games like soccer and hopscotch.  After polishing up the schools with a fresh coat a paint on a few walls and helping refurbish classroom furniture our Convent and Stuart Hall boys and girls handed out the school supplies that they had brought to Costa Rica.  The days were rounded out with a trip to the local swimming hole complete with a rope swing. Four of our students recap their day:

Trinity L.

Today, on our second day of rotation we visited some elementary school students at Escuela de Platanillo. During the service section of the rotation we had the opportunity to interact with some of the students and refurbish some school furniture. In the beginning I was pretty nervous about interacting with the students in Spanish. However once we started to interact with them it became much easier. I taught my new friend, Daira, how to say “You and I are friends” in Mandarin and she taught me in Spanish. By the end of our time at the school, the students and I had become great friends. One day I hope to see all of them again.

Gabriella T.

During our espacio this morning, we were told to do something uncomfortable while doing our activities. Today was our service day and we visited la Escuela de Plantanillo. We played with the kids and refurbished their desks. One of the struggles we had was speaking to the kids. The language barrier was hard because the kids spoke little to no English. We tried to communicate with them as best as we could and frequently used hand movements to try to act out what we couldn’t say. Overall, the students seemed so grateful and it was so nice to get out of our comfort zone.

Nicholas C.

Today was our second day of our trip in Costa Rica, and it was a very special day for everyone. We visited the Escuela de Platanillo where we met little children from that school, and help out with the school. At first we met the children and they led us down to their soccer field where we created teams, and played against each other. I was the team captain of my team, and to be honest my team was really good. After we went up, and we painted the walls of the school, and varnished the desk of the classrooms. We gave the children notebooks and pencils, but the highlight was Carlos Armendariz and Adrian Medina who gave their shoes to two kids. At the end to cool of the heat we visited a waterfall, which was a lot of fun.

Adrian M.

On our second day of transitioning, we visited Escuela de Platanillo, where we did some service for the kids around the school, played soccer, and handed out supplies. Not only was this day special for the kids, but it was also special for me as well because I got to find out who I really am as a person and how  blessed I really am. It was also special  because out of the kindness of my heart, I gave my soccer shoes to one of the most talented soccer players in my eyes. The fact that once I handed him the shoes and he asked for me to sign the shoes, made feel really special. We took pictures, we ate and once everything was over we went to relax at a waterfall and had some fun and swam. I will always remember this special moment forever.

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Third Rotation: Escuela Puerto Nuevo.