My Experience in Costa Rica with the WLC Department
By Jamie Desmond ’16, History major with a concentration in Secondary Ed, and Minors in Math and Spanish
The opportunity to go to Costa Rica was presented to my Spanish class during the spring 2014 semester by Dr. Serra, who came in and told us about a four week program in Heredia, Costa Rica. She told us how we would take two Spanish classes while abroad, go on multiple excursions to learn about Costa Rica and its culture, and live with a host family. We would spend some time volunteering in a school, teaching elementary-age students some English. It was there, in the underdeveloped region of Heredia with these students, that I realized how lucky I was for what I had back at home. It was also in that school that I realized I wanted to help and give back in any way that I could. This was also when I decided I no longer wanted to be just a high school history teacher. I reformed my idea of my future job and have now sought ways to become a teacher for English language learners (ELL). It was through this trip that I decided to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to Uruguay. If the results don’t allow me to go to Uruguay, Dr. Serra has told me about other potential options for me to accomplish my dream.
My experiences in Costa Rica teaching English have profoundly shaped my interest in this project and informed my approach to teaching. Originally, I underestimated the impact of this trip, yet with each week this changed. I began to love Costa Rica and dreaded returning home. I vowed I would return and that I would learn Spanish so that I could better communicate with my Mamá Tica. The trip to Costa Rica helped me find what I loved and where I wanted to see myself in the future. My time in Costa Rica taught me the impact that culture can have on one’s education and, in particular, how it aided my learning of a second language there. By learning about Costa Rican culture and truly experiencing it on my own, I felt I not only learned Spanish but their way of life. Truly immersing oneself into the culture allows for so much more development of one’s person.
Costa Rica helped me to start viewing my future by impacting many students and seeing them go on to make a future, but I also see it as living like the Costa Ricans. The Costa Ricans live a life that is mixed between good “vibes” and helping others. I now feel I live by the Costa Rican slogan “Pura Vida,” meaning ‘pure life,’ because to live a life similar to the Costa Ricans, is to live a life in that frame of mind and to be appreciative of what you are given and your experiences.