The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Costa Rica offers cultural lessons

NW student Jennifer Hines teaches preschool children the names of colors in English during a previous trip to Costa Rica. The trip offers cultural experiences and volunteer opportunities.Photo courtesy Alejandro Garza
NW student Jennifer Hines teaches preschool children the names of colors in English during a previous trip to Costa Rica. The trip offers cultural experiences and volunteer opportunities.Photo courtesy Alejandro Garza

By Rhiannon Saegert/nw news editor

Students can travel to Costa Rica this summer to earn upper-level Spanish credits.

The trip, sponsored by Spanish instructor Alejandro Garza, lasts May 18 to June 15.

“It’s a very intense program because you’re in school a long time and then you go to extracurricular activities and cultural activities,” he said.

During the trip, students stay with host families, study Spanish at Universidad Latina and volunteer at a local preschool.

“The most popular activity outside the classroom is the volunteer project,” Garza said. “The students have to go once a week to a preschool, and they have to teach the kids English. They also play games and do different activities.”

Aside from school and volunteering, students take part in optional cultural activities, like dance classes.

“In dance class, the instructor teaches students how to do Costa Rican cumbia,” Garza said. “On the weekend, the students go to a club and practice what they learned. It’s a nice environment because all the instructors go to the club that night.”

There is also a Costa Rican cooking class.

“It’s a lot of fun because we eat what we cook. Everything is made from scratch, and it’s fresh and tasty,” Garza said.

Kimberly Pineda, who went on the trip last year, said she had a blast.

“I mean we did everything possible. We took trips out to the beach, volcanoes, hiking, restaurants, clubs, bars,” she said.

Many of the host families spoke English but avoided doing so for the sake of immersion.

“A lot of people over there are really fluent in English,” she said. “My host family was really amazing. I still talk to them. I wish I could do more for them because they did so much for us. I miss them a lot.”

Pineda says if there was a downside, it was the weather.

“It was a really rainy season. We’d wake up around 5:30, get to school at 7, leave school at noon and that’s right when it would shower almost every day,” she said.

Jennifer Hines, another student, said she loved the weather.

“The area is a central basin valley surrounded by volcanoes covered with a cloud forest,” she said. “In the morning, mist collected over the forests and moved into the basins where the cities were. Everything was just so fresh and beautiful. I would never trade those experiences for anything.”

Hines, who has been to Costa Rica twice now, said she loved everything about the trip.

“There are too many favorite parts to narrow it down, but it was everything I expected and more. It was total immersion in the Spanish-speaking culture,” she said.

“There are so many other study abroad programs out there, but this one with Professor Garza combines the best immersion experience with volunteering opportunities in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.”

For registration information, contact Garza at 817-515-7762.

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