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King University News :: King Students Experience Coast-to-Coast Adventure in Costa Rica

BRISTOL, Tenn., June 30, 2014 – Several KU students travelled to Costa Rica for the adventure of a lifetime. The country, which abolished its military in 1949, is known for its peaceful way of life, often referred to as Pura Vida, or pure life.

The trip to Costa Rica was preceded by a spring semester course, Spanish 2100. Students met for two semester hours during the spring semester. Then, on June 1-9, 2014, students travelled to Costa Rica, completing the study abroad component for the remaining two semester hours required for the course. The study abroad component was coordinated through Education First, a company built on experiential learning, cultural immersion, and authentic connections.

Beatriz Macione, associate professor of Spanish, associate dean of Arts Sciences, and chair of King’s Languages and Literatures Department, taught the classroom portion of the Spanish 2100 course. She said, “Students experienced a different culture. They were able to use everything they have learned in the classroom first hand in a new country. Through study abroad and cross-cultural experience, King encourages students to be open to new ideas, to new people, to a new culture. It is one of the most important lessons we as educators can teach our students, to open their eyes to the world.”

In addition to satisfying the foreign language requirement, this also fulfilled the student’s cross-cultural experience requirements. Part of the common experience section of King’s core curriculum, the cross-cultural experience is designed to confront the student’s presuppositions while broadening their awareness and appreciation of diverse cultures. 

Once in Costa Rica, the expedition began in San José, where students enjoyed visiting the Braulio Carrillo National Park and a banana plantation. They then took a boat ride to their next destination of Tortuguero where they would visit the Tortuguero National Park. On Day four, the group travelled to Sarapiquí, where they went on a canopy tour, complete with zip-lining and whitewater rafting through the rainforest. They then continued on to Arenal for a visit of the Arenal Volcano, which overlooks the San Carlos plain and the Pacific lowlands and has been active for the past 7,000 years. The Hot Springs, heated by the thermal energy from the nearby volcano, were a welcome relief after trekking to the volcano. While at Arenal, students also had the opportunity to kayak on Lake Arenal and hike to La Fortuna Waterfall. Students spent their remaining time at Guanacaste. Excursions to the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, the Blue Lagoon, and a day at the beach capped off an adventurous trip.

Sara Hills, electronic resources librarian for King led the study abroad portion of the course. She commented, “The trip was definitely a superb experience for our students. The cross-culture experience is an important one. For many, this was their first trip abroad. It was wonderful to see them immerse themselves into a culture different from their own.”

Nichole Trump, a KU senior majoring in Elementary Education K-6 Grades, had this to say about her experience. “This was an amazing trip. Every day was packed full of adventure. Some of my favorite activities were hiking to La Fortuna Waterfall; it was breathtaking to see this 200 foot waterfall so close. Also, I enjoyed whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and the many hikes we took around the country, especially the one on the Volcano. In Tortuguero, we were able to visit a school and see the environment in which the students learn. There were no glass or screens covering the windows and the sand from the local beach blows into their classrooms daily. This trip was such an amazing experience; it has changed my perspective on life, and it will hold a forever place in my memories.

“I definitely feel that immersing myself into the Costa Rican culture was a great way to learn Spanish,” added Trump. “The local people there are so friendly and are willing to help you learn how to speak the language. If we had questions on how to ask for something or speak a certain phrase, the locals were willing to assist us with a smile. I was very well prepared from my classroom learning. I was able to learn how to speak the language in a whole new way. I became more and more comfortable by the time the trip was over.”

The idea of global citizenship is incorporated into every aspect of the educational experience at King University. Hills commented that some of the students had a good grasp of what it meant to be a global citizen going into the trip to Costa Rica. “At the end of the trip I believe all the students have a good understanding of what it means to be a global citizen not only on an international level, but also on a national level with cultures different than their own within the United States. It was great to see the students take what was taught by Beatriz and me and then apply it.”

Trump summed up her experience saying, “This trip definitely gave me a new perspective about a culture with which I was not that familiar. It gave me the opportunity to actively engage with people of a different country and gain confidence and knowledge on how to continue to engage with different cultures. I would definitely recommend this trip to other people. The adventure, friendships, culture, and learning the Spanish language in this type of setting was amazing. I cannot express how great this experience was!”

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